Santhal rebellion (1855 - 1856) in India

The Santhal rebellion (1855-1856) was a native rebellion in present day Jharkhand, in eastern India against both the British colonial authority and corrupt upper caste zamindari system by the Santal people. The Santal tribes were turned into slaves 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, they never ended. the Santali women who worked under labour contractors were sexually disgraced and used as concubines and comfort women by the money lenders, zamindars and agents of the Raj. This loss of freedom and respect that the Santals enjoyed turned them into rebels and finally they took oath to launch an attack on the most visible symbol of authority, i.e., the British Raj.

In 1855, two Santal rebel leaders, Sidhu and Kanhu Murmu, mobilized ten thousand Santals and declared a rebellion against British colonists. The Santals initially gained some success in guerilla war tactics using bows and arrows but soon the British found out a new way to tackle these rebels. The British soon understood that there was no point fighting them in the forest but to force them come out of the forest. They stationed at the foot of the hill on which the Santals were stationed. When the battle began, the British officer ordered fire without bullets. As the Santals could not trace this trap set by the much experienced British war strategists, they charged in full force. This step proved to be disastrous for them for as soon as they neared the foot of the hill, the British army attacked with full power and this time by using real bullets. The hapless Santals were cut to pieces. Thereafter the revolution was brutally suppressed. The day of rebellion is still celebrated among the Santal community with great respect and spirit for the thousands of the Santal martyrs who sacrificed their lives along with their two celebrated leaders in their glorious albeit unsuccessful attempt to win freedom from the rule of the zamindars and the British operatives.

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