Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
The Oriya daily SAMAJA founded by late Utkalmani Pandit Gopabandhu Das, to which, out of their love and reverence for the great humanitarian leader, the people of Orissa had and have been giving their financial and moral support, is in a menacing maze of forgery and loot.
Sadly, two of Gopabandhu’s trusted men – Lingaraj Mishra and Radhanath Rath – who, because of being known so, had the opportunity of becoming cabinet ministers in Orissa, were the masterminds and/or makers of the forgery from which the paper is yet to be salvaged.
Both of them – Lingaraj and Radhanath – had partnered with each other in forging the last WILL of Gopabandhu to grab the Samaja, which being Gopabandhu’s paper was of superb credibility and the greatest political instrument of the day. They had performed this crime behind the screen of and in nexus with Servants of the People Society (SoPS), of which, while breathing his last, Gopabandhu was the Vice-President.
The 1st victim was Pt. Nilakantha
To ensure that these two persons – Lingaraj and Radhanath – grab the Samaja without any hurdle, Pandit Nilakantha Das, the most revered friend, philosopher and guide of Gopabandhu, who not only was the co-founder of the Samaja, but also had succeeded him as the editor of the paper, had been quite unceremoniously thrown out of its editorship. He has written in his autobiography (Atmajivani) that after Gopabandhu’s sad demise, he kept the paper alive by taking up its editorial responsibilities. But SoPS required him to join it in order to continue as the editor. He refused to be a member of SoPS that led to his eviction from Samaja. When he was being rudely thrown out of Samaja, Gopabandhu Chowdhury, bureaucrat-turned social worker of eminence, was standing silently, he has written. This episode might have opened up the eyes of Chowdhury to the nastiness of SoPS, because he had then refused regular membership of this organization. Nilakantha was too magnanimous a man to bother about what injury was inflicted upon him by these schemers. He was such a simple-natured great man that while reflecting on Lingaraj, he preferred to use choicest words of praise for him.
Nilakantha, matchless man of letters and patriotism, was the most revered man of Orissa after Kula Gourav Madhu Sudan Das and Utkalmani Gopabandhu. If Gopabandhu was the spirit behind the Satyavadi School, Satyavadi Press and the Samaja, he was the main architect.
Nilakantha was so affectionate towards Gopabandhu that he had procured the entire Press of Nilachala Samachar for Gopabandhu’s use and had gifted a house to him to stay along with the Press, which then was christened ‘Satyavadi Press’.
Nilakantha has written that he could not know when Gopabandhu had sold away that house to the Mahant of MR Math. But he has written, he was standing still and speechless when Gopabandhu gifted away the Satyavadi Press to the SoPS.
Obviously he was so blind in his love for Gopabandhu that he did never oppose the selling away of the house he had gifted to Gopabandhu by Gopabandhu to MR Math behind his back and had never opposed gifting away the Satyavadi Press, which he had purchased from Nilachal Samachar, by Gopabandhu to SoPS, even though he was present on the spot. When Nilakantha breathed his last, Samaja had described him as the God in the body of a man.
But, this “God” had been kicked out of the Samaja in presence of Gopabandhu Chowdhury, as otherwise the path for Lingaraj Mishra and Radhanath Rath to become successive editors of the powerful paper could not have been paved.
What must have he done to earn this rough treatment? He must have opposed occupation of the Samaja by SoPS, which is clear from his refusal to become a member thereof to continue as the editor and he must have opposed forgery of Gopabandhu’s WILL to establish ownership of SoPS over the Samaja.
Samaja was not given to SoPS
Two points are noteworthy at this stage. One: Nilakantha, who was present at the time on the spot when Gopabandhu was dictating his “last WILL and testament”, has written that, it was Radhanath Rath that had taken down the dictation and two: Gopabandhu had gifted away only the Satyavadi Press to SoPS, not the Samaja.
In several places in his autobiography, Nilakantha has written about the gifting away of only the Satyavadi Press by Gopabandhu to SoPS; not the Samaja.
Who wrote the WILL:
Radhanath Rath or Lingaraj Mishra?
The WILL in circulation by the Samaja/SoPS is claimed to have been written by Lingaraj Mishra to dictation of Gopabandhu and hence it is not the one dictated by Gopabandhu to Radhanath Rath and also signed by him as per eye-witnessed accounts of Pandit Nilakantha.
Who had then noted down the dictation: Lingaraj Mishra or Radhanath Rath?
There is no reason to disbelieve the eye-witnessed accounts of Pandit Nilakantha Das. So there is reason to apprehend that the WILL dictated to Radhanath Rath by Gopabandhu was certainly not advantageous to the design of Lingaraj and Radhanath. Therefore they suppressed/destroyed the original WILL and manufactured another to replace the original.
Gopabandhu had tremendous trust in them both. But they breached that trust. Otherwise, when Gopabandhu had not given the Samaja to SoPS, they would not have remained silent on change of the text of the WILL depicting the making over of both the Satyavadi Press and the Samaja by Gopabandhu to SoPS. Both of them had become successive editors of the Samaja and none of them ever objected to publication of the paper under ownership of SoPS, if anybody else working in shadow for SoPS than them had tampered with the text of the WILL. Instead of opposing to annexation of Samaja fraudulently by SoPS, both of them grabbed utmost benefit by being at the helm of affairs of the Samaja under the umbrella of SoPS. Their this guilt, in their anxiety to keep the forgery out of public gaze, has given birth to discernibility of a WILL of different texts being in use and circulation by the Samaja/SoPS.
Two texts of the same WILL circulated by Samaja/SoPS
The WILL in use and circulation by the Samaja/SoPS has two different texts. The one published in Samaja on 7.7.1986 as “exact photocopy” of the WILL of Gopabandhu is not the same as the WILL submitted by one S. C. Mantry Rtd. IAS claiming to be its General Manager before the ADM, Cuttack on 2.7.2013 in order to influence his enquiry into the legitimacy of ownership of the Samaja.
The handwritten WILL published in the Samaja on 7.7.1986 as the “exact photocopy” of the original does not carry the signature of Gopabandhu. Under the text therein, the words ‘Sd/ Gopabandhu Das’ are written sans any date. Towards the end of this “exact photocopy” on the left side of the column 2 (or the page 2), under the caption “witnesses”, three names have been written by the writer of the manuscript that are D.V.R.Patnaik, Basudev Mohapatra, Ramachandra Raut seriatim with a date – 17.6.28 – written underneath.
On the other hand, the copy of the WILL submitted before the Cuttack ADM by the agent of Samaja/SoPS is a typed copy projected as certified true copy of the WILL obtained from Sirastadar, Commissioner of affidavits on 7.9.29. Had it been so, it should have been authenticated on the strength of prescribed payment of fees in shape of ‘Stamps’. No affixation of Stamp is discernible on the body of the typed copy submitted before the Cuttack ADM. Moreover, on the body of this typed copy of the WILL, below the text, Gopabandhu has been shown to have signed on 17.6.28. Then, after writing the words – “written by me to his dictation”, Lingaraj Mishra is shown to have signed on 17.6.28 and then it is written, “Sd. Rama chandra Raut, President, Satyabadi U.Board, 17.6.28, Sd. Basudev Mohapatra, Sriramchandrapur, 17.6.28” and below that, “I testify that the contents of this will were dictated by Pandit Gopabandhu Das, while in his full senses, nd was read over to him and he signed in our presence and we signed in his presence 5 P.M. Sd. D.V.R.Patnaik, L.M.P. 17.6.1928 attending Doctor”.
Hence, it is clear that the “true copy” of the WILL submitted by the agent of the Samaja/SoPS before the Cuttack ADM is different from the “exact photocopy” of the handwritten WILL published by the Samaja on 7.7.1986.
In the “exact photocopy” there is no mention of the WILL read over to Gopabandhu and of his signing the WILL in presence of the witnesses and the witnesses signing in his presence and of the averments of Lingaraj Mishra, “Written by me to his dictation” as well as of the dated signatures of the witnesses in the order that the handwritten WILL carries. So, certainly the typed copy produced as the “certified” true copy of the WILL of Gopabandhu is not the copy of the original WILL.
Dubious role of Radhanath Rath
What was the necessity of publication of the “exact photocopy” of the so-called WILL of Gopabandhu in the Samaja of 7.7.1986 by Radhanath Rath? We shall soon bring its answer to light. But for the present, we can say, it was Radhanath Rath who had obstructed a noted research scholar from bringing out the correct position of the WILL of Gopabandhu. Dr. Nityananda Satpathy, had tried his best to persuade Rath to allow him to go through the original documents and speeches of Gopabandhu for his research on him. Rath rejected all his requests. He has noted in his work on Gopabandhu titled “He Sathi ! He Sarathi !” that disappointed, he had attracted the attention of Gopabandhu’s another closest comrade Acharya Harihar Das to such shocking conduct of Rath. Acharya was very sorry on knowing of this, but seemed helpless. In the circumstances, Satpathi had to rely upon whatever Dr. Sreeram Das had written on Gopabandhu. But, noteworthy is the fact that when Gopabandhu’s so-called WILL has been placed in the book written by Dr. Das on which Dr. Satpathy has relied upon, it has not been kept in the book of Dr. Satpathy. He has kept the page blank instead. I had asked Dr. Satpathy in his residence while obtaining from him a copy of the out of print book as to why has he not placed the text of the WILL. “Having failed to go through the original as Rath did not allow me access to Gopabandhu’s records, I did not deem it prudent to feed my readers with the copy in circulation”, he said.
Though not a part in circulation of the alleged WILL, Dr. Satpathy has also said that Nilakantha had taken down the dictation. This he has said, because his work was admittedly influenced by materials collected from Dr. Das’s work on Gopabandhu. However, this book of Dr. Das published by Gopabandhu Sahitya Mandira, with the help of Radhanath Rath, while including the WILL of Gopabandhu as supplied to him by Radhanath, gives us the accounts of Gopabandhu’s life after giving the dictation of the WILL. It says, “After dictating his WILL, he said, “You must all be careful. My time has come. Let me go”. He directed his friends and colleagues to sit around him and say prayers. Every one started praying and Gopabandhu also joined them. In course of the prayer Gopabandhu said, “Why is my breath moving upwards? I am feeling waist pain because of this”. Acharya Harihar Das began massaging him. The pulse-beat had already stopped and repeated injections did not produce any effect. He had full consciousness and with his hand on his chest he said, “I wish this upward movement of the breath had stopped”. It was stopped after two minutes. Gopabandhu passed away at 7.25 p.m. on the 17th June, 1928”. From this detail description of what happened to Gopabandhu after he dictated his WILL, nowhere it transpires that the WILL as noted down was read over to him and he signed in presence of the witnesses and the witnesses signed in his presence. So, the depiction on the body of the typed copy of the WILL of D.V.R.Patnaik’s averment that “the contents of this WILL were dictated by Pandit Gopabandhu Das, while in his full senses, and was read over to him and he signed in our presence and we signed in his presence” is not correct. Had this “signing” episode occurred, Dr. Dash could have given its narration too. I am afraid, this was added by Dr.Rao Patnaik to give the will the necessary lega; strength.
Our analysis leads us to be convinced that neither the “exact photocopy” of the handwritten WILL published in the Samaja on 7.7.1986 nor the typed copy submitted before the Cuttack ADM by the agent of the Samaja/SoPS on 2.7.13 in course of investigation into ownership of the Samaja is the genuine WILL of Gopabandhu.
We have reason to apprehend that the WILL dictated by Gopabandhu to Radhanath Ratha, as eye-witnessed accounts of Pandit Nilakantha is no more in existence. Both Radhanath and Lingaraj have done away with the same in order to annex the Samaja to SoPS so that both of them – Lingaraj being the lone life member from Orissa after demise of Gopabandhu, and Rath, his associate, could be the beneficiaries of the tremendously popular paper in their political and economic pursuit.
This is a serious offense, well planned and neatly executed by Lingaraj Mishra and Radhanath Rath to grab the Samaja under a guise. Both of them them used the Samaja to their own benefit till their death and SoPS continues to loot it by using the forged WILL.