Khonda Dora Uprisings



  • The Khond is a native clan of India dominatingly living in Orissa and the Srikakulam and Visakhapatnam regions of Andhra Pradesh.
  • The clan extended from Bengal to Tamil Nadu covering focal regions. They are the biggest ancestral gatherings of Orissa.


Events leading to the disturbances

  • Kalahandi, where majority of Khonds had settled, was ruled by Hindu Raja Udit Partab Deo.
    • To achieve high revenue collection, the Raja drastically curtailed the powers of the Umraos or chief headmen, and ousted the Khonds from their villages and gave these villages to the Kultas, who were an industrial caste of cultivators.
    • This reduced the Khonds to the level of hopeless drudges, and they brewed in deep discontent by 1881.
  • The Ghumsar wars of 1835-37 and the wars of 1846-48 fought between the Khonds and the British were wars of conquest aimed at expansion and consolidation of colonial rule.
    • This process resulted in the suppression of practice of Meriah or Human Sacrifice from the mid of 19th Century.
  • Further, there was a transformation in the mode of Political legitimisation.
    • On one hand, the traditional tribal organisation had been based on mutual cooperation between the ruling Hindu elite and the Khonds from whom they derived legitimacy.
    • Colonial rule not only breached the relations between the Khonds and Hindu elite, it also subjugated the Khonds to the British.
    • Also, the inroads made by colonial conquest in the Khond tracts, further exposed the vulnerable tribal population to ‘outside’ forces that significantly altered the Khond tribal organisation.
  • As a result, the Khond disturbances of 1882, which went on for over half a year, occurred in two phases:
    • In first phase, there was large-scale plundering of Kulta Villages and property.
    • The second phase saw intensive bloodshed and cruelty.

Thus, the Khond revolt, which started as a result of Colonial policies, contested the sovereignty of the British. However, nothing much came out of the unrest, other than bolstering of colonial structures in the state.

  • Thus, the disturbance went down in the history of tribal unrest, as a distinctly ‘Agrarian’ unrest.