1857: Mutiny in Singhbhum (Part-I)

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Raja Arjun Singh of Porhat was the natural leader of the sturdy Kolas and eyes of the whole people of Singhbhum rested on him who was expected to lead them.
When the news of mutiny at Ranchi and Hazaribagh forces reached Chaibasa, the British Officer Captain Sismore left Chaibasa.Raja of Porahat Koles especially the intractable tribes of the south by whom he was regarded with deference due to deity. His learning, character and above all, his strong sense of justice, which even his adversaries had accepted in their official writings, it was exemplary.
Mutiny of 1857
Initially the Raja of Porahat wanted to show his loyalty to the British Government by meeting Lt. Birch at Chaibasa, but the mischief-mongers and deadly enemies of the Raja especially the Saraikela Chief who was then playing the role of protector of Britishers in Kolhan would not allow him to do so. So Raja of Porahat could not really meet Lt. Birch.
On Raja not presenting himself in person before Lt. Birch, the British authorities proclaimed him a rebel on 23rd September 1857. His estate was confiscated and a reward of Rs. 1000/- was announced for anyone his arrest. Finding this, Raja Arjun Singh Deo preferred to march to Ranchi where he reached on 11th October 1857 with band of sepoys and the treasures guarded by Kol-bowmen. In Ranchi, Raja Arjun Singh Deo surrendered to the large British forces led by Captain Davis, who was waiting to receive him.
“100 mutineers as prisoners, 100 strands of arms and the considerable quantities of arms, ammunition and treasures were surrendered; but in spite of that the Raja was directed by the Commissioner to go to Chaibasa as a supplicant.”
Raja Arjun Singh was always loyal to the British Government. But after the above-mentioned incident,he was finding it very difficult to swallow the bitter pills of his ill-treatment meted out by the British Government in spite of his past loyalty and service.While returning towards Singhbhum, Arjun Singh heard of the death of his only child. It was thought that this loyalty to the British was a sin for betraying the patriots and handing them over in their enemies’ hands, made him realize his follies and hardened his heart, and then he openly joined the rebellion.
Now the Raja was ready to play the leader of the Revolution. He moved his family from Chakradharpur to Porhat and refused to receive the messenger of British officials, directed one of them, to tell “the Sahibs that they were prepared to fight.”
Preparations for the ensuing struggle were made to start; numerous blacksmiths were employed to prepare cannon balls for Raja’s Ordnance. Accordingly Arjun Singh was proclaimed the Ruler of the region. However his dilly-dallying approach towards the decision-making was not befitting the revolutionary leader, which his people wanted him to play. That probably stood in his way to his path towards his success.
On20th October 1857, Lt. Birch attacked Chakradharpur and re-occupied it. The British forces captured Jagoo Divan and hanged him.Then the British force attempted to surprise the Raja at Porahat,but the Raja escaped after offering stubborn resistance. The British-troops plundered and burnt the adjoining villages and palace.
As the Thakur of Kera had been siding with the British, the Raja’s men attacked his house and the adjoining bazaar. Jyentgarh Police Station was also attacked and this was taken as a signal of an rebels’ outbreak in the Southern Kolhan. The British-forces that had attacked Ayodhia were unable to follow them up and the South Kolhan was then in open revolt and Chaibasa itself was threatened.

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