Tribal revolts in India


Tribal revolts in India
Below is given a chronological record of tribal and peasant revolts in India before the independence from the British rule in the year 1947. The list covers those tribal uprisings that occurred during the period of British rule in India.

18th century
1774-79: Halba rebellion in Dongar (By Halba tribes in Bastar Chhattisgarh) against British armies and the Marathas.
1778: revolt of the Pahariya Sardars of Chota Nagpur against the British Government.
1784-1785: Uprising of the Mahadev Koli tribes in Maharashtra.
1789: revolt of the Tamar of Chota Nagpur against British.
1794-1795: the Tamars revolted again.
1798: The revolt of the tribals against the sale of Panchet estate.
1800-1899[edit]
1812 Kurichya Rebellion organised by the tribal people Kurichyas against the Wayanadinvasion of British in 1812.
1825 Singphos attacked and set fire to the British magazine at Sadiya.
1828 Singphos Chief attacked Sadiya with 3000 tribal warriors.
1832 The Kol uprising of tribal peoples including the Ho and Munda people.
1843 Singpho Chief Nirang Phidu attacked the British garrison and killed several soldiers.
1849 Kadma Singpho attacked British villages in Assam and was captured.
1850 The Khond tribe revolted in Orissa under leadership of chief Bisoi.
1855 The 'Great Rebellion'by the Santhal community against the British in Eastern India led by Sido and Kanho, claiming to have supernatural powers.
1857-1858 The Bhil revolted against under the leadership of Bhagoji Naik and Kajar Singh.
1859 The Andamanese in the Battle of Aberdeen
1860 The Lushai tribal people raided the then British Tripura and killed 186 British subjects.
1860-1862 The Synteng tribal Jaintia Hills in North-East India.
1861 The Juang tribal community revolted in Orissa.
1862 The Koya tribal community revolted in Andhra against tribal landlords called 'Muttader' in tribal dialect.
1869-1870 The Santhal people revolted at Dhanbad in Eastern India against a local yo-yo honey Singh monarch.The British mediated to settle dispute.
1879 The Naga tribal people revolted in North-Eastern India.
1880 The Koya revolted again at Malkangiri in Orissa under leadership of Tammandora.
1883 The Sentinelese tribal people of Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Indian Oceanattacked the British.
1889 The mass agitation by the Munda against the British in Eastern India.
1891 The tribals of North-East India revolted against the British under leadership of Tikendraji Singh.
1892 The Lushei people revolted against the British repeatedly.
1895 The famous revolt by the Munda tribal community under leadership of Birsa Munda.
20th century[edit]
1910. The Bastar Revolution in central India
1911 The uprising of the tribal people of Bastar.
1913-1914 Tana Bhagat movement in Bihar
1913 samp sabha by guru govind & 1507 bhil people against British at mangadh hill
1917-1919 Kuki Uprising in Manipur against British colonialism under the leadership of their chieftains called haosa
1920-1921 Tana Bhagat movement happened again.
1922 The Koya tribal community revolted at Rampa against the British under leadership of Alluri Sitarama Raju
1932 The Nagas revolted under leadership of 14-year old Rani Guidallo in North-Eastern India.
1941 The Gond and the Kolam revolted in collaboration against British Government in the Adilabad district of the state of Telangana.
1942 Tribal revolt under leadership of Lakshmana Naik at Koraput in Orissa.
1942-1945 The tribes of Andaman and Nicobar islands revolted against occupation of their islands by Japanese troops during world war.

The bedi pratha of the people of Rajasthan was removed by 
Shri Karunashankar Prahaladji Raval

He made bombs against the Britishers and feared none, he was a great freedom fighter

Great Kuki Invasion of 1860s
Halba rebellion (1774–79)
Chakma rebellion (1776–1787)[50]
Chuar rebellion in Bengal (1795–1800)[51]
Bhopalpatnam Struggle (1795)
Khurda Rebellion in Odisha (1817)[52]
Bhil rebellion (1822–1857)[53]
Ho-Munda Revolt(1816-1837)[54]
Paralkot rebellion (1825)
Khond rebellion (1836)
Tarapur rebellion (1842–54)
Maria rebellion (1842–63)
First Freedom Struggle By Sidu Murmu and Kanu Murmu (1856–57)
Bhil rebellion, begun by Tantya Tope in Banswara (1858)[55]
Koli revolt (1859)
Gond rebellion, begun by Ramji Gond in Adilabad (1860)[56]
Muria rebellion (1876)
Rani rebellion (1878–82)
Bhumkal (1910)
The Kuki Uprising (1917–1919) in Manipur
Rampa Rebellion of 1879, Vizagapatnam (now Visakhapatnam district)
Rampa Rebellion (1922–1924), Visakhapatnam district
Santhal Revolt (1885–1886)
Munda rebellion
Yadav rebellion
Thanu Nayak arm struggle against Nizam in Telangana in 1940s

Adivasi saints

Forgotten Folk Uprisings That Prepared the Ground for Indian Independence

by Sanchari PalAugust 13, 2016, 4:59 pm


In the early years of British Raj, no other community in India offered such heroic resistance to British rule or faced such tragic consequences as did the numerous tribal and peasant communities of India. Simple, hardworking, and peace-loving folks who lived mainly off their agricultural land or forests, these communities rebelled fiercely against the land grabbing and economic exploitation that came with colonial rule. Though these revolts were often unsuccessful in uprooting the British, they prepared the ground for the struggle that ultimately led to independence.

Here are popular uprisings that laid the foundation for a widespread freedom movement and hastened the end to years of colonial rule. 

1. Sanyasi Rebellion


The establishment of British control over Bengal after 1757 led to increase in land revenue and the exploitation of the peasants. During the Bengal famine of 1770, impoverished peasants and displaced zamindars were joined by the sanyasis and fakirs ( wandering religious mendicants of Bengal) in a fierce rebellion that continued up to 1802 . One of the best reminder of this rebellion is in literature, in the Bengali novel Anandamath, written by one of India’s first modern novelist, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee.

2. Tilka Manjhi’s Revolt


Tilka Manjhi (or Jabra paharia as he was also called) was the first adivasi leader to take up the arms against the British in the 1789. He organized the adivasis into an armed group to fight against the resource grabbing, exploitation and British tyranny. In the battle that ensued, Tilka attacked and injured the British commissioner who died later.The British surrounded the Tilapore forest, from which he operated, but he and his men held the enemy at bay for several weeks before he was caught and hanged at Bhagalpur.

3. Sambalpur Revolt


The British efforts to exploit the the downtrodden tribal people of Sambalpur in Odisha led to the start of the this rebellion by Surendra Sai. A direct descendant from Madhukar Sai, the fourth Chauhan king of Sambalpur, Surendra Sai espoused the cause of the tribals of the region. Debarred from occupying the throne due to his popularity, Sai and his associates rebelled against the Raj and died fighting for freedom from the British.

4. Kherwar Uprising

The founder of the Kherwar Movement, Bhagirath Manjhi once explained the philosophy of the revolt by saying, 

“No human being created the Earth, no human being has ploughed our land but we, no human being but we have the right to share the produce.”

Unable to bear the pressure of the exorbitant rents imposed on them, the massive Kherwar movement was kicked off in 1874 with incredible support from Santhal tribals. Village after village resounded with the sound of thousands of Santhals voicing their legitimate right. The movement was suppressed only through brutal punitive measures that were taken by the British.

4. Santhal Rebellion
The Santhal rebellion, commonly known as Santhal Hul, was a rebellion against both the British colonial authority and upper caste zamindars who had taken away lands cultivated by Santhals for centuries. Led by the four Murmu Brothers – Sidhu, Kanhu, Chand and Bhairav – thousands of Santhals took to guerrilla fighting. Though the Santhals were outstanding archers, they were no match for the musket and cannon firepower of the British. Over 15,000 were killed, tens of villages were destroyed and the two celebrated leaders Sidhu and Kanhu were killed to subdue the rebellion.

5. Indigo Revolt
The Indigo revolt (or Nilbidroha) was an agrarian uprising of indigo farmers or ryotsagainst the British indigo planters that arose in Bengal in 1859. Dinabandhu Mitra’s play Nil Darpan (The Mirror of Indigo) reflected the peasants’ feelings, who were forced to cultivate without remuneration, towards the indigo planters. Planters were publicly tried, indigo depots were burned down and the ryots went on strike. Though it was ruthlessly suppressed, the revolt had a strong effect on the government, which appointed the Indigo Commission in 1860.

6. Munda Uprising

The name of Birsa Munda is cherished in India as one of the greatest freedom fighters. He raised his voice against the transformation of the tribal agrarian system into a feudal system that had led to the alienation of the lands held by the tribals. To the twin challenges of agrarian breakdown and culture change, Birsa along with the Mundas, responded through an ulgulaan (or revolution) under his leadership. After a series of uprisings, Birsa was cap­tured and he died in jail in 1900. His portrait hangs in the Central Hall of the Indian parliament, the only tribal leader to have been so honoured.

7. Tana Bhagat Movement

Tana Bhagats was a small tribal community formed by the Oraon saints of Jharkhand, Jatra Bhagat and Turia Bhagat. The Tana Bhagats opposed the exorbitant taxes imposed on them by the British and staged a type of civil disobedience movement in 1914 that was anti-zamindari, anti-missionary and anti-British. Followers of Mahatma Gandhi, and believers in ahimsa (nonviolence), were later closely associated with the Non-Cooperation Movement of the Indian National Congress.

8. Rampa Rebellion

The Rampa Rebellion of 1879 was an insurrection by the hill tribes in the Rampa region of the Vizagapatam District against the British government of the Madras Presidency. The 1882 Madras Forest Act had restricted the free movement of tribal peoples in the forest and prevented them from practicing their traditional poduagriculture. It was led by the revolutionary, Alluri Sitarama Raju who was called Manyam Veerudu (hero of the jungle) by the locals. He was eventually trapped and executed by the British in the forests of Chintapalli.

9. Rani Gaidinliu’s Rebellion

“We are free people, the white men should not rule over us.”

This was 13-year-old Rani Gaidinliu’s clarion call to the ethnic Naga tribes from remote hills of North Eastern region when she joined the Heraka religious movement of her cousin. Under her guidance, the movement later turned into a political movement seeking to drive out the British from the region. She urged the people not to pay taxes, not to work for the British and even went underground to lead many attacks on the British administration. Gaidinliu was arrested in 1932 at the age of 16, and was sentenced to life imprisonment by the British rulers. Jawaharlal Nehru met her at Shillong Jail in 1937, and gave her the title of Rani. Released in 1947 after India’s independence, she continued to work for the upliftment of her people and was honored with a Padma Bhushan.

11. Tebhaga Movement

The Tebhaga movement was led by the share croppers of the Bengal region against the oppressive jotedars (land owners) in 1946-47. At that time, share-cropping bargadars (essentially, tenants) had to give half of their harvest to the owners of the land. The demand of the Tebhaga (sharing by thirds) movement, led by Bengal Kisan Sabha, was to reduce the share given to landlords to one third. Among the unique feaures of this movement is the large scale participation of landless and poor women who formed fighting troops called the nari bahini that took a front role in countering the repression of the state. Though the agitation was not immediately successful, the East Bengal State Acquisition and Tenancy Act was passed in 1950 due to the initiation of the movement.


Written by Sanchari Pal
A lover of all things creative and happy, Sanchari is a biotech engineer who fell in love with writing and decided to make it her profession. She is also a die-hard foodie, a pet-crazy human, a passionate history buff and an ardent lover of books. When she is not busy at The Better India, she can usually be found reading, laughing at silly cat videos and binge-watching TV seasons.

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