The Brave Sons of Jharkhand: Sidhu Kanhu and Their Contribution to the 1857 Rebellion
About Sidhu murmu
|Full name of sidhu
|Birth year of Sidhu
|Birth place of Sidhu
|In Bhognadih village, Barhet Block, sahebganj District
|Father’s name of Sidhu Murmu
|Mother’s name of Sidhu Murmu
|– – –
|Kanhu, Chand and bhairav
|Phulo and Jhano
The Birth and Family of Sidhu Kanhu
Sidhu Murmu, the elder brother, was born in 1815 AD in Bhognadih, a village in Barhet block of Sahebganj district in Santhal Pargana division of Jharkhand state. Kanhu Murmu was born in 1820 AD. Sidhu Kanhu had six siblings, including Chand and Bhairav, born in 1825 AD and 1835 AD respectively, and two sisters named Phoolon Murmu and Jhano Murmu. Sidhu Kanhu’s father was Chunni Manjhi, who was martyred during the movement. Sidhu’s wife’s name was Sumi Murmu.
The British Rule in Jharkhand
The British entered Jharkhand via Singhbhum in 1767 AD and took control of the Kolhan region (Singhbhum) in 1837 AD. Before that, Jharkhand was ruled by regional dynasties, including Nag dynasty of Chotanagpur Khas, Singh dynasty of Singhbhum, Man dynasty of Manbhum, Chero dynasty of Ramgarh state Palamu, Panchet state, etc.
The Santhal Rebellion of 1857
The revolution of 1857 was seen almost all over India, and Jharkhand was no exception. The Santhal rebellion started in protest against the tyranny of the British in the year 1857 AD. Sidhu Kanhu raised the alarm of agitation in Santhal Pargana in July 1855, when he saw that the British government was taking the side of landlords and moneylenders. Sidhu-Kanhu started a movement against the British rule, which became a major part of the 1857 rebellion in Jharkhand. Sidhu Kanhu and his brothers Chand and Bhairav played a significant role in fighting fearlessly against the British in the battle of 1857 in Jharkhand. Many revolutionaries sacrificed their lives for Jharkhand and to drive out the British from Jharkhand.
The Reasons behind the Santhal Rebellion
The Santhal Rebellion or Hul movement was a result of various factors that led to the tribals rising up against the British rule in 1855-56. The following are some of the reasons that led to the rebellion:
- the British were building railways in Jharkhand for which they were cutting down forests. Because of which the houses of the Santhal tribals were slowly being destroyed.
- British government, landlords, contractors and big businessmen
- Together, they were illegally usurping the land of the tribals and taking it under their possession.
- The tribals had to pay taxes to the landlords to cultivate their own land. And whatever things were grown together had to be shared for free.
- Tribal people were harassed and exploited every day by the British rule, Zamindars, Jagirdars, Seths, moneylenders and businessmen. Those people had kept the tribals as servants.
- The tribal women used to be exploited and raped every day. And the case did not go to the government till the trial.
- In that period, if any kind of program like marriage ceremony, birth, death feast was to be held, then the British had to pay tax before doing it.
- A palanquin was made for the tribal landlords and they had to travel by carrying them on their shoulders.
- Forests were being forcibly cut down. The animals were taken away without paying any money.
- It was common for them to kill those who raised their voice against them.
- On filing cases against government officials and landlords, the tribals had to bear the entire cost of the case.
Exploitation by the British Government and Landlords
The British were building railways in Jharkhand, which required cutting down forests, leading to the destruction of houses of the Santhal tribals. The British government, landlords, contractors, and big businessmen were illegally usurping the land of the tribals and taking it under their possession. The tribals had to pay taxes to the landlords to cultivate their own land, and whatever was grown had to be shared for free. The tribal people were harassed and exploited every day by the British rule, Zamindars, Jagirdars, Seths, moneylenders, and businessmen, who kept them as servants. The tribal women were exploited and raped every day, with no action taken against the perpetrators.
Taxation and Forced Labor
In that period, any program like a marriage ceremony, birth or death feast required paying taxes to the British. A palanquin was made for the tribal landlords, and they had to travel by carrying them on their shoulders. The forests were being forcibly cut down, and the animals were taken away without paying any money. Those who raised their voice against them were often killed, and the tribals had to bear the entire cost of the case if they filed a case against government officials and landlords.
Increasing Anger and Rebellion
The scope of exploitation on the British tribals was increasing day by day, leading to a lot of anger among the tribals against the British. But they were unable to do anything, as they did not have any weapons, organization, or support. Sidhu Kanhu raised his voice against the British and explained to his brothers and family what is right and wrong, and how they should fight against the British. They formed an organization, made people aware, and instigated them against the British and moneylenders. The people of Santhal Pargana were troubled by the increasing atrocities and exploitation, and due to the implementation of temporary settlement in the area by Lord Cornwallis, a new landlord class was formed, leading to even more exploitation. Distressed by all these reasons, the Santhal Rebellion or Hul movement began.
Sidhu Kahnu organizes Mahasabha before Santhal war
Sidhu and his brother Bhairav make a plan to gather the Santhal people. By sending branches of Atarth Shawl leaves, he started giving message from house to house that now the time has come to establish Abua Raj i.e. our rule. A crowd of 20,000 (estimated at 50,000 people) Santhals from about 400 villages gather at Bhognadih at midnight of the full moon on 30 June 1855.
Revolutionary Sidhu addresses the Mahasabha
In this Mahasabha, revolutionary Sidhu roared like a lion with great enthusiasm and said, how long will we continue to do slavery to the British. The British will continue to consider our daughters-in-law as puppets. Whenever he feels like taking them away, he rapes them. And when we go to file a case against them, no action is taken against them. If a tribal there rapes the daughters-in-law of their house, then what will be their joy, we know. Then there is no respect for our daughters-in-law? How long will we keep watching all this? “Do or die, British leave our soil” We will have to drive away the Dikus from Santhal Pargana i.e. landlord landlords and the Britishers from here. This historic Adivasi Mahasabha is known as Santhal Rebellion or Hul Rebellion.
Leadership in Santhal Rebellion:
The Santhals made Sidhu the king, Kanhu the minister, Chand the administrator and Bhairav the commander.
Announcement after the Mahasabha
Now no one will give any kind of lagna to the landlords and the British. No tribal would obey the orders of the British Government. No tribal will now go to work at the British and landlord’s place. Now we will together boycott the British government and landlords for exploiting them and if they don’t agree, we will kill them. Keep weapons like arrows, bow, sickle, dagger with you, now we will offer the earring of these British to Marangburu.
The Santhal Rebellion Begins
As soon as this Mahasabha ends, a few days later, the British contractors who build the railways take 3 tribal women captive for the purpose of raping them. This dirty thinking of the British contractors fueled the Santhal rebellion. Due to this, the revolutionaries of Santhal become enraged, they get very angry, now there was bound to be a ruckus against the British. Kanhu was of an angry mood, now he had both reason and opportunity. Kanhu, along with his colleagues, kills many of those English contractors. Now wherever there was a slight chance, the people of Santhal rebellion did not hold back from killing the British, they used to kill them directly.
The British Fear of the Santhals
The British officers were so scared of the Santhal rebels that they increased their security. Sidhu had said during the Mahasabha that now no one will go to the British and contractors for work. And one day it comes that no tribal goes to work with the British contractors, that day was 7th July 1855. The British get very upset with this and say that not even a single tribal came to work. After that the British reach the tribal’s house to get the work done. And Jor tries to forcefully take Adivasi to work but Sidhu comes in between. Sidhu just gives a signal, after that Santhal rebels put the Inspector of Dighi and the English constable to death there. And on the other hand, Kanhu also kills the sub-inspector of Kurughuria police station. Hundreds of British officers were killed under the leadership of Sidhu Kanhu. The British officers and landlords were so scared that now it was difficult for him to leave the house and deployed hundreds of police outside his house for security.
The Santhal Rebellion
In 1855, around 20,000 Santhals occupied Amber Pargana, where only Englishmen and moneylenders lived. The Santhal Rebellion, also known as the Santal Hul, had begun.
Attacks on British and Moneylenders
The Raj Mahal was attacked and captured, and all the nearby villages where only Britishers and moneylenders lived were set on fire by the Santhals. The Santhals attacked the British with weapons like arrows, bows, spears, etc. Despite the British having many weapons full of ammunition, they were not able to stand in front of the Santhals.
Due to the fear of Santhal rebellion, the British had built the Martilon Tower in Pakur. This tower was used to hide landlords and contractors. The dome was shaped like the Martillon tower, and this dome is still there today and has been repaired well. When the Santhal rebels came near this Martilon tower dome, the British used to fire through small windows and then closed the windows.
Capture of Sidhu Kanhu
The British took very strict steps to capture Sidhu Kanhu, a leader of the rebellion. When the British felt that both the brothers were in their own house in Bhognadih, they raided Bhognadih and set that house on fire. Sidhu Kanhu was not there in that house, but his father Chunni Manjhi died in that house.
Hul Yatra and Battle of Raghunathpur and Sangrampur
The Hul Yatra started, which was going towards Calcutta, and along with it, villages were being looted, burnt, and people were being killed. The Santhals captured the Virbhoomi area and chased away the British from there. The British troops were defeated at Virpaiti. Santhal’s biggest victory was in the battle of Raghunathpur and Sangrampur, where a European general, some indigenous officers, and about 25 soldiers were killed.
After this, the British officers were furious, and martial law was implemented in all the districts of Bhagalpur Commissionerate. The British put a reward for the arrest of the rebels and made tremendous preparations to compete with them. Despite their efforts, Sidhu Kanhu was not caught by the British.
Battle of Badhait and The End of Sido-Kanhu Era
The Battle of Badhait was a significant event in the Santhal Rebellion of 1855-1856, led by Sidhu and Kanhu, two Santhal brothers who fought against the British colonial rule in India.
During the battle, Chand and Bhairav were killed by British bullets, and Sidhu Kanhu’s companions who were greedy for reward joined the British forces. With their help, Kanhu was arrested near Uparbanda village, and Sidhu was arrested in Barhait on August 19, 1855. Mehar Shakwarg imprisoned him and took him to Bhagalpur jail.
Both brothers were publicly hanged after their arrest. Sidhu was hanged at a place called Panchkathia in Barhait, which is also known as the martyr’s place. Kanhu was hanged in his village, Bhognadih. The death of the brothers marked the end of the Santhal rebellion.
On 30 November 1856, Santhal Pargana was declared a district, and Ashley Eden was appointed as its first collector. The district had a unique legal system different from the rest of the country.
Despite the end of the rebellion, the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857, also known as the first war of independence, set the stage for further events. Sidhu Kanhu is still remembered in Santhali songs, and their martyrdom is commemorated on Santhal Hul Day, celebrated every year on June 30.
Sidhu’s wife Sumi played a commendable role throughout the Santhal insurgency period. The rebellion led by Sidhu Kanhu is still known as the Santhal Rebellion, and their legacy is a source of pride for the entire Santhal Pargana and Jharkhand region.