Peasant movements and tribal uprisings in the 18th and 19th centuries: Kol Rebellion (1832)
Kol’s early Rebellion
- The tribal inhabitants of Chota Nagpur comprised Kols, Bhils, Hoes, Mundas and Oraons. They led an independent life. Chhotanagpur area remained a centre of turbulent uprisings throughout the 19th century.
- In 1820 the king of Porhat owed allegiance to the British and agreed to pay huge taxes annually. He claimed the neighboring Kol region as his own to the consent of the British. He went on to collect taxes from the Ho segment of the Kols which they resented. A few officials were killed too.
- The British sent troops in support of the king. The Kols took up traditional arms like bows and arrows to face British troops armed in modern weapons. They put up a very brave fight but had to surrender in 1821.
Kol Rebellion (1832)
- The Kols and other tribes enjoyed autonomy under their chiefs but the entry of the British threatened their independence.
- The transfer of tribal lands and the coming of moneylenders, merchants and British laws created a lot of tension. The Mahajans extracted 70 per cent or more interest and many Kols became boded labourers for life.
- The Chhota Nagpur region was leased out to money-lenders for revenue collection. Their oppressive tactics, high revenue rates, British judicial and revenue policies devastated the traditional social framework of the Kols.
- The trouble increased with large-scale transfers of land from Kol headmen (Mundas) to outsiders like Sikh and Muslim farmers.
- These factors prompted the Kol tribe to organise themselves and rebel. The Kol tribals organized an insurrection in 1831-32 which was directed mainly against Government officers and private money-lenders. Other tribes also followed the same.The rebellion soon spread over a considerable area, including Ranchi, Hazaribagh, Palamau and Manbhum.
- The insurgents adopted most cruel means and spared no one. They torched houses and killed the enemies (mainly outsiders). Only carpenters and blacksmiths were spared since they made weapons and other useful goods for them. After two years of intense resistance they lost to modern weapons of the British. Thousands of tribal men, women and children were killed and the rebellion was suppressed.
- The immensity of the Kol rebellion could he gauged from the fact that troops had to be rushed from far off places like Calcutta, Danapur and Benaras to quell it.