Saturday, September 1, 2012

‘The Obliterary Journal’ – Ed: Rakesh Khanna and Rashmi Ruth Devadasan

Nayagarh Incident

"It was a curious set of circumstances that led the 'Nayagarh Incident' to have been almost entirely overlooked by history. Probably at any other place and on any other date, the purported landing of an alien spacecraft operated by sentient machines, supposedly witnessed by hundreds of people, would have quickly garnered worldwide attention. However, the landing occurred – or was claimed to have occurred – in a hilly, rural area of what was then the Princely State of Nayagarh on May 31, 1947, just three days before the announcement of the partitioning of British India. The ensuing violent and chaotic migrations, the heady debate surrounding the future of the new independent nation, the possibility of Adivasi rebellion against the rajas, and the tumultuous years-long political process of integrating the feudatory states into the state of Orissa combined to completely eclipse any press that the fantastical reports from the countryside might otherwise have generated. The sole exception is a single-paragraph mention in a Berhampur Oriya-language weekly dated June 15, two weeks after the event, in which the anonymous reporter takes a tone fairly dripping with scorn for 'the overactive imaginations of the villagers.''

"And so, in stark contrast to the mysterious crash near Roswell, New Mexico only a month later, which has over the years become not just a darling of tabloid journalists and conspiracy theorists but an established part of contemporary American pop mythology, the Nayagarh Incident remains barely studied or publicised, in India or anywhere else, even as the last few people who claimed to have been eyewitnesses die out."

(p. 157, 'The Obliterary Journal' – Ed: Rakesh Khanna and Rashmi Ruth Devadasan - Landmark)

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