This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
Hul revolution, 1855
The Santal rebellion or ‘Hul’ – literally, revolution – began in 1855, two years before the the uprising of 1857, which is often referred to as “the first war for Indian independence”.
The Santal rebellion or ‘Hul’ – literally, revolution – began in 1855, two years before the the uprising of 1857, often referred to as “the first war for Indian independence”.
It was an “organised war against colonialism” led by the Santals, standing against the myriad forms of oppression – economic and otherwise – they were subjected to by the British and their collaborators. Led by two brothers Sidhu and Kanhu, it saw the participation of as many as 32 caste and communities rallying behind them.
The rebellion took place in the lush Damin-i-Koh region – ‘Damin-i-Koh’ meaning the ‘skirts of the hills’ – and took the British by complete surprise. This region falls in present-day Jharkhand, more specifically, around the Rajmahal Hills of eastern Jharkhand’s Sahibganj district.
Every year, the state of Jharkhand celebrates June 30 as ‘Hul Diwas’, marking the beginning of the rebellion, even though some historical accounts date it to the first week of July instead.
The popular spelling of ‘Santhals’ today is the one used by the British, and experts say ‘Santal’ is a more accurate way of documenting how the community identified itself.
Who were the Santals?
The Santal people – or Santalis – were not the original inhabitants of modern day Santhal Pargana – which includes the six districts of Dumka, Pakur, Godda, Sahibganj, Deoghar and parts of Jamtara. They had migrated from the Birbhum and Manbhum regions (present-day Bengal), starting around the late 18th century.
The 1770 famine in Bengal caused the Santals to begin moving and soon, the British turned to them for help. With the enactment of the Permanent Settlement Act of 1790, the East India Company was desperate to bring an ever-increasing area in its control under settled agriculture. They, thus, chose the area of Damin-i-Koh, at the time heavily forested, to be settled by the Santals, in order to collect a steady stream of revenue.
However, once settled, the Santals bore the brunt of colonial oppression. IAS officer (Retired) Ranendra, an authoritative figure on the tribal history of Jharkhand and currently the Director of Ram Dayal Munda Tribal Research Institute, told The Indian Express that the Santal migration was “forced” by the British merely to collect more revenue. Predatory money-lenders and the police were a byproduct of this system.
Today, the Santal community is the third largest tribal community in India, spread across Jharkhand-Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal.
Gorkhas in Assam
2021: Gorkhas accepted as indigenous community
The Assam Cabinet decided not to prosecute any of the 25 lakh-odd Gorkha residents of the state whose residency status might have been called into question under the Citizenship Act, 1955. All such cases pending with the foreigners’ tribunals will be withdrawn.
The Cabinet decision came weeks after the state ordered the inclusion of Gorkhas and four other indigenous communities inhabiting the Sadiya tribal belt — Ahoms, Morans, Motoks and Chutias— in the list of “protected classes”.
Responding to BJP’s Darjeeling MP Raju Bista’s word of gratitude to Assam for recognising Gorkhas as a protected class in the Sadiya tribal belt, CM Himanta Biswa Sarma tweeted, “You will be further happy to note that Assam Cabinet took a decision today not to prosecute any Gorkha citizen...and also to withdraw all pending prosecution relating to Gorkhas from foreigners tribunals.” TNN
Gorkhas in Uttarakhand
HC tells U'khand govt to issue OBC tag to Gorkhas
Jan 08 2015, The Times of India
The Uttarakhand high court ordered the state government to issue other backward castes certificates (OBC) to all nine castes of the Gorkha community , including Brahmins and Kshatriyas, in the state. Earlier, only four castes under the community were granted OBC certificates. A single bench of Justice Alok Singh decided in the favour of the five castes earlier excluded from the OBC list. “I am thankful to the honourable court for its insightful observa tion of the condition of Gorkha community as a whole,“ said Sandeep Adhikari, the lawyer who handled the petition . “The community has contributed so much to the culture and society of the state, but still has not got its fair share.“
Earlier, a writ opposing the state government's decision was filed by the Gorkha Sudhar Samiti in December 2013.The sate government had then decided to exclude five castes of the Gorkha community in June 2013, citing that they belonged to the general category and hence were not entitled for OBC reservations.
Nepal may bar Gorkhas from Indian Army
[ From the archives of the Times of India]
New Delhi: The blood-curdling “Ayo Gorkhali” battle-cry, backed by the wickedly-curved khukris, may soon lose its long-standing resonance in the Indian Army with the Nepal government again moving towards banning the recruitment of Gorkhas in foreign armies. The Indian defence establishment is watching with concern the BaburamBhattarai government’s fresh move to eventually halt the recruitment of Gorkhas in Indian, British and other armies in line with the recommendations of a parliamentary report, “Nepal’s Foreign Policy in the Changed Context, 2012”. “It’s a proposal being studied in Nepal as of now… no final decision has been taken. We are tracking it closely,’’ said a defence ministry official on Monday. Over 25,000 Nepalese currently serve in the Indian Army’s seven Gorkha Rifles (1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th and 11th), each of which has five to six battalions (800 to 1,000 soldiers each), drawing basically from Rais and Limbus of eastern Nepal and Gurungs and Magars from the west. KHUKRI WARRIORS Over 25,000 Nepalese currently serve in the Indian Army’s seven Gorkha Rifles They make up almost 70% of the Gorkha Regiment Another 20,000 Gorkhas in Indian paramilitary and police forces like Assam Rifles The credo of the Gorkhas is ‘better to die than be a coward’ Indian govt pays Gorkhas 1,200 crore in salaries New Delhi: Nepal’s proposal to bar Gorkha recruitment in the Indian Army may not sit well with India. Nepal’s Gorkhas make up almost 70% of the Gorkha Regiment, while “Indian domicileGorkhas’’ from places like Dehradun, Darjeeling and Dharamshala constitute the rest. “Rais and Limbus in 11 GR, for instance, come both from eastern Nepal as well as Darjeeling,’’ said an officer. There are roughly another 20,000 Gorkhas in Indian paramilitary and police forces like Assam Rifles. “Moreover, India has over 80,000 ex-servicemen, 17,000 retired Assam Rifles personnel and 11,000 widows to look after in Nepal. The serving and retired together draw around Rs 1,200 crore annually as salaries and pension from India,’’ he said. Defence minister A K Antony told the LokSabha on Monday that India was going to extend the benefits of its ECHS (ex-servicemen contributory health scheme) to retired personnel in Nepal through three polyclinics at Kathmandu, Pokhara and Dharan, which will also have mobile clinics. The number of serving Nepalese Gorkhas is quite small to operationally matter for the 1.13-million Indian Army, which is much more worried about China’s deft strategic inroads into Nepal at the moment. But the force remains very devoted to continuing its two-century-old “glorious tradition” of recruiting the intrepid and doughty Gorkha soldiers, with Maharaja Ranjit Singh being among the first to tap their never-say-die fighting spirit in the early 19th Century. British Indian Army’s Gorkha regiments won a dozen Victoria Crosses and other top laurels in World War I and II, before they were divided between the British and Indian armies in 1947.