Rani Chennamma

Feb. 23, 2024

Recently, several social groups across the country organised a national campaign Naanoo Rani Chennamma (I am Rani Chennamma too) to commemorate 200 years of Rani Chennamma’s rebellion against the British East India Company.

About Rani Chennamma:

  • Chennamma was born in Kakati, a small village in today’s Belagavi district of Karnataka.
  • She became queen of Kittur (now in Karnataka) when she married Raja Mallasarja of the Desai family.
  • After Mallasarja’s death in 1816, his eldest son, Shivalingarudra Sarja, ascended the throne.
  • Before his death in 1824, Shivalingarudra adopted a child, Shivalingappa, as the successor.
  • However, the British East India Company refused to recognise Shivalingappa as the successor of the kingdom under the ‘doctrine of lapse’.
  • Key facts about the Kittur Rebellion
    • John Thackery, the British official at Dharwad, launched an attack on Kittur in October 1824.
    • In this first battle British forces lost heavily and the Collector and political agent, St. John Thackeray was killed by the Kittur forces. 
    • Two British officers, Sir Walter Elliot and Mr. Stevenson, were also taken as hostages. 
    • However, the British army again attacked the Kittur Fort and captured it.
    • Rani Chennamma and her family were imprisoned and jailed at the fort in Bailhongal, where she died in 1829.

What was the doctrine of Lapse?

  • Under the doctrine of Lapse, any princely state without a natural heir would collapse and would be annexed by the Company.
  • The princely state of Kittur was taken over by the British East India Company in 1824 by imposing the 'doctrine of lapse', even before it was officially articulated by Lord Dalhousie, Governor General for the British East India Company, between 1848 and 1856.