How the Paika Rebellion shook the foundations of the British Rule in India?

President Ram Nath Kovind during his visit to the state of Odisha Khordha on September 27-28 will lay the foundation stone of a memorial dedicated to the 1817 Paika Rebellion against the British.

Paika Rebellion

  • The Paikas were the peasant militias of the Gajapati rulers of Odisha. They rendered military service to the king during times of war while taking up cultivation during times of peace.
  • After establishing their sway over Bengal and Madras which were north and south of Odisha, the British began their attempts to consolidate their presence in Odisha.
  • The Gajapati Ruler of Odisha Mukunda Deva-ll was a minor then and the resistance by Jai Rajguru, the custodian of Mukunda Deva-II, was put down brutally. The British successfully occupied Odhisa in 1803.
  • To consolidate their rule British began tinkering with the revenue system. This led to widespread resentment against the British rule in the regions of Odisha.
  • A few years later, Paikas under Baxi Jagabandhu, the hereditary chief of the militia army of the Gajapati King rose in rebellion by taking the support of tribals and other sections of society in March 1817.
  • Paikas attacked British symbols of power and set ablaze police stations, administrative offices and the treasury during their march towards Khurda, from where the British fled.
  • In the rebellion, Paikas were supported by the rajas of Kanika, Kujang, Nayagarh and Ghumusar and zamindars, village heads and ordinary peasants. As a result, the Rebellion spread quickly.
  • British were taken aback initially and their attempts to regain lost ground faced stiff resistance from the Paikas. There was widespread suppression.
  • 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.

The Paika Rebellion enjoys a cult status in Odisha. It has been named as the First War of Indian Independence by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development.

Published: September 25, 2019 | Modified:October 15, 2020

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