Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

In news: Santhal Hul of 1855 


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Santhal Hul

Why in the News?

  • The Santhal Revolt of 1855 was a revolt against imperialism led by four brothers, Sidho, Kanho, Chand, and Bhairav Murmu, along with sisters Phulo and Jhano.
    • June 30 marks the 169th anniversary of the beginning of the revolt.

About Santhal Hul

  • The Santhal people revolted against the British East India Company and the Zamindari system, also known as the Santhal Rebellion or Santhal Hul.
  • The rebellion began on June 30, 1855.
  • Martial Law was imposed on November 10, 1855, by the East India Company, lasting until January 3, 1856, when the rebellion was suppressed.

Who are the Santhals?

  • Santhals were agricultural people living in the Rajmahal Hills of Bihar.
  • Ol Chiki (Ol Chemet) is the writing script of Santhals.
  • The British asked them to clear forests for agriculture to increase revenue.
  • Damin-i-Koh (1832) was created as a designated area for Santhals, now known as Santhal Pargana.
  • Over time, the British began exploiting the Santhals, leading to the Santhal Rebellion.

What makes the revolt so unique?

  • Marginalized Indigenous Community: Led by the Santhal tribe, a marginalized indigenous community in mid-19th century India.
  • Agrarian Uprising: Primarily a fight against exploitative land laws, high taxes, and forced labor rather than political or religious issues.
  • Tribal Unity and Guerrilla Tactics: Characterized by a strong sense of tribal unity and guerrilla warfare tactics, making it unique and significant.

Causes of the Santhal Revolt:

  • Permanent Settlement System (1793): Introduced by the British East India Company, giving Zamindars long-lasting property rights.
  • Oppression by Zamindars: Zamindars misused their power to oppress and enslave peasants, leading to resentment.
  • Exploitation and Debt: Santhals faced exploitation through high-interest loans and lost their land and freedom.
  • Violent Suppressions: British police supported Zamindars and moneylenders in evicting Santhals violently.
  • Disruption of Traditional Structures: Traditional social and political structures of the Santhals were disrupted, pushing them into debt and poverty.
  • Economic Hardship: Led to the Santhals revolting against the British and Zamindars to escape their predicament.

About the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act (1876) and Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act (1908)

  • Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act (1876): Enacted by the British as a result of the Hul.
    • Land Inheritance: Prohibits the transfer of Adivasi lands to non-Adivasis and allows land to be inherited only as per the Act.
    • Self-Governance: Retains the rights of Santhals to self-govern their land.
  • Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act (1908): Result of the Birsa Movement.
    • Land Transfer Restrictions: Allows land transfers within the same caste and geographical areas with District Collector’s approval.
    • Protection of Adivasi and Dalit Land: Restricts the sale of Adivasi and Dalit land but allows transfers within the same community.


[2018] After the Santhal Uprising subsided, what was/were the measure/measures taken by the colonial government?

  1. The territories called `Santhal Parganas’ were created.
  2. It became illegal for a Santhal to transfer land to a non-Santhal.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

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