History of Princely State of Dhenkanal
In the year 1529 AD, the forces of Gajapati Maharaja of Utkal Sri Sri Pratap Rudra Deb seized the region of Dhenkanal. The ruler appointed his commander as the Raja of Dhenkanal, who became the hereditary ruler of Dhenkanal. Eventually proper administration was established and there was noticeable progress in almost all issues related to the state. Raja Bhagirathi Pratap, decorated with hereditary title of Mahindra Bahadur, was one of most respected and successful rulers of the state. Prince Shankar Pratap, the eldest son of Raja Sri Sura Pratap Singh Deo Mahindra Bahadur, was appointed as the Raja in 1926. At the time, he was still a minor and continuing his studies.
Later Shankar Pratap went to study Bar at Law in England. After he came back to the princely state of Dhenkanal, the ruler took charge of the administration of the state. During the period when Raja Sri Shankar Pratap Singh Deo Mahindra Bahadur was completing his studies in England, the administration of the state was managed by Pattayat Nrusingha Pratap Singh Deo, his younger brother. He constructed a palace containing 100 rooms at Jatan Nagar. The labourers were forced and tortured severely. Under his rule, the populace of the state was financially exploited. The people of the princely state expected that the condition of the state would improve after Raja Sri Shankar Pratap Singh Deo Mahindra Bahadur returned from England after completing his studies and took charge of the administration of the state.
But Raja Sri Shankar Pratap was even more oppressive which compelled his subjects to rise against him in revolt. Harmohan Patnaik, the grandson of Dhenkanal Bebarta Jagannath Patnaik, and Dewan Damodar Patnaik assembled and organized the rebellion. Harmohan Patnaik formed the Dhenkanal Praja Mandal and was appointed as the elected President. The Dhenkanal Praja Mandal was the initial Praja Mandal in British India and after this many such organisation were established through all the princely states of India. These were initiated as public institutions that resisted the practices of the native rulers or Indian princes at the time.
The Dhenkanal Praja Mandal conducted mass congregations and a Charter of Rights was drawn. During the period of Indian freedom struggle, the Indian National Congress also supported and became related with the Dhenkanal movement. Several of the rebels were regularly imprisoned and arrested. Harmohan Patnaik was repeatedly arrested and a s aresult the people of the princely state of Dhenkanal surrounded the palace of Raja Sri Shankar Pratap Singh Deo Mahindra Bahadur. He felt threatened and released Harmohan Patnaik unconditionally.
After Indian achieved independence form the British dominion on 15the August 1947, the revolt was ceased. Harmohan Patnaik was accepted as an adviser by Raja Sri Shankar Pratap Singh Deo Mahindra Bahadur. Eventually the princely state was taken over by the newly created Union of India and the native ruler was deposed. Raja Sri Shankar Pratap was elected as Member of newly formed Orissa Legislative Assembly and his wife Rani Smt. Ratna Prabha Devi served as an MLA for 2 terms. Brigadier Kamaksha Prashad Singh Deo, son of Raja Sri Shankar Pratap, was appointed as a Member of Indian Parliament and a Minister in the cabinet of Government of India. He was also the President of Orissa Pradesh Congress Committee as well.
(Last Updated on : 10-05-2012)
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