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Hul Diwas

3rd July, 2023 History

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  • On Hul Diwas, PM modi, through a tweet, remembered Santhal rebellion and sacrifice made by adiwasis in their fight against British colonial authorities
  • In state of Jharkhand, June 30 is celebrated as Hul Diwas.

Other Details

  • Hul Diwas marks the beginning of the Santhal rebellion.
  • Santhals are also referred as Santal by some experts.

Santhal Rebellion

  • Hul literally means revolution.
  • The Santal/Santhal rebellion, considered the first war for Indian independence by some historians, began in 1855.
  • Led by Santal community it was an organised war against colonial economic oppression.

Leader and participation

  • The rebellion was led by two brothers Sidhu and Kanhu,
  • Inpired from the brother, around 32 caste and communities joined this revolt and surprised the british.


  • Forested Damin-i-Koh region (skirts of hills)
  • It lies in the present-day Jharkhand which is around the Rajmahal Hills of eastern Jharkhand’s Sahibganj district.

Background of Santhals

  • In late 18th century, the Santal people –migrated to Santhal Pargana (currently in districts of Dumka, Pakur, Godda, Sahibganj, Deoghar and parts of Jamtara) from the West Bengal (Birbhum and Manbhum).
  • The main reason for migration was the 1770 famine in Bengal.
  • British settled them in Damin-i-Koh region for the purpose of collecting tax and generating revenue.
  • They were further exploited by money-lenders and the police.
  • Today, the Santal community is the third largest tribal community in India, spread across Jharkhand-Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal.

Reasons for Hul/ Santhal Rebellion

  • The adverse social and economic conditions of Santals were the main cause of revolt as observed by Calcutta Review.
  • Oppressive extortions, forced eviction from land, abuse and personal violence by Zamindars, the police, the revenue and court were the common occurrence.
  • Some forms of exploitations were -
    • Loan rates as high as 500%.
    • False measures at the haut and the market.
    • Intentional trespassing and illegal capturing of their untethered cattle, tattoos, ponies, elephants.
    • Destruction or control of growing

Start of the revolt

  • In tribal councils and meetings, discussion surrounding the adverse exploitation and rebellion were frequent by 1854.
  • Finally 6,000 Santhals from 400 villages were gathered in an assembly held on June 30, 1855 and declared autonomy from the British.
  • Two brothers Sidhu and Kanhu made leader to mobilize Santal people across the region.
  • Participation of Santals in revolt was massive, approximately 60,000 Santhals, and many of them took up arms.
  • Many non-Adivasi Hindu castes also participated.
  • Moneylenders and zamindars were killed or forced to evict the region.
  • Many police stations, railway stations and post offices were attacked and burnt.

Was it organized rebellion ?

  • At first glance this revolt seems unorganised chaotic uprising However there are evidence that suggest it to be highly organised rebellion.
  • Some evidences, given in a book by Ashwini Pankaj -
    • Formation of guerrillas and military teams to prepare for war.
    • Spy network creation.
    • Many secret bases were set up.
    • For smooth coordination, a network for logistics and message carriers was created.

Other facts about the Hul

  • To control this uprising British resorted to various brutal tactics -
    • They invoked the Martial Law and killed thousands of
    • British also burned down villages.
    • They hanged people on various corners of the road.
  • Around 32 communities (tribals and non-tribals both) participated in revolt.
  • Phulo-Jhano sisters commanded an army of 1,000 women.
    • Main aim of this army was to provide food supply, gathering intelligence and to attack the East Indian camps during the night.
  • During the rebellion army of EIC was defeated twice.
    • In Pirpainti
    • In Birbhum
  • The rebellion was suppressed by 1856. However, according to Inder Kumar Choudhary, the Santals in Hazaribagh and Manbhum area participated in the mutiny of 1857 too.

British Narrative

  • After the complaints and instances of exploitation, various british officers examined the situation however they considered mahajans the main cause behind revolt. They found -
    • No signs of over taxation(land rent) was found.
    • Justice for Santhals was inaccessible and far off.
    • Mahajans (money lending) were inflicting sufferings which needed to be addressed.

Prisoners’ account after the Hul

  • The book HUL DOCUMENTS records mentioned about the dream of a deity -
    • Deity appeared in front of Kanoo Sonthal and a Parwana (an order) to the Bada Sahib in Calcutta was sent afterwards.
    • The deity also asked Seedo Sonthal to kill british officieres, Pontet and the Darogah, and Mahajuns.


Consider the following statements about Santhal Rebellion:

1. Hul Diwas marks the beginning of Santhal Rebellion.

2. Santhal rebellion is also considered the first war for Indian independence by some historians.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

A. 1 only

B. 2 only

C. Both 1 and 2

D. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: (C)