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THE NAGBANSI VERSION. The following particulars were told me by an old and well informed Thakur, who is a prominent member of the family of the Nag bansi Maharaja of Chota-Nagpur.
His version can be verified from the official version and gives some interesting details, which are not found in the official account.
In Sambat 1888 the Mundas of Kuchang rebelled. The raiyats of Parganas Siri and Udaipur joined them. By and bye the Kols
Kols (Oraons and Mundas) of Lobardaga and Pithauria also made common cause with the above men and assaulted all those who were of different nationality. The latter (Kumhars, Bhuinyas,
1 etc.,) with the exception of a few took, out of fear, the side of the Kols. The fighting took place in Paus 1888 Sambat. Two of the Lals of Sirgi were killed. Konwar Srinath Sah of Palkot was so much frightened that he sent for Lal Deonath Sah. Both
. Konwar Srinath Sah and Lal Deonath Sah went to Patna and informed Colonel Russel of what had taken place. Colonel Russel came to Deo (near Sherghati) and asked Raja Matar Bhan Sing Deo for help. The Raja accompanied the Colonel with 300 soldiers, i.e., Colonel Russel, too, had his own soldiers and guns and arrived at Pithauria. At Pithauria he fought an engagement with the rebellious Kols. Many Kols, who fought with arrows, were killed. Colonel Russel encamped at the Hatia gardens, where he constructed his quarters (bungalow). The sawars (troops) used to kill the Kols whenever they saw them. The Colonel ordered to kill all black heads
Deo Nath Sah said that if all were killed the country would be desolated. Colonel Russel replied how then there could be made any difference between the guilty and not guilty Deo Nath Sah advertised that those who wanted to save themselves must come to him. Many Kols went to Lal Deo Nath Sah, who advised them to wrap red cloths on their heads. Those who had red pagris were not killed, and those who had not were killed. The Raja of Deo went home after peace was restored.
Again in Chait- Bysakh, the Kols of Sirgi and Gijo rebelled. Lal Jit Nath of Gijo and Lal Kapil Nath Sah of Sirgi (whose two brothers were killed) informed of this rising to Colonel Russel who went to Sirgi. Colonel Russel and the Lal Zemindars, by order of the Colonel, killed many Kols. Order was soon restored and Colonel Russel came back to Hatia. Colonel Russel left in Sambat 1889.
In the very same year (1889 Sambat) the Kols assembled at Kuchang and upon Dumuri Pahar. On this Kuwar Harinath Sah of Gobindpur, Pargana Sonpur, sent Babu Gandharb Sah to Sherghati and informed Colonel Wilkinson. Colonel Wilkinson accompanied by 200 European troops arrived at Kuchang. The Kols were assembled upon Dumuri Pahar which is situated in village Jikilata. Gandharb Sah too with the Mankis and troops went to help the authorities on behalf of the Kuwar of Gobindpur. As soon as the white soldiers went to the vale, the Kols commenced to throw arrows from over the hillock. All the white soldiers were killed.
Colonel Wilkinson and Babu Gandharb Sah Aed stealthily. The Kols took possession of the dead soldiers' bugles and tanbura (tambour) and began to beat them. Gandharb Sah brought Colonel Wilkinson to Gobindpur. He advised Colonel Wilkinson to conciliate the Mankis, who were apparently on his side, but inwardly on the side of the Kols. The Mankis were sent for, received with honour, and head-dresses were wrapped on their heads. The Mankis requested that they should be permitted to distil liquor free of license Colonel Wilkinson gave the necessary permission and granted sanads. After that the Colonel was going away, but at the request of the Thakur, Lals and others, he fixed his head-quarters at Ranchi and his troops were stationed at Duranda cantonment. The Kuwar and Lals made over the power of police to the English in 1889 Sambat.
3. OFFICIAL VERSION. Chota Nagpur was ceded to the British in 1765 In 1772 the Maharaja exchanged turbans with the Company's representative, Captain Camac, and duly acknowledged himself as a vassal of that power. Up till 1816 or 1817 the British did not interfere with the native administration. In that year the estate was placed under the Magistrate of Ramgarh, who held court at Sherghati and Chatra. Natives of Behar being considered foreigners, were appointed police officers of the country and occasionally the Nazir of the Magistrate was deputed with extraordinary powers to inspect and
report on the administration. The changes in Government were not quite to the taste of the people. British rule made peculiarly distasteful to the aboriginal races by the fact that all the native subordinates were from Behar and Bengal. Neglected by their new masters, oppressed by aliens, and deprived of their former means of redress, the Kols rose in a serious revolt in 1813. The Nagbansi Raja of Chota Nagpur and the Darogas appointed by the
Company's Government could not redress their grievances. The aliens-Hindus and Mahomedans-had obtained from the sub-proprietors farms of Kol villages over the heads of Kol headmen. The distant British Law Courts were not the proper tribunals that could mete out justice to those simple aborigines. They often found that they had not only no rights in the lands but were considered to be turbulent rebels besides. From 1812 to 1831 the Kols revolted constantly and sometimes with success.
A brother of the Maharaja who was the holder of maintenance grant of Pargana Sonpur, settled certain villages over the heads of Mankis and Mundas with aliens. Complaints against Hindu and Mahomedan farmers of their oppression were frequent and loud. The honour of their females was not always respected. These aggrieved people at last assembled on the sith December 1831 at Lanka, a village in Tamar. They addressed thus :- The Pathans and Sikhs have dishonoured us, the Kuwar Harnath Sah of Gobindpur has forcibly deprived us of our villages. Our lives are no longer of value. We are all brethren, let us act together.” They raided villages, carried off cattle, plundered and burnt villages and wounded, killed and burnt some of their victims. The Nazir of Sherghati was sent to pacify the Mundas, but they heeded him not. By the middle of January 1832 the Mundas and Oraons had all entered with zeal into the spirit of insurrection. The country was all prepared for such an event.
There were no troops, the police stations were generally abandoned and even the hereditary zemindars, connections of the Nagbansi Raja, sought safety in flight. In every pargana the villages of the Sads were destroyed, and those who fell into their hands were murdered. The Rajas of Rahe, Tamar and Barwe narrowly escaped with their lives when those places were sacked and destroyed. The Kols from Singhbum came to the aid of the insurgents. The Mundas were most numerous in the Doisa and Korambe parganas.
After long delay troops to put down the insurrection were collected. Captain Wilkinson reached Pithauria in January, when the work of the insurrection was in its full blaze. He was without sufficient force to penetrate far into the disturbed districts but he compelled the villagers near Pithauria 10 submit. This was not done without fighting; and indeed the insurgents on more than one occasion threatened his position, advancing against it with a force estimated at about 3,000 fighting men, but they were repulsed. An expedition was sent against Nagri insurgents with the order to attack, slay and destroy, and to such orders energetically carried out, the insurgents succumbed. Still songs are sung that remind the young how their fathers went out in 1832. But the Oraons of the west and the Mundas of the centre and south showed no inclination to lay down arms. The insurrection now spread into Palamau. It grew serious. A squadron of cavalry while making its way to Palamau found its way so hotly opposed in one of the hill passes, that the officer in command deemed it necessary to make a retrograde movement and a wait re-inforcements. Not till the middle of February were the troops in a position to operate.
Of three columns that were formed, all but one was successful. The right and centre columns met with little opposition, but the left column, when they reached Sonpur, found that the Kols had abandoned their villages, and with their flocks and herds and families had taken refuge in the hills. In attempting to dislodge them, the troops, specially a detachment