Chapter-6 : People’s Resistance Against British Rule Before 1857

Arora IAS Modern History Notes 

Who Resisted?

  • Peasants, artisans, tribals, rulers (active or deposed), military personnel (both British and Indian), religious leaders (Hindu and Muslim).
  • Examples:
    • Benares agitation (1810) – Urban poor against house tax.
    • Surat riots (1814) – Against salt duty.
    • Bareilly rising (1816) – Against police and municipal taxes.

Forms of Resistance:

  • Bipan Chandra’s categorization:
    • Civil rebellions (urban protests)
    • Tribal uprisings
    • Peasant movements
  • Military revolts by Indian sepoys(added for comprehensiveness)

Reasons for Resistance:

  • Colonial policies:
    • Revenue extraction focus.
    • Unresponsive administration.
    • Laws favoring British interests.
  • Economic hardship:
    • High land revenue demands.
    • New taxes.
    • Eviction from land.
  • Devastation of Indian industries:
    • Promotion of British goods.
    • Heavy duties on Indian products.
    • Loss of jobs in traditional industries.
  • Tribal grievances:
    • Loss of control over land and resources.

Overall Impact:

  • Resistance movements expressed growing resentment against British rule.
  • Set the stage for later movements, including the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny.


Civil Uprisings Against British Rule

Who Led?

  • Dispossessed rulers, zamindars, poligars (South Indian landholders), ex-officials, religious leaders.
  • Supported by peasants, artisans, demobilized soldiers.


  • Economic changes under British rule:
    • New land revenue system.
    • Loss of control over land and revenue for former elites.
  • Decline of traditional elites:
    • Sidelined by British officials and new merchant class.
  • Economic hardship:
    • Ruin of Indian handicraft industries due to British policies.
    • Loss of jobs and patrons for artisans.
  • Religious motivations:
    • Priests and religious leaders impacted by decline of traditional elites.
  • Resentment against British rule:
    • Feeling of foreign domination and disrespect.


  • Localized movements with specific grievances.
  • Led by traditional elites seeking to restore old power structures.
  • Not forward-looking in ideology.


Important Civil Uprisings Against British Rule

Sanyasi Revolt (1763-1800)

  • Cause:Famine of 1770, harsh British economic rule.
  • Location:Eastern India.
  • Participants:Sanyasis (ascetics), peasants, zamindars, demobilized soldiers.
  • Leaders:Majnum Shah, Chirag Ali, Musa Shah, Bhawani Pathak, Debi Chaudhurani (woman leader).
  • Significance:Early resistance movement involving both Hindus and Muslims.

Revolt in Midnapore and Dhalbhum (1766-1774)

  • Cause:Introduction of new land revenue system by British.
  • Location:Midnapore and Dhalbhum regions.
  • Leaders:Zamindars – Damodar Singh, Jagannath Dhal.
  • Outcome:Zamindars dispossessed by 1800s.

Revolt of Moamarias (1769-1799)

  • Cause:Low-caste peasants’ rebellion against Ahom kings of Assam.
  • Location:
  • Leaders:Moamarias (followers of Aniruddhadeva).
  • Outcome:Weakened Ahom kingdom fell to Burmese invasion and later British rule.

Civil Uprisings in Gorakhpur, Basti, and Bahraich (1781)

  • Cause:Excessive revenue demands by British East India Company.
  • Location:Gorakhpur, Basti, and Bahraich regions.
  • Outcome:Rebellion suppressed, British revenue official dismissed.

Revolt of Raja of Vizianagaram (1794)

  • Cause:British betrayal of treaty and demand for tribute.
  • Location:
  • Leader:Raja Vizayaramaraju.
  • Outcome:Raja died in battle, Vizianagaram under British rule.

Revolt of Dhundia in Bednur (1799-1800)

  • Cause:Local Maratha leader against British rule after fall of Mysore.
  • Location:Bednur region.
  • Leader:Dhundia Wagh.
  • Outcome:Dhundia killed in battle, but became a symbol of resistance.

Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja (1797, 1800-1805)

  • Location:Malabar region
  • Leader:Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja (“Lion of Kerala”)
  • Cause:British violation of treaty, imposition of high taxes.
  • Course of Events:
    • Resisted Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan, and British.
    • 1793: Peasants rebel against high taxes under British-appointed Raja.
    • 1797: Peace treaty with British.
    • 1800: Renewed conflict over Wayanad territory.
    • Led guerrilla warfare with Nairs, Mappilas, and Pathans.
    • November 1805: Killed in a gunfight.

Civil Rebellion in Awadh (1799)

  • Location:Awadh
  • Leader:Wazir Ali Khan, former Nawab
  • Cause:Ousted by British, revenge for replacement.
  • Events:
    • 1797: Wazir Ali Khan becomes Nawab with British help.
    • Conflict with British, replaced by uncle.
    • January 1799: Killed British resident and others in Benares (“Massacre of Benares”).
    • Gathered rebel army, defeated by British.
    • Surrendered, imprisoned in Calcutta.

Uprisings in Ganjam and Gumsur (1800, 1835-1837)

  • Location:Ganjam district, Northern Circars
  • Leaders:Strikara Bhanj (zamindar), Jlani Deo, Jagannath Deo, Dhananjaya Bhanj (Strikara’s son), Doora Bisayi
  • Cause:Refusal to pay revenue, oppressive British collector.
  • Events:
    • 1797: Strikara Bhanj refuses to pay revenue.
    • 1800: Open rebellion against British.
    • Strikara joined by other zamindars.
    • British capture Jagannath Deo (1804).
    • Compromise: Strikara regains some control (1807-08).
    • 1815: Dhananjaya Bhanj forces father to leave, rebels again.
    • Strikara returns, regains zamindari (1819-1830).
    • 1835: Dhananjaya rebels again due to arrears.
    • Rebellion reduces British control, Dhananjaya dies (Dec. 1835).
    • Doora Bisayi leads continued resistance.
    • February 1837: Doora Bisayi captured, zamindari forfeited.

Uprisings in Palamau (1800-1802)

  • Location:Palamau region
  • Leader:Bhukhan Singh (Chero chief)
  • Cause:Agrarian and feudal system issues.
  • Events:
    • 1800: Bhukhan Singh leads rebellion.
    • British forces suppress rebellion over two years.
    • 1802: Bhukhan Singh dies, rebellion ends.

Poligars’ Revolt (1795-1805)

  • Location:South India (Tinneveli, Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga, Sivagiri, Madurai, North Arcot)
  • Leaders:Polygars (palayakkarargal) – Kattabomman Nayakan (Panjalankurichi), Marudu brothers (Sivaganga), Oomathurai (Kattabomman’s brother), Yedaragunta poligar, Charagallu poligar.
  • Cause:British control, taxation, loss of autonomy.
  • Events (in phases):
    • 1781: Nawab of Arcot cedes control to British, angering poligars.
    • 1795-1799: First revolt led by Kattabomman Nayakan against high taxes.
      • British capture and execute Kattabomman with associates.
    • 1801: Second, more violent revolt by escaped poligars.
      • Rebels capture forts, join Marudu brothers’ rebellion (suppressed Oct. 1801).
      • British destroy Panjalankurichi fort, erase its name.
    • 1803-1805: North Arcot poligars rebel against loss of revenue collection rights.
      • British suppress rebellion, exile or pension some poligars.

Uprisings in Haryana Region (1803-1810)

  • Location:Present-day Haryana
  • Cause:British takeover after Treaty of Surji-Arjungaon (1803).
  • Resistance:
    • Sikh chiefs of Ambala, Karnal, and Thanesar.
    • Muslim Bhatti Rajputs led by Zabita Khan and Khan Bahadur Khan in western Haryana.
    • Jats and Ranghars in Rohtak, Bhiwani, and eastern Hisar.
  • British Response:
    • Military expeditions to suppress rebellions.
    • Capture of Fatehabad, Sirsa, Rania, and Bhiwani.
    • Conversion of Hansi fort into a military cantonment.

Diwan Velu Thampi’s Revolt (1808-1809)

  • Location:Travancore
  • Cause:Harsh British conditions following subsidiary alliance (1805).
  • Leader:Diwan Velu Thampi (Prime Minister)
  • Events:
    • Velu Thampi opposed British interference and highhandedness.
    • “Kundara Proclamation” called for armed resistance.
    • Large-scale rebellion against British.
    • Travancore Maharaja defected to British side.
    • Velu Thampi committed suicide to avoid capture.
    • Rebellion ended.

Disturbances in Bundelkhand (1808-1812)

  • Location:Bundelkhand
  • Cause:British conquest after Second Anglo-Maratha Wars (1803-1805).
  • Resistance:
    • Bundela chiefs from numerous forts (around 150).
    • Lakshaman Dawa (Ajaygarh Fort) – surrendered in 1809.
    • Darya Singh (Kalanjar Fort) – resistance suppressed in 1812.
    • Gopal Singh (military adventurer) – eluded British capture for 4 years.
  • British Response:
    • Military suppression.
    • “Ikarnamahs” – agreements binding Bundelkhand chieftains.

Parlakimedi Outbreak (1813-1834)

  • Location:Parlakimedi, Ganjam district (Odisha)
  • Leaders:Zamindars and rajas led by Narayan Deo and his family.
  • Cause:Resistance against British control.
  • Events:
    • Narayan Deo’s initial rebellion (1768) led to British military action.
    • Gajapathi Deo (Narayan Deo’s son) became zamindar.
    • Continued resistance by Narayan Deo and family.
    • George Russell appointed commissioner to suppress revolt (1832).
    • Rebellion pacified by 1834.

Rising at Bareilly (1816)

  • Location:Bareilly
  • Cause:Imposition of police tax, religious tensions.
  • Events:
    • Mufti Muhammad Aiwaz petitions against police tax (March 1816).
    • Police injure woman while collecting tax, sparking a clash.
    • Muslims from nearby areas join rebellion.
    • Rebels murder son of a British judge (April 1816).
    • Uprising suppressed by British military (over 300 rebels killed/wounded/imprisoned).

Upsurge in Hathras (1817)

  • Location:Hathras
  • Cause:High revenue demands, resistance to fort dismantling.
  • Leader:Dayaram, talukdar of Aligarh.
  • Events:
    • Dayaram resists high revenue demands, shelters fugitives.
    • British attack Hathras fort (February 1817).
    • Dayaram escapes but surrenders later, granted pension.
    • Raja of Mursan also submits to British demands.

Paika Rebellion (1817-1818)

  • Location:Odisha
  • Cause:British land revenue policy, dispossession of Paiks.
  • Leaders:Bakshi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar (military chief), Mukunda Deva (Raja of Khurda).
  • Events:
    • British conquest of Odisha (1803), dethronement of Raja weakens Paiks (hereditary militia).
    • Land revenue policy angers zamindars and peasants.
    • Khonds from Gumsur join forces with Paiks (March 1817).
    • Jagabandhu leads rebellion, initial success forces British retreat.
    • Rebellion spreads across Odisha, Jagabandhu declared outlaw.
    • Guerilla warfare by rebels, brutal repression by British (1818).
    • Priests sheltering Jagabandhu hanged.
    • Jagabandhu surrenders (1825) – some sources say captured and died in captivity (1829).
    • Rebellion leads to concessions by British – reduced land revenue, fixed tenures etc.

Waghera Rising (1818-1820)

  • Location:Okha Mandal (Gujarat)
  • Cause:Resentment against Gaekwad’s exactions supported by British.
  • Events:
    • Waghera chiefs raid British territory (1818-1819).
    • Peace treaty signed in November 1820.

Ahom Revolt (1828)

  • Location:Assam
  • Cause:British renege on pledge to withdraw from Assam after First Burma War.
  • Leaders:Gomdhar Konwar (Ahom prince), Dhanjay Borgohain, Jairam Khargharia Phukan.
  • Events:
    • British attempt to annex Ahom territories sparks rebellion.
    • Rebels led by Gomdhar Konwar establish him as king.
    • British adopt conciliatory approach, restore some territories to Assamese king.

Surat Salt Agitations (1840s)

  • Location:Surat
  • Cause:Anti-British sentiment, increased salt duty.
  • Events:
    • Public outrage over salt duty hike (1844) leads to attacks on Europeans.
    • British back down and withdraw salt tax increase.
    • Similar protests and government back down in 1848 against new weights and measures.

Kolhapur and Savantvadi Revolts (1844 onwards)

  • Location:Kolhapur and Savantvadi (Maharashtra)
  • Cause:Discontent with British administration.
  • Events:
    • Disbanded Gadkari soldiers (hereditary Maratha military) revolt in Kolhapur (1844).
    • Occupy Samangarh and Bhudargarh forts.
    • Savantvadi region with history of rebellion (1830, 1836, 1838) sees renewed uprising.
    • British implement various laws to control the region.

Wahabi Movement (1820s onwards)

  • Origin:Islamic revivalist movement founded by Syed Ahmed of Rai Bareilly.
  • Cause:Opposition to Western influence on Islam, desire for pure Islamic society.
  • Activities:
    • Advocated return to Prophet’s time Islam.
    • Declared Syed Ahmed as Imam (leader).
    • Established nationwide organization with secret code and regional leaders (Khalifas).
    • Based in Sithana (north-west India), with centers in Patna, Hyderabad etc.
    • Declared Jihad against Sikh kingdom (pre-British rule).
    • After British annexation of Punjab in 1849, focused attacks on British rule.
    • Spread anti-British sentiment.
  • British Response:
    • Military operations against Wahabi base in Sithana (1860s).
    • Court cases against Wahabis on sedition charges.
    • Sporadic resistance continued till late 19th century.

Kuka Movement (1840s onwards)

  • Location:Western Punjab
  • Founder:Bhagat Jawahar Mal (Sian Saheb)
  • Later Leader:Baba Ram Singh (founder of Namdhari Sikh sect)
  • Cause:Religious and social reform, anti-British sentiment.
  • Tenets:
    • Abolition of caste system and discrimination within Sikhs.
    • Discouragement of meat, alcohol, and drugs.
    • Permission for intermarriage and widow remarriage.
    • Women’s empowerment (leaving seclusion).
  • Political Aims:
    • Removal of British rule and restoration of Sikh rule in Punjab.
    • Swadeshi (use of indigenous goods) and boycott of British products/education/laws (precursors to later nationalist movements).
  • British Response:
    • Suppressive measures (1863-1872).
    • Deportation of Baba Ram Singh to Rangoon (1872).


Peasant Movements with Religious Overtones (Pre-1857)

Common Cause: Protests against exploitation by zamindars (landlords), moneylenders, and British policies. Aims included occupancy rights and reduced rents.

Narkelberia Uprising (1782-1831)

  • Leader:Mir Nithar Ali (Titu Mir)
  • Location:West Bengal
  • Cause:Imposition of beard tax on Faraizi Muslims by Hindu landlords, oppression by British indigo planters.
  • Significance:Considered the first armed peasant uprising against the British, later merged with the Wahabi Movement.

The Pagal Panthis (1825-1835)

  • Location:Mymensingh district (Bengal)
  • Founders:Karam Shah (founder), Tipu (son who led the movement)
  • Participants:Hajong and Garo tribes
  • Cause:Oppression by zamindars
  • Actions:Refused to pay rent above a certain limit, attacked zamindars’ houses.
  • Outcome:Violently suppressed by the government, but led to an equitable arrangement to protect peasants.

Faraizi Revolt (1838-1857)

  • Leaders:Haji Shariatullah (founder), Dudu Miyan (son)
  • Location:Eastern Bengal
  • Religion:Followers of a Muslim sect advocating religious, social, and political reforms.
  • Cause:Expelling British rule, supporting tenants against zamindars.
  • Outcome:Most Faraizis joined the Wahabi movement.
  • Note:Continued disturbances till 1857.

Moplah Uprisings (1836-1854)

  • Location:Malabar
  • Participants:Moplah Muslims
  • Cause:Increased revenue demands, reduced land size, official oppression.
  • Outcome:22 rebellions occurred, none successful.

Peasants’ Role in the 1857 Revolt

  • Participation:Active in some areas, particularly western Uttar Pradesh.
  • Alliances:United with local feudal leaders against British rule.
  • Post-Revolt:Plight worsened due to British support for landed classes.
  • Examples:
    • Avadh: Land restored to taluqdars (landlords), peasants not protected by Rent Act.
    • Some regions: Peasants faced additional taxes as punishment for rebellion.


Tribal Revolts Against British Rule

Mainland vs. North-Eastern Revolts

  • Mainland Revolts (Focus: Land & Forests)
    • Caused by:
      • Land settlements disrupting tribal ownership traditions and social fabric.
      • Loss of land due to agricultural expansion and influx of outsiders.
      • Curtailment of shifting cultivation and restrictions on forest use (timber, grazing).
      • Exploitation by police, traders, and moneylenders (outsiders).
      • Intrusive general laws clashing with tribal customs.
      • Christian missionaries seen as representatives of alien rule.
    • North-Eastern Revolts (Focus: Autonomy & Identity)
      • Differed due to:
        • Less concern for nationalist struggle; focus on autonomy or independence.
        • Control over land and forests, not agrarian-based rebellions.
        • Later British entry and longer duration of revolts.
        • De-sanskritization movements against Hindu influence (Meiteis vs. Brahmins).

Characteristics of Tribal Revolts

  • Tribal Identity & Solidarity:
    • Unity based on ethnicity, targeting specific outsiders (moneylenders, traders).
  • Resentment Against British Rule:
    • Opposition to imposed laws disrupting traditional socio-economic systems.
  • Loss of Land & Forest Rights:
    • Land alienation due to private property laws, market forces, and infrastructure development.
  • Messianic Leadership:
    • Revolts led by charismatic figures promising an end to suffering from outsiders.
  • Limited Success:
    • Outdated weapons against British military superiority.


Important Tribal Movements 

Focus: Resistance against British policies and collaborators (zamindars, jagirdars) in central, west-central, and southern India.

The Pahariyas (Rajmahal Hills)

  • Livelihood:Shifting cultivation, forest produce.
  • Cause of Conflict:Loss of land and forest due to expanding settled agriculture.
  • Resistance:Raids on plains settlements, led by Raja Jagganath (1778).
  • British Response:Brutal attacks, pacification attempts (allowances for good behavior).

Revolt led by Tilka Manjhi (Santhal Pargana)

  • Leader:Tilka Manjhi (Santhal)
  • Cause:Exploitation by revenue collectors, police, landlords’ agents, drought of 1770.
  • Methods:Guerilla warfare with women’s participation, joint front with Paharia Sardars.
  • Achievements:Captured Ramgarh Camp (1778), attacked Bhagalpur (1784), killed British magistrate.
  • Outcome:Captured and hanged by British (1785).

Jungle Mahal Revolt/Chuar Uprising (Midnapore, Bankura, Purulia)

  • Participants:Bhumij tribals (Chuars), jungle zamindars, paiks (guards).
  • Causes:
    • Increased revenue demands by zamindars.
    • Demolishing mud forts of zamindars by British (1767).
    • Replacement of local paiks with professional police.
    • Land dispossession due to Bengal Regulations.
  • Leaders:Jagannath Singh (zamindar, 1768), Shyam Ganjan, Subla Singh, Dubraj (sardars, 1771), Durjan Singh (zamindar, 1798).
  • Events:
    • Uprisings in 1768, 1771, 1798 (largest under Durjan Singh).
    • Goals: Stop revenue hikes, defend traditional way of life.
  • Outcome:All rebellions suppressed by British.

Common Themes:

  • Clash between tribal and colonial lifestyles.
  • Defense of land and traditional economic practices.
  • Resistance against exploitation and outsiders.

Tamar Revolt (1798)

  • Location:Tamar (Chotanagpur region)
  • Leader:Bholanath Sahay (Singh in some sources)
  • Cause:Opposition to British imposed systems, anger against outsiders (“diku”).
  • Participants:Munda tribals and their chiefs.
  • Outcome:Suppressed by British expedition led by Lt. Cooper.

Kol Mutiny (1831)

  • Location:Chhotanagpur (Ranchi, Singhbhum, Hazaribagh, Palamau, western Manbhum)
  • Participants:Kols and other tribes.
  • Cause:Land transfers to outsiders, oppressive taxes, British policies disrupting social order.
  • Leader:Buddho Bhagat
  • Actions:Killed/burned property of about 1000 outsiders.
  • Outcome:Suppressed by large-scale British military operations.

Ho and Munda Uprisings (1820-1837)

  • Location:Singhbhum (Jharkhand) and Chotanagpur
  • Events:
    • 1820-1827: Ho revolt led by Raja of Parahat against British occupation of Singhbhum.
    • 1831: Joint Ho and Munda rebellion against new revenue policy and Bengali migration.
    • 1832-1837: Continued Ho operations.
  • Cause:Opposition to British policies and migration disrupting traditional life.

Santhal Rebellions (1833, 1855-1856)

  • Background:
    • Santhals migrated to Rajmahal area in late 18th century.
    • British encouraged Santhal settlement for revenue and cultivation.
    • Damin-i-koh agreement (1832-33) allocated foothills for Santhal agriculture.
    • Santhals lost land to Permanent Settlement and moneylenders.
  • First Rebellion (1833):Dispute with Paharias over land use.
  • Second Rebellion (1855-1856):
    • Cause: Exploitation by zamindars and moneylenders.
    • Leaders: Sidhu and Kanhu Murmu
    • Goal: Establish autonomous Santhal state.
    • Rebellion called “hul” (movement for liberation).
    • Outcome: Brutally suppressed by British in 1856.
    • Aftermath: Creation of Santhal Pargana with special laws.

Khond Uprisings (1837-1856)

  • Location:Hilly tracts from Odisha to Andhra Pradesh (Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam)
  • Leader:Chakra Bisoi (initial)
  • Cause:Opposition to:
    • Suppression of human sacrifice.
    • New taxes.
    • Entry of zamindars.
  • Outcome:Ended with Chakra Bisoi’s disappearance.
  • Note:Later Khond rebellion (1914) aimed for autonomy under independent rule.

Koya Revolts (1803-1886)

  • Location:Eastern Godavari region (Andhra Pradesh)
  • Participants:Koyas and Khonda Sara chiefs.
  • Revolts:1803, 1840, 1845, 1858, 1861, 1862, 1879-1880 (led by Tomma Sora), 1886 (led by Raja Anantayyar)
  • Cause:Exploitation by police and moneylenders, new regulations, loss of forest rights.

Bhil Revolts (1817-1913)

  • Location:Western Ghats (mountain passes between north and Deccan)
  • Cause:
    • Economic distress.
    • British misgovernment.
  • Revolts:1817-19, 1825, 1831, 1846.
  • Later Movement:Govind Guru led Bhils (south Rajasthan) to fight for an autonomous Bhil Raj (1913).

Koli Risings (1829, 1839, 1844-1848)

  • Location:Areas near Bhils
  • Cause:Resentment against British rule:
    • Dismantling of Koli forts.
  • Revolts:1829, 1839, 1844-1848.

Ramosi Risings (1822-1841)

  • Location:Western Ghats
  • Cause:Loss of livelihood due to:
    • British annexation of Maratha territories.
    • Loss of jobs held under Marathas.
  • Leaders:Chittur Singh (1822), Umaji Naik (1825-26), Bapu Trimbakji Sawant (1825-26).
  • Revolts:1822, 1825-26, 1829, 1839, 1840-41.
  • Outcome:Mostly suppressed by British, some Ramosis recruited into British hill police.

Bokta Rising/Sardari Larai/Mukti Larai Movement (1858-1895)

  • Location:Chotanagpur
  • Cause:Regaining tribal land rights.
  • Phases:
    • Early (1858-1890s): Tribal tenants vs. landlords (rent increase, eviction, harassment).
    • Later (1890s): Anti-European due to suspicion of collusion with landlords.
    • Overall goal: End British rule as root cause of tribal problems.
  • Methods:Traditional weapons (bows, arrows).
  • Outcome:Unsuccessful due to lack of organization and leadership.

Birsa Munda Revolt (1890s-1900)

  • Leader:Birsa Munda
  • Location:Singhbhum and Ranchi districts (Chotanagpur)
  • Movement Name:Ulgulan (“Great Tumult”)
  • Cause:
    • Disruption of traditional tribal life (social customs, land ownership).
    • Zamindari system introducing landlords and tenant system.
    • Exploitation by landlords (eviction, forced labor, debt).
  • Goals:
    • Religious and political independence.
    • Establish a Munda Raj (Munda rule).
  • Events:
    • Birsa Munda’s arrest and imprisonment (1898) fueled rebellion.
    • Revolt (Dec. 1899) targeted “dikus” (outsiders):
      • Christian missionaries.
      • Government officials.
    • Brutal suppression by British.
    • Birsa Munda’s death in prison (1900).
  • Aftermath:
    • Weakened movement.
    • Government reforms:
      • Abolished forced labor (begar).
      • Tenancy Act of 1903 (recognized Munda land rights).
      • Chotanagpur Tenancy Act of 1908.
    • Birsa Munda became a legendary figure and inspiration for future movements.

Tana Bhagat Movement (1914-1921)

  • Leader:Jatra Oraon (initially), Sibu Oraon (later)
  • Location:Ranchi
  • Nature:Primarily religious and non-violent.
  • Cause:Agrarian discontent:
    • Forced labor (begar) imposed by zamindars.
    • Illegal rent increases.
    • Exploitation by moneylenders and missionaries.
  • Goal:Reorder Oraon society.
    • Tana Bhagats: followers who discarded possessions and certain practices.
  • Activities:
    • Satyagraha (non-violent resistance) before Gandhi’s movement.
  • Uniqueness:Different from violent revolts of the past.
  • Later Developments:
    • Joined Non-Cooperation Movement (1921).

Devi Movement (1922-1923)

  • Location:South Gujarat
  • Origin:Social movement led by Devi Salabai promoting hygiene and abstinence.
  • Evolution:
    • Spread to broader tribal region and Surat city.
    • Targeted exploiters: landlords, moneylenders, liquor traders.
    • Became part of the Non-Cooperation Movement (late 1922).

Tribal Movements of the North-East Frontier Region

Movements Before 1857

  • Ahoms’ Revolt (1828-1833, Assam)
    • Cause: Broken promises by British East India Company after Burmese War.
    • Goal: Maintain Ahom kingdom’s integrity.
    • Outcome: Suppressed, Ahom kingdom divided.
  • Khasis’ Revolt (1830s, Jaintia & Garo Hills)
    • Leader: Tirath Singh (Nunklow ruler)
    • Cause: Opposition to British occupation of the hilly region.
    • Outcome: Suppressed by British.
  • Singphos’ Rebellion (1830s, Assam)
    • Events:
      • 1839: Murder of British political agent.
      • 1843: Uprising led by Chief Nirang Phidu.
    • Outcome: Ultimately suppressed by British.
  • Khasi Uprising (Early 1800s)
    • Cause: British construction project bringing outsiders to the region.
    • Leader: Tirath Singh (possibly linked to earlier Khasi revolt)
    • Goal: Drive away outsiders, resist British rule.
    • Outcome: Suppressed by British military by 1833.
  • Singphos Rebellions (1830s-1840s, Assam)
    • A series of uprisings against British rule.
    • Events:
      • 1839: Killing of British political agent.
      • 1843: Uprising led by Chief Nirang Phidu.
    • Outcome: All rebellions eventually suppressed.
  • Other Movements:
    • Syntengs of Jaintia Hills revolt (1860-1862).
    • Phulaguri peasants’ rebellion (1861).
    • Saflas revolt (1872-1873).
    • Kacha Nagas of Cachhar uprising (1882).
    • Women’s war in Manipur (1904).

Movements After 1857

  • Kukis’ Revolt (1917-1919, Manipur)
    • Cause: Resentment against British labor recruitment during WWI.
    • Outcome: Suppressed by British.
  • Revolts in Tripura
    • (a) Parikshit Jamatia (1863): Against tax hike and outsider settlement.
    • (b) Reangs’ revolt led by Ratnamani (1942-1943).
    • (c) Bharti Singh (1920s): Similar causes to (a).
  • Zeliangsong Movement (1920s, Manipur)
    • Participants: Zemi, Liangmei, Rongmei tribes.
    • Cause: British failure to protect them from Kuki violence (1917-1919).
  • Naga Movement (1905-1931, Manipur)
    • Leader: Jadonang
    • Goal: Establish a Naga Raj (Naga rule), end British rule.
    • Outcome: Suppressed by British.
  • Heraka Cult (1930s, Manipur)
    • Leader: Gaidinliu
    • Goal: Religious movement opposing British rule.
    • Outcome: Suppressed, but Kabui Naga Association formed (1946).

Weaknesses of Tribal Uprisings

  • Limited Scope:
    • Localized movements.
    • Arose from specific local issues.
  • Leadership:
    • Traditional, semi-feudal leaders.
    • Focused on preserving old ways, not offering new systems.
  • Limited Goals:
    • Reacted to common problems, not a unified national movement.
    • Centuries-old methods and ideology.
  • Uneven Response:
    • British used concessions to divide opposition.
  • Outmatched:
    • Inferior weapons and tactics compared to the British.


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