Social Scientist. v 24, no. 275-77 (April-June 1996) p. 82.


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BISWAMOY PATI*

The Murder of Banamali: Collective Action, Popular Culture and Social History**

Gruesome Murder

With grief we report today the murder of Banamali Pati. It was his efforts that had seen the establishment of a famous theatre group in Orissa, which had performed for years at several places. He had invested his body, soul and money to develop it. Unfortunately, around noon on Wednesday, the 23rd. of May, while he was returning from his kutchery to his home, a man greeted him by offering him a pranam and addressing him as 'hhaina' (elder brother). When he reciprocated the man caught hold of his hands. At that moment he was beaten from behind and Pati Mahasaye fell on the ground. One of the attackers stabbed him on his stomach and his intestines protruded and there are reports of cruelty committed on him thereafter. Subsequently, his dead body was loaded on to a cart and taken through the hat, with the murderers sitting on it, to the cremation ground with the idea of burning it. His murderers however, fled from the scene when a crowd of people reached the cremation ground. . . . We express our condolences to his bereaved family'.1

Banamali Pati's murder at Balanga (Puri) was indeed a sensational event and it is not surprising that it was front page news for the Utkala Dipika. It reported the murder of a pioneer of Orissa's theatre and its reporting matches those of present-day newspapers. The urban world

I am indebted to the late Sri Brajabehari Misra (Bhubaneshwar) for providing me with information about the case which he remembered from his childhood (interview: June 1991); I express my gratitude to Smt. Santi Ratha (Cuttack) for getting the Sessions Court Proceedings, hereafter SCP, related to this case from Balanga for me and discussing various details about Banamali Pati, her grandfather, with me; I also am extremely thankful to Sri Aditya Narayan Misra (Cuttack) for narrating details related to this incident (interview: January 1993) and helping me in conducting iny interviews at Balanga and Rupdeipur.

Social Scientist. Vol. 24, Nos. 4-6, April-June 1996



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