Almost one hundred years before India’s First War of Independence (1857), the adivasis (tribals) of Jharkhand had declared revolt against the British colonial rule and their imperialist exploiting policies. The first ever revolt in India, against the landlords was led by Tilka Manjhi, a valiant Santhal leader from the tribal belt in 1771.
He wanted to liberate people from the clutches of the unscrupulous landlords and restore the lands of his ancestors. The British government sent its troops and crushed the uprisings of Tilka Manjhi. Soon after in 1779, the Bhumij tribes of Manbhum, the Chero tribes of Palamau, the Oraons in Gumla, the Munda tribes of Tamar, the Hos in Singhbhum and the Santhals revolted.
Sidho and Kanho are the legendary heroes of the Santhal tribals of Jharkhand who fought against the oppressive rule of the British government. Another hero of my state was Birsa Munda, who died for his motherland when he was just 25 years of age. Birsa Munda fought for the tribals natural right over forests and land that was mercilessly being acquired by the British for exploitation. After a long fight, Birsa Munda was captured by the British authorities and killed in prison.
The 20th century saw the dawn of the British policy of “Divide and rule”. One of the most disgusting testaments of this British policy was the partition of Bengal in 1905. Due to this, the tribal areas, although geographically continuous, were put under different administrations.This led to greater exploitation by landlords and angered the tribals further. The tribal leaders now turned to socio-economic development of the people. In 1914 Jatra Oraon started what is called the Tana Movement. Later this movement joined the Satyagrah Movement of Mahatma Gandhi in 1920 and stopped giving land tax to the Government.
In 1915 the Chhotanagpur Unnati Samaj was started for the socio-economic development of the tribals. When the Simon Commission came to Patna in 1928, they faced strong opposition from the Chhotanagpur Unnati Samaj. Thereafter Theble Oraon organised Kishan Sabha in 1931. These organizations were hyperactive in holding the grounds of freedom struggle in India. Many warriors from the beautiful land of Jharkhand sacrificed their lives for against exploitation.