Odia freedom fighter Mohammed Baji no more

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Nabarangpur: Centenarian freedom fighter from Odisha, Mohammed Baji passed away at the age of 103 at his residence in Sunari Sahi in Nabarangpur.

Born on January 20, 1917, Mohammed Baji, a renowned name in the freedom movement, was a close associate of martyr Laxman Nayak. At the time of Mathili police station, gherao at Malkangiri of Odisha during 1942 movement 29 tribal people were martyred and Baji was injured in police firing.

While he spent his formative years with prominent freedom fighters like Laxmi Chandra Dash, Sadananda Mohanty and Raghunath Choudhury, he had to leave for Jeypore in 1934 for higher studies. Soon, he joined the freedom struggle after coming in contact with Radhakrushna Biswasray and Radhaman Sahu.

Baji, a true Gandhian, joined the Indian National Congress in 1936, on the year when Orissa became a separate province on the basis of language.

He had been lodged in jail and a penalty of Rs 50 was imposed on him after he started Satyagraha in Nabarangpur after his return from Sabarmati. Later, Baji was shifted to Koraput jail and released after six months.

However, he did not relent and joined the Quit India Movement and was held on August 19, 1942. Baji had to spend nearly five years in jail before being released on June 25, 1947.

After the freedom struggle, he was active in the Sarvodaya movement with Koraput Gandhi Biswanath Pattnaik. With Patnaik, he led the Bhoodan and Gramdaan movement in undivided Koraput District of Odisha and as a result, Koraput became Jilladaani district. Baji was the Chairman of Utkal Gandhi Smarak Nidhi also close associate with Utkal Sarvodaya Mandal.

At the time of demolition of Babri Masjid, he was there with other Sarvodaya leaders under the banner of Sarva Seva Sangh. When he tried to restore peace, RSS volunteers attacked him and he was seriously injured. At the time of Kandhamal riot, he spearheaded the move to restore peace.

The freedom fighter for Odisha, Mohammed Baji, was felicitated by the President of India at home party in Rashtrapati Bhawan. He was also the recipient of the prestigious Pradyumna Bal Memorial Award in 2005.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik expressed deep grief over the sad demise of eminent freedom fighter Mohamman Baji.

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According to a release from the CMO, the last rites of the centenarian freedom fighter will be conducted in Nabarangpur with national honours by the State government.

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