By Father J. Hoffman and Mr. E. Lister
Stages of Decay in Khuntkatti villages:
A Khuntkatti village in the various stages of decay may be classed as follows:
(1) villages in which the Munda has appropriated the rent of the Parjas;
(2) villages in which Munda has obtained the control of the jungle, with the result that the other members cannot extend their cultivation;
(3) villages in which Munda has enhanced the Chandas paid by the other members; and
(4) villages in which Munda has reduced the other members, with the exception of near relatives (Khorposhdars) and the Pahanr, to the position of ordinary Raiyats.
Cross divisions are introduced by the substitution of an auction-purchaser, or mortgagee, for the Munda, or for an individual Khuntkattidar, or for the Khorposhdar.
Whilst every stage of decay is to be observed – from the village, otherwise intact, in which the Munda keeps for himself the paltry rents paid by the Parjas, to that in which only a Pahanr survives to cultivate the local gods – the most interesting case historically is that of the Bhuinhari area, i.e., the area from Khunti North and West, which was dealt with in the Bhuinhari survey. In this area, whilst almost every village bears a Mundari name or has a Mundari graveyard, the only lands left to the original Mundari clan with their old Khuntkatti rights are those which have been surveyed as Bhuinhari. In all other land (with the exception of the small fragments measured as Pahanai, Mundai or Mahtoai) they have merely the rights of ordinary Raiyats.
From the Manbhum border westward to the foot of the hills on which the plateau rests, the Mundaris (who appear to have arrived from the east side, and differ in some social habits from the dwellers on the plateau) have long been exposed to the pressure of the local “Rajas”. The Mundas have in many villages elevated themselves to the position of landlords only to fall into the hands of money-lenders, who are now the rent-receivers, with the status of Mukarraridars. In other villages the individual Khuntkattidars have separately pledged or sold their rights; and, the result is that there are now few, if any, pure Khuntkatti villages remaining. In the extremely difficult country south of the Tajna river, the villages are generally intact, and those which lie in the hills west of the Tamar plain and in the valley of the Kandi river, have been fairly successful in their defence, though the communities of Siri-pargan have undergone much change in the last 30 years, more through the operation of the law courts and of the Encumbered Estate Act than from their inherent weakness.