Baji Rout is the youngest martyr of India.
This 12-yr-old boat boy was shot dead by British police when he courageously denied to ferry them across the Brahmani river on the night of 11th October 1938 at Nilakanthapur Ghat, Bhuban, Dhenkanal district.
On 10th October, 1938, around 8 PM, when the British police had arbitrarily arrested some individuals of Bhuban village in Odisha, leaders of the Prajamandal from the village started protesting outside the police station. All they were demanding was the freedom of the people arrested. Instead of having a dialogue with the Prajamandal, the British opened fire at them killing two. But this made matters worse for the British. The number of people protesting only increased, and since a couple of their friends had just been killed, they posed a bigger threat. The British realised that they wouldn’t be able to fight them off so they tried to flee the place. They opted to go to Dhenkanal via Nilkanathpur Ghat – it was the shortest route to Dhenkanal.
In the wee hours of 11th October, they made their way to the Nilkanthpur Ghat. It was pouring and they had to make their way across the river Brahamani. Thirteen-year-old Baji Rout was on guard on a country boat at this time. The British troop ordered him to ferry them across the river. The news of the brutality carried out by the British had already reached Baji by this time. He also knew that the locals were after the troops, and that he must stop the British.
Without thinking of the consequence, Baji refused to ferry them across the village. The troop tried to twist his arm and get him to do it. They even threatened to kill him if he didn’t listen. It was never worth consideration for Baji – he knew what needed to be done, and he did just that. He refused again.
One of the soldiers hit him in the head with the butt of his gun. Remember, this boy was just 13. The strike fractured his skull severely. He fell down, but it didn’t stop him from standing up again. Gathering whatever strength he had left in his young body, he warned the British to back off. He would NOT ferry them. Not while he was alive. A soldier pierced his bayonet into his skull as another opened fire at him. Baji, along with his friends, Laxman Malik, Fagu Sahoo, Hrushi Pradhan and Nata Malik were all killed.
In memory of the youngest martyr of India, Utkala Cultural Association at IIT Bombay honors one Odia youth with ‘Baji Rout Samman’ each year on Utkala Divasa (Odisha Day) as an emerging talent in different fields like arts, science, social work, entrepreneurship etc.
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