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Causes of the Paika Rebellion 1817 AD

There were many causes which led to the outbreak of the Paika Rebellion of 1817 which can be discussed as follows.

British exploitative policies

With the removal of the Raja of Khurda, Major Fletcher took over the charge of the entire administration of the estate. Thus started the exploitative policies of the British administration which became increasingly intolerable for the people of Odisha. They failed to understand the British regulations because those were translated into Bengali and Persi and were not available in Odia. Their ignorance was exploited by the clerks who were not native people rather Bengalies who crowded the offices in Odisha. In various important matters like payment of revenue, court cases etc. the local people were very much dependent upon the Bengali clerks who collected much money from them. Still then, to get fare judgement from the court became a dream for the local people. They could not ventilate their grievances before the British authority due to the gulf between the general mass and the British government.

Faulty revenue policy

The faulty revenue policy of the British government adversely affected the local zamindars and the royats. The short term land revenue settlements hit the zamindars who failed to pay their due to the British authority. The Britishers never allowed remission or time to the local zamindars for the payment of revenue. The zamindars who failed to pay revenue to the British government at Calcutta in proper time, lost their zamindaries due to several reasons like failure of crops, draught, flood and other natural calamities. The assessments and over assessments of the short-term settlements added misery to the already miserable life of the peasants. This faulty land revenue policy of the British government disappointed not only the zamindars but also the royats.

British salt policy

The British salt monopoly was another cause of the rebellion. It had caused immense hardship to the common people of Odisha. The long sea coast of Odisha produced a huge quantity of salt which was used by the people of this land freely. However, the British authority deprived the zamindars and the local people of coastal region of their traditional rights to manufacture salt. The rise in the price of salt was generally felt by every house of this land due to the heavy import of Liverpool salt.

Difficulties of the Khurda people

The amlas involved in the administration smuggled out vast quantity of salt and got huge profit. The common people of Khurda, who depended on smuggled salt, found themselves in utter hardship. They violated the British salt laws and manufactured salt. For this breach of laws, they had to suffer imprisonment which was a social stigma at that time. The persons who were imprisoned, were excommunicated from the society after their release from the jail. People tried to attract the attention of the British government against the oppressive nature of the salt laws which fell in deaf ears which enraged the people of Odisha.

The new currency system

The introduction of new currency- system of the British authority in Odisha was another factor for the Paik rebellion. During the Maratha period, cowrie formed the chief medium of exchange in Odisha. It had its rate of exchange with the silver coins. Scarcity of cowrie currency was greatly felt during the early stage of British administration in Odisha. As a result, it became very much difficult on the part of the British troops to procure small articles of daily consumption from the local market. So, in November 1804, the British government introduced sicca rupees in Odisha. The zamindars, the peasants, the Talukdars etc. felt difficulty for paying revenue in cowrie currency. The villagers faced a lot of problems in handling the new currency and they were grossly exploited by the local mahajanas.

Contemporary political condition of Khurda

The then political condition of Khurda, made its people rebellious. The hanging of Jayi Rajaguru, the deposition of Raja Mukundadeva II and the reorganization of administration in Khurda by Major Fletcher, enraged the people of Khurda a lot. They wanted to oppose the British rule in Khurda at any cost.

Displeasure of Buxi Jagabandhu

The displeasure of Buxi Jagabandhu was the immediate cause for the outbreak of the Paik rebellion. He was the Commander of the Raja of Khurda and his office was hereditary. He commanded respect next to the king from the people. For his service he got jagir lands from the Raja which was known as Buxibari, consisting of the quilla of Rorung and four paraganas viz- Rahang, Lembai, Sarai and Chabiskud. When Major Fletcher organised new administration in Khurda, he dispossessed Buxi of the quilla Rorung. Further, by the mischievous role of Chandra Prasad Singh, the above mentioned four paraganas of Buxi were sold to Lakshmi Narayan who ultimately gave it to Krishna Chandra Singh, a relation of Chandra Prasad Singh. When the fact was revealed, Buxi represented to Richardson, the Commissioner, regarding this clandestine deal. The challange of Krishna Chandra in the court against Jagabandhu’s right over these paraganas and Buxi’s own cousin Gadadhar Vidyadhara’s ciaim over such property, led Richardson to dispossess Jagabandhu of his right over these paraganas and as such, over all sources of income. This made Buxi a beggar. Added to this misfortune, the Daroga of Khurda tried to take Buxi into custody on a false information supplied to him by Charan Patnaik, the Sarbarakar of Khurda who reported the Daroga about Buxi’s secret link with the Pindaris. This led Buxi Jagabandhu to be rebellious.

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