Unsung Heroes | History Corner | Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, Ministry of Culture, Government of India

Unsung Heroes Detail

Unsung Heroes Detail

Laxman Nayak

Malkangiri, Odisha

August 05, 2022

Laxman Nayak, a tribal leader of Bhumia community of Koraput was born on 22 November, 1899 in Tentuliguma village of Koraput district. His father Padlam Nayak was the village chief or ‘Mustadaar’ of Bejuliguda, Lebriguda, Anlaguda and Tentuliguma villages under ‘Jeypore Samasthanam’ in then Madras Presidency. As this was his hereditary profession his father had moderate income to sustain his family. Though Laxman had not faced any financial difficulties in his childhood, he was hard working who worked in his farm land and grazed the cattle. In spite of very little education knowing only alphabets, he was very intelligent and could compose poem.

From his childhood, he was observing exploitation to his simple fellow tribal by the money lenders, Mustadahr, the Raja of Jeypore and his officers. They used to pay various types of taxes besides contributing mandatory labour services without remuneration. After the death of his father when he became the Mustadahr in 1930, he became very popular among his fellow tribesmen. In 1936, the Raja of Jeypore made lavish arrangements in honour of Sir John Hubback, the governor of Odisha who was on a visit to Koraput. Rice, hens and cows were snatched from the villagers and labourers were picked up to provide service to the governor’s officials which Laxman viewed as loot to the people and was very much agitated. He raised the matter with Radhakrishna Biswasroy, the president of the District Congress committee who advised him to send a letter to a newspaper. The matter was also brought out in a newspaper which aroused sharp reaction. The message of freedom struggle and swaraj from Congress and Gandhi gradually reached the tribal of this forest land who began to respond to the call. Laxman realized the need of a platform like Congress to free from the clutches of the English and the Raja of Jeypore. He therefore joined Congress and offered individual satyagraha in 1940 and was arrested. In 1942 he asked his fellow tribesmen to respond to the call of Gandhi ‘Do or die’ which they responded enthusiastically.

Laxman followed Gandhian principles of truth, non-violence and peaceful non-cooperation throughout his life to oppose the cycle of repression by the British and strengthened the principle of Swaraj by advocating the use of Charkha through door-to-door campaign.

In pursuance of call ‘Do or die’ on 21 August 1942, a large-scale procession was planned which was to culminate with the hoisting of the tricolour flag on the top of the Maithili Police Station in Malkangiri. The procession led by Laxman reached the police station where the crowd staged a peaceful meeting. The Police however provoked them with indiscriminate lathi charge and firing which led to the death of five people and seventeen injuries. One forest guard G. Rameya was also killed in the scuffle.

For that incident Laxman was held responsible and was arrested after being framed by the police for provoking the murder of the forest guard. Thus he was made the scapegoat for the entire incident. In the station diary it was recorded that the intention of the meeting was to assassinate the family of all government officials. In the trial Laxman was found guilty and was sentenced to death by the Sessions Judge, V. Ramanathan.

Laxman was hanged on 29 March 1943, in Berhampur jail. But on the eve of his death he left the message to his fellow inmates that if moon and sun were the eternal truth in the sky, so also Indian independence which would come soon.