1855: The Great Santhal Insurrection (Part-III)

When the strength of British arms failed to subdue the Santhal freedom-fighters, the good old British’s treachery worked. The few treacherous natives handed over the leader Sido to the British troops. The Garrison posts were established on Murshidabad border.
With the advent of monsoon season, the Santhal rebels retired to the jungles of Santhal Paragana in August 1855. Mr. Ashley Eden was appointed as Mr.Bidwell’s first assistant with powers of a Joint Magistrate and Collector to help contain the rebellion.
But in September when the Santhals resumed active resistance in parts of Birbhum and Bhagalpur, martial law had to be proclaimed again. Proclamation of Martial law encouraged the troops stationed in different parts of the disturbed districts to proceed vigorously with the work of chastising the Santhal insurgents and consequently the insurgents were driven away from the open country into the interior regions.
Santhal Rebellion
On 3rd January 1856 the martial law clamped in the region was suspended but even after the suspension of martial law, various parts of the region remained disturbed for more than 3 months.
Some turmoil was felt also in Monghyr, Khurruckdeeha Pargana of Hazaribagh District, but these proved to be of little consequence and hence towards the beginning of March 1856 all the panic subsided among the British authorities.
Kanhu had been captured by the 3rd week of February 1856 near Operbandhah, northeast of Jamtara, by the Sardar Ghatwal of Kujra and was executed within few days. A few other rebellious-leaders met the similar fate; a large number of Santhal freedom fighters were tried and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment.
The storm of freedom movement had passed away and somehow the British authorities regained control over the region.
Mr. Ashley Eden made an inquiry into the grievances of the Santhals. The result was the Act XXXVII of 1855, which formed the Santhal area into a separate non-regulation region to be known by the general name of the Santhal Parganas. A Deputy Commissioner was placed in-charge with 4 Assistants under the Commissioner of Bhagalpur Santhal Parganas.
Great Santhal uprising against the dikkus or up-country traders, money-lenders and people from neighboring states took a religious colour as it was approved by some of their supernatural powerful deity (s).
At the time when Morgo Rajah attempted to organize the Santhals into a separate kingdom, Bir Singh, one the first religious leader of the people announced of his divine revelation and the magical charms, which he got from Chando Bonga in robbing the dikkus.
The same was the case with Sido and Kanhu, who claimed to have met the Thakur God more than once and blessed with the scraps of paper expressing the divine wish to drive out the Dikkus far away from their country. The political mission of the Santhals, while these leaders were already carrying on, got a religious re-orientation and thus it could make the movement all the more appealing and popular.

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