The Khond uprising was a rebellion against the British Raj led by the Khonds of Odisha in India. The uprising began in 1837 and lasted until 1856. The growing discontent among the tribals of Ghumsur from the beginning of British rule led to the rebellion. In due course, the tribals of Ghumsur led by Dora Bisoi started rebellion against the British authority. The British failed to pay proper attention to the administration of Ghumsur. Here on this page you will learn about the Khond Uprisings (1837-1856), which will help you prepare for the UPSC and government exams.
Causes of Khond uprising
Khonds were particularly incensed by the British suppression of Meriah in Ghumsur, which was a direct attack on their traditional religious faiths. The activities of Christian missionaries also infuriated the Khond.
Up to 50% of the land revenue was collected through forceful methods, which wounded the sentiment of the tribal people. As a result, the tribals became irritated and wanted revenge.
Dhananjay Bhanja, the ruler of Ghumsur was apprehensive of being captured by the British. So he fled into the jungle and sought the help of the Khond. The Khond were eager to help him since he was their ruler.
In 1835, the rebellion was triggered by the dissolution of the Bhanja ruling family following the death of Dhananjay Bhanja. The two members of the royal family, Brundaban Bhanja and Jagannath Bhanja, rebelled after his death and were supported by Dora Bisoi, the tribal chief of the Khond of Ghumsur.
Who was Dora Bisoi, the leader of Khond rebellion?
The Khond tribe rose in rebellion under the leadership of Kamal Lochan Dora Bisoi. He was born in the village Binjigiri, located near Kulla of the lower Ghumsur area. He was a ‘Maliah Bisoi’ or ‘He Agent’ of the Khonds of Ghumsur area of Odisha. He was a good sword-fighter and a wrestler of high quality. Therefore, he became the leader of the Khond and ‘Agent of Khond attairs’ to the king of Ghumsur. He was appointed as the Commander-in-chief of the Ghumsur army. He has managed the military affairs of Ghumsur in a good manner.
British Measures to stop Khond rebellion
The British authorities under the Madras Presidency took several measures to suppress the rebellion of Dora Bisoi. When the rebellion became intolerable, they sent George Edward Russel to suppress it.
During this time, Dhananjay Bhanja who has left Ghumsur has taken shelter under the Khond of Ghumsur. It is, however, believed that instead of paying taxes to the British Government, he took a lot of money with him to support and continue the rebellion associated with the Khond of Ghumsur.
In the meantime, Russel reached Ghumsur on 11 January 1836 to suppress the rebellion. Despite the fact that Russel had a grand army with him to fight against the Khond, the British Government of India ordered the superintendents of the Tributary Mahals to provide Russel with habitual assistance.
The Raja Dhananjay Bhanja died on 31 December, 1835, leaving his family in the care of the Khond of Ghumsur. During this period, many others joined Dora in the rebellion against the British authority. Since the tribal leers inhabited the jungle, they had a good understanding of it, and they used it to their advantage in this rebellion to resort to Guerrilla warfare.
To capture Dhananjay Bhanja’s family members, Captain Butler led the British troop to the Ghats on 14th February, 1836. Dora has instigated the Khond to resort to aggression against the British troop. He must capture the royal members and rescue the treasury, which was taken by Dhananjay Bhanja. When the British troops reached the Ghats to make it to Udaygiri, they encountered resistance from the Khond.
A rebellious Khond attack on a British detachment led to the deaths of thirteen soldiers (sepoys) and two European officers. After this incident, British forces captured some Khond and took others as prisoners. There was fierce resistance from the Khond under Dora Bisoi.
After searching many places for him to be arrested, he finally sought refuge at Angul. Since the British failed to capture Dora Bisoi, a prize of 5,000 rupees was declared for anyone who could capture him. In this connection, the Tributary Chief of Angul betrayed him. Raja Somnath Singh of Angul has played an important role in surrendering Dora Bisoi under the instructions of Henry Ricketts, the Commissioner of Odisha. In 1837, Raja Somanath Singh of Angul handed Dora Bisoi over to the British.
Consequences of the Revolt of Dora
Dora Bisoi was captured after other rebellious leers were captured later. They were tried and punished severely. Dora died in Ooty prison in 1846 after being sentenced to life in prison for life. A total of 40 rebels were executed, 29 were imprisoned for life, and 2 were imprisoned for eight years. Other rebels were imprisoned as well.
A new agreement with the Khond was signed by the British Government after Dora Bisoi and other rebellious leaders were arrested. The British appointed Sam Bisoi as Chief of the Khonds, who played a crucial role in capturing Kamal Lochan Dora. Dora Bisoi’s rebellion ended after this.
Khond rebellion under Chakra Bisoi
Despite Dora’s imprisonment and death, the Khond rebellion continued. His nephew, Chakra Bisoi, took Dora’s place. He resolved to revenge his uncle’s imprisonment and death.
Factors responsible for the rebellion under Chakra Bisoi
Chakra’s uncle Dora Bisoi died in a tragic accident leaving him scarred. He sought revenge for the death of his uncle.
Macpherson has done a lot to disturb the Khond by interfering with their religion. He rescued Meriahs, threatened the Khond with dire consequences, and punished them mercilessly.
In 1846, Captain Macpherson was humiliated at Bisipara, and the Khond revolutionaries forced him to surrender the Meriahs he had rescued. Otherwise, the Khonds were planning to kill him.
British Measures to stop Chakra Bisoi rebellion
It was evident that Macpherson did not adhere to the policy of appeasement toward the Khonds. The Madras Presidency appointed Lt. Col. Campbell, who succeeded Macpherson, as the Meriah Agent. Campbell, however, had a different attitude. In order to win over the Khonds of Ghumsur, Campbell followed a convincing policy and promised that he would refrain from sacrificing the Meriah.
Campbell won most of the Khonds on his side by his strategy. Chakra Bisoi, however, was not influenced by the British authority. He led rebellions against the British forces. There have been allegations that Chakra Bisoi and Nabghan Konhoro were aided by Somnath Singh, the King of Angul. In order to suppress the rebellion, the British Government adopted a new policy. He pardoned Chakra and Nabghan. As a result of the British policy, Nabghan surrendered. Dora, however, did not.
After many attempts by the British to capture Chakra Bisoi, Chakra never stopped fighting against them. He could know that the Savaras of Parlakhemundi were rising against the British under Dandasena of Gaiba, who was leading the rebellion. Inciting the Savaras and Khonds to set fire and plunder those villages that did not support Dandasena, Chakra united the Savaras and Khonds. Captain Wilson suppressed the rebellion and captured Dandasena, who was hanged. Chakra moved from Parlakhemundi to Tel valley after that.
To save himself, Chakra went to Kandhamal’s forests. In 1855, the Government of Bengal discovered that Baud was connected with Kandhamal and ordered Kandhamal to become British territory. Until then, Chakra Bisoi was unknown to the public. He had never been captured. He died in 1856. The Commissioner of Odisha, G.F. Cockburn, wrote to the Government in 1857 saying that Chakra might have abandoned this country. Chakra’s activities caused the British authority a lot of headaches between 1846 and 1856.
There is no doubt that the Khond rebellion under Dora Bisoi and Chakra Bisoi was an important milestone in Odisha’s and India’s history. While efforts were made to capture Chakra Bisoi, the British failed to do so. Dora Bisoi and Chakra Bisoi both played a commendable role during this tribal uprising. The tribal rebellion led by Kandha leaders like Dora Bisoi and Chakra Bisoi gave the British authority a tough challenge in the early years of their administration in Odisha, however. Although, the rebellion could not bring much result, but it did shaken the British authority in Odisha.