President Pranab Mukharjee inaugurated the bicentenary (200th) celebration of Paika Rebellion (1817) of Odisha organised by the Union Ministry of Culture in New Delhi.
Paika rebellion predates the 1857 Revolt i.e. first war of independence. Many scholars, researchers and historians have opined that the Paika Rebellion of 1817 was India’s first organized armed rebellion against British Raj (then British East India Company rule).
About Paika Bidroha (rebellion)
Paiks were the traditional landed militia of Odisha, used to perform policing functions. They owned rent-free land that was given to them for their military service to Kingdom of Khurda. However they were forcefully usurped their land rendering them landless by the policies of British East India Company.
They were also subjected to repressive land revenue policies and humiliation by the British. At that critical juncture, Bakshi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar, the military chief of the King of Khurda, led army of Paikas forcing the East India Company forces to retreat.
During the rebellion, the Paikas had attacked British symbols of power, setting ablaze policestations, administrative offices and treasury during their march towards Khurda, from where the British fled. The Paikas were supported by the rajas of Kujang, Kanika, Nayagarh and Ghumusar and zamindars, village heads and ordinary peasants.
The British were initially taken aback and then tried to regain lost ground from the rebelling Paikas. Many a battle ensued with some victories to the rebel Paiks but the British finally managed to defeat them within three months. Widespread suppression followed with killing and imprisonment of many Paiks.
Some Paik rebels fought a guerilla war till 1819 but were captured and killed. Baxi Jagabandhu was finally arrested in 1825 and died in captivity in 1829. At present, Paika Bidroha enjoys a cult status in Odisha but unfortunately it has received less attention at the national level than it should have got.