Agrarian struggles in the 20th century – Santhals peasant movement

The Santhals  were subdued to an extent that they decided to rise against the jamindars, moneylenders and traders.

In the beginning, following Permanent Land Settlement, the Santhals in Bihar did not resist much. They even took to limits of retreat and moved towards the borders of the plains of the Ganga at the rents were the highest.  This was unbearable for the Santhals. They took to insurrection.  Following were the main causes for the agitation:

  1. The jamindars, the police, the revenue and court exercised  a combined action of extortions. The Santhals were obliged to pay all kinds of taxes and levies. They were dispossessed of their property. They were abused.
  2. Violence: The representatives of jamindars, that is, karendais  inflicted personal violence on the Santhals. A variety of petty tyrannies were exercised on the timed and yielding Santhals.
  3. Trespass on Santhal Land: The rich peasants trespassed on the land of the tenants. They took away their cattle.
  4. Exorbitant Rate of Interest: The moneylenders charged interest which was incredibly high. These moneylenders came to be known as diku, that is, exploiters by the Santhal. For this matter all the Bengalis who ran their trade in the Santhal areas were known as dikus.
  5. Oppression by Europeans: The Europeans were employed in Bihar for railroad construction. These Europeans more than often forced abduction of Santhal women and even murder and some unjust acts of oppression. For all this no payment was made by the Europeans employed on the line of the railway.

The following measures which taken by the British Government an account of the Santhals. Now they came under uniform administration.

  1. Before the insurrection, the settlement area of the Santhals were broken into several parts for the purpose of administration. Then, a change was made. The government declared the Santhal concentration area as the Santhal Pargana. It was due to the Santhal insurrection that the British government recognised the tribal status of the Santhals. Now they came under uniform administration.
    1. The diku population realised that now the Santhals were not an unorganised mass of people. They are organised and have a vibrating enthusiasm. Not only the Santhals of Pargana but the tribals as while who were Agriculturist got United. This was by no means am ordinary achievement. Actually, the Santhals gave a message to the peasants of country as a whole to resist the operation of jamindars and moneylenders. The Santhal blood etched the slogan that they were bold and large group of people.