1857: Mutiny in Singhbhum (Part-II)

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The British forces attacked Barbil on 14th January 1858 and tried to regain the control from freedom fighters.
While the British forces were crossing the deep bed of a dry-nala (stream) located in the vicinity of Barbil; the swarming rebellious forces attacked them from all the sides. The British forces were ambushed and attacked by the rebels with a shower of arrows. Not an officer escaped unhurt.
The insurgent Kols pursued the party for a distance of seven miles, but were kept in check by the steady behavior of the unwounded men who protected the rear. In the meantime, Raja of Seraikela, who was in occupation of Chakradharpur with 300 matchlock men after the hanging of Jagoo-Divan was driven out of it by another group of rebellious forces. Arjun Singh’s party attacked British force that was later diverted against the Southern Kols and in the ensuing attack they mange to inflict severe damages on the British armies. The whole Singhbhum was in open rebellious mood and the British Government for the second time had been completely undermined and vanished from that region.
Only after the arrival of Sakhamati Battalions and a body of 100 Europeans professional soldiers, the Porahat insurgents were dispersed, the raiyats Kols of the Southern parts also had to surrender before a superior armed British forces marching through their country.
Europeans were stationed at Chakradharpur; but on 26th May Baijnath Singh, brother of Arjun Singh. Rebels were repulsed. Again on 10thJune 1858 Rughoodeo with a force attacked Chakradharpur in which 6 Europeans were killed. A vast ring of armed Kols attacked Chakradharpur encampment, but they were beaten back by the British forces.
The headquarters of the rebels’ forces retired to Porahat and from there, they tried to exerting their influence in the whole Kolahan area, until July 1858.
Then the trained British force operating under E.T. Dalton the Commissioner of Chotanagpur compelled them after incessant fighting to retire into the hills. During this period they continued their guerrilla fighting tactics on the British occupied areas and regularly harassed the British troops by surprising night attacks.
Baijnath Singh and Raghoodeo also attacked Anandpur and drove out the Zamindar of that place who was loyal to the British. The rebellious forces continued with their freedom struggle. While Lt. Birch attacked Raja on 29th July Kordiham, Raja and his men escaped but left behind a good quantity of arms and ammunition. Raja showed no inclination to surrender in spite of Queen’s proclamation.
When British army failed, Commissioner Dalton thought on a cunning idea to end the rebellious reign of Raja Arjun Singh. Raja of Mayurbhanj was the father-in-law of Raja Arjun Singh and Commissioner Dalton prevailed upon Mayurbhanj Raja to exert his influence on Arjun Singh to surrender.
On 15th August Raja submitted himself to his father-in-law, who handed over his son-in-law to the British. It was due to the sagacity of Commissioner Dalton that Raja was only banished from Singhbhum and passed his remaining life at Banaras in political exile, far away from his home.
In-spite of this, Raghoodeo, Sham Karan and a band of Sambhalpur rebels at once joined them and recommenced a course of rebellious gorilla attacks, showing no signs of receding hostility.
Commissioner Dalton wrote on 26th September in Singhbhum, “Amongst the former are some of the sturdy characters who have to this day refused to surrender.”
This is clear while whole India was under the reign of Queen’s government, the revolutionary fire in Singhbhum continued blazing and it could not be extinguished till as late as the middle of 1861.

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