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Unit 4
Anti British Revolts after 1857 – Santhals-Bhils- Moplah uprisings

Learning Outcomes

Upon the completion of this unit, the learner will be able to :

  • describe the nature of resistance movements in India against the British
  • elucidate on the underlying reasons behind resistance against the foreign rule
  • evaluate the cause, course and impact of civil uprisings, peasant revolts and tribal resistance movements regarding the Indian Freedom Struggle
  • analyse the significance of local resistance movements in the history of India, especially under the rule of Britishers


People’s response to a regime can be found out from their resistance or through the cooperation of the authority governing that region. Local resistance movements have their own significance. There might be various reasons behind such resistances. Which played a major role in mobilising people of a certain region based on a cause for which they were ready to fight for and considered it a matter of pride even to lose their life in that process.

Considering the circumstances of the demands of the masses, people from different parts revolted with their own demands which can be broadly classified as civil uprisings. Meanwhile, those arose as a part of peasant unrests were categorised as peasant movements in which they usually stood against the policies of zamindars, revenue system and the corruption of the British officials. There was yet another category comprising tribes where their demand differed from the former two and they also did rise against the British on various occasions with their own leaders and objectives. One of the major benefits of such movements that united people and taught them to stand firm for a common cause is discussed here. However, it couldn’t achieve mass popularity or proved to be a big threat to the British. Lack of communication, proper planning and bigger goals led to their decadence in due course of time. This unit will discuss the nature, cause and impact of various resistance movements that happened in India against the British.

Key Words

Resistance, Causes, Origin, Civil Uprisings, Peasant Movements, Tribal Revolts.


Popular uprisings against the rulers and their officials were prevalent in pre-colonial India, with the high land income demand, corrupt practices, and harsh attitude of the authorities being some of the motivating elements. The creation of colonial power and its policies, on the other hand, had a considerably greater annihilative effect on the Indians as a whole. However, there were several instances of resistance to the British rule before the 1857 revolt, indicating that there was growing dissatisfaction against the alien government.

3.4.1 Origin of the Resistance

There were many reasons behind the rise of popular uprisings against the British. Some of their rules were characterised by corruption, exploitation, and economic ruin of Indian wealth by systematically weakening its indigenous industries. Policies and reforms initiated by the colonial powers had much harmful effect upon the Indian society as a whole. The Company kept their promise to themselves and turned a deaf ear towards the demands and grievances of the public. The colonial legal and police systems were corrupted and biased and hence always sided with landlords, merchants, zamindars and moneylenders which led to suppression of the rights of poor people in the society. The condition of the tribal people was much worse as they experienced constant incursions into their private spaces from strangers like the British government, which in turn made them more hostile and disgruntled towards the British. Causes of the Resistance

The following are the key causes of people’s discontent and uprisings against Company rules:

  1. Colonial land revenue settlements, high weight of additional taxes, evictions of peasants from their farms, and en-croachment on tribal territories.
  2. Exploitation in rural life was being ac-companied by an increase in the num-ber of intermediary revenue collectors, tenants, and moneylenders.
  3. Expansion of revenue administration over tribal territory, resulting in tribal people’s loss of control over agricul-tural and forest areas.
  4. Promotion of British manufactured products, imposition of severe charges on Indian industries, particularly ex-port duties, resulting in the annihilation of the Indian handloom and handicraft industries.
  5. Destruction of indigenous industry caused employees to migrate from in-dustry to agriculture, putting strain on land/agriculture.
  6. The term ‘civil’ refers to anything that isn’t related to defence or military, but we have included here uprisings led by the deposed native rulers or their descendants, former zamindars, land-lords, poligars, and officials of the con-quered.
  7. Although the power-wielding classes were at the heart of these upheavals, the major support came from rack-rented peasants, jobless craftsmen, and demo-bilised soldiers.

3.4.2 Causes of Civil Uprisings

Rapid changes in the economy, administration, and land revenue system occurred during Company rule, which were detrimental to the people. Several zamindars and poligars who had lost control of their lands and earnings as a result of colonial authority, held personal grudges against the new authorities. Traditional zamindars’ and poligars’ egos were bruised when they were demoted in status by government officials and a new class of merchants and moneylenders emerged. Millions of craftsmen were destitute as a result of colonial policies that destroyed Indian handicraft industries. Their misery was worsened by the departure of their traditional supporters and buyers -princes, chieftains, and zamindars.

As religious preachers, priests, pundits,maulavis, and others were reliant on the traditional and bureaucratic elite, the priestly classes fostered hostility and resistance against alien control. The priests were directly affected by the demise of zamindars and feudal rulers. The British rulers’ foreign nature, which has always been alien to this region, and their disdainful attitude toward the native people harmed the latter’s pride. In most cases, these revolutions reflected shared conditions, even though they occurred at different times and in different places. The semi-feudal commanders of civil uprisings had a traditional worldview and were backward-minded. Their main goal was to return to older systems of government and social ties. These revolutions arose from local causes and concerns, and their repercussions were localised.

Important Civil Uprisings

Civil Uprisings Time Period Significance
Sanyasi Revolt 1763 – 1800
  • The Sanyasi revolt was a late-eighteenth-century rebellion in Bengal, in the Murshidabad and Baikunthpur forests of Jalpaiguri under the leadership of Pandit Bhabani Charan Pathak.
  • In the 18th century, the Sanyasis who rose against the English were not always individuals who had given up the world.
  • The uprisings were marked by equal participation of Hindus and Muslims.
Revolt in Midnapore and Dhalbhum 1766 – 74
  • In cases of dispute between the Indian peasants and the English revenue collecting authorities, the zamindars of Midnapore sided with the farmers.
  • By the 1800s, the zamindars of Dhalbhum, Manbhum, Raipur, Panchet, Jhatibuni, Karnagarh, and Bagri, who lived in the huge Jungle Mahals of the west and north-west Midnapore, had lost their zamindaries.
  • Damodar Singh and Jagannath Dhal were key figures in the uprisings.
Revolt of Moamarias 1769 – 99
  • The Moamoria insurrection of 1769 was a powerful threat to the authority of Assam’s Ahom monarchs.
  • The Moamarias were low-caste peasants who followed Aniruddhadeva’s (1553–1624) teachings, and their growth paralleled that of other North Indian low-caste communities.
  • Their uprisings weakened the Ahoms and allowed others to assault the territory.
  • Despite the fact that the Ahom kingdom survived the uprising, it was devastated by a Burmese invasion and eventually fell under British authority.
Civil Uprisings in Gorakhpur, Basti, and Bahraich 1781
  • In order to pay for the war against the Marathas and Mysore, Warren Hastings devised a scheme to employ English officers as Ijaradars (revenue farmers) in Awadh.
  • In 1781, the zamindars and farmers revolted against the oppressive taxes, and within weeks, all of Hannay’s subordinates were either slain or besieged by zamindari guerrilla troops
Revolt of Raja of Vizianagaram 1794
  • The English and Ananda Gajapatiraju, the monarch of Vizianagaram, signed a deal in 1758 to jointly expel the French from the Northern Circars.
  • The raja rose up in revolt, backed by his subjects.
  • In 1793, the English captured the raja and sentenced him to exile with a pension. The raja was adamant in his refusal.
  • In 1794, the raja was killed in a fight at Padmanabham (now in Visakhapatnam, a district in Andhra Pradesh). The Company took control of Vizianagaram.
Civil Rebellion in Awadh 1799
  • In Benares, Wazir Ali Khan was given a pension. However, in January 1799, he assassinated George Frederick Cherry, a British citizen who had invited him to lunch.
  • Wazir Ali’s soldiers also killed two other Europeans and assaulted the Benares Magistrate.
  • The entire episode became known as the Benares Massacre.
  • Wazir Ali was able to raise a force of many thousand soldiers, but General Erskine was able to beat them.
Kutch Rebellion 1816 – 32
  • The British meddled in the Kutch’s internal feuds, prompting Raja Bharmal II to gather Arab and African forces in 1819 with the goal of driving the British out of his realm.
  • In favour of his newborn son, the British defeated and removed Kutch monarch Rao Bharamal.
  • The regency council’s administrative innovations, along with excessive land valuation, sparked significant dissatisfaction.
Rising at Bareilly 1816
  • When Mufti Muhammad Aiwaz, a revered old man, petitioned the town magistrate in March 1816, the dispute became religious.
  • The scenario became even worse when a lady was hurt by police while collecting taxes.
  • The Mufti’s supporters and the police got into a brutal brawl as a result of this incident.
  • Within two days following the incident, armed Muslims from Pilibhit, Shahjahanpur, and Rampur rose up in revolt to defend the faith and the Mufti.
  • The revolt could only be put down with the strong deployment of military troops, which resulted in the deaths of over 300 insurgents, as well as the wounding and imprisonment of many more.
Paika Rebellion 1817
  • The Paiks of Odisha were the traditional landed militia (meaning “foot soldiers”) who had hereditary land tenures in exchange for their military duty and policing tasks.
  • Bakshi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar was the military commander of the Raja of Khurda’s army.
  • The Company took away Jagabandhu’s ancestral estate of Killa Rorang in 1814, leaving him destitute.
  • The entry of a group of Khonds from Gumsur into Khurda territory in March 1817 lit the fuse.
  • Paika Bidroh was the name given to the insurrection (rebellion).
  • For a time, the rebels’ early success galvanised the whole province of Odisha against the British administration.
  • The Paika Rebellion was successful in obtaining huge remissions of arrears, reductions in assessments, a moratorium on the sale of defaulters’ properties at will, a new settlement on permanent tenures, and other liberal governance adjuncts.
Waghera Rising 1818 – 20
  • The Waghera leaders of Okha Mandal were forced to take up arms due to resentment of the alien authority, as well as the demands of the Gaekwad of Baroda, who were backed by the British administration.
  • During the years 1818–1819, the Wagheras made incursions into British territory.
  • In November 1820, a peace deal was made.
Ahom Revolt 1828
  • After the First Burma War (1824–26), the British promised to leave Assam.
  • Instead of leaving after the conflict, the British tried to absorb the Ahoms’ regions under the Company’s rule.
  • This triggered a revolt in 1828, led by Gomdhar Kon-war, an Ahom prince, and his countrymen, including Dhanjay Borgohain and Jairam Khargharia Phukan.
  • The rebels formally installed Gomdhar Konwar as king at Jorhat.
  • Finally, the Company adopted a conciliatory stance and gave up Upper Assam to Maharaja Purandar Singh Narendra, reuniting the Assamese ruler with a portion of his realm.
Surat Salt Agitations 1840
  • In 1844, a strong anti-British feeling led to attacks against Europeans by the local Surat populace over the government’s decision to raise the salt levy from 50 paise to one rupee.
  • The administration dropped the extra salt fee in response to public outcry.
  • In 1848, the government was compelled to cancel its plan to implement Bengal Standard Weights and Measures in the face of a persistent campaign of boycotting and passive resistance by the people.
Wahabi Movement 1830 – 61
  • Syed Ahmed of Rai Bareilly, influenced by the teach-ings of Saudi Arabia’s Abdul Wahab (1703–87) and Del-hi’s Shah Waliullah, formed the Wahhabi Movement, which was primarily an Islamic revivalist movement.
  • Syed Ahmed denounced Western influence on Islam and called for a restoration to genuine Islam society as it was in the Arabia of the Prophet’s day.


3.4.3 Peasant Movements

  1. Peasant uprisings were demonstrations against evictions, increase in land rents, and the greedy tactics of moneylenders, with the goal of granting peasants occupation rights, among other things.
  2. There were peasant revolts and rebellions, however many of them were led by local leaders.
  3. The following is a list of peasant movements in India up until the commencement of the 1857 Revolt (and its immediate aftermath). Important Peasant Movements

  • Peasant Atrocities: In Zamindari districts, peasants paid excessive rents, illegal levies, arbitrary evictions, and unpaid labour. The government charged a high land tax in these regions.
  • Massive Losses for Indian Indus-tries: The movements arose as a result of British economic poli-cies that resulted in the demise of traditional handicrafts and other small industries, resulting in the transfer of ownership and over-burdening of agrarian land, as well as massive debt and impov-erishment of the peasantry. The British government’s econom-ic policies are utilised to pro-tect landlords and moneylenders while exploiting peasants.

On several instances, the peasants rose in protest against this injustice.

Peasants Movements Time Period Significance
Narkelberia Uprising 1782 – 1831
  • The Muslim tenants of West Bengal were encour-aged by Mir Nithar Ali (1782–1831), also known as Titu Mir, to rise up against landlords, mostly Hindus, who imposed a beard-tax on the Faraizis and British indigo planters.
  • This revolution, which is often regarded as the first armed peasant movement against the British, quickly took on a religious overtone.
  • The uprising ultimately came to be known as the Wahhabi Movement.
The Pagal Panthis 1825
  • Karam Shah formed the Pagal Panthi, a semi-religious organisation made up primarily of the Hajong and Garo tribes of Mymensingh district (formerly Bengal).
  • However, the tribal peasants banded together under Karam Shah’s son, Tipu, to combat the zamindars’ persecution.
  • From 1825 through 1835, the Pagal Panthis raided zamindars’ homes because they refused to pay rent.
  • To safeguard these peasants, the government established an equitable arrangement, but the movement was severely quashed.
Faraizi Revolt 1838 – 57
  • The Faraizis were followers of Haji Shariatullah of Faridpur in Eastern Bengal, who created a Muslim sect.
  • They campaigned for fundamental reforms in religion, society, and politics. Shariatullah and his son Mohsin Uddin Ahmad, also known as Dudu
  • Miyan (1819–62), gathered their supporters with the goal of driving the English out of Bengal.
  • The tenants’ fight against the zamindars was also backed by the sect.
  • The Faraizi uprisings lasted from 1838 to 1857. Majority of Faraizis embraced the Wahhabi move-ment.
Moplah Uprisings 1921
  • Increased income demands and field size reductions, along with state harassment, culminated in widespread peasant revolt among the Moplahs of Malabar.
  • Between 1836 and 1854, there were twenty-two rebellions. None of them, however, were successful.
  • The second Moplah rebellion happened when the Congress and Khilafat supporters began organising Moplahs during the Non-Cooperation Movement.
  • However, the Congress and the Moplahs were separated by Hindu-Muslim divisions. The Moplahs had been defeated by 1921.


3.4.4 Tribal Revolt

Tribal movements were the most common, militant, and violent of all movements during British rule. Causes of Tribal Revolts

Shifting agriculture, hunting, fishing, and the usage of forest products were the tribals’ mainstays. The practice of settled agriculture was established with the inflow of non-tribals into the tribals’ customary territories. The tribal population lost land as a result of this. The tribals were confined to working as agricultural labourers without land. Money lenders were introduced by the British into tribal communities, resulting in serious exploitation of the native tribes. Under the new economic structure, they were forced to work as bonded labourers. The concept of joint ownership of land was supplanted by the concept of private property in tribal communities. Forest products, changing agriculture, and hunting techniques were all subject to limitations. For the tribals, this resulted in a loss of livelihood.

In contrast to mainstream culture, which was characterised by caste and class divisions, tribal life was typically egalitarian. The arrival of non-tribals or outsiders pushed the tribals to the bottom of society’s ladder. The government established a Forest Department in 1864, primarily to manage the vast riches of Indian forests. The Government Forest Act of 1865 and the Indian Forest Act of 1878 gave the government total control over wooded territory. The Christian missionaries’ activity also caused social instability in tribal civilization, which the tribes hated.

3.4.5 Tribal Revolts (1857 – 1900)

The tribal groups were an important and integral part of native Indian life. Before their annexation and subsequent incorporation in the British territories, they had their own social and economic systems. These systems were traditional in nature and satisfied the needs of the tribals. Each community was headed by a chief who managed the affairs of the community. They also enjoyed independence regarding the management of their internal affairs. The land and forests were their main source of livelihood. The forests provided them with basic items which they required for survival. The tribal communities remained isolated from the non-tribals. The British policies proved harmful to the sustenance of tribal society. This destroyed their relatively self-sufficient economy and communities. The tribal groups of different regions revolted against the Britishers. Their movements were anti-colonial in nature because they were directed against the colonial administration. The tribals used traditional weapons, mainly bows and arrows and often turned violent. The Britishers dealt severely with them. They were declared criminals and antisocial. Their property was confiscated. They were imprisoned and many of them were hanged. The tribal movement in India remained confined to some regions only. But it did not lag behind other social groups in terms of participation in the anti-colonial movements. We shall now read about some major tribal revolts that took place against the British rule:

  1. The Santhal Rebellion (1855-57)
    The area of concentration of the Santhals was called Daman-i-Koh or Santhal Pargana. It extended from Bhagalpur in Bihar in the north to Orissa in the south stretching from Hazaribagh to the borders of Bengal. The Santhals like other tribes worked hard to maintain their lives in the forests and wild jungles. They cultivated their land and lived a peaceful life which continued till the British officials brought with them traders, moneylenders, zamindars and merchants. They were made to buy goods on credit and forced to pay back with a heavy interest during harvest time. As a result, they were sometimes forced to give the mahajan not only their crops, but also plough, bullocks and finally the land. Very soon they became bonded labourers and could serve only their creditors. The peaceful tribal communities were now up in arms against the British officials, zamindars and money lenders who were exploiting them. Sidhu and Kanu were leading Santhal rebel leaders.They gave a heroic fight to the British government. Unfortunately, the Santhal Rebellion was crushed in an unequal battle but it became a source of inspiration for future agrarian struggles.
  2. Munda Rebellion (1899-1900)
    One of the most important and prominent rebellions which took place after 1857 was the Munda Rebellion. The Mundas traditionally enjoyed certain rights as the original clearer of the forest which was not given to the other tribes. But this land system was getting destroyed in the hands of the merchants and moneylenders long before the coming of the British. However, when the British actually came into these areas they helped to destroy this system with a rapid pace when they introduced contractors and traders. These contractors needed people to work with them as indentured labourers. This dislocation of the Mundas at the hands of the British and their contractors gave birth to the Munda Rebellion. The most prominent leader of this rebellion was Birsa Munda, who was more aware than the others as he had received some education from the Missionaries. He encouraged his tribe people to keep the tradition of worshipping of the sacred groves alive. This move was very important to prevent the Britishers from taking over their wastelands. He attacked Police Stations, Churches and missionaries. Unfortunately the rebels were defeated and Munda died in prison soon after in 1900. His sacrifice did not go in vain. The Chotanagpur Tenancy Act of 1908 provided some land ownership rights to the people and banned bonded labour of the tribe. Birsa Munda became the architect of Munda Rebellion and one who is remembered even today.

    An indentured labourer was one who had to work for others on a contractual basis for a fixed period of time. The person had to work in a foreign/ new place and in return would be given payment for travel, accommodation and food.
  3. Jaintia and Garo Rebellion (1860-1870s)
    After the First AngloBurmese War, the British planned the construction of a road connecting Brahmaputra Valley (present day Assam) with Sylhet (present day Bangladesh). The Jaintias and the Garos in the North-Eastern part of India (present day Meghalaya) opposed the construction of this road which was of strategic importance to the British for the movement of troops. In 1827, the Jaintias tried to stop work and soon the unrest spread to the neighbouring Garo hills. Alarmed, the British burnt several Jaintias and Garo villages. Hostilities increased with the introduction of House Tax and Income Tax by the British in the 1860s. Jaintias leader U Kiang Nongbah was captured and publicly hanged and the Garo leader Pa Togan Sangma was defeated by the British.
  4. The Uprising of the Bhils (1818-1831)
    The Bhils were largely concentrated in Khandesh (present day Maharashtra & Gujarat). Khandesh came under British occupation in 1818. The Bhils considered them as outsiders. On the instigation of Trimbakji, rebel minister of Baji Rao II they revolted against the Britishers.
  5. The Kol Uprising (1831-1832)
    The Kols of Singhbhum in the Chhotanagpur area enjoyed autonomy under their chiefs but the entry of the British threatened their independence. Later the transfer of tribal lands and the coming of moneylenders, merchants and British laws created a lot of tension. This prompted the Kol tribe to organise themselves and rebel. The impact was such that the British had to rush troops from far off places to suppress it.
  6. The Mappila Uprisings (1836-1854)
    The Mappilas were the Muslim cultivating tenants, landless labourers and fishermen of Malabar region. British occupation of Malabar region and their new land laws along with the atrocities of the landlords (mainly Hindus) led the Mappilas to revolt against them. It took many years for the British to crush the Mappilas.

Important Tribal Revolts

Tribal Revolts Significance
Paharias Rebellion (1778)
  • Due to their geographical isolation, the Paharias had always preserved their independence before the British arrived.
  • The Paharias invaded the plains populated by settled ag-riculturists frequently because their means of existence were insufficient, especially during times of famine.
  • These attacks also served as a means of establishing con-trol over the established populations.
  • The British launched a savage onslaught on the Pahariyas in the 1770s, with the goal of tracking them out and murdering them.
  • The Pahariyas uprising, headed by Raja Jagganath in 1778, is noteworthy. The British began a pacification campaign in the 1780s.
Chuar Uprising (1776)
  • The Chuar uprising was a series of peasant rebellions against the East India Company that took place between 1771 and 1809 in the area around the West Bengal villages of Midnapore, Bankura, and Manbhum.
  • Chuar uprising erupted in response to the jungle zamindars’ increased earnings. The money was difficult to generate because the forest region produced little.
  • The East India Company’s tax and administrative policies (including the Permanent Settlement) as well as the police restrictions enforced in rural Bengal rendered the practise of employing local paiks obsolete, since they were eventually replaced by professional police.
  • In 1799, the British violently repressed the insurrection.
Kol Mutiny (1831)
  • The Kols were a tribe that lived in the Chotanagpur region. Moneylenders and merchants arrived alongside the British.
  • The Kols were forced to sell their holdings to outside farmers and pay exorbitant taxes as a result.
  • As a result, many people became bonded labourers.
  • The Kols were especially irritated by British judicial policies.
  • In 1831-1832, the Kols organised themselves and revolted against the British and moneylenders, resulting in an insurgency.
Ho and Munda Uprisings (1820–37)
  • The revolt lasted until the Ho tribes were forced to succumb in 1827.
  • However, in 1831, they staged another insurrection, this time with the help of the Mundas of Chotanagpur, to oppose the newly implemented farming tax policy and the influx of Bengalis into their district.
  • Despite the fact that the uprising ended in 1832, the Ho activities continued until 1837.
The Santhal Rebellion (1833; 1855– 56)
  • The landlords exploited the Santhals ruthlessly, charging excessive interest rates (often as high as 500 percent) that ensured the tribals would never be able to repay their loans.
  • They were stripped of their land and forced to work as bonded labourers.
  • Extortion, forcible deprivation of property, abuse and vi-olence, deceit in business agreements, willful trampling of their crops, and so on were the injustices they had to cope with.
  • They assassinated a large number of moneylenders and Company agents. The uprising was ferocious and huge in scope.
  • The British brutally quashed the insurrection, killing around 20000 Santhals, including the two leaders.
Khond Uprising (1837–56)
  • Between 1837 and 1856, the Khonds of the mountainous areas spanning from Odisha to the Andhra Pradesh districts of Srikakulam and Visakhapatnam revolted against Company control.
  • Chakra Bisoi, a youthful raja, led the Khonds, who were supported by the Ghumsar, Kalahandi, and other tribes, in their opposition to the abolition of human sacrifice, increased taxes, and the arrival of zamindars into their territories.
  • The insurrection came to an end with Chakra Bisoi’s dis-appearance.
Koya Revolts
  • The Koyas of the eastern Godavari track (now Andhra) revolted in 1803, 1840, 1845, 1858, 1861, and 1862, aided by Khonda Sara leaders.
  • Under Tomma Sora, they revolted once again in 1879–80.
  • Their grievances included police and moneylender persecution, new restrictions, and rejection of their traditional rights to forest regions.
  • After Tomma Sora’s death, Raja Anantayyar organised another revolt in 1886.
Bhil Revolts
  • The Bhils of the Western Ghats controlled the mountain routes that connected the north with the Deccan.
  • They rose against Company control in 1817–19 due to starvation, economic suffering, and misgovernment.
  • To quell the insurrection, the British utilised both force and conciliatory measures.
  • The Bhils, however, revolted again in 1825, 1831, and 1846.
  • Later, a reformer named Govind Guru assisted the Bhils of south Rajasthan (Banswara and Sunth states) in organising to fight for a Bhil Raj by 1913.
Koli Risings
  • The Kolis of Bhils rose up in revolt against the Company’s control in 1829, 1839, and again in 1844–48.
  • They opposed the imposition of Company’s control, which resulted in widespread unemployment and the removal of their fortifications.
Ramosi Risings
  • The Ramosis or Western Ghats hill tribes, had not accepted British control or the British system of administration.
  • They organised in 1822 under Chittur Singh and devastated the land around Satara.
  • There were other eruptions in 1825–26 under Umaji Naik of Poona and his follower, Bapu Trimbakji Sawant, and the unrest lasted until 1829.
  • The commotion flared again in 1839 at the deposition and exile of Raja Pratap Singh of Satara, and it exploded again in 1840–41.
  • Finally, a stronger British force was able to restore order in the region.


Tribal Revolts in North East

Revolts Significance
Khasi Uprising
  • After occupying the steep terrain between the Garo and Jaintia Hills, the East India Company desired to construct a route connecting the Brahmaputra Valley with Sylhet.
  • A considerable number of outsiders, including Englishmen, Bengalis, and plains labourers, were imported to these regions for this purpose.
  • The Khasis, Garos, Khamptis, and Singphos banded together under Tirath Singh to drive the outsiders out of the plains.
  • The movement grew into a widespread revolution against British administration in the region.
  • By 1833, the overwhelming English armed force had put down the rebellion.
Singphos Rebellion
  • The Singphos movement in Assam in early 1830 was quickly put down, but they continued to organise revolts.
  • The British political agent was killed in an insurrection in 1839.
  • In 1843, Chief Nirang Phidu organised a rebellion that resulted in an attack on the British garrison and the deaths of numerous troops.



  • British imperialistic policy and activities of corrupt officials paved the way for various local rebellions and revolts.
  • Many civil uprisings erupted owing to the protest against the exploitation of the British.
  • Peasant movements lashed out against the zamindars and the revenue system that made them socially and economically weak.
  • Tribal revolts represented the needs of indigenous people who were killed by the Britishers.
  • Local revolts and rebellions failed to assume a mass character.
  • Their demands lost farsightedness and they were ready to settle for trivial things.
  • Lack of proper planning, efficient leadership and proper communication led to its failure.
  • Local rebellions and revolts did help the essence of freedom struggle to enter into the minds of common people.
  • It generated awareness among the people about the exploitation by the British in India.
  • These unrests carried on the spirit of freedom struggle without any hindrances
  • It acted as an inspiration for other resistance movements all around the globe.

Objective type questions

  1. Which region in India did Santhal tribes mostly inhabit?
  2. Name one of the most significant rebellions that took place after the 1857 mutiny?
  3. What is considered the main cause of the Jaintia-Garo uprising against the British?
  4. When did the Khol mutiny happen?
  5. Who headed the Paharias rebellion in the year 1778?
  6. Which part of South India did the Khol mutiny concentrate on?
  7. Who led the Khond Uprising against the British?
  8. Name the reformer who assisted Bhils of south Rajasthan to fight for a Bhil Raj in the year 1913?
  9. Which were the two major tribal rebellions that erupted against the British in the north-eastern region?
  10. Name the movement led by Singphos in the early half of the Nineteenth century?

Answer to Objective type questions

  1. Daman-i-Koh or Santhal Pargana
  2. Munda Rebellion
  3. Attempt of the British to construct a road between Brahmaputra Valley and Syl-het
  4. 1831.
  5. Raja Jagganath
  6. Chotanagpur Plateau
  7. Chakra Bisoi
  8. Govind Guru
  9. Khasi Uprising and Singphos Rebellion
  10. Singphos Movement.


  1. Make a report on local riots that occurred in and around your region pertaining to the Indian freedom struggle.
  2. Initiate a case study on the contributions of peasant uprisings and tribal anti-British movements to liberate India from the oppressive reign of the British.
  3. Enumerate the underlying reasons behind the tribal resistance movements in colonial India
  4. Discuss the role of communal elements in the resistance movements against the British with special reference to Malabar Rebellion of 1921.

Suggested Reading

  1. Sarkar, Sumit, Modern India : 1885 – 1947, Pearson Publishers, 2008.
  2. Chandra, Bipan, India’s Struggle For Independence, Penguin Random Book House, 2015.
  3. Datta, Kalikinkkar, The Santhal Insurrection of 1855-57, Gyan Publishing House, 2017.
  4. Nair, C.Gopalan, Moplah Rebellion 1921, Voice of India Publishers, 2020.
  5. Dinesh, Tirur, Moplah Riots, Trasadasyu Publishers, 2021.