History of Jharkhand
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Humans have lived since the Stone Age in the area now occupied by the Indian state of Jharkhand. Copper tools from the Chalcolithic period have been discovered. This area entered the Iron Age during the mid-2nd millennium BCE. According to writers including Gautam Kumar Bera, there was already a distinct geo-political, cultural entity called Jharkhand even before the Magadha Empire. Bera's book (page 33) also refers to the Hindu epic Bhavishya Purana.
The region came under control of the Maurya Empire and much later (17th century) was later conquered by the Mughal emperors Jahangir and Aurangzeb. With the Mughal decline the region came under local rulers from the Chero caste and others, before its subjugation by the British East India Company in the late 18th century, succeeded by the British Raj from the mid-19th century, both encountering much local resistance. At this time the territory was covered by nine princely states. Under the Raj, up to 1905 the region fell within the Bengal Presidency, most of it then being transferred to the Central Provinces and Orissa Tributary States; then in 1936 the whole region was assigned to the Eastern States Agency.
Following Indian independence in 1947, the region was divided between the new states of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Bihar. In 2000 a campaign led by the BJP for a separate state culminated with the passage of the Bihar Reorganisation Act, creating Jharkhand as a new Indian state.
Stone tools and Microliths have discovered from Chota Nagpur Plateau region which are from Mesolithic and Neolithic period. There are ancient Cave Paintings in Isko, Hazaribagh district which are from Meso-chalcolithic period (9,000–5,000 BC). There is a group of megaliths found close to Barkagaon that is about 25 km from Hazaribagh at Punkri Barwadih, which has been proven to date back to beyond 3000 BCE.
Copper Hoards describe find-complexes which occur in the northern part of India. These occur mostly in hoards large and small and are believed to date to the later 2nd millennium BCE, although very few derive from controlled and dateable excavation contexts. Characteristic hoard finds from Chota Nagpur Plateau include finely worked pieces, and mostly look at first like axe-heads but are probably ingots. In Kabra-Kala mound at the confluence of Son and North Koel river in Palamu district various antiquities and art objects have found which are from Neolithic to Medivial period and the pot-sherds of Redware, black and red ware, black ware, black slipped ware and NBP ware are from Chalcolithic to late medivial period.
Iron age (c. 1800 – c. 200 BCE)
Barudih in the Singhbhum district of Jharkhand, yielded evidence of microliths, Neolithic celts, iron slags, wheel made pottery, and iron objects include a sickle. The earliest radio carbon dating give a range of 1401 – 837 BCE for this site.
Around c. 1200–1000 BCE, Vedic Aryans spread eastward to the fertile western Ganges Plain and adopted iron tools which allowed for clearing of forest and the adoption of a more settled, agricultural way of life. During this time, the central Ganges Plain was dominated by a related but non-Vedic Indo-Aryan culture. The end of the Vedic period witnessed the rise of cities and large states (called mahajanapadas) as well as śramaṇa movements (including Jainism and Buddhism) which challenged the Vedic orthodoxy. According to Bronkhorst, the sramana culture arose in "greater Magadha," which was Indo-European, but not Vedic. In this culture, Kshatriyas were placed higher than Brahmins, and it rejected Vedic authority and rituals. In those days the Jharkhand state was a part of Magadha and Anga. In Mauryan period, this region was ruled by a number of states, which were collectively known as the Atavika (forest) states. These states accepted the suzerainty of the Maurya Empire during Ashoka's reign (c. 232 BCE).
Classical to early medieval periods (c. 200 BCE – c. 1200 CE)
In 7th Century, Chainse traveler Xuanzang passed through the region. He described the kingdom as Karnasuvarna and Shashanka as it's ruler. To the north of the kingdom was Magadha, Champa was in East, Mahendra in the west and Orissa in the south. Region was also part of Pala Empire.
Early modern period (c. 1526 – 1858 CE)
In Akbarnama the region of Chota Nagpur is described as Jharkhand (Jangal Pradesh). During the Mughal period the Jharkhand region, then known by the name Khukhra, was famous for its diamonds. Akbar was informed of a rebel Afghan sardar, Junaid Kararani, was taking shelter in Chotanagpur. Besides, the emperor also received information on diamonds being found in this area. Consequently, Akbar ordered Shahbaz Khan Kamboh to attack Khukhra. At that time Raja Madhu Singh, the 42nd Nagvanshi king was ruling at Kokhra. Consequently, Kokhra was subdued by the armies of Akbar and a sum of rupees six thousand was fixed as its annual revenues payable to the Mughals. Till the reign of Akbar, Chota Nagpur had not come under the suzerainty of the Mughals and the Nagvanshi rulers had been ruling over this region as independent rulers.
By the advent of the reign of Jahangir, Nagvanshi Raja Durjan Sal had come to power in Chota Nagpur. He refused to pay the rent fixed by the Emperor Akbar. Jahangir ordered Ibrahim Khan (governor of Bihar) to attack Kokhra.
There was also another reason behind the invasion. This was the acquisition of the diamonds found in the bed of the Sankh River in the region. Thus to subdue the Raja of Chotanagpur and to acquire valuable diamonds, Jahangir decided to invade Chota Nagpur. On getting orders from the emperor, Ibrahim Khan marched against Kokhra in 1615 AD. The Nagvanshi Raja Durjan Sal found himself beleaguered himself within the hills and vales. He was arrested and all diamonds which were in the possession of Durjan Sal and his family were captured. Twenty four elephants also fell into the hands of Ibrahim Khan. After this, Kokhara was subdued and the diamonds found there were sent to the Imperial court. After his defeat and arrest, Durjan Sal offered as ransom jewels, gold and silver to the value of crores of rupees, but Ibrahim Khan did not release him and took him as a captive to Patna. From there he was sent to the Imperial court and subsequently imprisoned in the fort of Gwalior.
According to Nagvanshi traditions, Raja Durjan Sal’s confinement lasted twelve years. Ultimately, the very diamonds which had caused the misfortune of Durjan Sal secured him his release and former prosperity. Due to his ability to distinguish real diamonds, Jahangir released him and restored the prosperity taken from him in addition to his kingdom. The generous Durjan Sal further begged the Emperor to release the other Rajas who had been his companions in prison and his prayer was granted. Being pleased with Durjan Sal, Jahangir conferred the title of ‘Shah’ on the Kokhra ruler.
On his return to Chotanagpur, Durjan Sal assumed the title of Maharaja and changed his surname. He shifted his capital from Khukhragarh to Doisa also known as Navratangarh. The reign of Durjan Sal lasted for about thirteen years. He died in 1639 or 1640 AD. He was succeeded by Raghunath Shah. He constructed several temples. He was also a poet and written several poem in Nagpuri language.
In Palamu district, the old fort in the plains, was built by the King of Raksel Rajput Dynasty. However, it was during the reign of King Medini Ray (1658–1674), who ruled from 1658 to 1674 in Palamau, the old fort was rebuilt into a defensive structure. His rule extended to areas in South Gaya and Hazaribagh. He attacked Navratangarh (33 miles (53 km) and defeated the Nagvanshi Maharaja. With war bounty he constructed the lower fort close to Satbarwa.
Daud Khan, who launched his invasion starting from Patna on 3 April 1660, attacked south of Gaya district and finally arrived at the Palamu Forts on 9 December 1660. The terms of surrender and payment of tribute were not acceptable to the Cheros; Daud Khan wanted complete conversion of all Hindus under the Chero rule to Islam. Following this, Khan mounted a series of attacks on the forts. Cheros defended the forts but ultimately both forts were occupied by Daud Khan, and the Cheros fled to the jungles. Hindus were driven out, the temples were destroyed, and Islamic rule imposed.
Following the death of Medini Ray there was rivalry within the royal family of the Chero dynasty which ultimately led to its downfall; this was engineered by the ministers and advisers in the court. In 1765, the region came under the control of the British East India Company. Chitrajeet Rai's nephew Gopal Rai betrayed him and facilitated the Patna Council of the East India Company to attack the fort. When the new fort was attacked by Captain Camac on 28 January 1771, the Chero soldiers fought valiantly but had to retreat to the old fort on account of water shortage. This facilitated the British army to occupy the new fort located on a hill without any struggle. This location was strategic and enabled the British to mount cannon-supported attacks on the old fort. The Cheros fought valiantly with their own cannons but the old fort was besieged by the British on 19 March 1771. The fort was finally occupied by the British in 1772. Region under Kings of Chero dynasty, Nagvansh and Ramgarh became parts of British Raj.
The Princely states in Chota Nagpur Plateau, came within the sphere of influence of the Maratha Empire, but they became tributary states of East India Company as a result of the Anglo-Maratha Wars known as Chota Nagpur Tributary States. The subjugation and colonisation of Jharkhand region by the East India Company resulted in spontaneous resistance from the local people.
Revolts during company rule
- 1969-1905,Chuad revolt led by Raghunath Mahato in 1769.
- 1772–1780 Paharia revolt
- 1780–1785 Tilka Manjhi led the tribal revolt and managed to injure the Collector of bhagalpur Augustus Cleveland, who died in Cape Town later. In 1785, Tilka Manjhi was hanged to death in Bhagalpur.
- 1795–1800 Tamar revolt
- 1795–1800 Munda revolt under the leadership of Vishnu Manaki
- 1800–1802 Munda revolt under the stewardship of Dukhan Manaki of Tamar
- 1812 Bakhtar Sai and Mundal Singh rebelled against British East India company in Gumla.
- 1819–1820 Chero revolt in Palamu under the leadership of Bhukan Singh
- 1832–1833 Kharwar revolt under the leadership of Bhagirath, Dubai Gosai and Patel Singh
- 1831–1832 Kol revolt under the leadership of Buddhu Bhagat, Madara Bhagat and Joe Bhagat
- 1832–1833 Bhumij revolt under the leadership of Ganga Narain of Birbhum
- 1855 Santhals waged war against the permanent settlement of Lord Cornwallis
- 1855–1860 During the late 1850s Sidhu had accumulated about ten thousands Santhal to run a parallel government against British rule. The basic purpose was to collect taxes by making his own laws. British Government had announced an award of Rs. 10,000 to arrest Sidhu and his brother Kanhu
- 1856–1857 Martyr Sahid Lal, Thakur Vishwanath Shahdeo, Pandey Ganpat Rai, Tikait Umrao Singh, Sheikh Bhikhari, Nadir Ali, Jai Mangal Singh and Budhu Veer led a movement against the British Government during India’s First War of Independence, 1857, also called Sepoy Mutiny.
- Nilambar and Pitambar led revolt against East India company in 1857.
British Raj (c. 1858 – 1947)
After the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the rule of the British East India Company was transferred to the Crown in the person of Queen Victoria, who, in 1876, was proclaimed Empress of India. In 1874, Kherwar Movement shot into fame under the leadership of Bhagirathi Manjhi. The Cheros and Kharwars again rebelled against the British in 1882 but the attack was repulsed. Between 1895–1900, a movement against the British Raj was led by Birsa Munda (born 15 November 1875). Birsa Munda was captured by British forces and declared dead on 9 June 1900 in Ranchi Jail, due to Cholera, according to records of the British colonial government. All of these uprisings were quelled by the British through massive deployment of troops across the region.
In 1914 the Tana Bhagat resistance movement started, which gained the participation of more than 26,000 adivasis, and eventually merged with Mahatma Gandhi's Satyagraha and Civil Disobedience movement.
In October 1905, the exercise of British influence over the predominantly Hindi-speaking states of Chang Bhakar, Jashpur, Koriya, Surguja, and Udaipur was transferred from the Bengal government to that of the Central Provinces, while the two Oriya-speaking states of Gangpur and Bonai were attached to the Orissa Tributary States, leaving only Kharsawan and Saraikela answerable to the Bengal governor.
In 1936, all nine states were transferred to the Eastern States Agency, the officials of which came under the direct authority of the Governor-General of India, rather than under that of any Provinces.
In March 1940, INC 53rd Session was accomplished under the presidency of Maulana Abul Qalam Azad at Jhanda Chowk, Ramgarh now Ramgarh Cant. Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Sarojini Naidu, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Acharya J.B. Kripalani, Industrialist Jamnalal Bajaj and other leaders of Indian freedom movement attended the Ramgarh Session. Mahatma Gandhi also opened khadi and village Industries Exhibition at Ramgarh.
At that time, under the leadership of Netajee Subhas Chandra Bose conference against Samjhauta was also completed. In Ramgarh, Bose was seen as president of All India Forward Block and M.N. Roy was seen as leader of Radical democratic party.
After Indian independence in 1947, the rulers of the states all chose to accede to the Dominion of India. Changbhakar, Jashpur, Koriya, Surguja and Udaipur States later became part of Madhya Pradesh state, but Gangpur and Bonai became part of Orissa state, and Kharsawan and Saraikela part of Bihar state.
In 1912, the state of Jharkhand was first proposed by a student of St.Columba's College in Hazaribagh. Initially it was demand of tribals, Unnati Samaj, political wings of Christian tribals submitted memorandum to Simon Commission to constitute a tribal state in Eastern India. Prominent leader like Jaipal Singh Munda and Ram Narayan Singh demanded separate state. Jharkhand Party led by Jaipal Singh Munda submitted memorandum to States Reorganization Commission for Jharkhand state, but it was rejected due to there was many languages and no link language in the region, tribal were not in majority and adverse effects on economy after separation from Bihar. In 1972, Binod Bihari Mahato, Shibu Soren and A. K. Roy founded Jharkhand Mukti Morcha. Nirmal Mahto founded All Jharkhand Students Union. They spearheaded movement for separate state of Jharkhand. AJSU introduced elements of violence in the movement and called for bycott of election while JMM opposed it. Due to differences these party parted away from each other. There was a provision for limited internal autonomy in the hill area of Assam. Other tribal area were covered by the fifth schedule of the constitution. Chotanagpur and Santal Pargana development board constituted under the chairmanship of then Cheif minister of Bihar under the provinsion of fifth schedule in 1972. It failed to meet desire result. Jharkhand coordination committee (JCC) led by Ram Dayal Munda, Dr. B.P. Keshri, Binod Bihari Mahato, Santosh Rana and Suraj Singh Besra started fresh initiative in the matter. Dr. B.P Keshri sent memoradum to form Jharkhand state. Centre government formed a commeetee on Jharkhand matter in 1989. It stressed the need of greater allocation of the development funds for the area. Jharkhand Area Autonomous Council(JAAC) Bill passed in Bihar legislative assembly in December 1994. Jharkhand Area Autnomous Council(JAAC) have given charge of 40 subjects including Agriculture, rural health, public work, public health and minerals. The council has power to recommend for legislation to the Assembly through the state government and to frames bylaws and regulations.
After the last Assembly election in the state resulted in a hung assembly, RJD's dependence on the Congress extended support on the precondition that RJD would not pose a hurdle to the passage of the Bihar reorganisation Bill (Jharkhand Bill). Finally, with the support from both RJD and Congress, the ruling coalition at the Centre led by the BJP which had made statehood a policy plank in the region in several previous elections, cleared the Jharkhand Bill in the monsoon session of the Parliament in 2000, thus paving the way for the creation of a separate Jharkhand state.
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