The massacre of Papadahandi was a special event of the National Freedom Movement. Nabarangpur district responded to the call of the Quit India Movement given by Mahatma Gandhi wholeheartedly. Thousand of pamphlets were distributed all over the Nabarangpur region regarding the Congress movement and people’s participation in it.
On 24 August 1942, a group of Congress workers, led by Jagannatha Tripathy, S.C. Saraf, and Laxman Chandra Dash, undertook a march towards the Nabarangpur police station. Carrying traditional weapons like bows and arrows, their intent was to seek retribution for the martyred Laxman Naik and the Matili Riot. To reach the police station, they had to cross the nearby Turi River, which had a wooden pole serving as a crossing point. As news reached the police, they quickly mobilized and arrived at the scene by bus. Anticipating their arrival, the people destroyed the wooden pole on the river to impede their progress. Despite the river's high water level, some individuals managed to cross over and engaged in a confrontation with the police, resulting in injuries to a Subedar and a Havaldar.
Observing the situation unfold, Drill Inspector P.K. Gouda, a sergeant from Koraput, issued orders to open fire in order to suppress the advancing Congress workers. The continuous gunfire tragically claimed the lives of 12 Congress workers on the spot. Additionally, seven more Congress members succumbed to their bullet injuries and passed away within the confines of the jail premises. In an attempt to escape the firing, many individuals from the crowd jumped into the flooded river, desperately seeking safety. Those who were present during the incident were subsequently arrested by the police and confined to a house, where they faced various forms of intimidation and threats.
A “Saheed Minar” has been erected by the Government of Odisha to commemorate the sacrifice of the brave martyrs. The Minar was inaugurated by then Governor of Odisha, Bisambarnath Pandey in the year 1985. Today this Minar is one of the important sacred places for the people of Odisha.
Source: Dillip Kumar Badatya, Contributor for CCRT