BHUBANESWAR: Reiterating the Odisha government's demand to declare the Paika uprising of 1817 as India’s first war of independence, chief minister Naveen Patnaik today requested the Centre to issue a postage stamp to commemorate the bicentennial of the rebellion.
Addressing a function organised in New Delhi by the Union Ministry of Culture to mark the occasion, Naveen Patnaik said he had earlier requested the Centre to introduce a Humsafar AC train from Khurda Road to Mumbai via Sambalpur, named after Buxi Jagabandhu, the chief commander of the Paika uprising.
"I hope the central government will consider this demand in honour of this great hero," he said.
The function marked the beginning of year-long celebrations of the bicentennial of the rebellion. It was inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee.
The chief minister said the Paika rebellion, known as Paika Bidroha, was a broad-based people's struggle against the British East India Company transcending boundaries of caste, creed and class. He said declaring the Paika uprising as the first war of independence would be a fitting tribute.
Stating that the Odisha government has taken a number of steps to highlight this event during its bicentenary year, the chief minister said the government has started a programme called BASUDHA to provide drinking water to urban and rural areas with an investment of Rs 1000 crore during the year in memory of Buxi Jagabandhu.
There is also a proposal to organise a national seminar in New Delhi to highlight the rebellion’s historic significance, he said and added the state government has decided to erect a Paika Amar Jyoti Stambha in honour of the sacrifices made by the valiant Paikas.
Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan requested the chief minister to provide land near the Barunei hill in Khurda district to set up such a memorial. He said a statue of Buxi Jagabandhu, like the statues of Sardar Patel and Shivaji, should be erected on Barunei hill to inspire the people of Odisha.
Stating that Sipahi Bidroha was the first organised rebellion against the British, Pradhan said people belonging to all sections, including Paikas, zamindars, farmers and tribals participated in the rebellion.