Bhumij Revolt & Santhal Rebellion | Jharkhand

Bhumij Revolt (1832-33 AD)

Causes and nature of rebellion:


The Dhalbhum, Barabhum and Patkum parganas, which were then included in the Midnapore district (present-day West Bengal), had a widespread presence of Bhumij tribesmen under the leadership of Ganga-Narayan. There was a rebellion. This rebellion was the result of the complaints of the Bhumijs against the Badabhum king, police officers, munsifs, salt-daroga and other dikkus. At the same time, the imposition of the Company’s governance system on the local system was also not liked by the people.Thus widespread despair all around and the persecution of the tribals necessitated this revolt. The tribals had no hope of justice, as the police were corrupt, the court staff took illegitimate benefits and the revenue officials exploited them. Bribery by petty officers was common. Thus in the backdrop of extortion, deprivation of property and humiliation and oppression, the Bhumijs were left with no option but to revolt.

The rebellion started with the brutal murder of Diwan Madhav Singh of Barabhum Pargana on 6 April 1832. The murder was done by Ganganarayan Singh, the cousin of the Zamindar of Barabhumi Pargana. The main reason for this rebellion was to disregard the father of Ganganarayan Singh, the rightful owner of the throne of Barabhum, and oust him from the ancestral property.

In the tribal tradition, the son of the Patrani was the rightful owner of the throne. But the opposition of Ganganarayan’s father did not allow this to happen by joining the company and he had to be deprived of the throne because the British believed in the rule of heir to the eldest boy.

Key Facts of Bhumij Rebellion (for MCQs):

  • The Bhumij rebellion started in 1832 AD under the leadership of Ganga Narayan. Its influence remained in the areas of Birbhum and Singhbhum.
  • This rebellion was the result of the complaints of the Bhumijs against the Birbhum (Badabhum) king, police officers, munsifs, salt inspectors and other dikkus.
  • The second reason for the rebellion was the imposition of the Company’s system of governance on the local system. At the same time, the discontent arising out of the oppressive rent system of the British was also working behind it.
  • The formal beginning of the Bhumij rebellion took place on April 26, 1832 with the killing of Diwan Madhav Singh, the half-brother of the Zamindar of Virbhum Pargana.
  • This murder was done by Ganga Narayan Singh. Ganga Narayan was the cousin of the Zamindar of Birbhum. Madhav Singh had become quite infamous as Diwan. He had devastated the people by levying various types of taxes.
  • Ganga Narayan provided an unprecedented leadership to the Bhumijs against Madhav Singh. After killing Madhav Singh, Ganga Narayan had a collision with the Company’s army. The Company’s forces were led by Braden and Lieutenant Timmer.
  • Kol and Ho tribes. In this rebellion, Ganga Narayan was openly supported.
  • On February 7, 1833, Ganga Narayan was killed while fighting against Thakur Chetan Singh of Kharsawan.
  • The Thakur of Kharsawan cut off his head and sent it to the British officer Captain Wilkinson. Captain Wilkinson breathed a sigh of relief at the death of Ganga Narayan.
  • After the death of Ganga Narayan, this rebellion fell into disrepair.
  • Although Ganga Narayan was ultimately defeated in this rebellion, it made it clear that there was a need for administrative change in Jungle Mahal.
  • Like the Kol rebellion, the British were compelled to bring many administrative changes after the Bhumij rebellion.
  • Under the Regulation XIII of 1833 AD, extensive changes were made in the system of governance. There was a change in the revenue policy and Chotanagpur was accepted as a part of the South-West Frontier Agency.

Santhal Rebellion (Hul Movement) (1855-56)

The discontent among the tribes persisted even after several revolts and its next eruption was in the form of the Santhal rebellion. The Santhal people of Rajmahal district expressed their anger against the misbehavior at the hands of the land tax officials, police repression and the collections of landlords and moneylenders. The leadership of this rebellion was in the hands of four brothers Siddha, Kanhu, Bhairav ​​and Chand. Although Siddha and Kanhu played a more active role.The exploitation and tyranny of the landlords and moneylenders as well as the harsh actions of the administration had already created a state of discontent. At the same time, the work of construction of railway line from Bhagalpur to Howrah started. This discontent increased due to forced labor from Santhal laborers, their exploitation by contractors etc. When the local police started action against the Santhals, a mass revolt broke out.This struggle continued for almost a year and at many places the British were defeated by the Santhals. Ultimately the British were victorious because of their good military equipment and other means. The four rebel leaders of this rebellion were killed in this conflict. Nevertheless, around 1880-81 AD, the Santhals revolted again.

Key Facts of Santhal Rebellion (for MCQs):

  • The Santhal rebellion was the most powerful of the tribal revolts.
  • This rebellion is known by many names like Hool movement, Santhal hool etc.
  • Sido-Kanhu was the leader of the Santhal rebellion. In this his brothers-Chand and Bhairav ​​and sisters-Jhano and Phoolo also played an important role. The main reason for the Santhal rebellion was British colonialism and the exploitation inherent in it, the exploitation of Bengali and western moneylenders and moneylenders.
  • This rebellion was waged to exterminate the non-tribals, end their power and establish their power.
  • On June 30, 1855, ten thousand tribal representatives from about 400 tribal villages gathered in Bhognadih and held a meeting.
  • The slogan “Apna Desh and Apna Raj” was given in this meeting. To make this a reality, it was decided to open rebellion to drive the outsiders from here.
  • In this assembly, Sido was elected as the king, Kanhu as the minister, Chand as the administrator and Bhairav ​​as the commander.
  • An army contingent was sent under the leadership of General Lloyd to suppress this rebellion which started on 7 July 1855.
  • Major Baro was defeated on July 10, 1855.
  • On 16 and 17 September, about three thousand rebels led by Muchia Komnajela, Rama and Sundara Manjhi captured several police stations and villages.
  • The districts of the west remained under the control of the Santhals for four months. On 13 November, military law was imposed there.
  • This rebellion, which started in 1855 AD, was not limited to Santhal Pargana only, but it spread to the entire Chotanagpur including Hazaribagh, Birbhum.
  • The Santhal movement in Hazaribagh was headed by Lulai Manjhi and Arjun Manjhi, while in Birbhum it was headed by Gora Manjhi.
  • Mahesh Lal and Pratap Narayan were killed during the Santhal rebellion.
  • The leaders of this movement, Sido and Kanhu were hanged in Barhait, while Chand and Bhairav ​​were victims of British bullets in the battle of Maheshpur.
  • To suppress the Santhal rebellion, Captain Alexander, Lt. Thomson and L. Reid played an important role.
  • This rebellion is considered to be the first mass revolution of Santhal Pargana.
  • lsso Mule has described the rebellion of the Santhals as an encounter.
  • Karl Marx has called it the first revolt of India, which could not overthrow the British rule, but it certainly became the reason for giving birth to the Safahod movement.
  • The martyrdom of Sido, Kanhu, Chand, Bhairav, four brothers is famous in the context of this rebellion.
  • The Santhals named this revolt as the ‘victory of good over evil’.
  • Two important sources of the Santhal rebellion are the legends of Digambar Chakraborty and Chhotre Dasmanji.
  • After the suppression of this rebellion, the Santhal region was made a separate non-regulation district, which was named as Santhal Pargana.
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