ERAM: The Symbol of British Barbarism
‘History is written by victors,’ a bitter truth said by Winston Churchill. These words seemingly justify the untrue and errant British Historians of contemporary India. These self-proclaimed intelligentsias have peddled one-sided narrative to express their ego-centric superior nationalism and to dominate the world of History by supressing truth and the opinion of others in an autocratic manner. They consider history merely a tale of dead and past, devoid of any truism and cultural significance. Many memoirs have fallen prey to their professional fiddles and lost significance in the crumbling pages of history- one such being the Eram Massacre in Bhadrakh District of Odisha.
Eram Massacre is a Jallianwalla-like anecdote that recounts one of the shocking period of British India. It never received any attention like Jallianwalla Bagh, rather got buried under the morasses of self-glorifying History of the Britishers. Perhaps, due to geographical alienation, political insensitivity and biased scholiasts, Eram never occupied a powerful limelight in school books nor in the chronicles of mainstream Indian history. No one remembers, forget praying or paying tributes on 28th day of September to condemn the butchering of 29 peace loving protestors at Eram, way back in 1942.
No one could ever imagine that Churchill’s military suppression against ‘Quit India’ call would penetrate to such a remote village and in such a severe form. Eram was an apt picturesque of an Odisha hamlet- very secluded, inaccessible and neglected. The nearest railway station was about eighteen miles away. Surrounded by the Bay of Bengal and twin rivers of Gamoi and Kansbans, and covered by a thick jungle, the place meditated off the beaten path. To reach to the village, one has to voyage on a river boat and miles on foot.
Despite being at the backwoods, the village palpitated like a mitochondrion of nationalism. Political leaders used Eram as a hideout and eventually indoctrinated its people with the idea of freedom and nationalism. Banchhanidhi Mohanty, an Odia revolutionary poet, first sowed the seeds of political reactiveness in 1930 while leading thousands to Eram seashore during the protests of Salt Satyagraha. Apparently the sleepy village consumed the maiden drops of patriotic alcohol and got up from the slumbers of stoic silence.
A local leader Kamala Prasad Kar took the cameo of Eram’s movement in early 1940s after spending considerable time in jail. He worked with fellow associates to chalk out a superlative approach to support the Quit India Movement, viz. the August Revolution. By that time, the drowsy countryside had emerged as a populist pocket of militancy.
Unlike rhetoric of Delhi-based politics, Eram stood firm for the cause of national calls. The umbrella of local leadership was successful in establishing a parallel government- one of the notable objectives of the Quit India Movement. Non-payment of taxes, distributing grains to poor, burning the uniforms of village Chaukidars, refusing to sell grains to the British for war purpose, are some noteworthy ordinances passed by the self-liberated Eram administration.
Eram’s denizens had also adopted vivid techniques to keep British espionage at bay. Once, a mass meeting was convened on 7th September, 1942 to decide the blueprints of future action. Native confidants suggested to form a ‘Death-Squad’- a chain instructing women to blow conch from house to house if their sight falls on anyone from the police department.
On the fateful day of 28th September 1942, more than ten thousand unarmed people gathered at Eram. British police stormed to the place of congregation, along with the support of local guards. Despite strong warnings, the only boatman refused to ferry the police officials across the river. Allegedly, one of the local leaders snatched the uniform of a few policemen and urinated on them. Their patriotism was perhaps unmeasurable during the time.
The English thugs discreetly fired at the vulnerable peaceful and patriotic protestors. Nearly 300 shots of carnage echoed the entire surrounding. Amid thundering sounds of gunshots, the voice of ‘Vande-Maataram’ overpowered every trespassing noise. 29 died, one being a woman and 56 gravely injured and many drenched in a pool of horrific bloodshed. The abominable cruelty of colonial regime stood illicitly exposed for the first time after Jallianwalla incident.
Till now, Eram waits for recognition with painful tears in her eyes. Neither the government of Odisha nor the Union Government, since independence has shown any interest to recognize the pain of Eram, Now promoting the place into a national memorial is required to arise and awake the sense of patriotism in the minds of people in general and children in particular. History is gullible, tamed by nexus of sycophants. Under the plinth of their manipulated interpretations, countless sagas of independence have been buried and many of them have already been rotten. Those inherent with polarising upshot persist in books and the rest still remain unknown to mediocre. Of late the injustice done to Eram needs to be washed out. That will be greatest tribute to the sacrificed patriots and to the land of Eram. Will the authorities act?
By Abhisek Pani