Paika rebellion memorial to inspire future generations: Prez

Paika rebellion memorial to inspire future generation Prez

BHUBANESWAR: President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday laid the foundation stone for a memorial to commemorate 200 years of Paika rebellion against the British rule, contending that the cenotaph in Odisha’s Khurda district would be a source of inspiration for future generations.

He said the project would come up on 10 acres of land in the foothills of Barunei Hills.

“The memorial will be seen as an epitome of Odisha’s valour and serve as a source of inspiration for future generations,” he said. Paikas, peasant militias of Gajapati rulers of Odisha, under the leadership of Buxi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar, had risen in a rebellion against the British in 1817.

Describing Odisha as a “land of peace-loving people”, the President said Paikas, who were engaged in agricultural practices, rebelled against the British when the colonial rulers tried to grab their lands. “After revolutionary Jayee Rajguru sacrificed his life fighting against the evil designs of the British, they thought the opposition from locals had ended. But, a more vigorous rebellion under Buxi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar ensued,” he said.

Farmers, labourers, and artisans also participated in the uprising, Kovind said.

He thanked Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan, for their efforts towards materialising the project. The President said the Centre is making huge investments for the development of infrastructure in mineral- rich Odisha as it accords top priority to the progress of the eastern region.

“Nature has blessed Odisha with abundant resources. The state has fertile soil, vast coastline, mineral resources, forest reserves and scenic mountains,” he said. With talented and hard-working people, Odisha has the potential to excel in all spheres from science to tourism, Kovind said. He said institutions in Odisha are preparing the youth of the country to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Odisha Governor Ganeshi Lal, his Andhra Pradesh counterpart Biswa Harichandan, chief minister Naveen Patnaik, Union Ministers Dharmendra Pradhan, Prahlad Singh Patel and Pratap Chandra Sarangi were among a host of dignitaries present at the foundation-laying ceremony. Patnaik insisted that Paika rebellion be recognised as India’s first war of Independence against the British as it occurred much before the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.

He also drew the President’s attention to the long- pending demand of Odisha for the introduction of an express train named after Buxi Jagabandhu. “Because of the patriotism, valour and struggle of the Paikas, Odisha remained unconquered till 1803,” the chief minister stated. Pradhan, the Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, said the Paika rebellion continued to inspire people across the country to this day.

The Odisha government has provided land free of cost for constructing the memorial, while the Centre had earlier released a postage stamp to mark 200 years of the rebellion. PTI