Saga of Fight For Independence!
Chapter 10: Bakshi Jagabandhu
This is the story of Jagabandhu Vidyadhar, who is also called as Bakshi Jagabandhu who is well known for his courage, his early life, how he started his fight against the British as a King of Khuda, how became a leader of rebellion and how the government finally captured Bakshi.
Jagabandhu Vidyadhar came from the royal Bhoi Dynasty that was ruling Odisha. He was matrimonially connected to the king of Sergarh and the king of Baramba. In this childhood he was educated and trained to fill up the high office of the Bakshi(Commander in Chief). He had fine physique and possessed great bodily strength and vigour.
Jagabandhu Vidyadhar became the Bakshi of the Raja of Khurda, the post he enjoyed by his hereditary rights and by his own capability. Besides jaghirs and other benefits he enjoyed the valuable estate of Killa Rorang at a very low rent. The first settlement of Krruda started in 1804-05. Jagabandhu possessed Omhai,Rehang, Sevai and Chalisked as rent free lands. Major Fletcher disregarded his claims and measured all the landed property leaving not a bigha of land. He was allowed to enjoy Killa Rorang.
The British had excluded native Odiya from all offices of trust. These were mostly filled up by the Bengalis and the Muslims. Dewan Krishna Chandra Singh resigned and by intrigue took away even Rorang, depriving Jagabandhu of all property. There was no remedy. In a state of despair, hatred and thrist for revenge he planned a rising against the newly established British Government by organising dissatisfied Dolbeheras in January 1817. Pindars also invaded from south. He boldly came forward to rebel against the British. People appointed him as their leader.
The Paika Rebellion:
It was the first rebellion of the paika with the support of common people against the British Rule. The land revenue policy of the British was the primary cause of the rebellion in 1817. The rent free land tenures provided to the soldiers for their military service on a hereditary basis were taken away in the settlement by Major Fletcher as their service were not required anymore.
This policy resulted in the deprivation of Bakshi Jagabandhu from his estates and forced him to depend on the voluntary contributions from the people of Khurda. This policy also affected the zamindars as well as ryots. Another important cause for that great event was the raise in salt price.
As a result, Bakshi Jagabandhu led the tribals of Banapur and Ghumsur and bravely marched towards Khurda to fight against colonial power.
The rebellion was handled by the march of a body of Ghumsar khandhas in to Banapur in the last week of March, 1817. The rebels victoriously marched to Khurda and took over administration. Jagabandhu Vidyadhar showed his skill and leadership as a fighter to free his motherland from foreingers.
The rebellion broke out in March 1817 and lasted for a year and half. The British magistrate fled to Cuttack with great difficulty and sent a desperate message to the Government in Calcutta-
“THIS INSTANT RETURNED; AFTER A MOST FATIGUING MARCH OF A DAY AND NIGHT, FROM KHURDA; I CAN ONLY WRITE FOR THE INFORMATION OF HIS LORDSHIP IN COUNCIL, THAT MY RETREAT WAS FORCED, AND THAT THE WHOLE OF THE KHURDA TERRITORY IS IN A COMPLETE STATE INSURRECTION. THE INSURGENTS CALL UPON THE RAJA OF KHURDA, AND JAGABANDHU ISSUES ORDERS IN HIS NAME. THEIR AVOWED INTENTION IS TO PROCEED TO PURI AND RECONDUCT HIM IN TRIUMPH TO HIS TERRITORY”.
By the time this SOS reached Calcutta the revolt had spread to the sacred town of Puri. The Priests of the Jagannath temple at Puri openly declared the end of the British rule and joined the rebels. The British had fled to Cuttack, where they regrouped.
By September 1818 it almost stamped out Britishers. The persionality of Jagabandhu Vidyadhar is striking in all respects. His personal dash, courage, devotion and loyality showed out prominently the rebellion against British. He was eager first to cooperate with British. But he was subjected to all kind of injustice, humiliation and degradation. The rebellion of 1817 was his hard work. He could enlist the sympathy and the support of the people. His rare iron will and determination was admired by the British army. But Bakshi fled away undetected.
Government tried frantically to capture Bakshi. After successive defeats, the Paika leader, Bakshi Jagabandhu, surrendered to the British in 1825 and lived as a prisoner in Cuttack till his death in 1829.
At last, a political settlement was arrived at by the British.He reached Cuttack on May 27, 1825 and signed an agreement. He was given a monthly pension of Rs. 100/- which subsequently was raised to Rs. 150/-. Hedied at his Cuttack residence on Saturday, the 24th January, 1829. Jagabandhu Vidyadhar ‘s surrender ws a political settlement with dignity and honour.
The Paika revolt was crushed with great brutality by the British. Hundreds of Paikas were hung and shot along with large number of the priests of Jagannath temple. The British Government established a commission under their representative Walter Ewer to investigate the causes of the revolt. The commission firmly blamed the exploitative and harsh policies of the government for it.
The British government did not take any steps to improve the situation. Just 10 years after the Paika revolt, Khurda would see another Paika revolt, this time in Tapang town, under the leadership of Samanta Madhaba Chandra Routray. This too was quickly crushed by the British.
Jagabandhu Vidyadhar is remembered today as a great hero of national moment and especially for his courage in every Odiya heart. A Government college Bakshi Jagabandhu Vidyadhar College was named after him.
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Dr. Sindhu Prashanth