Tribal uprisings in the 18th and 19th centuries: Jharkhand

Jharkhand’s Freedom fighters: 

Almost one hundred years before India’s First War of Independence (1857), the adivasis (tribals) of Jharkhand had declared revolt against the British colonial rule and their imperialist exploiting policies. The first ever revolt in India, against the landlords was led by Tilka Manjhi, a valiant Santhal leader from the tribal belt in 1771.

Tilka Manjhi 
Tilka Manjhi Revolt was against British policy of acquisition of land of the native of Jharkhand, against the dive and rule policy by providing security to the local residents and against the suppression policy of Cleveland.
Around 1770 in Santhal region was adversely affected by drought and people were dying due to hunger. The hunger and scarcity of food lead to picketing and other anti-social activities in the region. The government instead of providing security and relief started exploiting and suppressing Santhal. Tilka came out strongly revolted against the government. He resisted against prevailing government policies at Vancharijoor near Bhagalpur. This region was under the military governance under Warren Hastings.
In response of Tilka Manjhi reovolt, Hastings sent 800 British Solders under the command of Captain Brook to suppress the Manjhi revolt. Books kept suppressing the santhals for next two years, followed by James Brown and then Cleveland came as superintendent of Rajmahal region to surpress the voice of Santhals.
Clive used divide and rule policy and in short spam of just nine months he managed bring 40 local tribes under his umbrella. These locals were basically local leaders and British did not asked for any revenue from them. Tilka Manjhi resisted against his policy and said policy should be similar for everyone. Tilka got immense support from local people over this.
Tilka Manjhi also popularly kwown as “Jabra Paharia”. He made this movement a mass movement and circulated message written on leaf of Sal that “We must be united “.
Year 1784 is very important, Tilka on January 13 aimed August Cleveland with his arrow and took his life. Tilka Manjhi was not caught by the British at that moment and he managed to get disappear in the forest and then after started guerilla war against British. In 1785, he was caught by the British and was publically on the Banyan tree hanged at Bhagalpur. With this heroic end Tilka Manhi Revolt ( 1772- 1780 ) came to an end.

Bhola Nath Sahay: Tamar Revolts (1789-1832)
The tribals of Tamar revolted over 7 times between 1789-1832 against the British. They were joined in the revolt by the tribals of adjoining areas – Midnapur, Koelpur, Dhadha, Chatshila, Jalda and Silli. They revolted against the faulty align system of the government. The Tamar revolts were led by Bhola Nath Sahay of Tamar. In 1832 the arrows of war circulated throughout the region. Oraons, Mundas, Hos or Kols, who had distinct social and cultural identity joined the insurgents under the leadership of Ganga Narain Singh, a member of Banbhum Raj family.
The tribals murdered the “dikus” in each village of the areas. They burnt and plundered their houses. But the movement was suppressed by the government in 1832-33. The Ho-country was annexed as government estate. Simple rules of administration were drawn up, though the, system of government through the “Ho” tribal head was maintained.

Ganga Narain Singh: the Bhumij tribal Revolt of Manbhum,

In 1831, the Bhumij Kols of Manbhum and Singhbhum declared their open rebellion under the leadership of Ganga Narain Singh, a scion of Burrabhoom Raj family. During the same period the Binrai Manki, the leader of the freedom movement in the Chotanagpur region who had been pardoned off by the British authority, became the leader of the movement in this region.

However in November 1832, the British military force counter-attacked the freedom-fighters forces led by Ganga Narain fiercely. They compelled Ganga Narain to take refuge in the hills, from where he fled to Singhbhum. In Singhbhum, Ganga Narain urged the Kols (Hos) to join him in the fight against the British authorities.

Sidho and Kanho: The Santhals revolt.

Sido Murmu and Kanhu Murmu, hailing from the village Bhognadih in Sahibganj district, had long been brooding over the injustices perpetrated by the oppressors like hundreds and hundreds of their tribe’s men. The situation finally reached a flash point and, not surprisingly, a small episode that took place in July 1855 triggered one of the fiercest uprisings that the British administration ever faced in India.
The emergence of Sido and Kanhu, youthful, dynamic and charismatic, provided a rallying point for the Santals to revolt against the oppressors .On 30th June 1855, a large number of Santals assembled in a field in Bhagnadihi village of Santal Paragana, They declared themselves as free and took oath under the leadership of Sido Murmu and Kanhu Murmu to fight unto the last against the British rulers as well as their agents.

Militant mood of the Santals frightened the authority. A Police agent confronted them on the 7th July and tried to place the Murmu brothers under arrest. The angry crowd reacted violently and killed the Police agent and his companions. The event sparked off a series of confrontations with the Company’s Army and subsequently reached the scale of a full-fledged war.
At the outset, Santal rebels, led by Sido and Kanhu, made tremendous gains and captured control over a large tract of the country extending from Rajmahal hills in Bhagalpur district to Sainthia in Birbhum district. For the time being, British rule in this vast area became completely paralyzed.
Many moneylenders and native agents of the Company were killed. Local British administrators took shelter in the Pakur Fort to save their life. However, they rebel could not hold on to their gains due to the superior fire power of the East India Company came down heavily on them.
The courage, chivalry and sacrifice of the Santals were countered by the rulers with veritable butchery. Out of 50,000 Santal rebels, 15,000 20,000 were killed by the British Indian Army. The Company was finally able to suppress the rebellion in 1856, though some outbreaks continued till 1857.

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