By Anurjay Dhal
BARUNEI HILLS/KHURDA: The foundation stone laying ceremony for the memorial of Paika Rebellion, to be set up by the IndianOil Foundation, has been performed at the historic foot-hills of Barunei, Bhubaneswar, today in the august presence of President Ram Nath Kovind, along with a galaxy of dignitaries and a distinguished gathering of guests and invitees.
The dignitaries participating in the event included the First Lady of India Sabita Kovind, Biswabhusan Harichandan, Governor of Andhra Pradesh; Ganeshi Lal, Governor of Odisha; Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Odisha; Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas & Steel; Prahlad Singh Patel, Minister of State (IC) of Tourism and Culture; Pratap Chandra Sarangi, Minister of State of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries and Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises; Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi, Minister of Tourism & Culture, Government of Odisha; besides senior officials of the oil industry.
Speaking on the occasion,President said, “The State of Odisha has a rich history dating back to the ancient times, being famous as Utkala in the Mahabharata and Kalinga during the Mauryan age. It is the land that led to the transformation of King Asoka from Chandasoka to Dharmasoka; this brought about remarkable changes in the Buddhist religion.
“Odisha is not only famous for its art, culture & architecture and its trade & commerce but also for its revolutionary freedom struggles, and instances of brave resistance and sacrifices. The State attracted foreign rulers who enforced their laws and regulations on the people of Odisha, he said”.
Highlighting India’s struggle for independence, President added that there had been several memorable incidents, movements and freedom-fighters associated with the freedom struggle, prominent among them being the Paika Rebellion. To give due recognition to Paika Bidroha, the peasant rebellion that took place in 1817 against the British East India Company, in the history of the freedom struggle of India, the then Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, had in his Budget speech for 2017-18 announced the Government’s plan to commemorate 200 years of the rebellion led by Bakshi Jagabandhu appropriately.
Taking the initiative forward, the Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India, organised a function in Vigyan Bhavan, Delhi, on 20th July, 2017 to kick-start a series of events throughout the year. The then President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, had graced the occasion. In the event, it was proposed to construct a befitting memorial of Baxi Jagabandhu at Barunei Hill laying emphasis on the historical significance of the peasant-soldiers of Odisha and their valued contribution to India’s struggle for independence.
A commemorative stamp and coin on the Paika Rebellion was released by the Hon’ble Prime Minister when he visited the IIT-Bhubaneswar campus in December 2018. The setting up of a Chair on the Paika Rebellion in Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, was also announced.
President further said, “I would like to take this opportunity to compliment the immense courage of the Paikas, who independently stood against the oppression being forced upon the people by the British rulers. They were essentially the peasant militias of the Gajapati rulers of Odisha who rendered military service to the king during times of war while taking up cultivation during times of peace. As we lay the foundation of this memorial, let us also pay homage of all the martyrs of the Paika Rebellion and seek blessings for their families.”
Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Petroleum Minister welcomed President and said, “Being an Odia, it is a proud moment for me. In the august presence of Hon’ble President of India and dignitaries at the historic foot-hills of Barunei, today, the descendants of martyrs of the great Paika Rebellion remembered their ancestors and after 200 years of historic Paika Rebellion, today we are going to built up a Memorial in order to pay homage to all the martyrs of the Paika Rebellion. Today we are going to create a history. For more years to come, this historic place and the memorial to be built up will be a pride for the state of Odisha and it will certainly become one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the world tourism map. I congratulate all the martyrs families and every Odia on this auspicious occasion”.
In order to pay homage to all the martyrs of the Paika Rebellion, a fitting memorial is being built by the IndianOil Foundation, a non-profit trust set up by IndianOil. The memorial will be a tourist destination showcasing the heroic saga and valour of the Paika Rebellion, which is seen as the first expression of freedom struggle against colonial rule.
With the objective of protecting, preserving and promoting the heritage monuments of India, IndianOil, in the year 2000, created the IndianOil Foundation (IOF) as a non-profit trust, in collaboration with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the National Culture Fund of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. Exclusively funded by IndianOil, the Foundation aims to adopt at least one heritage site in every State and Union Territory for development of tourist-friendly infrastructure facilities.
The IndianOil Foundation has recently developed world-class tourist facilities and an Interpretation Centre at Konark Sun Temple, Odisha, to showcase the unique architectural features of the UNESCO world heritage site for visitors from India and abroad. The world-class Interpretation Centre has been designed and developed as a user-friendly and interactive new-age museum, with multiple exhibits and multimedia displays. The Foundation is currently developing similar tourist-friendly infrastructure facilities at five more heritage sites in India. They are: the Khajuraho group of temples in Madhya Pradesh, Kolhua near Vaishali in Bihar and Kanheri Caves in Maharashtra (both of them being highly acclaimed Buddhist sites), and Bhoganandishwara Temple (Nandi Hills) in Karnataka. Two more projects have also been identified for development, that is, Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan and Dholavira in Gujarat.