STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Bhawanipatna, 10 December
Thousands of tribals from different parts of Kalahandi and neighbouring districts paid glowing tribute to martyr Rindo Majhi on his death anniversary at Urladani.
Sporting their traditional attire and carrying their weapons, the tribals took out a massive rally before attending a memorial meeting. Former minister Mr Balabhadra Majhi, former MP Mr Dhaneswar Majhi and Captain Dibya Sankar Mishra addressed the meeting organised jointly by Rindo Majhi Smruti committee, Rindo Majhi foundation trust, state culture department and Urladani gram panchayat.
Ex-minister Mr Majhi, while exhorting the fellow tribals to take full advantage of the numerous schemes meant for them, observed that unless the tribals of Kalahandi are developed and brought to the mainstream of society, the tributes to the martyr will remain incomplete.
Mr Majhi and other speakers highlighted the role played by the martyr in the freedom struggle of the country and uniting the tribals against the alien rule. The Kondhs of Kalahandi had revolted against the British under the leadership of Rindo Majhi between 1853 and 1855, much before the Sepoy Mutiny often billed as the first freedom struggle of the country.
According to Historians, after Kalahandi, among other regions of the state, came under the occupation of the British East India Company, the foreign rulers attempted to control the minor forest products to garner revenue by introducing “thekadar” system. This led to exploitation and deprivation of the age-old rights of tribals. Besides, the Company officials also interfered in the socio-cultural and religious practices of tribals. Such interventions and changes caused resentment among tribals and it took the form of revolt under the leader ship of Rindo Majhi. This tribal up rise is known as 1st Kondh Meli.
Company officials apprehending spread of resentment tried to subdue the tribals and took Rindo Majhi under custody. In order to suppress and to pressurise the tribals Rindo Majhi was moved from village to village in chains. However instead of suppressing the tribals it infuriated them and they forcefully released their leader from bondage. There after open war between tribals and east India Company started. There was large numbers of causalities from the side of company forces. However the traditional weapons of the tribals could not match with the superior arms with gun power of British. At last, Rindo Majhi alongwith 13 followers met martyrdom facing gun shots in the last war near Urladani of Kalahandi. The historians lament that the struggle and sacrifice of Rindo Majhi is yet to be given due recognition by the government and he is yet to get martyr status. Moreover, his work place in Urladani, Mohangiri and Manikera gram panchayats are also remaining neglected raising question marks on the sincerity of the government.
“For the memory of Rindo Majhi, the state culture department with the initiative of Rindo Majhi Foundation Trust had constructed a bronze statue with an expenditure of Rs 10 lakh. However it could not be inaugurated as local tribals alleging some defects in the statue and protesting that it doesn’t properly portray his features. There is demand for rectification of defects before installation,” one of the historian and tribal researchers said.