Saga of Fight for Independence!
Chapter 26: Chakra Bissoi
The capture and imprisonment of Dora Bissoi did not end the struggle of the Kondhs against the British Government. The place of Dora Bissoi was taken over by his nephew Chakra Bissoi. Ram Singh Bukshee, father of Chakra Bissoi was killed by British troops in 1837 and this incident left a bitter scar on the mind of his son. He received inspiration and military training from his uncle during the days of hunt and wander in the jungles as fugitive.
In December 1846, a massive revolt erupted in Ghumsar under the leadership of Chakara Bissoi. He was popularly known as the staunchest “ Champion of Meriah” all over the Kondhmals. They were determined to secure the restoration of the Bhanja family to power and to establish the influence of his own family in Ghumsar, and also among the Kondhs. In course of uprising Chakra Bissoi and his followers made a victorious march into Kullada and enthroned one “Rajapila”, Pitambara Bhanja, a twelve years old illegitimate son of the Late Dhananjaya Bhanja, as the Raja of Ghumsar.
Chakra Bissoi pleaded with Maj. Macpherson and others to refrain from taking measures for suppression of Meriah sacrifice. But his pleading proved of no avail. He convinced the Kondhs that they would incur the anger of the Earth Goddess, Tari Pennu, if they would surrender the victims (Meriahs) to the Government. Soon thereafter a large mob of Kondhs assembled before the Agents camp at Bissipura, six miles south of Phulbani, the former headquarters of the Kondhmals, and demanded the resolution of the Meriah victims, promising that the latter’s lives would be spared.
Kondhs attacked the camp of the Agent, for which Macpherson marched with a large force and burnt some villages of the Kondhs in the Kondhmalas to create Panic among the Kondhs. The Madras Government felt disturbed at the recurrence of the rebellion in Ghumsar and sent Major General Dyce, Commanding the Madras Army to suppress the rebellion with heavy hands. The authorities believed that the rising was due to combined efforts of the Baud-Kondh leader, Nabaghana Kanhar and Chakra Bissoi and the Raja of Angul secretly helping them. However Major General Dyce succeeded in quelling this Kondh rising. But Chakra Bissoi escaped.
Captain Dunlop received an information that Chakra Bissoi fled from Ghumsar and entered the Jungles of Angul estate. British Government doubted that Somanath Singh, the Raja of Angul was supporting the rebels in opposition to the British rule. So he was expelled from his estate and Angul was taken over by the Government in 1846. In 1848 relentless efforts were made to apprehend Chakra Bissoi, who was hiding alternatively in Baud and Sonepur. Chakra Bissoi maintained his sway over the Ghumsar Maliahs although he retired from active confrontation with the Government for four years since 1848. The Ghumsar rebel chief, Chakra Bissoi was reported to have gone into the Jungles of Paralakhemundi Zamindari and joined hands with Dandasena, the leader of the Paralakhemundi rebels. All attempts to arrest him proved to be futile. The Raja of Madanpur was removed from the management of his estate for providing shelter to Chakra Bissoi. But the Commissioner of Nagpur did not allow the Commissioner of Orissa to interfere with affairs of Madanpur and Kalahandi which remained under his authority. It is believed that the rebel Chief Chakra Bissoi breathed his last before the outbreak of the Mutiny of 1857.
It has been rightly remarked that “Chakra Bissoi, the chief of some insignificant Muthas, had been ignored because of his obscure birth though he deserves to be ranked with Jagabandhu Vidyadhara and Surendra Sai”. It is further observed that “Chakra Bissoi had no personal motive. He rose for the restoration of the Ghumsar family to fulfill the pledge given by his uncle Dora Bissoi, to the last Raja. He fought for the vindication of the family honour, as the Bissoi family was driven out of the Ghumsar Maliahs and his uncle languished in a prison at a distant place.” For more than ten years he carried on intermittent struggle against the British powers. Chakara Bissoi led the life of a fugitive haunted from place to place, from Athagada to Paralakhemundi, and from Angul to Ghumsar. Chakra Bissoi was never captured. He remained the most predominant figure in the history of Ghumsar Maliahs from 1846 to 1856. His brave adventures and daring actions, his indomitable courage, uncommon vigour, inordinate zeal and towering personality have added luster and glory to the name of Ghumsar. By 1866, Ghumsar appeared fully subdued and totally reconciled with the all mighty British Raj.