Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday recognised Jayee Rajguru as the first freedom fighter of the state even as his cabinet colleague Damodar Rout refused to accept Rajguru as a freedom fighter.
Patnaik paid homage to mark the death anniversary of Rajguru, who fought the British in 1804.
“Homage to great revolutionary and 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,” tweeted Patnaik.
Meanwhile, state Agriculture Minister Damodar Rout said: “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.
Rout had earlier also courted controversy by saying Rajguru was not a freedom fighter at all.
He said Paika Bidroha, the first War of Independence against the British Raj, took place in 1817 instead of 1804 and Buxi Jagabandhu, not Jayee Rajguru, was the initial flag bearer of the battle.
The Biju Janata Dal leader said Rajguru fought the British as the latter went back on their promise to give him two Parganas of land.
Recently, Puri Gajapati Maharaj Dibyasingh Deb had said the Paika Bidroha against the British Raj was launched under the leadership of Jayee Rajguru in 1804 instead of 1817, and Buxi Jagabandhu had later taken it forward.
The state government is demanding the recognition of Paika Bidroha (Paik Rebellion) as the first War of Independence, and not the Sepoy Mutiny that took place in 1857.