Bhubaneswar, Jan 25: The aura of Republic Day touches the patriotic nerve of every Indian. In the journey to freedom from the British, Kondhs of Odisha had their fair share of contribution. These indigenous people came into limelight in 1836 for their fierce fight against the British.
British invaded the Kondh area to seemingly stop the Meriah sacrifice, but they failed. The British then decided to use force against them. However, they did not succeed due to high altitude and difficult terrains of where the Kondhs lived. The British meddling in their socio-religious rights led to a prolonged state of warfare.
Forced taxation by the colonial masters had infuriated the Kondhs on end. They thought that their land would be grabbed by the British. They were never in the habit of paying taxes. The illegal tax system made them broke. So much so, that the officials of the Raj even forcibly took away their cooking utensils. The Kondhs revolted violently against the British.
Chakra Bisoi took their leadership. He aointed Lakshmi Narayan Bhanj, a scion of the royal family, as the new ruler of Ghumsar against the wishes of the British. The Kondhs rallied behind Bisoi, who eventually fought for the re-establishment of the native rule.
However, the British forces managed to capture Ghumsar in 1767 and that brought untold miseries to the subjects. Making matters worse, the kingdom suffered from a massive agricultural crisis due to very poor rainfall. While the low harvest broke the backbone of the people, levying exorbitant taxes by the British on Ghumsar king only added to the woes. The government demanded arrears from the king, who in turn tried to realise the amount from the Kondh inhabitants. This led to severe unrest among the tribals.
Speaking to Orissa POST researcher Jitu Mishra said, “The Kondhs are the fiercest tribe of Odisha. They are always conscious about their rights. So much so, that after Indian Independence they continued to hold their own courts where justice is delivered instantly.”