The santhal rebellion of 1855-1856: Causes and result
Anjali R Andrew
There were numerous tribal uprisings, the first and largest of which was the Santhal rebellion of 1855. By 1830, the Santhals had established themselves in the low-lying areas near the Rajmahal hills (now in Jharkhand state). The presence of moneylenders from Bihar and Bengal, as well as the company's draconian legal system, made matters even worse for the Santhals. The clever moneylenders took full advantage of the indigenous' poverty and innocence, and most Santhals eventually became bonded labourers in their own country. The Santhals were commanded by two brothers, Sidhu and Kanhu, who fought the "Dikus" (outsiders, non-Santhals/landlords, moneylenders, and police) and the Sahibs (British). Around 30,000 Santhals marched towards Calcutta on the night of June 30, 1855. They were threatened along the route, and they attacked and killed police officers, Mahajans, and Zamindars, as well as destroyed their property. More than 15,000 Santhals were killed in the revolt, and scores of villages were razed. The Company quickly enacted numerous reform legislation for the Santhals, granting them the ability to reside in a territory outside of British India's bureaucratic and legal procedures, as well as special land and administrative rights.