Tribal Rebellions of India

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  • 11/25/13 GD House: Tribal Rebellions 1/4

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    TribalRebellionsAround 8% of the Indian population (68 million) constitute the Indian tribes. Almost all the Indian states have tribal

    population spread uniformly in almost all the districts. The Kuki tribes of north east, Thakar of Maharashtra, Dhodia

    and Maldhari of Gujarat, Santhals of Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal, and various tribes of Andaman &

    Nicobar Islands, are some of the many tribal names. Some of these tribes also took part in the Indian independence

    struggle against the British, mostly in the 19th century, while some tribal uprisings took place against the non-tribal

    Indians. Some of the rebellions are listed below:

    Kukis are the tribes of Manipur, Nagaland, Assam and Mizoram states of India, and Chittagong Hill Tracts of

    Bangladesh and few parts of Burma. In 1860, a massive uprising among the Kuki tribes took place in Tipperah

    (Kingdom of Tripura). In a village called as Chagulneyah, around 15 villages were plundered, 185 Britishers were

    butchered and around 100 were kept as captives. This was actually an invasion of Kuki tribes in Tripura, which

    resulted into mass killing of both the local masses and Britishers. The Kuki people reached to their maximum extent

    upto Chittagong, which was a part of British Bengal. This was among the first uprising against the non-Kukis in

    north eastern India.

    The Halba Rebellion in Bastar district of present day Chhattisgarh, changed the whole history of Bastar. The

    Governor of Dongar, Ajmer Singh, initiated the rebellion in 1774, in order to create a separate state of Dongar. At

    that time, Dongar was under the Nagpur Province, which was later added to the Central Provinces in 1853. The

    uprising took place due to lack of money and food among the common people, which was a result of drought that

    took place in that area. The revolt was suppressed by the British and Marathas.

    Famine, enhanced taxes, economic distress and other reasons, led to the Chuar Rebellion in Midnapore and Bankura

    districts of Bengal. The 1500 peasants of backward classes and tribal people, under the leadership of the Zamindar

    Durjan Singh, created havoc in the districts. The rebel was cruelly suppressed by the Britishers.

    The Bhil tribes of Central India, took part in rebellions against the Britishers in the 19th century at various times.

    The rebellion of 1809-1828, was the biggest rebellion, which took place for nearly two decades. In 1846, the Bhils

    under Kuwar Jiva Vasavo rebelled against the British in western India. During the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny, the Bhils

    rebelled under Bhagoji Naik and Kajar Singh, in Ahmednagar (now in Maharashtra). In 1858, Tantya Tope lead a

    rebellion in Banswara district of Rajputana.

    In the Chhattisgarh division of Central Provinces, in 1825, the Paralkot Rebellion took place. The cause of agitation

    was the attack of British and Marathas on the Abujhmaria tribe. The rebellion was headed by Gend Singh. Another

    reason was the imposition of heavy tax on the peasants of Paralkot by the Marathas. The rebellion was soon


    In the Central Provinces, the Bastar district witnessed another tribal revolt by the natives of Bastar, which is known

    as Tarapur Rebellion. The natives feared the suppression of their local culture and the heavy taxes imposed on them

    by Britishers and Marathas, and so between 1842-1854, a major rebellion occurred in the area.

    Kuki Uprising, Tripura 1860

    Halba Rebellion, Bastar 1774-1779

    Chuar Rebellion, Midnapore & Bankura 1799-1800

    Bhil Rebellion

    Paralkot Rebellion, Central Provinces 1825

    Tarapur Rebellion, Bastar 1842-1854







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  • 11/25/13 GD House: Tribal Rebellions 2/4

    The age old practice of human sacrifice was being suppressed by the British. This was supported by the Marathas.

    The constant interference of the Marathas and British in the cultural practices of the tribal people in that area,

    caused a heavy uprising between 1842-1863. The rebel was crushed by the joint effort of Marathas and Britishers.

    Lead by four Murmu brothers, Sindhu, Kanhu, Chand and

    Bhairav, the Santhal Rebellion was started in 1855 by the

    Santhal tribes of eastern India against the Britishers. The

    Santhals lived in areas of present day Odisha, Jharkhand

    and Bihar. But the Britishers restricted them to Rajmahal

    district of Bihar. The Zamindars and local land lords

    together with Britishers started suppressing the tribal

    Santhals. High taxes, turning the local people into slaves,

    sexually harassment of Santhal women, and many other

    factors, led to the Santhal Uprising in 1855. Although the

    rebellion was suppressed by Britishers, but they saw

    bravery and fierceness of Santhal tribal people.

    The British contractors of Hyderabad had their business of cutting the Sal trees of Bastar region. The Sal tree was

    considered as sacred for the Koi people living there, and so in order to protect the trees, the Koi tribes fought

    against the British. The Britishers used to exploit the local Koi people mentally and economically, which was also one

    of the reasons of the uprising.

    The Gonds of Adilabad (in modern day Andhra Pradesh) are the descendants of Gond Rajas, which ruled the area

    during ancient era. Ramji Gond formed an army, and rebelled against the British, as the local people were unhappy

    for separating out Berar from the Hyderabad province of the Nizams. The rebel took place in 1860. Although the

    rebellion was suppressed in the same year, Adilabad witnessed a series of revolts and uprisings against the British

    government in the future decades.

    The biggest rebellion in Bastar, was the Bhumkal Rebellion which took place in 1910. The revolt was the struggle

    against the Britishers in order to protect their forests and natural resources from being exploited by the Britishers.

    The uprising took its full form, when the local tribal people were prohibited to use the wood and timber, and the

    permit to use these was given only to the British contractors. Among the previous rebellions led by the tribal people

    in Bastar, this was the most vigorous and fierce one, which had a great impact in the Indian independence struggle.

    After the First World War of 1914-1918, an uprising took place in Manipur

    against the British government by the Kuki people, which is known as the

    Kuki Uprising of 1917-1919. The main reason was the partial recruitment

    of the Kuki tribes in the British Indian Army, to fight in the WWI in

    Mesopotamia (Iraq) as First Labor Corps. Another reason was, that when

    the Maharaja of Manipur gave commitment to the British government to

    send the Kuki people as troops at France during WWI without the consent

    of Kuki chiefs, it disturbed the sentiments of the Kuki people. The Kuki

    people never tolerated the interference of the Britishers in their matters

    and often regarded them as impure. Battles were fought at various places

    of Manipur like Lonpi, Ngulbul, Longya and Imphal. The British posts were

    attacked vigorously, and there was a whole scene of civil uneasiness

    between the British troops, Kuki people, and the army of Maharaja of


    Maria Rebellion, Bastar 1842-1863

    Santhal Rebellion, Jharkhand 1855

    Koi Revolt, Bastar 1859

    Gond Rebellion, Adilabad 1860

    Bhumkal Rebellion, Bastar 1910

    Kuki Uprising, Manipur 1917-1919

    Rampa Rebellion, Vizagapatam

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