tribal uprisings in the 18th and 19th centuries: Santal Hul (1855)
The Santal rebellion or Santal Hul was a native rebellion in present day Jharkhand against both the British colonial authority and zamindari system by the Santal people. It started on June 30, 1855 and on November 10, 1855.Martial law was proclaimed which lasted until January 3, 1856 when martial law was suspended and the movement was brutally ended by troops loyal to the British Raj.
The Santal Hul was master minded by four Murmu brothers Sidhu, Kahnu, Chand and Bhairav; a heroic episode in India’s prolonged struggle for freedom. It was, in all probability, the fiercest liberation movement in India next to Great Sepoy Mutiny in 1857.
Background of the rebellion
The insurrection of the Santals began as a Tribal reaction to money lending practices, and the zamindari system, in the tribal belt of what was then known as the Bengal Presidency.
Santals engaged in their agrarian way of life by clearing the forest and also by hunting for subsistence. But as the agents of the new colonial rule claimed their rights on the lands of the Santals, they retreated to reside in the hills of Rajmahal. After a brief period, the British operatives along with the local landlords and zamindars [outsiders (Diku)] jointly started claiming their rights in this new land as well. The unsophisticated and unlettered Santals felt cheated and betrayed.
The Santal tribes were turned into bonded labor by the zamindars and the money lenders who first appeared to them as businessmen and traders and had allured them first by goods lent to them on loans. However hard a Santal tried to repay these loans…….