DEV SUMSHER RANA: Against Slavery

Under an order of Dev Shumsher Rana, his queen Krishna Kumari Devi was the first to start abolition of slavery in Nepal

Aug. 24, 2020, 8:42 a.m.

One does not have to rule for a long period of time if he or she desires to bring reform and change in the country’s overall system. Although Dev Shumsher Rana was the Prime Minister just for 114 days, he took major reforms that have had very long-lasting impacts on the history of the contemporary Rana period.

Not only launching the first Nepali newspaper Gorkhapatra, but Prime Minister Dev Shumsher was also the first ruler to formally issue a proclamation to abolish slavery.

Although Prime Minister Chandra Shumsher Rana is credited with the abolition of slavery from Nepal, the new documents compiled in the National Archive showed that the official process for the abolition of slavery started much earlier.

Prime Minister Chandra Shumsher orchestrated conspiracy to overthrow Dev Sumsher for his liberal and reformist program. However, Chandra followed his brother’s footsteps later. Although Chandra turned down all reformist steps taken by Dev Sumsher, who was said to be thinking to declare proclamation like Magna Carta. in the early days, Chandra Shumsher was compelled to recognize the reforms in later parts of his rule.

Undoubtedly, Prime Minister Chandra Shumsher’s proclamation of 1982 BS officially declared the abolition of slavery. However, Prime Minister Dev Shumsher’s contribution was also immense.

On the occasion of his coronation, queen Krishna Kumari Rana issued a proclamation on behalf of Prime Minister Dev Sumsher Rana. In this proclamation, Prime Minister said he signed the proclamation to renounce slaves on the ground that the idea of his queen is good work.

In his proclamation, he said the appropriate amount will be paid to the owners of the slave. Under this proclamation, 767 slaves including 286 males and 486 females were released.

In his proclamation, Prime Minister Dev also requested King, Queen, his own brothers, high ranking civilian authorities and military generals to support his queen Krishna Kumari’s step to liberate slaves. Accepting the proclamation order of Prime Minister Dev, King and Queen also liberated 28 female slaves.

Under this proclamation, 8 slaves under his senior queen late Karma Kumari were also released. Similarly, queen Krishna Kumari liberated 12 male and 5 female slaves.

His other two queens Laxmi Kumari and Ganesh Kumari also liberated their slaves. Rana Prime Minister Dev Sumsher Rana ruled for a very short period of time or just over three months. But, the historical documents have shown that he had initiated many reforms including social and political.

Rana Prime Minister Dev Sumsher’s tenure started from 5 March 1901 and ended on 26 June 1901 for just 114 days. These days looked historically very significant and important in the history of the Rana Rule. Educated with good command in English, he was a prime minister with a wide knowledge of international affairs. In his tenure, he also mulled the idea of the British system of parliamentary forms of government.

Although King Prithivi Narayan Shah took the first initiative to abolish slavery from Nepal, he died without making any declaration. Issuing the first proclamation to abolish slavery, Prime Minister Dev Shumsher formally executed the order.

“I also heard this kind of discussion in my family. They used to talk about the contributions made by Dev to end slavery in the country,” told Former Governor Himalaya Shumsher Rana to New Spotlight. Great-grandson of Prime Minister Dev, Himalaya Shumsher, who is now 93, said that he was a reformist and liberal prime minister by actions and deeds.”

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However, it was Prime Minister Chandra Shumsher Rana who officially declared the abolition of slavery and made slavery illegal as well.

The first French scholar Silva Levy in his book Le Nepal also described Rana as a laurite and scholar having knowledge on French language.

Although generally perceived as despotic and conservative, he is credited with several reforms including the abolition of slavery and the Nepal-Britain Treaty of 1923, which recognized Nepal as an independent nation and an ally of Britain.

Dev Shumsher Rana has shown that one does not need to stay in power for a long period of time to make reforms. He showed even 114 days in power would be enough to bring reforms and change.

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Source: Abhilekh

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