Nowadays there is a lot of buzz all round the state of Odisha following the results of the Panchayat election where the incumbent BJD of Naveen Pattnaik though has more than 50% of the seats is on a backfoot and the challenging BJP of Narendra Modi with only 35% of the seats is celebrating “Vijaya Utsav” for taking a step forward in ‘Congress Mukt Bharat(Odisha)’. But there is one man, Buxi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar Mohapatra Bhramarbar Ray infront of whom the leaders of BJD, BJP, INC bow down. If you think he is the Governor of Odisha, you are wrong. He is not even the erstwhile king of Puri or some other princely estate of the state. Then who is he?? What is his-story?? Why it is important to know about him.
In 1803 the English took over the erstwhile Orissa from the Marhattas almost 50years after the British Rule was established in neighbouring Bengal and infact whole of India in 1757. The Marhattas were no less blood-suckers than the British so the change in administration didn’t have any major reaction in the public mind-who were least politically conscious at that point of time. In 1804 the Britishers snatched the management of Jagannath Temple of Puri from the then King Mukunda Deva-II, as they had their eyes on the vast landed property and other incomes of the temple.
From the times the Kings of Orissa were sovereign powers, the custom of “Paikas” was well established as a mechanism of defence-should the occasion arise. The Paikas were farmers during peace and formidable mercenaries during war. They knew fighting well, both in the open field and in the jungles. They had had fought a good many bloody battle with the Mughals and did not prove inferior to any infantry which the Marathas ever brought into the field during their government of the province. Such a body of local landed militia was a tower of strength to any Government hence the vast agricultural lands and estates given to them in return of their military service was never disturbed by anyone till the Britishers came. The Britishers could have used such militia to their benefit, but by a fatal and shortsighted policy, Major Fletcher had been allowed to resume their service lands shortly after confiscation of Khurda estate. Deprived of the land which they enjoyed from time immemorial, they were subjected to the grossest extortion and oppression at the hands of the Sarbarakars and other Government Revenue officers, the tyrannies of a corrupt and venal police and deprivation of the rights to manufacture salt from sea-water ruined the livelihood, thus a fire of revolt amongst the Paikas was kindled and all they needed was a leader.
In March 1917, about 400 Kandha tribals of Ghumusur area came marching towards Khurda, they first attacked the police station of Banpur and burnt all government buildings, looted 15,000 rupees and marched forward. The tribe was joined by the Paikas of Khurda under the leadership of Buxi Jagabandhu who was the former General of King Mukund Dev. As the Paikas were marching towards Khurda . The rebellion under the leadership of Buxi spread to other areas like Puri,Pipili,Cuttack and remote villages. The british troop unprepared for such an attack suffered heavy losses at the hands of the paikas. On 18th April,1817 Gajapati Mukunda Dev was proclaimed to have regained his reign with formal ceremonies being performed by the Panda of Puri.The entire southern odisha was by then under the control the Paikas and Buxi Jagabandhu issued orders in name of the king. Soon the rebel got support from the Kings of Kujang and Kanika and reached almost a major part of the state.
The paika rebellion was not just an organized military movement but was a mass movement that involved the remotest of the remote villages. The impact was such that the britishers had to initiate development work in the state. This movement inspired nationalist leader even before 1857’s Mutiny and created a national awareness about independence. History may not have credited Buxi and the Paika’s for lighting the first war of Indian independence but the Odias should take pride in their this glorified past and that will be the real tribute to Buxi Jagabandhu on the occasion of 200 years of India’s First War for Independence.