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Shaikh Bhikari Gate at Ormanjhi Chowk

By M W Ansari

People without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.’ – MARCUS GARVEY. Historical buildings and monuments are physical links to our past. I was reminded of this maxim during a road journey I undertook recently. While travelling by road from Ranchi, the administrative capital of Jharkhand State to Dhanbad, the Coal Capital of India, I came across ORMANHJI CHOWK, a marketplace along the highway, just on the outskirts of Ranchi. There stands a gate constructed in the memory of Shaikh Bhikhari, a great freedom fighter of the 1st War of Independence in 1857. Shaikh Bhikhari was born in a humble Momin Ansar family of Khudia village in Ormanjhi, on 2nd October, 1811. From a humble weaver in the beginning, he rose to become a great freedom fighter, by virtue of his extreme patriotic fervour and bravery. Shaikh Bhikhari had fought the British a number of times. Employing his tactical guerrilla warfare skills, he inflicted major casualties on the British forces advancing from Ramgarh towards Ranchi through the Chutupalu Hills. But Shaikh Bhikhari was destined to become a martyr in the cause of the Motherland. He was hanged to death by the British in Chutupalu Valley on January 8, 1858.

At the present time, the ‘‘Shaikh Bhikari Gate’’ at Ormanjhi Chowk is a monument lying in a state of ruin and disrepair – plasters are crumbling, paints have peeled off, even the writing of the main arch has almost completely faded due to weather conditions and absence of routine repairs. It is indeed painful to see an important landmark, built to commemorate the noble sacrifice of this great freedom fighter, suffering from indifference and neglect.

We are celebrating our 72nd Independence Day, today. We owe this great day to the sacrifices of our great freedom fighters, one of whom was, undoubtedly, Shaikh Bhikhari. The least we can do to honour his supreme sacrifice for the cause of Motherland is to repair this decaying monument and restore it to its original glory and grandeur.

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