Friday, 7 October 2016

First Adivasi tribe to fight against the British

During India's struggle for freedom from Britain, thousands of people, irrespective of religion, caste and ethnic origin took active role and did their mite to free the country. The tribes of India did not lag behind in this respect because, they were physically and and mentally abused by the early settlers under the East India company who took away the tribal lands to grow cash crops for export and forced them to work on their lands for pittance. Numerous tribal communities were heart broken and this gradually led to the growth of many radicals among the tribes who could not brook what had happened to their community and their age-old culture. One daring man from the tribal community took the cudgels against the British.

Baba Tilka Manjhi also known as  Jabra paharia  was terribly upset over the way the Adivasi tribal communities and their lands had been exploited mercilessly by the British in the last several years. He took the honor of being the the first Adivasi leader who took up arms against the British in 1784, around 100 years before Mangal Pandey, who did the same thing in the Meerut Contentment that laid the foundation of the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.

Manjhi organized the Adivasis to form an armed group to fight against  the East India company officials who were treacherous and unscrupulous with respect to the land  grabbing and exploitation of the tribal community, using various ruses.

In the year 1784  the first armed rebellion against the British took place and  it was the beginning of Santhal Hul. it was the result of  great famine in 1770 and the repercussions of Court of Directors' orders influenced by William Pitt the Younger. Court of Director favored ten year of the settlement of Zamindari act and later in 1800 - this resulted in minimum chance to  make negotiation  between local Zamdindars and Santhal villagers.Consequently the Santhal villagers were relegated to the back side with respect issues like wages, profit sharing, etc. The scale of justice, with out reason, tipped in favor of Zamindars who already fleeced the poor tribes, besides the English.

Adivasi hill tribe, Manjhi who killed Commissioner Cleveland.www.polyeyes.com
Infuriated Baba Tilka Manjhi, had no other recourse except

Manjhi and santall community. twitter.com
to directly confront  Augustus Clevland, British commissioner, Rajmahal. He finally attacked him with his simple weapon  Gulel (a weapon similar to slingshot) who died later. The British were wild and  the british troops went into the forest and surrounded the Tilapore forest area from where Manjhi and his associates were operating. Manjhi and his men defended their place  for a few weeks.
Gulel or slingshot. www.madsbag.com
At last  he was caught by the British. In 1784, Manjhi was tied to the tail of a horse and dragged all the way to the collector's residence at Bhagalpur, Bihar.  Not content with his heavily lacerated body, he  was hanged to death  from a Banyan tree right before the public so that that could be a lesson to other rebels.


After independence, a statue in honor of Manjhi  was erected at the spot where he was hanged. It is near the  residence of S.P. Bhagalpur and  it is named after him.  The Bhagalpur University later came to be called - Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University. It is indeed a great honor for a daring man from the tribal community who did not remain mute and instead, he daringly gave a clarion call to fight the treacherous and obnoxious East India company's British officials who had no heart.

Memoial to Augustus Clevland.Bagalpur, India./en.wikipedia.org/
Tit-Bits:

Above drawing: 1820 Water-colour drawing by Sir Charles D'Oyly (1781-1845) of monument erected by the natives of the Bhagalpur District, Bengal, India, to the memory of Augustus Clevland (1755-84). 

Natives Indians loved him very much as he was a kind hearted official   and the question is: "Why  was he killed by Manjhi ?"
There are two memorials  to him in Bhagalpur, one in stone sent by the Court of Directors of the East India Company from England, the other depicted here, a shrine built by his native staff and acquaintances. British Library. 

Ref:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilka_Manjhi