1855: The Great Santhal Insurrection (Part-II)

By 4th July 1855 Bhagalpur got the news of the outbreak of the revolt by the Santhals in Santhal Pargana region.
The news of Borio Bazar’s killing was learnt on 6th July 1855. This made the Commissioner Mr. G. F. Brown restless and he immediately requested Major F.W. Borrows to dispatch a large force to Rajmahal to enable him to confront the rampaging force of Santhal rebels. The rebels after reclaiming control of several villages between Borio and Colong Bhagalpuras well as in that of Rajmahal and in fact they had reached within 20 miles of Rajmahals.
Major Burrows with 160 rank and files of British force marched for Rajmahal reaching Colong (Kahalgaon) on 11th July, but could not dare proceed further, hearing of a large number of Santhal freedom-fighters in the neighborhood scattered in small parties. On the same day Commissioner Brown requisitioned more troops from Dinapore (Danapur) to aid Major Burrows and protect Bhagalpur.
Great Sido and Kanhu honoured
On 13th July the insurgents had once encounter with the Railway staff that were defeated and many of them wounded. Railway operations between Rajmahal and Bhagalpur were stopped. The insurgents loudly proclaimed that the company rule was at its end and the regime of their Soobah had commenced. Entire 40th Regiment Native Infantry under Major Shuckburgh had started from Dinapore (Danapur) on steamer and was proceeding towards Bhagalpur to control the revolt.
Major Burrow’s troops suffered a defeat in a fierce engagement with a body of armed Santhals near Pirpanti on 16th July 1855. The result was that the Quarter-Master-Sergeant Mr. Braddon, some Native Officers and about 52 sepoys were killed. The British forces then retired to Pirpanti where they got on boards and proceeded up towards Colong (Kahalgaon).
No sooner Major Shuckburgh arrived at Bhagalpur, he had to send 200 men under Lt. Rubie on steamers to Colgong (Kahalgaon). Further reinforcements were requisitioned from Dinapore (Danapur) and Calcutta. The insurrection having by that time “assumed all the characteristics of a rebellion” the Commissioner proclaimed Martial Law against the Santhals,offering high rewards for apprehension of the insurgent chiefs.
The cry for freedom struggle of native Santhals had spread to other quarters with great rapidity. Under Gocho Manjhi the Santhal insurgents ran over the places like Lakshipur, Litipur, Hiranpur Bazar. At Mansinghpur Santhals fighters were reinforced by non-Santhals also. After plundering Sangrampur, they laid siege of Pakur for 3 days wherethey took control of the forsaken palace of Pakur Zamindar. After that they proceeded towards the border of Murshidabad Maheshpur Raja was also ransacked and some indigo factories also shared the similar fate at the hands of angry Santhal freedom fighters.
The troops of the 7th Native Infantry had an engagement with the Santhals in which the Santhals were defeated. Sido, Kanhu, Bharab etc were wounded though not mortally. Near Maharajpur Tribhuwan Santhal’s men killed a few European ladies and gentlemen; an act which was furiously resented by the Sido and Kanhu, and consequently Tribhuvan was punished by them for that. This shows that they followed a strict code of conduct even in their acts of war against British.
In Birbhum also the insurrection spread from Taldanga at the southwest of Birbhum on G.T. Road to Bhagalpurand Rajmahal on the Ganges in the northwest. In order to check the advance of the Santhals, the Ramgarh Irregular Light Horse, The Governor General’s Body Guard, the 37thRegiment, 200 of the Nizamat troops with 30 elephants and 32 horses and subsequently the 63rd Regiment of Native Infantry had to be pressed into action. Several engagements with insurgents took place, the Government troops many times meeting with partial reverses, but by 17th August 1855 relative calm and little bit of peace was restored to this part of the country though armed Santhal rebels were still then estimated to exceed 30000.

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