Express News Service
JAGATSINGHPUR: Jogendra Moharana of Ala village under Jagatsinghpur block was only 14 when he decided to join the freedom struggle. When Mahatma Gandhi gave the call for Quit India Movement in 1942, Moharana joined the Vanara Sena which was created by Indira Gandhi for young girls and boys. The Vanara Sena played a small but notable role in the freedom struggle, conducting protests and flag marches, as well as helping Congress politicians circulate publications on the Independence fight.
“I was in Class 8 when I studied some books on the Mahatma. Inspired by him, I decided to help freedom fighters of my village in their fight for Independence. I met many Congress leaders at Alaka Ashram in Jagatsinghpur where they congregated often to chalk out plans”, recalled the 92-year-old freedom fighter. As a member of the Vanara Sena, he was mostly involved in organising meetings and distributing leaflets in Ala and the neighbouring villages.
Working closely with local freedom fighters Birakishore Das, Nityananda Kanungo, Bhagirathi Mohapatra, Priyanath Dey, Nishamani Khuntia and Kanduri Mallick, Moharana was also instrumental in adding young members to the Vanara Sena. “I used to sing patriotic songs of freedom fighter-cum-poet Birakishore Das while moving around villages. Inspired by those songs, many youths joined the Sena. We were offered Khadi clothes and towels by the freedom fighters then”, he said.
Moharana added that between 1943 and 1946, many local freedom fighters were arrested and sent to Berhampur and Cuttack jails. “In their absence, I supplied food to their family members and ensured their safety”, said the freedom fighter who was also involved in burning a local police station and some schools as a member of the Vanara Sena. “Although police nabbed us many times, they could not jail us because we were minors”, he said.
After India got Independence, Moharana dedicated himself to the development of his village. In 2015, he was elected the sarpanch of the Ala panchayat.