Ghumsar Rising under Dara Bisoi

The growing discontent among the tribals of Ghumsur from the beginning of British rule under the Madras authority. The British did not pay proper attention for the administration of Ghumsur. In due course of time, the tribals of Ghumsur led by Dora Bisoi started rebellion against the British authority.

Factors responsible for the discontent of Dora Bisoi
There were many factors which led Dora to revolt against the British.

First, the suppression of Meriah in the Kandha dominated area of Ghumsur was a direct attack of British on the traditional religious faith of the Kandhas. Along with that the activities of the Christian missionaries, infuriated the Kandhas and made them rebellious.

Secondly, the land revenue up to 50% was collected from the people through forceful method which wounded the sentiment of the tribals. So, the tribal people became irritated and wanted to take revenge against the British.

Thirdly, the Bhanja rulers of Ghumsur had no friendly relation with the British. Being apprehensive to be captured by the British authority, Dhananjay Bhanja the ruler of Ghumsur fled to the jungle and sought the assistance of the Kandhas. The Kandhas wanted to help him as he was their ruler.

Lastly, the dissolution of the Bhanja ruling family after the death of Dhananjay Bhanja in 1835 became the immediate cause of the rebellion. After his death, Brundaban Bhanja and Jagannath Bhanja, two members of the royal family became rebellious and got the supported by Dora Bisoi, the tribal chief of the Kandhas of Ghumsur.

Revolt of Dora Bisoi

The Kandha tribe rose in rebellion under the leadership of Kamal Lochan Dora Bisoi. He was Benniah Kandha born in the village Binjigiri, located near Kullada of the lower Ghumsur area. He was a ‘Maliah Bisoi’ or ‘Head Agent’ of the Kandhas of Ghumsur area of Odisha. He was a good sword-fighter and a wrestler of high quality. Therefore, he became the leader of the Kandhas and ‘Agent of Kandha attairs’ to the king of Ghumsur. He was appointed as the Commander-in-chief of the Ghumsur army. He had managed the military affairs of Ghumsur in a good manner. While fighting with the British army, he had given a top fight to the British authority at Ghumsur.

British measures to stop the rebellion

In order suppress the rebellion of Dora Bisoi, the British authorities took several measures. When the rebellion of Dora Bisoi became intolerable, the British authority under the Madras Presidency sent George Edward Russel to suppress the rebellion under Dora. During this time, Dhananjay Bhanja who had left Ghumsur had taken shelter under the Kandhas of Ghumsur. However, it is supposed that instead of paying revenue to the British Government, he had taken much amount of money with him to continue and support the rebellion in association with the Kandhas of Ghumsur. In the mean while Russel reached Ghumsur on 11 January 1836 to suppress the rebellion. He had a grand army with him to fight with the Kandhas. In spite of that the British Government of India had ordered the superintendents of the Tributary Mahals to render habitual help to Russel to suppress the rebellion.

Preparation of Dora Bisoi for the rebellion

During this critical time Raja Dhananjay Bhanja died on 31 December, 1835 leaving his family to the care of the Kandhas of Ghumsur. At this critical hour, persons like Brundaban Bhanja, Jagannath Bhanja, Madhu Bhanja, Baliar Singh, Sundaray Bisoi, Sangram Singh, Nanda Bisoi and many others came forward to strengthen the hands of Dora in the rebellion against the British authority. As these tribal leaders were residing in the forest, they were quite acquainted with the jungle area. They took the benefit of it and resorted to Guerrilla warfare in this rebellion. Now Dora as the leader of the rebellion planned to fight against the British by concealing themselves in the jungles and ghaties and to make sudden attacks on the British army.

The British operation

In order to capture the family members of Dhananjay Bhanja, Captain Butler on 14 th February, 1836, led the British troop to the Ghats He had two point responsibilities to perform:
1. to capture the royal members and
2. to rescue to treasury which had been taken by Dhananjay Bhanja. Dora had instigated the Kandhas to resort to aggression against the British troop. When the British troop reached the Ghats to make a head way to Udaygiri, they faced resistance from the Kandhas. When the British troops forcibly took away the fowls of the Kandha villages, they invited the hostility with the Kandhas of Ghumsur.

Resistance by the Kandhas

In the mean time, the rebellious Kandhas attacked a British detachment between Udaygiri and Durga Prasad. In that encounter, thirteen soldiers (sepoys) and two European officers namedLieutenant Bromly and Ensign Gibbon were killed. Prior to that the British forces had captured some Kandhas and took others as prisoners after this incident. On the other hand, the Kandhas under Dora Bisoi gave a tough resistance to the British forces. By this, the British also became cruel to suppress the rebellious Kandhas of Ghumsur.

Special operation of British forces to arrest Dora Bisoi

In order to arrest Dora, the British entered into Ambhajhara and Jiripada but they could not get success. Till that time Dora was playing as the key leader of the movement. The British searched in many places to arrest him. He moved from place to place and at last sought refuge at Angul. Being failure to capture Dora Bisoi, the British, declared a prize of 5,000 rupees who would capture him. In this connection, the Tributary Chief of Angul betrayed him. At the instruction of Henry Ricketts, the Commissioner of Odisha, Raja Somnath Singh of Angul had played a very important role in surrendering Dora Bisoi. Lastly, Raja Somanath Singh of Angul handed over Dora Bisoi to the British forces in 1837.

Results of the revolt

After the capture of their leader Dora Bisoi, other rebellious leaders were captured later. They were tried and awarded severe punishment. As a result of which Dora received life imprisonment and died inside the Ooty prison in 1846. 40 rebellious persons were awarded death sentences, 29 received confinement for life and 2 others received the same sentence for 8 years. Similarly, others got imprisonment who were involved in the rebellion of Ghumsur. After the arrest of Dora Bisoi and other rebellious leaders, the British Government made new agreement with the Kandhas. The British appointed Sam Bisoi as the Chief of the Kandhas who had played a great role to capture of Kamal Lochan Dora. After this, the rebellion organized Dora Bisoi ended.