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Utkalamani Gopabandhu Das

(1877 – 1928) – (Odisha)

Gopabandhu Das (Aged 51), was born on 9 October 1877 in Suando village, near Puri, Odisha in a Brahmin family. His mother was Swarnamayee Devi, the third wife of Daitari Dash. He was also known as Utkalamani or the Jewel of Utkal or Odisha, was an activist, journalist, essayist, poet, reformer, and social worker who actively participated in the Non-Cooperation Movement. He gave up his rewarding practice at the bar and dedicated himself to the cause of freedom while also working for social reform.

During his stay in Calcutta, he met the Vande Mataram group and was infused with the Swadeshi spirit. Gopabandhu Das was the first president of the Congress party in Odisha, and due to his efforts, Gandhi visited Odisha in 1921, leading to more people joining the Non-Cooperation Movement.

Subhash Chandra Bose referred to him as the father of the National movement in Odisha. He began the Puri Seva Samiti, a voluntary organization that helped cholera victims, which later led to the establishment of a separate hospital in the district for the victims.

He was a dedicated social worker who, despite his ailing son, rushed to the flood-affected areas without delay to provide relief. He said, “There are so many people to look after my son, but there are so many people affected by devastating floods. I must go there rather than attending to my son here. Lord Jagannath will take care of my son.”

Gopabandhu became All India Vice-president of the Lok Sevak Mandal in April 1928. He became ill while attending a society meeting in Lahore and died on 17 June 1928.