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Freedom Struggle


Hunter, in the Annals of Rural Bengal wrote: " What we (British Army) fought was not a war. So long as their (Santals') drum went beating, they went on fighting to the last man."
About 20,000 Santals died and Hunter concludes, " There was not a single sepoy (soldier) in the British army who did not feel ashamed."


Baba Tilka Majhi

Santal hero:
Baba Tilka Majhi was first Santal leader who took up the arms against the British in the 1789's. The British surrounded the Tilapore forest from which he operated but he and his men held the enemy at bay for several weeks. When he was finally caught in 1784, he was tied to the tail of a horse and dragged all the way to the collector's residence at Bhgalpur. There, his lacerated body was hung from a Banyan tree. A statue to the heroic leader was erected at the spot after independence. 

Hul : Freedom struggle

Hul is a Santali term. It means a movement for liberation. Santals in Santal Paraganas (presently in the State of Jharkhand) belongs to Santali tribe. Two Murmu brothers, Sido and Kanhu.

Santal Hul was one of the fiercest battles in the history of Indian freedom struggles causing greatest number of loss of lives in any battles during that time. The number of causalities of Santal Hul was 20,000 according to Hunter who wrote it in annals of Rural Bengal.  The Santal Hul of 1855-57 was master minded by four 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.

With the capture of political power of India by the East India Company, the natural habitats of the Adivasi (indigenous) people including the Santals began to shatter by the intruders like moneylenders. Traders and revenue farmers, who descended upon them in large numbers under the patronage of the Company.

Believe it or not, the rate of interest on loan to the poor and illiterate Santals varied from 50% to 500%. These intruders were, needless to mention the crucial links in the chain of ruthless exploitation under colonial rule. They were the instruments through which the indigenous groups and tribes were brought within the influence and control of the colonial economy.

Discontent had been simmering in the Santal Paraganas( presently in Jharkhand ) from the early decades of the nineteenth century owing to most naked exploitation of the indigenous Santals by both the British authorities and their collaborators, native immigrants.

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.

The Santals showed great bravery and incredible courage in the struggle against the military. As long as their national drums continued beating, the whole party would stand and allow themselves to be shot down. There was no sign of yielding. Once forty Santals refused to surrender and took shelter inside a mud house. The troops surrounded the mud house and fired at them but Santals replied with their arrows. Then Soldiers made big hole through muddy wall, and the Captain ordered them surrender but they again shot a volley of arrows through the hole and Captain again asked them to surrender but they continued shooting arrows. Some of the soldiers were wounded. At last when the discharge of arrows from the door slackened, the Captain went inside the room with soldiers. He found only one  old man grievously wounded, standing erect among the dead bodies. The soldier asked him to throw away arms, but instead he rushed on him and killed him with his battle axe.

It is believed that Sido was captured by the British forces through treachery and Kanhu through an encounter at Uparbanda. And was subsequently killed in captivity. The Santal Hul, however, did not come to an end in vain. It had a long-lasting impact. Santal Parganas Tenancy Act was the outcome of this struggle, which dished out some sort of protection to the indigenous people from the ruthless colonial exploitation. The understanding the mistake, tired to appease the Santals by removing the genuine grievances. Santal territory was born. The regular police was abolished and the duty of keeping peace and order and arresting criminals was vested in the hands of parganait and village headman.


The History of Jharkhand

Forgotten struggles and so is the unsung Heros ! The  brave freedom struggles by Adivasi, specially Santals (Details, Santals Huls ), against the British tyranny  and cruelty of Desi (native) landlords have often gone unnoticed and sometimes, by nefarious design excluded from History text books. However, mere omission from the History books in educational curriculum, can not conceal the stories of bravery of Adivasi Heros and stiff resistance, they had offered in the struggles. But creation of Jharkhand state, which came into existence on 14.11.2000,  gives us opportunities to recall our history and  unfolds plenty of untold stories, more often than not,  excluded in text books. Consequently, to understand the bravery of Adivasi, there is need to deep understanding the History of formation of Jharkhand state, which inextricably mixed with Adivasi freedom struggles dates back to British period. Here is a list of brief events, which marked the  way to new state, Jharkhand. The text is complied by Subhas Soren.

1765 - Successful military mobilization to bring Santhal Pargana under British rule
1772-80 -  Paharia revolt
1780-85 - Tilka Manjhi led the tribal revolt and managed to injure British army chief
1785 - Tilka Manjhi hanged to death in Bhagalpur
1795-1800 - Tamar revolt
1797 - Munda revolt under the leadership of Vishnu manaki
1798 - Chaur revolt in Birbhum Bankura
1798-99 - Bhoomij revolt of Manbhoom
1800-02 - Munda revolt under the stewardship of Dukhan Manaki of Tamar
1819-20 - Munda revolt in Palamu under the leadeship of Bhukan Singh
1832-33 - Khewar revolt under the leadership of Bhagirath, Dubai Gosai and Patel Singh
1833-34 - Bhumij revolt under the leadership of Ganga narain of Birbum
1855 - Santhals waged war against the permanent settlement of Lord Cornwallis
1855-60 - During late 1850s Sidhu had accumulated about Ten Thousands Santhals to run parallel govt. against British rule. The basic purpose was to collect taxes by making his own laws. British govt. had
announced an award of Rs. Ten Thousand to arrest Sidhu and his brother Kanhu. This movement remained very active in Kahalgaon and Raniganj.
1856 - Police brigade was constituted
1856-57 - Martyr Sahid Lal, Vishwanath Shahdeo, Sheikh Bhikhari, Ganptrai and Budhu Veer led a movement against the British gov. in the sepoy mutiny
1874-99 - This period is famous for Birsa movement
1874 - Kherwar movement shot into fame under the leadership of Bhagirathi manjhi
1881 - Kherwar movement started
1895-1900 - Launching of ULGLAN under the leadership of Birsa
1912 - Bihar bifurcated from Bengal and some parts of Chotanagpur merged into Bengal
1913 - Constitution of Chotnagpur unati samaj
1914 - Tana Bhajgat movement started which had the participation of more than 26000 tribals
1915 - Publication of Adivasi titled magazine started
1929 - Simon commission presented with a memorandum which demanded the information of Jharkhand state
1936 - Orissa was created as a separate state
1947 - On Dec. 28 All India Jharkhand Party came intoinception
1951 - Jharkhand party was elected to Vidhan Sabha as a main opposition party
1969 - Shibu Soren founded the Sonat Santahl Samaj
1971 - A.K.Roy founded the Marxist M.C.C to demand the separate Jharkhand state
1973 - N.E.Horo named his party as Jharkhand Party and on March 12th he presented the then Prime Minister a memorandum for separate Jharkhand state
1977 - Jharkhand party proposed for separate Jharkhand state which included not only Chotanagpur and Santhal Pargana of Bihar but adjoining area of Bengal
1978 - The convention of All India Jharkhand Party was held on May 21
1978 - June 9 came to commemorated as Birsa day
1980 - Establishment of Jharkhand Kranti Dal
1986 -September 25, All Jharkhand Students Union gave its first call for Jharkhand bandh , it was a huge success
1987 - Call for boycott of Independence day . The home minister of India directed the bihar government to prepare a report on detailed profile of all districts of Chotnagpur and Santhal Pargana
1989 - 72 hours of economic blockade by AJSU was total success
1989 - 6 days of economic blockade by Jharkhand Mukti Morcha was success
1994 - On Jan 6 Laloo Prasad Yadav declared in Ranchi that Jharkhand devlopment autnomous council bill will be passed in budget session
1995 - Jharkhand area autonomous council was formed which comprised of 18 districts of Santhal Pargana and Chotnagpur  and Shibu Soren was nominated as the Chairman
1997 - June , Bihar government sanctioned 24 Crores for conducting the elections of Jharkhand Autonomous Council
1997 - July , Shibu Soren offered support to minority government of Laloo Prasad Yadav with a condition of a separate Jharkhand bill in the assembly

The Year 2000 August 2 - The bill to create a separate state of Jharkhand to be carved out of Bihar was passed in Lok Sabha by voice with two key allies of ruling NDA strongly opposing the measure and the opposition Rashtriya Janta Dal and the CPI - M demanding it to be referred to a parliamentary committee. The long cherished demand of people of the region was fulfilled, the celebration is on through out the Jharkhand region.

August 11 - Parliament today approved the formation of Jharkhand when the Rajya Sabha passed by voice - vote the Bihar reorganisation bill 2000 to carve out the new state out of Bihar's northern region.

August - 25 - President Mr. K.R. Narayanan approved the Bihar reorganisation bill 2000.

October - 12 - The center has issued the gazette notification starting November 15 to be the appointed date for the formation of new Jharkhand Government and First Chief Minister of Jharkhand is Mr. Baulal Marandi.

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