Paika Bidroha of 1817 is the first war of independence in India

The Odisha government urged the Union government to declare Paika Bidroha (soldiers’ rebellion) – fought in 1817 – as the first war of independence in the history of India.

The state cabinet on Tuesday approved a proposal to recommend the Centre to declare the 1817 ‘Paika Birdoha’ as the first war of independence in India. The cabinet meeting, presided over by chief minister Naveen Patnaik, was convened only to approve a proposal in this regard.

Earlier in the day, kin of 150 martyrs of the war against British left for New Delhi to attend a special function on July 20 to mark 200th anniversary of the Khurda Paika Rebellion. The gala event will be inaugurated by President of India Pranab Mukherjee.

“On the occasion of the bi-centenary of the Paika rebellion (1817-2017), the Odisha government earnestly requests the Government of India to declare it the first war of Independence,” said state culture minister Ashok Chandra Panda after a meeting of the state cabinet. It was the sole agenda before the cabinet meeting today.

Panda said the rebellion, which took place 40 years before the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny (called the first war of Independence), was an “organised and well-structured” rebellion that posed a threat to the East India Company. “The nature of the revolt was widespread with participation of all sections of people. It played the role of a torch bearer and catalyst in shaping the future of the freedom movement,” Panda argued.

Competitive politics has ensued between the BJD and the BJP to make political mileage over the Paika rebellion.

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Paika Bidroha at Odisha State Museum

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