होम Culture / History Amko Simko Massacre: Remembering a Tragic Chapter in History

Amko Simko Massacre: Remembering a Tragic Chapter in History

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The Amko Simko massacre, also known as the Amco Simco firing, is a painful chapter in the history of India that unfolded on April 25, 1939, in the serene village of Simko, located in the Gangpur estate, now known as Birmitrapur, Sundergarh, Odisha. This tragic incident involved the British Indian Army and tribal peasants who had gathered to protest against unjust taxes and land rights denial.

The Background:

The Mundas, a tribal community, had a deeply rooted customary land ownership system called “Khuntkatti.” Under this system, families or lineages within the tribe collectively owned land, water, and forests. However, the arrival of the British colonial government disrupted this age-old practice. In 1765, the British East India Company took control of the Chhotanagpur region, imposing taxes on lands cultivated by the tribal communities. This led to a series of uprisings and rebellions, including the Tilka Manjhi revolt in 1784.

Gangpur State, primarily inhabited by Munda and Oraon tribals, was a hotbed of resistance against these exorbitant taxes. After years of struggle, the British government was compelled to pass the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act in 1908, recognizing and safeguarding the Mundari Khuntkatti system.

The Zamindari System:

The British introduced the zamindari system, where peasants paid rent through intermediaries known as zamindars. These zamindars became owners of the land cultivated by peasants and collected taxes from them.

Lead-up to the Massacre:

In the village of Dahijira, Munda ryots (tenants) had stopped paying rent, and other tribes supported their cause. Petitions were filed against the high rent rates, but the local government was adamant about collecting taxes. The Queen of Gangpur, Rani Janaki Ratna, attempted to persuade the tribals, but her efforts were in vain. The agitation escalated, and Nirmal Munda, a World War I veteran, emerged as a prominent leader of the no-rent campaign.

In 1938, the movement intensified, with demands including land restitution, abolition of taxes, and more. Despite attempts to negotiate, the rebellion persisted.

Amko Simko Massacre: Remembering a Tragic Chapter in History

The Massacre Unfolds:

As the situation worsened, the Durbar of Gangpur sought help from the British political agent in Sambalpur to suppress the rebellion. They planned to arrest Nirmal Munda, and it was falsely claimed that Rani Janaki had accepted the agitators’ demands and was going to make an announcement in Simko village. On April 25, 1939, a large group of Adivasis gathered at Amko Simko, led by Nirmal Munda.

Assistant Political Agent Lt. E. W. Marger and a British officer arrived to arrest Nirmal Munda on charges of sedition and assault. Tensions escalated, leading to clashes between the police and the tribals. Unable to control the crowd, the police opened fire, resulting in numerous deaths and injuries.

Amko Simko Massacre: Remembering a Tragic Chapter in History

The Aftermath:

The exact casualty count remains disputed. The Odisha government claims 39 deaths and 50 injuries, while unofficial records suggest nearly 50 fatalities and around 100 injuries. Some even claim more than 300 casualties. Many victims’ names are not officially documented, but a list compiled from various sources is available.

Here is a table listing some of the victims of the Amko Simko massacre:

S. No.NameVillage
01Mania MundaMadhutola
02Phulmari Gunani (Kongadi)Madhutola
03Lawdan Munda (Bodra)Bhalulata
04Harun Munda (Lugun)Simco
05Nathaniel Munda (Lugun)Chanabahal
06Martin Munda (Horo)Khairbahar
07Nathaniel Munda (Lugun)Khairbahar
08Christochit Munda (Horo)Khairbahar
09Johan Munda (Dang)Bartoli
10Sudan Munda (Bage)Bartoli
11Anasi Munda (Topno)Bartoli
12Dhanmasi Khadia (Bilung)Paterpur
13Puanuel Oram (Kujur)Bilaigarh
14Khuyun Munda (Surin)Bilaigarh
15Ahlad Oram (Toppo)Dhodibahar
16Bhodro Oram (Barwa)Dhodibahar
17Dhuran Oram (Lakra)Kadobahal
18Buchku Oram (Kachhua)Dukatoli
19Jeetu Oram (Lakra)Bhaghwakhandi
20Bhulu Oram (Tirkey)Dukatoli
21Christ Biswas OramJhunmur
22Dhanmasi Oram (Dhanwar)Jhunmur
23Mansid Oram (Kindo)Jhunmur
24Daud Oram (Minz)Jhunmur
25Francis KerkettaJhunmur
26Bano KhadiaJhunmur
27Christotem JojoRanchi
28Christodhan Munda (Bage)Ghogar
29Paulus Oram (Dhanwar)Ghogar
30Sadi Munda (Hanuman)Ghogar
31Sukhram Munda (Horo)Ghogar
32Jhari Khadia (Kerketta)Bilaigarh
33Bhutlu Khadia (Indwar)Ambagaon
34Dhuran Oram (Lakra)Dhodibahar
35Manmasi Munda (Bhengra)Mahuatoli
36Nichodim Munda (Surin)Mahuatoli
37Mund Khadia (Dung Dung)Bilaigarh
38Jhankola BhengraGhogar
39Gaja Oram (Tirkey)Baniguini
40Samuel Oram (Tirkey)Rengalbahar
41Ohas Munda (Horo)Gopur
42Daud Munda (Bage)Gopur
43Bhawa Oram (Tirkey)Nuagaon
44Khusus OramRajgangpur
45Suleman Munda (Dang)Jhunumbira
46Christonand Munda (Lugun)Purnapani
47Jaimasi Munda (Surin)Jungle
48Jachrias Munda (Soy)Jungle
49Etwa Munda (Surin)Jungle

In Popular Culture:

The Amko Simko massacre is remembered in a tribal folk song called “Amko Simko Po’dāte,” sung in the Khadia language, which narrates the tragic events of that day.

The Amko Simko massacre serves as a somber reminder of the sacrifices made by tribal communities in their fight for justice and land rights during India’s struggle for independence.

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