''Chuar rebellion'' of West Bengal against the British in which tribes played a major role

Chuar rebellion 1768 expriences.blogspot.co

Indians who were under the British rule toiled very hard to get the country free Britain.  Their  two centuries of  unjust rule in the subcontinent was beset with  exploitation of natural resources,  squandering of rich Indian rulers and suppression of common men. Their dishonest and deliberate  wheeling and dealing drove the  natives to the edge of exasperation.  The British not only took over the Indian lands but also forest lands  owned by the poor farmers.

Chuar revolt, West Bengal. 1700s  simoticlasses.com

Thus when they left India in August 1947  they rendered it into a poor country and split it into two nations. By 1947, Britain enjoyed the imperial  status with so many colonies across the globe.  All these made possible with the vast  revenue generated from (Opium, Indigo,  tea, coffee cultivation, etc)  the Indian lands. In their long rule, the frustrated people  across the subcontinent  vented out their anger and abomination  by revolting against the English company and later the British crown. Among the many tribal revolts against the British, Chauar  rebellion of  Bengal (now West Bengal state) exposed the hypocrisy of the British and their greed for forest lands owned  and cultivated by various tribes for centuries. 

The Chaur revolt was the first  Adivasi rebellion against the cunning and corrupt  English company  that lasted roughly  three decades in SW Bengal. It began in 1768  and continued up to 1799 when finally the British released the lands to the tribes.  Historians prefer using the term  struggle of Jangal Mahal of Bengal for the simple reason that the   word Char is a derogatory one  meaning vile and vagabond or hobo. 

The struggle  was primarily confined to SW Bengal where the tribes lived in large number in places like  Bakura Midnapore, Sibghbhum, Chotanagpur and part of Orissa. The tribes with many ethnic groups relied on the forest land for their livelihood. Their source of income besides cultivation on the fringe of the forest, included other activities related to jungle,  As soldiers (palka) of local landlords (Zamindars)  instead of salary, they got  a piece of land (called palkan land) with no taxes.

The British as part of their expansion rather land-gabbing  spree had their eyes glued on the rich forest lands being cultivated by the palkas for generations. By putting the lands under their control EIC levied taxes on them and at last  took over the ancestral  lands of Chuar  tribes and drove them out along with  Zamindars under the pretext that  they had  failed to pay the taxes. The Zamindars and the tribes had to face hardship with no income. As for the English company, they sold the lands to new land lords and made a fresh  deal with them.  The so called local soldiers - palka  with famine looming on the horizon  were to face a bleak future with no hope and no solution insight.  In the mean time the British appointed a big posse of police in their place to guard the lands, etc.. 

Infuriated chuar tribes made a   combined protest with support from other people in the village. Later, the small revolt became hell bent and  the British were unable to put down a sea of rebels. At the fore- front of the rebellion were courageous  men Mohan Singh, Lal Singh, Rahunath Mahato, Madal Singh, et al.

The entire tribal area was in turmoil due to continued unrest by the chuars. In April 1799  economic discontent drove the people to revolt against the British for increase in land taxes  in places like Purugram, Ghatshilla,etc.  Soon the  Paika of Orissa and Bhakura joined the rebellion and the British were  at a loss to put down a massive and explosive protests. 

 It was a combined efforts by the tribes and the zamindars against the English company. In the very first Chuar revolt guidance and leadership was provided by  Raja Jagannath a prominent zamindar of Ghatshila in 1798. The situation was a serious one - nearly 50000 Chuar farmers were affected by the wrong British policy.  The second revolt led by  Devikram Shyam Gunjan ended in fiasco. During the third  revolt in 1799,  Rani Shironmani of Midnapore rattled the British, though arrested many times, she got the Zamindari rights later.  Later Durijan, a Zamindar of Rajpur Purgana, very much affected by the British move, made a ferocious attack on the EIC offices and establishments with countless Chuar tribes. hell broke out with looting, dacoity and killing in Raipur and adjacent areas.   

The revolts in the tribal areas continued without a break and this frustrated the English company's efforts to put them down.  Having realized that suppression  and coercion  won't yield anything to handle  massive protests, the English gave in and returned the lands and other facilities to the chieftain of  Chuar and Paika.