Prime Minister stirs Paika emotion

Honour for kin of freedom fighters

By SUBRAT DAS in Bhubaneshwar
  • Published 17.04.17
Prime Minister Narendra Modi felicitates a descendant of Madhab Chandra Routray, a leader of the Paika revolt, at Raj Bhavan in Bhubaneswar on Sunday. Picture by Ashwinee Pati

Bhubaneswar, April 16: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today felicitated members of 16 families associated with the freedom movement, especially the Paika revolt of 1817, referred to in Odisha as the first armed rebellion against the British colonialism. The move is being seen as an effort to strike an emotional chord with the Odias.

Historians from Odisha have been demanding recognition of the Paika rebellion as the first war of Indian independence and not the officially accepted Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.

In 1817, landed militia from Khurda and other former princely states had revolted against the East India Company that had snatched away rent-free land given to them by the royals.

Among the 16 descendants who were honoured by Modi were the family members of Pindiki Bahubalendra and Sardar Madhab Chandra Routray.

"Pindiki Bahubalendra was a fearless warrior who battled the British at Cuttack & Puri. He was later arrested by the British & was martyred," Modi tweeeted.

"Samant Madhab Chandra Routray was an expert at guerrilla warfare. He was also known for his care towards the poor & the needy," he tweeted.

"I feel proud of being born in this great warrior's family," said an excited Prafulla Bahubalendra after the felicitation ceremony held at Raj Bhavan this morning. Governor S.C. Jamir, Union tribal affairs minister Jual Oram and Union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan also attended the event.

Dalbehera Bhubananda Routray, the great grandson of Tapang Dalbehera Madhab Chandra Routray, said: "I am glad that at last the contribution of my ancestor and the role of the Paika revolt in the Indian freedom struggle has been recognised."

"Odisha's freedom fighters had a significant role to play in India's Independence movement. I am privileged to meet the descendants of those great freedom fighters who had laid down their lives to protect their motherland. But unfortunately, the history of Indian freedom struggle is restricted to a few years, few incidents and few families," said the Prime Minister.

The Centre had announced in the 2017-18 Union Budget that it would commemorate 200 years of the Paika revolt. The Naveen Patnaik government had also named a drinking water scheme after Buxi Jagabandhu, one of those who had led the Paika rebellion. Naveen had also urged the Centre to run a train in the name of Buxi Jagabadhu.

The other freedom fighters whose descendants were felicitated by the Prime Minister were Jai Rajguru, Buxi Jagabandhi, Krutibas Patsani, Dama Subudhi (Mangaraj), Chakhi Khuntia, Chakra Bisoi, Surendra Sai, Rendo Majhi, Madho Singh, Raghunath Mohanty, Dibakar Parida, Laxman Naik and Laxmi Indira Panda.

While the first six, including Jai Rajguru and Buxi Jagabandhu, were associated with the Paika rebellion, Chakara Bisoi had led the Ghumusar rebellion in south Odisha in 1835.

Veer Surendra Sai, ruler of a princely state in west Odisha, was involved in an armed struggle against the Britishers before being forced to surrender in 1862. Rendo Majhi, a tribal chieftain, had also led a rebellion by tribals against the colonialists.

In the last phase of the armed freedom struggle, Raghunath Mohanty and Dibakar Parida had led the Ranpur rebellion and killed the British political agent Major R.L. Bazelgette.

The two were hanged in 1941 for it. Laxman Naik, a tribal freedom fighter from the undivided Koraput district who had participated in the Quit India movement, was executed in Berhampur jail in 1945.