Tilka Manjhi Martyrdom Day: Warrior who fought Hul rebellion at the age of 29
It is well known that he was born on 11 February 1750 in a village in Rajmahal in the native Santhal tribe. His father was Sunder Manjhi and mother was Somi. At the age of just 29, in 1779, he implemented the system of economic plunder of 10-year agricultural contract of the English East India Company, divide-rule policies, usury-money lending exploitation of tribals and farmers and the Pahadia and Santhal tribes.
By Prof. Vilakshan Buddh
By organizing the native farmers against the oppressive policies and actions of suppressing the rebellions and movements, he raised the trumpet of Hul rebellion. By him, a shawl was tied in a knot in the bark of a tree and sent to all the Santhal and Pahadia villages and an invitation was given to revolt. Under his leadership, unity was formed among the tribals and farmers and a period of struggles began. From 1779 AD to 1784 AD, Tilkamanjhi skillfully led the guerrilla war with the British army at various places from Rajmahal to Kharagpur-Munger.
Clebland was appointed the first collector of Bhagalpur in 1779 AD. The work of distributing money, grains and clothes was being done by them as part of their policy of creating division among the tribes. 1300 soldiers of Paharia tribe people were recruited in 1781 AD. The commander of that military force was a notorious Pahari robber named Jabara or Jowrah, who remained a loyal commander of the British throughout his life. These military forces were continuously fighting to crush and suppress the tribal and peasant rebellion of Tilkamanjhi. The British army was badly defeated in two battles near Titapani in 1782 and 1783.
After that defeat, there was again a fierce battle with Tilkamanjhi at the same place on 30 November 1783 with the British army under the leadership of Collector Augustus Cleveland. In this battle, Cleveland was badly injured by poisoned arrows and slingshot stones and was brought to Bhagalpur. He handed over his charge to his assistant collector Charles Cockerell and he returned to England for his medical treatment. But he died on the way on a sea ship on January 13, 1784.
After that C Capman was appointed the Collector of Bhagalpur, who created a reign of police terror in the entire area of Bhagalpur palace against Tilkamanjhi’s army and tribal society. Dozens of villages were set on fire, hundreds of innocent tribals were killed and the British army started searching for Tilkamanjhi like crazy. Tilkamanjhi left the palace area and came to Bhagalpur area and now started raiding and fighting. Tilka Manjhi was injured in the battle that took place on January 13, 1785 in the forest near Sultanganj and was captured and brought to Bhagalpur. Here, the so-called civilized English officers of law and justice tied a long rope to the horse’s legs, dragged it through the streets, hanged it half dead on the banyan tree located at Tilkamanjhi Chowk and gave it death sentence.
The British considered him a terrorist and a traitor, but the people of Bihar including Bhagalpur-Rajmahal area paid tribute to him considering him as their great leader, great revolutionary warrior and martyr. The place of martyrdom was named Tilkamanjhi Chowk in his honour, Tilkamanjhi Haat was named after him and the place from where he was captured was named Tilakpur village.
Almost 195 years later, his statue was installed at Tilka Manjhi Chowk in 1980 AD. Then after that Bhagalpur University became Tilkamanjhi University. After that, on April 14, 2002, his statue was installed in front of the administrative building of Tilka Manjhi University.
But it is quite sad that some historians of Bihar and India, not considering him as a historical man, refused to give him a place in the pages of history. Even in Bhagalpur, a historian named Teesmar Khan keeps creating controversy on this issue. Probably they do this due to lack of historical perspective. So, let us pay our heartfelt tribute and respect to our first freedom fighter and great hero Amar Shaheed Tilkamanjhi on the occasion of his martyrdom day.
Jai Tilka Manjhi. Jai Bheem. Victory to India.
Author Prof. Vilakshan is the patron of Buddhist Bahujan Students Union and Bihar Phule Ambedkar Yuva Manch and Social Justice Movement, Bihar.
Courtesy : Dalit Dastak
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