‘Paika Bidroha’ Not First War Of Independence: Union Culture Minister

Bhubaneswar: The ‘Paika Bidroha’ cannot be called the first War of Independence, stated Union Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy in a written reply to a question by BJD MP Prashanta Nanda in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

Reddy said that the Ministry of Culture had received a reference from Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik through the Ministry of Home Affairs requesting for the declaration of 1817 Paika Rebellion of Odisha as the first War of Independence.

The matter was examined in consultation with the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, now renamed as Ministry of Education. “As per comments received from ICHR, Paika Rebellion cannot be called the first War of Independence,” he added.

The Minister, however, said from a historical point of view, it can be said that the ‘Paika Bidroha’ which started in March 1817 and continued till May 1825, had set an example for the classes as well as masses in India to follow later on. “Considering that this is one of the beginnings of popular uprisings against the British in India, it has been decided to include it as a case study in the Class VIII history textbook of NCERT, which deals with the 1857 event,” he added.

The Odisha Cabinet in a special meeting held on 18th July, 2017, had decided to propose to the Government of India to declare the Paika Bidroha as the First War of Indian Independence.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on 19th July, 2017, wrote to the then Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh urging the Government of India to consider the proposal for declaring ‘Paika Bidroha (1817)’ as the First War Of Indian Independence.

The letter also mentioned, “The Paika Rebellion (1817 AD) of Odisha, which took place 40 years before the ‘Sepoy Mutiny’ (1857 AD) eminently qualifies to be called as the ‘First War of Indian Independence’ not simply because it took place four decades prior to the Sepoy Mutiny but due to its very nature and characteristic features. It involved all sections of the people. The Paika Rebellion stands out prominently as it was essentially a broad based people’s movement. It played the role of a torchbearer and catalyst in shaping a people’s movement of resistance which ultimately led to the Indian Independence Movement.”

Patnaik had also urged the Centre to declare Paika Rebellion as the first War of Independence while laying of the foundation stone for Paika Rebellion Memorial at Barunei Hills in Khurda district on 7th December, 2019. The foundation stone was laid by President Ramnath Kovind.