Social Scientist. v 4, no. 45 (April 1976) p. 60.


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Kuki Disturbances in Tripura^ 1860-61

BASED ON contemporary official documents this note makes an attempt to study the uprising of the Kuki tribe in Tripura in the mid-nineteenth century. It examines the character of the uprising and the various historical factors which induced the Kukis to burst upon Tripura. It may be incorrect to view the raids of 1860-61 merely as one of the many tribal uprisings. Facts show that there were all the ingredients of a full-scale rebellion against the oppressive feudal rule of the Tripura king.

The 1860s saw an extended series of raids in Tripura. These were commonly known as the great Kuki invasion of 1860. Early in January 1860 reports reached Chittagong, the frontier town of eastern India, that a body of 400 or 500 Kukis were massing at the mouth of the river Fenny. They had burnt down villages and killed a few people in the area. Then they "burst into the plains of Tipperah at Chagulneyah, burnt or plundered 15 villages, butchered 185 British subjects and carried off about 100 captives."1 The Kukis carried away gold, silver and iron. Troops and police were despatched immediately by the district magistrate of Tripura, but the Kukis already had withdrawn to the hills and jungles after one or two days in the plains. It is stated in the Rajmala of Kailas Chandra Sinha that one brave person, Guna Gazi, collected guns and armed the people to resist the raiders. It was the confrontation that stopped the raiders and caused the retreat to the jungles2. The raiders were believed to be under the command of Rutton Polya.

The British Indian authorities were highly displeased with the Tripura ruler for his inability to prevent the entry of the Kukis into British territory. There was a general belief that the government would annex Tripura if outrages continued.8 Steer, the commissioner of the Chittagong division, suggested that the Tripura king should be asked to organize a proper defence force and set up units along the state border. In Steer^s opinion, if the king was to retain an independent government he must adopt measures assuring the security of the British territories from the forays of his unrestrained and ill-disposed subjects. The lieutenant-governor instructed the commissioner to call on the king to cooperate with the British by establishing armed posts on his side of the



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