Orissa News

In 1870, at Bhanjanagar in the district of Ganjam, a mass meeting of the Oriya people from numerous areas in the south had been convened in order to express their Fakir Mohan Senapati led a stellar role in the movement for constituting a separate state of Orissaresentment against the introduction of Telugu language in those areas and non-employment of the Oriyas in administration.Oriya speaking people of this region issued appeals to their brethren in Cuttack to take up the cause and also pleaded with the Governor-General for the Union of Oriya-speaking areas. Consequently an association named as the Ganjam Utkal Hitabadini Sabha was formed to promote the cause of amalgamation.

In 1874, in a large congregation of the native chiefs, landlords and the leading persons, the problem of Oriya-speaking people was discussed.It was here that the idea of union of all Oriya speaking people gained ground. Practical steps towards this direction began with the formation of the Utkal Sabha in 1877 by such leading minds as Madhusudan Das, Fakirmohan Senapati and Radhanath Ray. The inception of Orissa Association in 1882 by Utkal Gourab Madhusudan Das was another step in this direction.These associations played the important role of creating the Oriya consiousness among the Oriya speaking people in different provinces.

A memorandum to unite the Oriya speaking regions under the Madras, the Central Provinces and Bengal presidency under one administration was to the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, Steuart Colvin Barley, when he visited Orissa in November 1888. The request was, however, rejected forthwith.

Later in the year 1895, the Government of the Central Provinces took a decision to abolish the Oriya language from official use in Sambalpur. On deputation to Sambalpur in 1901, Lord Elgin reported to the Chief Commissioner of the Central Provinces, Andrew Fraser, that “if it was thought impossible to have Oriya as the language of one Central Province’s district they would prefer it to be transferred to Orissa’. The Oriya leaders of Sambalpur met the Governor-General at Simla in this connection and ultimately secured the restoration of Oriya as the official language of the Sambalpur district.

Consequent to these developments ,in 1902, the leading citizens of Ganjam, describing their area as ‘a limb separated from the body’ appealed to the Governor-General Lord Curzon “to bring together the scattered divisions inhabited by Oriya-speaking peoples, i.e., Ganjam in Madras, Sambalpur in the C.P. and Orissa in Bengal, under the Government of Bengal or under any one Government”. The same year, Raja Baikhunta Nath De of Baleshwar appealed to Lord Curzon to constitute a separate administrative unit for all Oriya-speaking territories.

These sporadic streaks of events in different regions were able to create a common bond between the Oriya speaking people residing in different regions and finally resulted in giving rise to a political movement to unite all Oriya speaking area under a single administration. On the backdrop of these developments in the later parts of December 1903, representatives of Oriya speaking people who lay outside the immediate jurisdiction of the then Orissa ,met in the the capital of Orissa, Cuttack, and alongwith the leaders of Orissa proper formed an organization that became famous as the Utkal Sammilani on the Utkal Union Conference. The native chiefs, prominent landlords, lawyers, government servants and students took a prominent part in forming this organization to campaign the cause of a united Orissa under the able leadership of Madhusudan Das. A memorandum was submitted to the Government to transfer all the Oriya-speaking tracts as situated in other provinces to the Orissa Division. Results begun to show soon as Sambalpur district was transferred to Orissa in September 1905, followed by the transfer of the ex-states of Gangpur and Bonai (Banei) from Chota Nagpur Division and the ex-states of Patn,a Kalahandi, Sonepur (Sonapur), Bamra (Bamanda) and Rairakhole (Radhakhol) from the Central Provinces.

Lord Cruzon was a supporter of  the movement for separate OrissaIn 1911, the Governor-General Lord Hardinge, in order to solve the problem of the partition of Bengal, brought out his scheme of creating a new province consisting of Bihar and Orissa including Chota Nagpur. Opposing the idea of keeping Orissa with Bihar, Lord Curzon said in British Parliament “This is a blunder that cannot remain permanent. Were the Orissans an agitating people, which they are not, they would soon make their protest heard. As it is, they have been sacrificed without compunction.”