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Parallel Government in Talcher

Angul, Odisha

June 22, 2022

The quit India movement had its flame in the princely state of Talcher. It had already witnessed the struggle against forced labour (Bethi) forest laws and autocratic rule in September 1938. The immediate cause of the popular upsurge was a rumour that Pabitra Mohan Pradhan, President of Talcher State Prajamandal had been murdered.

For all practical purposes, the State's administration collapsed on 31st August 1942. The Jatiya Sarkar was called 'Chasi Maulia' or 'Mazdoor Raj'. It was to be set up on the basis of an adult franchise in each village, block, circle, pargana, and sub-division. The Central Government was accordingly constituted on the same line. Some government servants voluntarily resigned, burnt their European dress and uniforms, set fire to the official records, and swore allegiance to the New Raj. People had their Raj almost in the whole of Talcher except Talcher town where the ruler and his entourage were under British protection.

A National Militia was formed by the rebels. They were well equipped with crude implements and made an organised march in the Talcher principality. They requested the ruler to relinquish British authority and to hand over the government of Kisan Mazdoor Raj - the ruler might act as the constitutional head.

The counter-move started with the machine-gunning the mob from the air. The firing of the British troops below resulted in many casualties. Thus Talcher was one of the five places in India where in 1942 the masses were machine-gunned by the air because of the intensity of the movement.

The British political agent sent a telegram to the Commissioner in Cuttack as follows:

Talcher on the other hand is well administered. But I think that the very factor which makes for the strength of the administration is also liable to lead to the production of an opposition party. I mean the fact that the administration is very much a family business. Apart from the raja, the yubraj is the state judge. The second son is the CEO. A cousin is the Superintendent of Police and other relations occupy such posts as SDO…..for the most part, the States already impose taxation without representation. This need not be a bad thing but it becomes bad if it develops into taxation without compensation.

Source: Article by Dr. Soma Chand August Kranti and Jatiya Sarkars in Orissa Review, August 2004.