Jagabandhu – The Paika Mutiny of 1817

Jayee Rajguru was executed by the British in the most brutal way. He had refused to divulge any details on the whereabouts of the then existing Paikas. His execution remained as a lesson to the Indians for waging a war against and not cooperating with the British. After the arrest and the forced exile of the Gajapati Mukundadev II, the Paika movement was rendered headless. The circumstances under which the Gajapati was exiled created all the more problems from the remaining of the Paikas from regrouping under their king.


 

The Paikas were divided and arranged by Jayee as per the weapons and war tactics they used.

The Paharis were the front line attackers and were equipped with the Khanda Sword – a broad double bladed straight sword and the shield.

The Khanda Sword largely used in  South Asia.

The Khanda sword immortalized by the Pahari Paikas

An example of the Khanda Shield

Khanda Shield

The Banuas were the scouts and spies and wielded the Matchlock – A gun of european origin.

The Matchlock used by the Paikas

An example of an Indian Matchlock

The Dhenkiyas were expert in guerrilla warfare and wielded the Bow and Arrow the Dhenikyas also performed many other roles like those of the city guards in the Khorda Kingdom.

Traditional Bow

Traditional Bow


 

Jagabandhu Bidyadhar Mohapatra Bhramarbar Rai aka Jagbandhu had received the title of Bakshi or Commander from his ancestors. He cam from a long lineage of Pahari Paikas. After the exile of their king many Paharis turned themselves in and opted for service as sepoys amongst the British ranks in order to make ends meet.  Jagbandhu was one of them. However every now and then the British kept oppressing these Paharis in order to break all their remaining rebellious teeth. The attrocoties kept mounting many were thrown out of their houses some stripped of their land. The paharis enjoyed tax free tilling and land in return of their service. But this too was taken away. Major Fletcher then decided to disband all of the paharis from the service thus rendering jobless. Now the Paharis could take it no more. They decided to regroup under Jagbandhu.

Bakshi_Jagabandhu

To gain support Jagbandhu started contacting and seeking support amongst Traders, the remaining feudal lords and jagirdaars. He gained tremendous support from many of the neighboring lords and jagirdaars. The common people too decided to chip in. the wealthy people contributed in terms of arms and armor while the commoners contributed by providing the paharis with food and shelter. Sensing the winds of change some Dhenikyas also emerged from hiding and decided to side with the Paharis. Even some distant Banuas sent their support to Jagbandhu. The Paika force was now complete.

The combined and regrouped Paika forces decided and planned an elaborate attack to the last detail. Now the Paika force had some 50 Banuas, 100 Dhenkiyas and 400 Paharis. The 550 strong and multi talented Paika force decided to give freedom from the British one last strong shot.

In early March 1817 about 20 Banuas and 50 Dhenkiyas launched a surprise attack in the Kurda town of Ghumsur. They held the entire British establishment there at ransom and soon in a day they were joined by a force of 200 Paharis. The town of Ghumsur had now fallen in the hand of the Paikas. The company treasury was looted and about 5 Britishers killed. A day after the Ghumsur conquest another group of 10 Banuas and 200 Paharis captured the town of Paragana Lembai. The company officials were killed and the buildings razed. The last group of 10 Banuas and 50 Dhenkiyas were keeping vigil and guard at Pipli and were to act as the first resistance to the company forces. This was the first well planned attack on the British by the Indians.

The Company govt was rattled and shocked to see the level of aggression and organisation shown by the Paikas. In April the then magistrate of Cuttack E. Impey ordered a battalion 200 strong under the Leadership Lt. Prideaure & Lt. Faris to quell the Paikas. Such was the resistance put up by the 60 Paikas stationed at Pipli that the battalion had to retreat with over 80 casualties and many more injuries all this in just 2 hours in to the fight. Lt Faris himself was killed by arrows in this encounter. The well organised Paikas had now struck terror in the minds of the British.

The company dispatched another battalion on the 9th of April, 400 strong,  to Puri under Captain Wellington. Wellington’s forces made a camp in Puri and started their search of the exiled Gajapati. The company wanted to capture the gajapati and force the Paikas to surrender. On knowing of the companies intentions Jagbandhu himself with a force of 200 Paharis rushed to Puri. This weakened  the Paika force in Khorda. The company then swiftly sent a force of 550 strong to recapture Ghumsur.

Soon now by mid April many of the neighboring tribes too started chipping in in terms of warriors. Jagbandhu reached Puri and forced company forces to retreat. Wellington was killed. The Company forces scattered back to Cuttack. The company managed to wrest Khorda from the Paikas. A base was created in Khurda. Under the leadership of the Commanding Officer Captain Le Fevere the british decided to attack Puri. They decided to use techniques of the Paikas against them. Le Fevere decided to send insurgents into Puri. By now in Puri Jagbandhu had managed to find their exiled king. He was throned in Puri once again. This boosted the morale of the Paikas and even the neighboring tribes. Many more Paikas who were once underground started emerging and by May 1817 the force had swelled from 550 to almost 1500 in number. The morale was as high as ever.

Le Fevere by May 1817 had enough well placed insurgents and spies in Puri. He realized that although high in numbers the Paikas were msotly ill equipped only a few had good weaponry and armor. He decided to mount a full fledged attack with all his strength and quash the Paikas and Capture their King. He attacked the stronghold of Puri on 16 May 1817   he quashed the initial resistance and captured the King before he could be sent into hiding. Le Fevere unleashed hell in Puri brutally butchering almost 600 warriors and 300 innocent civilians. The capture of their King demoralized the Paikas. Jagbandhu had almost planned to strike back with the little force he had left but many urged him to go into hiding and avoid being caught. Jagbandhu along with the remaining Paikas sought refugee in the nearby Jungles. The British combed the forests till almost September 1818 killed almost a 100 more Paikas but Jagbandhu had vanished.

Although the conquest lasted for a little more than one and a half months it had far reaching effects. The British never had witnessed  the unity of the Indians before. W.Ker a officer in the company then wrote that

” The Paika Mutiny was in no way just another altercation but was a fully planned and well executed attack on the empire. Jagbandhu’s people skills and war tactics needed to be studied by the company to nip any further mutinies in the bud. Looking the immense support Jagbandhu received and the way his army swelled, had the Paikas had had more time and weaponry the British would had lost Khurda for good.”

The Paika Mutiny of 1817 became a source of inspiration for many revolutionaries like Godavarish Mishra, Godavarish Mohapatra, Prananatha Pattanaik, Sachi Routaray, Gangadhar Paikaray, Gokul Mohan, Rai Chudamani, Purna Chandra Mohanty and so on.

What happened of Jagbandhu no one knows nor is there any record of him being sighted. But Jagbandhu with his skills managed to rock the foundations of the Company.

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