Freedom Struggle, 1848

In a petition handed over on 6 July 1848, Dumbara residents alleged that the rajakariya abolished by the Colebrook Reforms of 1833 was re-imposed by Roads Ordinance No. 8 of 1848.Governor Torrington's letter to the Colonial Secretary states that about three thousand unarmed people gathered in front of Government Agent Buller's Kandy Kachcheri to hand over petitions. The governor also stated that Buller had ‘somewhat lost his presence of mind when so large a body of the peasantry suddenly presented themselves to him.’The protestors wanted the withdrawal of the newly imposed taxes like the Road Ordinance, Shop Tax, Gun Tax, Dog Tax etc. Kandyans may have also felt the economic effects of losing their ancestral lands under the Crown Lands Encroachment Ordinance No. 12 of 1840.

As this popular protest gradually turned violent, the British had to impose martial law by the end of July to control it.Colonel Drout mentions that Gongalegoda Banda was among the people who gathered in front of the Kandy Kachcheri on 6 July 1848. The Gazette states that a reward of £100 is being offered for the arrest of Gongalegoda Banda and £5 for his accomplice Puran Appu.

Gazette, 06 Jan. 1847, Reward for capture of Purang Appu

Crown Lands Encroachment Ordinance No. 12 of 1840

LK-NA/5/35, Despatch regarding protests in 1848, 9 July 1848

LK-NA/5/175, Pt. I, Reward of 100 pounds for producing Gongalegoda Banda, 30 July 1848

Department of National Archives Sri Lanka

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