Tribal uprisings in British India

  1. First phase (1795-1860):

                    Tribal uprisings in British India, This phase coincided with the establishment and expansion of the colonial government.It was only in tribal society that the main leadership emerged and was supported by those whose traditional rights were restricted by the British government.The major tribal uprisings during this phase were: Peasant Uprising of Rangpur (1783),  Bhil Uprising, Kols Uprising, Ramozi Uprising, Santhal Uprising, Gond Uprising.

  1. Second phase (1860-1920): This included the Khoya Rebellion and the Munda Uprising led by Birsa Munda.
  2. Third Phase (1920-1947): This involved the Chenchu tribal movement, the Rampa Rebellion, and the Dhanabhagat/Oraon movement.

Causes of Tribal Riots in India:

  • Non-tribal migration interferes with the livelihoods of traditional tribes such as  hunting, fishing, and use of forests, resulting  in loss of land and livelihood.
  • The British introduced moneylenders and others, who  exploited the native groups and made them landless labourers.
  • The transition from collective tribal ownership of land by nontribals to private ownership  weakened tribal communities.
  • Nontribal landlords and merchants exploited the tribals and forced them into slavery.
  • With the introduction of foreigners, tribal cultures, which were previously equal, were divided into castes and classes.
  • The law limited indigenous people’s access to forests, an important source of livelihood.
  • The activities of Christian missionaries were perceived as disruption and expansion of colonialism.
  • Taxation, police measures, and other impositions  sparked local rebellions against landlords and the government.
  • Revolts broke out all over the country, but there was no unified national 
  • The tribal uprisings were semi-feudal, with no progressive leadership or clear social alternatives.

Shuar Rebellion:Tribal uprisings in British India

  • They came from  the Mundari mainstream and  settled in Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts of Bengal.
  • The majority were farmers and hunter-gatherers, while a few worked for local zamindars .
  • They owned land under feudal rule but did not engage in cultivation and sometimes went hunting.
  • Forest zamindars employed them as baiks (guards) and sardars served as leaders.
  • In 1767,  the  growing income of forest zamindars prompted the British order to demolish mud forts.
  • Jagannath Singh  instigated a rebellion in 1768, followed   by Shyam Kanchan, Subla Singh and Dubraj in 1771.
  • Durjan Singh led the 1798 revolt against British tax laws and police limits  .
  • The British strongly cancelled the  revolt of 1799 which  included additional leaders like Madab Singh, Raja Mohan Singh and Lakshman Singh.
  • Rebels associated with the land clashed with colonial soldiers, and some historians prefer the titleRevolt of the Jungle Mahal” to “Shuar” because the latter is considered notorious.

Paharias Rebellion:

  • The Paharias are  a tribal group from the Rajmahal hills of Santhal Pargana.
  • Before the British domination of India, they enjoyed virtual freedom.
  • They saw the entire land as their country and were hostile to the intruders .
  • Due to lack of livelihood, especially during times of famine,  they often plunder the plains of farmers who have migrated for a living. It  also served as a means of asserting hegemony over existing communities.
  • In 1778, Raja Jagannath led a significant Paharia rebellion against the British  . In the 1780s, the British adopted the appeasement method, paying Paharia chiefs an annual salary in exchange for ensuring that their forces behaved appropriately. However, not all Paharias support this strategy. Some  retreated far into the mountains to continue the war against the intruders.
  • Lowland zamindars paid tribute to the Paharias in exchange for peace, just as merchants paid mountain chiefs to pass through their borders.  In the late eighteenth century, as settled agriculture expanded in eastern India,  the  peace treaty broke down as a result of land-use conflicts.
  • As established agriculture advanced, tensions between hill tribes and settled peasants increased, resulting in frequent raids by Paharias against settled villages.  In response, the British  launched a violent campaign against  the Paharias in the 1770s,  following and killing them.

Bill Uprising (1818-1831):

  • The Bhil tribe hails from the Khandesh region of Maharashtra.In 1818, the British entered the area and started occupying Bhil territories.
  • The native Bhil tribe  was not ready to accept  any change made by the British in their land.
  • The  cause of the revolt  was the cruel treatment meted out to the Bhils by the East India Company, who exploited them by denying them their traditional forest rights.
  • The British responded by sending an army to quell the rebellion.But  the rebellion was not in vain as the British made concessions on various taxes and returned forest rights as part of the peace treaty.

Ramosi Uprising (1822- 1829):

  • Ramosis  is a tribal tribe of the Western Ghats  .
  • They resented the annexation policy of  the British and revolted against the British under the leadership of Chittor Singh.
  • The tribals felt that the new British system of administration was unfair to them and had no option but  to revolt  against the British and  plundered the area around Satara.
  • The rebellion continued till 1829, after which the British restored order in the area.The British followed a policy of peace with Ramosis, some of whom were posted in the Hill Police.  

Ahom Rebellion (1828–1830):

  • After the First Burma War (1824–1866)  the British vowed to leave  Assam, but instead  tried to include the Ahom territories under their dominions.
  • Gomdar Konwar,  a prince of Ahom,  led the uprising along with Tanjay Borgohain and Jairam Karkaria Phukan in the uprising.
  • In October 1828,  the rebels  formally crowned Gomdar Gonwar as the King of Jorhat.Konwar planned to capture the British  fort at Rangpur, stopped paying taxes and recruited soldiers.
  • The  rebels  pushed Rangpur in November 1828 but  was interned by the British at Mariani.  Many rebels surrendered, others  left Konwar and his friends took refuge in the Naga Hills.
  • The   British arrested them, tried them for treason, and first sentenced them to death.
  • The British adopted a conciliatory approach,  awarding Purandar Singh Narendra, the Maharaja of Upper  Assam,  and partially restoring Assamese rule. British control  eroded the political and social power of the Ahom monarchy.
  • As colonial techniques stripped the feudal aristocracy of its rights and privileges,  the rebellion marked the end of the Ahom feudal system.

Kohl Uprising (1831-32):

  • The Kols lived in Bihar and Orissa , especially  in Chotanagpur and Singhbhum. The Raja of Chotanagpur leasing out various villages to non-tribals  sparked a rebellion and  angered the Kols.
  • The Kols of Sonepur and Tamarin led a revolt against the thigadas (tax collectors),  destroying their property but not their lives. Looting and arson were popular acts of resistance. The rebels attacked and destroyed Sonepur Pargana.
  • By January 1832,  Coles  had assumed full control of Chotanagpur.The rebellion  escalated into a war against the power of the British Company.
  • The leader, Buddha Bhagat,  was killed during a battle. Another leader, Bindrai Mangi,  surrendered  in March 1832,  effectively ending the rebellion. The British  rewarded the people who gifted Bhagat’s severed head.
  • British land taxes and laws ruined the Kols, impoverishing many.
  • The British discriminated against the Kols, denied them educational opportunities and government jobs, and imposed their rule without Kohl’s consent.
  • Following the rebellion, the British implemented reforms, including changes in land ownership patterns, which gave the Coles more ownership  over their land. The Kol Uprising  was one of the first major rebellions against British rule in India,   centered on internal resistance.

Santhal Hul Rebellion (1855–56):

  • The Santhals, also known as Manchis, lived in the forests of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.
  • Their properties  were leased out to non-Santhal landlords,  and they  were oppressed by the local police and European authorities through the construction of railroads.
  • The British East India Company implemented revenue systems such as the Permanent Settlement,  which rewarded landlords over the peasants  .
  • The Santhal rebellion  began in June 1855,  with leaders including Sidhu, Kanhu, Chand, Bhairav   , Bhoolo and Jano.
  • The Santhals waged a guerrilla war against the British and landlords and seized properties in the Rajmahal hills, Bhagalpur district and Birbhum.
  • They militarized more than 10,000 individuals,  cut off communication lines and targeted BritishThe British deployed harsh weapons against the Santhals and eventually suppressed the uprising.
  • The  Santhal rebellion was  a well-organized campaign that  mobilized about 60,000 persons.
  • Although the British took up arms, it used successful guerrilla tactics against the British  .
  • This resulted in the  passage of the Santhal Parganas Tenancy Act, which  provided some protection for the tribals against British persecution.

Gond Uprising (1837-56):

  • The Gonds inhabited the hilly regions  extending from Bengal  to Tamil Nadu and the Central Provinces.Due to the impassable hilly terrain, they were completely independent before the arrival of the British  .
  • Between 1837 and 1856, they rose up against the British for exploiting forest practices  led by Chakra Bisoy, who  adopted the name young king”.
  • Tribal people from Gumusar, Kalahandi and Patna regions participated in the uprising.
  • The British  attempt to outlaw the practice of “maria” (sacrifice) and the subsequent introduction of new taxes, as well as the arrival of zamindars and sakkars (moneylenders), were the main reasons for their rise.
  • Using bows and arrows, swords and axes, the Coles rose in rebellion against the “Maria Agency”  created by the British.
  • In addition, they are assisted by some local militant groups led by the Radha Krishna Tand Sena. The rebellion finally  ended in 1955 when Chakra Bisoy was taken prisoner.

Early Munda Uprising:

  •   The  Mundas, an agricultural tribe in Jharkhand‘  s Chota Nagpur, were  exploited  by British invaders, zamindars and missionaries.
  •  Nontribal settlers rose to the ranks of jagirdars and zamindars, stealing munda lands and forcing them to do landless
  • The result of exploitation was conflict with outsiders, who demanded unpaid work and reduced them to tillers. Birsa Munda, born in 1875, organised the campaign after witnessing the exploitation of his tribals  .
  • He aimed at religious and political freedom, while Munda defended the rights of landlords.
  • The movement tried to free the Munda community from foreign influence and reclaim its own identity .
  • He launched an armed struggle against the landlords and the government in December 1899.The Mundas  set fire to police stations, houses of landlords, churches and property of the British. He died in prison of cholera at the age of 25.

Goya Uprising (1879-1880):

  • On the East Godavari route (now Andhra)  the Koyas  revolted in 1803  , 1840, 1845, 1858, 1861 and 1862  with the  help of Gonda Sara chiefs.
  • Under Toma Sora, they climbed once more in 1879-80.
  • Their grievances include harassment by the police and moneylenders, new restrictions and the dismissal of their traditional rights to forest areas.
  • After Domma Sora’s death, Raja Ananthai Iyer organized another rebellion in

Rampa Rebellion (1922-1924):Tribal uprisings in British India

  • Alluri Sitarama Raju led the Rampa uprising in the Visakhapatnam and East Godavari districts  of present-day  Andhra Pradesh  .
  • Vangalapudi estate landowners granted amnesty to A.S. Raju.Raju started a rebellion against the British and  was inspired by their example.
  • From 1922  to 1924, S. Raju and his associates increased their struggle by demonstrating in many police stations. They killed many officers, looted guns and stole medicines.
  • Raju was arrested, tied to a tree and shot dead in 1924,  ending the struggle against the British.

Benares Uprising (1830):Tribal uprisings in British India

  • Following the Burmese War,  the British occupied the  high ground between  the Garo and Jaintia Hills.
  • The colonial authorities intended to build a road from the Brahmaputra valley to Sylhet through this area.
  • Ghaziz rebelled, Mr Singh ordered, and Garos joined in instead of forced labor for road construction.
  • The four-year conflict with the Khasis ended tragically in early 1833.
  • The East India Company  imported outsiders for road construction, which resulted in strife.
  • Tirath Singh led Khasis, Garos, Kamptis, and Singbos in an alliance against foreigners.
  • This movement developed into a great revolt against the British government.By 1833, British forces had suppressed the uprising.

Singbos Rebellion (1830):Tribal uprisings in British India

  • Singh Bose also challenged the colonial government in the early 1830s when the  British  were busy thwarting the challenge posed by the Khasis.
  • The rebellion  lasted only four months before the British suppressed it.But, Singhbose  revolted again in 1830, this time with more strength as they killed a British political agent.
  •  Also,  in 1843, Nirang Bidu, the leader of Singhbose, attacked the British Garrison and killed many soldiers.

This Post Has One Comment

Leave a Reply