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The Santhal Rebellion (1855-56)
The first uprising, which can be seen as a peasant's revolt, was the Santhal Rebellion in \(1855-56\).
Reason: police brutality, exploitation of peasants by landlords and moneylenders and the British Government's ban on shifting cultivation in forest areas.
Area: Raj Mahal hills. Bihar.
Leaders: Siddhu and Kanhu (Santhal brothers)
The Santhals are the largest tribal community in India today, as per the population data. They are predominantly native to the states of Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha.
sindhu and kanhu.jpg
Statue of Sidhu and Kanhu in Dinajpur District
Course of the Revolt:
On 30th June \(1855\), the Santhal brothers (Sidhu Murmu and Kanhu Murmu) organised 10,000 Santhals and rebelled against the British. The tribals took an oath to drive away the British from their motherland. When the police arrived to arrest the Murmus, the villagers halted the policemen and killed them. They also attacked the British officials and engineers.
The landlords supported the British government, whereas the locals backed the Santhals. As a result, Santhals captured large chunks of land, including the Rajmahal Hills, Bhagalpur district and Birbhum.
The government pacified these Santhals by creating a separate district of Santhal Parganas. The British passed the Santhal Parganas Tenancy Act in 1876, which offered some protection for the tribals against exploitation.
Champaran Satyagraha (1917-18)
Area: Champaran district of Bihar.
European planters forced Indian peasants to plant Indigo on \(3/20th\ \)of their land holding under the Tinkathia system. Under this system, European planters holding the leases from the big local zamindars forced the peasants to cultivate Indigo which they purchased for significantly lesser prices.
In 1916, a farmer Raj Kumar Shukla from Champaran contacted Gandhi during the Lucknow session of Congress.
In 1917, Mahatma Gandhi launched an agitation against the acute attitude of European planters. He demanded a detailed enquiry and redressal of farmers’ grievances.
Stamp Release on Raj Kumar Shukla by Indian Postal Department in 2000.
  • The government appointed a committee and included Gandhi as one of its members.
  • The government abolished the Tinkathia system and paid compensation to the farmers.
  • The peasants' grievances were enquired, and eventually, the Champaran Agrarian Act was passed in May 1918.
Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Stamp_Release_on_Raj_Kumar_Shukla.png