Born in Dhenkanal, Odisha, Baji Rout was the youngest Indian freedom fighter and martyr, having been killed at the age of twelve.
Rout, who was a boat boy, was shot by British police when he refused to ferry them across the Brahmani River on the night of 11 October 1938 at Nilakanthapur Ghat. As an active member of the Banar Sena (composed of young children) of the Prajamandal, he had volunteered to keep watch by the river at night. The British Police force ordered him to cross the river by his boat which he denied. The police force then fired upon Baji Rout along with Laxman Mallik and Fagu Sahoo.
The bravery and patriotism of young Baji Rout has been immortalized in the poem ‘Boatman’ by the Jnanpith award-winner Sachidanand Routray. It opens with the sentence -
“It is not a pyre, O Friends! When the country is in dark despair, it is the light of our liberty. It is our freedom-fire”
Source : Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav