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It's Gandhi Jayanti, but Jagulaipada pays tribute to Nayak

October 03, 2003 00:26 IST

Every year Jagulaipada, a non-descript village in Orissa's Kendrapara district, observes Gandhi Jayanti by paying tributes to Raghunath Nayak.

Raghunath who? is a typical reaction.

Very few outside the village know about Nayak's valour on the fateful day when Gandhiji fell to an assassin's bullets.

Nayak, who worked as a gardener in the Birla House, grappled with and pinned down Nathuram Godse after the latter had fired lethal shots at Gandhiji on January 30, 1948.

But for all his bravery Nayak remained unnoticed and unsung during his lifetime. The people Jagulaipada, however, continue to treasure his memory. And every year on Gandhi's birth and death anniversary they remember Nayak.

"We observe Gandhi Jayanti and martyr's day by holding prayer meetings and garlanding the portraits of both the Mahatma and Raghunath," Kali Prasanna Nayak, a local teacher, said.

Nayak passed away on August 13, 1983. Nayak's widow, Mandodari, receives a monthly pension of Rs 25 by Birla House Management for the services rendered by her husband.

But with the death of her son Bidyadhar, a driver in the Orissa Police, in an accident few years ago, the family's income has been reduced to a trickle.

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