Bhubaneswar: Dragging himself into the ongoing debate over the accordance of freedom fighter status to Jayee Rajguru, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Wednesday recognized Rajguru as the first freedom fighter of the state, apparently disregarding agriculture minister Damodar Rout’s counter-claim.
And in a twist to the tale, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu threw his weight behind Naveen’s assertion by saying that Rajguru was the first martyr of Orissa.
“He (Rajguru) was the first martyr from Orissa in freedom struggle and also one of the earliest martyrs in our Freedom Movement. Jayee Rajguru attacked British forces in 1804 on bank of river Mahanadi. In a fiercely fought battle, a handful of Paika solders fought valiantly against 7000 strong British army,” tweeted Naidu.
Describing Rajguru as the hero of the earliest war of Independence, the Vice President, in another tweet, said, “Rajguru made supreme sacrifice of his life on this day for independence of this country, sparking a massive “Paika Vidroh” or war against British in Orissa and other parts of the country.”
Paying homage on the death anniversary of Rajguru who fought the British in 1804 Naveen Wednesday tweeted: “Homage to great revolutionary & freedom fighter Saheed Jayee Rajguru on death anniversary. The fearless patriot who gave his life to the motherland lives in the hearts of all countrymen.”
However, Naveen’s Cabinet colleague Damodar Rout, who had sparked off a debate over the issue saying Rajguru was not the first freedom fighter, refused to accept the Chief Minister’s statement.
Rout strongly defended his earlier claim saying, “Jayee Rajguru is not a freedom fighter as per historian B.C. Ray and others. I don’t want to comment on anybody’s statement. If historians are wrong, then what is the truth,” asked Rout.
According to Rout, Paika Bidroha, the first War of Independence against the British Raj, took place in 1817 instead of 1804 and Buxi Jagabandhu, not Jayee Rajguru, had been the initial flag bearer of the battle.
The senior BJD leader further said that Rajguru fought the British as the latter went back on their promise to give him two Parganas of land.Notably, Orissa is demanding the first fight for freedom status for Paika Bidroha waged against the then British Raj instead of the Sepoy Mutiny that took place in 1857.
Recently, Puri Gajapati Maharaj Dibyasingh Deb had said that the Paika Bidroha against the British Raj was launched under the leadership of Jayee Rajguru in 1804 instead of 1817 and that Buxi Jagabandhu had later taken it forward.