Odisha government decided to make a formal demand to the Centre for declaring Paika Rebellion of 1817 as the first war of independence in Indian history.
About Paika Rebellion
Paikas were essentially the peasant militias of the Gajapati rulers of Odisha who rendered military service to the king during times of war while taking up cultivation during times of peace. They unfurled the banner of rebellion against the British under the leadership of Baxi Jagandhu Bidyadhara as early as 1817 to throw off the British yoke.
History behind Paika rebellion
The British, having established their sway over Bengal Province and Madras Province to the north and south of Odisha, occupied it in 1803.The Gajapati King of Odisha Mukunda Deva-ll was a minor then and initial resistance by Jai Rajguru, the custodian of Mukunda Deva-II, was put down brutally and Jai Rajguru was torn apart alive. A few years later, it was the Paikas under Baxi Jagabandhu, the hereditary chief of the militia army of the Gajapati King, who rose in rebellion, taking support of tribals and other sections of society.
Reason for revolt
The Paiks were alienated by the British regime, who took over the hereditary rent-free lands granted to them after the conquest of Khurda. They were also subjected to extortion and oppression at the hands of the company government and its servants.
The Paikas attacked British symbols of power, setting ablaze police stations, administrative offices and the treasury during their march towards Khurda, from where the British fled.
The Paikas were supported by the rajas of Kanika, Kujang, Nayagarh and Ghumusar and zamindars, village heads and ordinary peasants.