FIRST WAR OF INDEPENDENCE.

  • Recently, the Centre has said that the Paika rebellion cannot be called the first War of Independence.
  • It has also been suggested that it would be included as a case study in the Class 8 National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) history textbook.
  • For the first time in 2017, the Odisha state cabinet had passed a proposal to formally urge the centre to declare the Paika rebellion as the first war of Independence.
  • In 2018 the Government released the commemorative coin and postage stamp in memory of Paika Rebellion.

Important points:

  • The Paikas (pronounced “paiko”, literally ‘foot soldiers’), were a class of military retainers had been recruited since the 16th century by kings in Odisha from a variety of social groups to render martial services in return for hereditary rent-free land (nish-kar jagirs) and titles.
  • When the British arrived they were peasant militias of the Gajapati ruler Mukund Dev II, of Odisha.
  • The Paikas lost their estates when the new colonial establishments and land revenue settlements of the British came into force.
  • Establishment of British rule in Odisha was followed by a policy of repression against the Paikas. They lost their traditional position in the society and their lands were taken away.
  • The continuous interference in the economy and revenue systems led to exploitation and oppression of the peasants and farmers eventually triggering a rebellion against the British.
  • Before and after the revolt of the Paikas in Khurda came risings in Paralakhemundi (1799-1814), Ghumusar (1835-36) and Angul (1846-47), the rebellion of Kondhs in Kalahandi (1855), and the Sabara Rebellion of 1856-57, again in Paralakhemundi.
  • These rebellions were led by propertied sections whose position was undermined by colonial interventions
  • The Paika Bidroha (Paika Rebellion) of 1817 took place nearly 40 years before the first sepoy mutiny.
  • Bakshi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar Mohapatra Bharamarbar Rai, the highest-ranking military general of Mukund Dev II, and erstwhile holder of the lucrative Rodanga estate, led an army of Paikas to join the uprising of the Kondhs.They confronted the British on 2nd April 1817.
  • The Paikas were supported by the rajas, zamindars, village heads and ordinary peasants. The rebellion quickly spread to different parts of the province.
  • Government buildings in Banapur were set on fire, policemen killed and the British treasury looted.
  • Over the next few months, the revolt continued but was eventually overpowered by the British army. Bidyadhar was imprisoned in 1825 and died while still in jail four years later.

SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES,MINT

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