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Pradeep Pattanayak

Protesting against the Union Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy’s statement on ‘Paika Bidroha’ or ‘Paika Rebellion’, terming it not the first war of Independence, hundreds of members of various Paika organizations took out a procession on Wednesday. 

The processionists, displaying various traditional weaponries, started the march from the foot of Barunei hill near Jatni and culminated at the place where President Ram Nath Kovind had laid the foundation stone for a Paika memorial. 

The President had laid the foundation stone for the memorial on December 8, 2019, marking the bi-centenary of the Paika Uprising, better known as ‘Paika Bidroha’. The 1817 ‘Paika Rebellion’ is referred to as India’s first organized uprising led by Buxi Jagabandhu against British Empire.

The members of Paika organizations alleged that two years have passed since the President laid the foundation stone for the memorial but the construction has remained confined to the foundation stone alone. 

The Central government asked for 50 acres of land for the construction of the memorial. On the contrary, the State government has provided only eight acres for the same. And the process for transfer of land has not started as yet, putting the stumbling block in its way.

The members further alleged that the Union Culture Minister’s statement was an insult to Odias. They urged that the Centre should reconsider the demand of Odisha and accord ‘first war of Independence’ tag to Paika Bidroha. 

“Paika Bidroha is India’s first organized rebellion against the British Empire and it started from Khordha in 1817. 40 years later, the Sepoy Mutiny (Uprising), the revolt against the British Empire, took place in 1857. The word Mutiny’s literal meaning is the revolt launched by employees of lower rung against their higher ups. So that was not meant for the nation but Paika Bidroha was,” observed ex-MLA, Khordha, Dillip Srichandan.

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