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Santhal Hul of 1855

2nd July, 2024 History

Santhal Hul of 1855

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  • In the annals of Indian resistance against British colonial rule, the Santhal Hul of 1855 holds a significant place.
  • Originating in the Santhal Parganas of present-day Jharkhand, this revolt marked one of the earliest and most formidable uprisings by indigenous tribes against imperial oppression.

Overview of the Revolt

  • Leadership: Led by four brothers - Sidho, Kanho, Chand, and Bhairav Murmu, and two sisters - Phulo and Jhano.
  • Purpose: Resistance against British colonial oppression and upper caste dominance, collectively termed as 'diku'.

Genesis of the Uprising

  • Establishment of Santhal Pargana: In 1832, designated areas known as 'Santhal Pargana' or 'Damin-i-Koh' were allocated to displaced Santhal tribes from various regions.
  • Promises vs Reality: Santhals faced land-grabbing and bonded labor practices (kamioti and harwahi) instead of promised settlement and agricultural opportunities.

Course of the Revolt

  • Guerrilla Warfare: Initiated by the Murmu brothers under the guidance of Santhal God Thakur Bonga, engaging nearly 60,000 Santhals.
  • Duration and Impact: Lasted for about six months until January 1856, resulting in significant casualties among Santhals and destruction of villages.

Legacy and Impact

  • British Response: Brutal suppression leading to the execution of leaders like Sidho and Kanho, marking the end of the revolt.
  • Historical Impact: Despite its suppression, Santhal Hul catalyzed legislative reforms safeguarding Adivasi land rights.

Legislative Reforms Post-Hul

  • Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act (SPT Act) of 1876:
    • Prohibited transfer of Adivasi lands to non-Adivasis.
    • Ensured inheritance rights aligned with traditional self-governance practices.
  • Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act (CNT Act) of 1908:
    • Permitted land transfers within specified caste and geographical limits with administrative approval.
    • Safeguarded Adivasi and Dalit lands from unrestricted sale, reinforcing community-based land governance.


  • The Santhal Hul of 1855 remains a seminal event in Indian history, symbolizing Adivasi resistance against colonial and socio-economic exploitation.
  • Its enduring impact is reflected in legislative protections that continue to uphold Adivasi land rights in modern-day India.


Q. Discuss the significance of the Santhal Hul of 1855 in the context of Indian resistance movements against British colonialism. How did this uprising influence legislative reforms concerning Adivasi land rights in British India?