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Paika Rebellion | By Dr. Mahipal Singh Rathore | Free PDF Download

Brief Intro

The Paika Revolt was an armed revolt of the traditional Paika militia in the state of Khurda in Odisha in the year 1817. It continued for nearly a year. The revolt had been led by Jagabandhu Bidyadhar Mahapatra. It had nearly swept away the British in Khurda, Pipili, Banapur and Puri for months before being crushed by the forces of the East India Company.

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History of Odisha at the turn of 19th century

• Gajapati dynasty 15th -16th century

• Bhoi dynasty in Khurda/Puri since ~1600

• Khurda was a principality under the Gajapati king of Puri during the 15th and 16th centuries.

• Mughal rule – part of Bengal Subah – but mostly autonomous Hindu kings

• Maratha suzerainty after 175

• Marathas defeated by British in 1803

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King Mukund Deva II (1795-1817)

Jayakrushna Mahapatraq Jayi Rajaguru – Dewan  Jagabandhu Bidyadhar Mahapatra Bhramarbar Raiq Bakshi Jagabandhu – Chief of Army

The Rebellion of 1804 led by Jayi Rajaguru

• The British had sought permission of the Khurda prince Mukund Deva II for the movement of their troops through the state and help in their fight against the Marathas in Odisha

• The prince agreed, against the advice of his Rajguru

• Finally, the British occupation of Maratha territories did take place with the support of Khurda, but the promises made by the British were not fully kept by them.

• Only a part of payment promised was made to Khurda.

• The frustrated Rajguru made plans to conquer the pilgrim city and the other mahals from the Company.

• The Paika militia attacked the Company’s men in Pipli and wounded many British troops on November 22, 1804.

• The Company’s retaliation was swift and ruthless. The British troops stormed the fort of Khurda; Mukund Deva II and the Rajguru were arrested

• The prince was released and was confined to Puri on an annual pension. All his royal power or privileges were withdrawn.

• Rajguru was executed in the Medinipur fort on December 6, 1806.

Who were the Paikas?

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• Paika = Colloquial form of the word padatika or foot soldiers •

They were the landed militia in Odisha under Gajapati and other Kings

• They supported the local princes and zamindars as armed militia.

• They were granted rent-free land in lieu of rendering military service

• Also Undertook policing activities in peace-time.

Why did they revolt?

• After the British takeover of Khurda in 1803, many had hoped for good administration and respect for the prevailing social order.

• The new British administration, under Major Fletcher, forfeited those lands + increased taxes and thereby ruined the economic life of these martial people. A.G.Toynbee, who worked as the Revenue Superintendent of Cuttack, wrote in his book –  A Sketch of the History of Orissa: From 1803-1828 “Deprived, thus of the lands which they had enjoyed from time immemorial, they were subjected to the grossest extortion and oppression”.

• The hanging of Jayi Rajaguru

• The deposition of Raja Mukundadeva II  • British authority deprived the zamindars and the local people of coastal region of their traditional rights to manufacture salt. The rise in the price of salt was felt by every house.

Bakshi Jagabandhu

• The leader of the rising was Bakshi Jagabandhu, a former General of the armed force of the Raja of Khurda.

• Deprived of his own landed estate and reduced to the condition of a pauper, he took advantage of the general discontent among the Paik population and with the support of a large number of distressed Khonds from Ghumusar, he raised the standard of revolt.

Course of Events

• The Khurda revolt began in March 1817, when the Khonds from Ghumusar and the Paikas of Khurda jointly raided Banapur and attacked everything that symbolised the new Company’s establishment there.

• The Government establishments, police-stations, and treasuries were attacked, plundered and destroyed.

• The British troops suffered initial reverses with one of their Commanders, Lieutenant Faris, killed.

• The rebel forces reached Puri on 12th April, 1817 and caused considerable destruction to official property, and drove out the Government troops and officers.

• The success of the rebellion inspired confidence in the discontented elements at other places in Odisha.

• The Rajas of Kujang and Kanika, too, came under the suspicion of the British for rebellious activities.

• Vigorous military measures were taken by the British to reconquer the lost places and restore order.

• The rebellion ended by the end of October 1817 though its leader evaded the British

• Even after the suppression of the revolt, the Buxi and some of his close associates like Krushna Chandra Bhramorbar Ray, Gopal Chhotrai and Pindaki Bahubalendra absconded and remained at large for a long time, despite the government efforts to nab them dead or alive.

• The Guerrilla war continued for eight years.

• The Buxi was finally convinced to surrender in 1825. • He was confined to Cuttack, where he died in 1829.

Nature of Rebellion

• It was not a purely military revolt of disgruntled or demobilised soldiers but had a component that gave it a character of a civil uprising in which the Khurda Paikas, tribesmen, peasants, the traditional rent collectors and people engaged in native salt manufacturing – all took active part

• The sudden changes brought by the East India Company in the local economy and polity upset the traditional social fabric.

• The people’s deep sense of pride and respect for the locality, religion, social customs and traditions played a pivotal role in their participation in the revolts.

First Revolt against British Rule?

Sanyasi Rebellion 1770-71 Polygar Revolt 1799-1802 Revolt by Jayi Rajguru 1803 Vellore Mutiny 1806 Travancore Revolt 1807-09

Paika Rebellion – Relevance for Exam

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• Mentioned in Budget speech 2017 of F.M. Arun Jaitley

• On April 16, 2017, PM Narendra Modi honoured descendants of families associated with the rebellion, in Bhubaneswar.

• HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar had announced that Paika rebellion of 1817 will be named as First War of Independence in books from next academic session.

Indian History | Free PDF

By Dr. Mahipal Singh Rathore

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