On 24th December 2018, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi released a commemorative coin and postage stamp to mark the 200th anniversary of Paika Rebellion. The inauguration function was organised at IIT Bhubaneswar.
Led by Bakshi Jagabandhu, the Paika rebellion was aimed at uprooting British East India Company’s rule in Odisha in 1817. Jagannath remained as the symbol of Odia unity during this rebellion. The revolt spread like wildfire until the company’s forces crushed it mercilessly.
The Paikas were the traditional soldiers of Odisha who served for the kings of Odisha. The East India Company conquered Odisha in 1803 and the Raja of Khurda was dethroned. Paikas were asked to pay land revenue and their rent-free lands were taken away. They also faced extortion and oppression. Salt tax was imposed, cowrie currency was abolished, all of which led to a lot of unrest.
Bakshi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar Mohapatra Bhramarabar Ray, the former commander of the forces of the Raja of Khurda led the revolt. Raja Mukunda Deva was another leader in this rebellion. People from all casts and communities joined the revolt. It spread from Banapur and Khurda to various remote villages.
They started looting police station and post office at Banpur before setting them on fire. The civil buildings and the treasury were sacked in Khurda, native officials of the company in Paragana Lembai were killed.
The Company Army was sent to curb the revolt, but they had to face several losses initially. Finally, an army of 550 soldiers was sent by the Company. Khurda was captured by the Company again and martial law was introduced. Puri was still under the control of Paikas, due to which the British had to head back. When Khurda was captured by the Company, the army attacked Puri and captured it as well. The British got complete control over these territories in May 1817. The rebels were prosecuted and given sentences of death, transportation and long-term imprisonment.
It’s indeed a wonderful way to pay tribute to the brave soldiers of Paika Rebellion through the release of commemorative coins and stamps.
Image Courtesy: Wikimedia