|Paika revolt, OdishaYouTube|
|Paiga rebellion, Odisha Odisha Diary|
|Statue of Bakshi Jagabandhu, leader of Paika Rebellion, Bhubaneswar.wikipedia org.|
|Paiga rebellion, Odisha. Telegraph India|
The rebellion by Paiks were led by Bakshi Jagabandhu Mohapatra Bhramarabar Ray, the former bakshi or commander of the forces of the Raja of Khurda. In 1814, the British took over Jagabandhu's family estate of Killa Rorang reducing him to live in abject poverty. Once a rich and well-known commander now became a pan handler by the British
No sooner the rebellion broke out in March 1817 under the leadership. Raja Mukunda Deva, the last King of Khurda, than across Odisha people from all walks of life right from feudal chiefs to Zamidars had given full support to the rebellion. Several Zamindars (land owners) joined the foray without any hesitation and the revolt, like a summer bush fire, started spreading from Banapur and Khurda to many parts parts of Odisha such as Puri, Pipili and Cuttack, etc. The Rajas of Kanika, Kujang, Nayagarh and Ghumusur aided Jagabandhu and Dalabehera Mirhaidar Alli of Jadupur was an important Muslim rebel.
Embers of hatred and discontentment over the oppressive policy of the East India Company had been simmering for sometime and in March 1817 it began to over boil, A strong contingent of 400 highly spirited Kandhas crossed over into Khurda from the State of Ghumsur, openly declaring their revolt against the company's rule. The rebels became violent to let out their suppressed hatred for the British and their insulting treatment of them. Under Jagbandhu, the Paiks started looting and setting fire to the government properties at Banpur. The same story at Khurda where they did not spare native officials of the company and killed them.
E. Impey, the magistrate at Cuttack, in charge of the company affairs, sent forces to Cuttack to put down the revolt where they met strong resistance resulting in heavy losses; the English commander was killed. At Puri, on the other hand, under Captain Wellington, they faced little opposition. Soon the British forces took control of Khurda and declared martial law in that territory.
Situation at Puri changed and the rebels led by Bakshi Jagabandhu took control over the town forced the English company to retreat to Cuttack by 18 April. Consequently Cuttack remained cut off from the now rebel-held portions of southern Odisha, The force's recapture of Khurda encouraged the commanding officer, Captain Le Fevere, to pursue the insurgents into Puri. This British forces had no difficulty this time to put down the 1000 strong rebels because they were ill-equipped. They captured the temple town of Puri and the Raja before his escape. With great difficulty the EIC reestablished their authority over the region and by May 1817 normalcy was returned to the region.
The participating rebels who were hiding in many places were rounded up and the company appointed judges in May 1817 gave them severe punishment ranging from death to long term imprisonment. The EIC official between 1816 and 1826 combed the jungles and other remote places for the rebels, captured them and put them to death. As for Jagabandhu, the rebel leader, he surrounded to the British in 1825 and spent his time in jail till 1827. The Raja of Khurda refused any concession and died a British prisoner in November, 1817.
The newly appointed Commissioner of Cuttack Robert Ker wanted some administrative changes to avoid recurrence of such a big rebellion. They were of no use. The Odisha region is a major transit point for the EIC between presidencies of Madras and Bengal. The British policies in Odisha were not people friendly and later freedom struggle by Tapanga in 1827 and the Banapur Rebellion of 1835 showed the continued repressive policy of the foreign rulers. They were more bent on exploiting the natural resources of Odisha than giving importance to the sentiments of the native people there and the love of their land.
In October 2017, government of India recognized Paika revolt as the first war of independence prior to the famous Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 that began in the barracks of Meerut city. Justifying the state government's request, Naveen Patnaik, CM said: "Paika (1817 AD) of Odisha, which took place 40 years before the Sepoy Mutiny (1857 AD), eminently qualifies to be called as the 'first war of Indian Independence' not simply because it took place four decades prior to the Sepoy Mutiny, but due to its very nature and characteristic features."
"The Paika rebellion was broad based and well organised plural struggle against the oppressive rule of British East India
Company. It involved all sections of the people," Naveen said.