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History of Santal Hul (Santal Liberation Movement) 1855-57
150 years ago our ancestors led an armed struggle against the exploitation and oppression perpetuated by money-lenders (mahajon), land lords (jamindars), policemen (daroga) and the British Administration.
This movement was masterminded by the visionary Santal leaders - Sido Murmu and his three brothers Kanhu Murmu, Chand Murmu and Bhairo Murmu - all sons of Chunu Murmu of Bhognadih village in Santal Parganas, Jharkhand, (India).
These leaders after exhausting all the democratic avenues organized over 30,000 people in Bhognadih and declared - “Henceforth, we are independent, we have no Masters or Rulers, we will govern ourselves on our own”.
The Hul conflagrated on 7th July 1855 with the killing of cruel Maheshlal (Daroga) and unscrupulous Kenaram Bhagat (money-lender). Many Santals along with people from other Adivasi communities have shed their precious blood in this movement and consequently Santal Pargana was born out of this movement. And this Hul (movement) taking place just before the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 has been acknowledged by many historians and scholars as the first Freedom Movement/struggle of India, known popularly as the famous SANTAL HUL 1855-57.
Has the Hul fulfilled its objective?
The famous Santal Hul led to the formation of Santal Pargana, but the vision of self-governance still remains a distant dream. The present day realities have forced our people to migrate in search of livelihood, where they inevitably perish. Land alienation and socio-cultural domination is leading them towards total annihilation as a community; undoubtably therefore, the vision of our leaders remain unfulfilled. 150 years have gone by since the Hul took place but its goal remains unaccomplished.
A number of programmes and activities are envisaged during Santal Hul 150 celebration. However all cannot be achieved/accomplished in one year. Hence we need to identify strategic issues and focus upon them to fulfill the dreams of our ancestors. The following are the three focal issues:

Main Focus/objectives of Santal Hul 150

1.  Standardise and disseminate the names of the leaders of Santal Hul and their portraits and statues.
     It is very unfortunate that Santal Hul and its leaders are known by various distorted names, such as Sidha-Kanhu, Sidu-Kanu, Siddhu-Kanhoo, Sidho-Kanho Hul etc. These names do not reflect their true identity and if it continues the Santal leaders would one day be misinterpreted as belonging to some other community. This is one reason why Santal Hul has not been given its due recognition till now. Secondly, the name ‘Sido-Kanhu’ does not reflect any ethnic identity either. Thus Sido Murmu should be recognised as the Suba Thakur (God) of Santal Hul and that his standardised statues (face & figure) should be established everywhere including in the Parliament and State Assembly premises. The Governments (Central and State) should make adequate efforts to disseminate the visions and objectives of Santal Hul.
2.  Land and Language Hul (Hasa ar Bhasa Hul) :
     Land is sacred to the Adivasis as they have a spiritual relationship with the same; it is indispensible for the life and livelihood of the Adivasis. Similarly, a language is a vital instrument for empowerment of a community. It upholds the socio-cultural identity of a community. Hence a community without land and language is destined to be extinct one day. Santals/Adivasis are being continuously dispossessed from their land, forests and other natural resources. Hence a Hul against dispossession from our land and natural resources is the need of the hour. Decades of struggle by Santals/Adivasi have brought Santali language within the 8th Schedule of the Constitution of India on the 22nd of December 2003. However, till today Santali language has not received its due respect as is given to other languages (like Bengali, Oriya, Assamese etc.) in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution. Hence Santali language should be recognised as the Official State language ‘Raj Bhasa’ of Jharkhand. Santali should be medium of instruction in all Santal dominated areas of Jharkhand, West Bengal, Orissa and Assam; and it should be taught in Schools and Colleges as a language subject. Governments (Central and State) should promote the language to be used for Radio & T. V. broadcasts, Newspapers, Magazines production and dissemination and its use in legal procedures in courts. Govts should also facilitate the formation of Santali academies for literary and cultural development and also institute Award and Rewards for outstanding Santal writers, scholars, dramatists’ etc.
3.  Hul for Self-Governance (Strengthen Manjhi-Pargana System)
Manjhi Pargana System - the traditional institutions of self-governance has to be empowered socio-politically and economically to fulfill the main objectives of Santal Hul i.e. empowerment of self-governance. Our community leaders should get their Rights, so that they are able to effectively govern themselves.

Ways & methods to fulfill the objective of Santal Hul


To fulfill the above mentioned three objectives following steps may be taken

i)    Social & Educational Action
ii)   Political & Parliamentary Action
iii)  Mass & Agitational Action
i)   Social & Educational Action: Initiate   actions to bring about solidarity among all the NGOs, Movement Groups and Peoples Organisations/Institutions. The NGOs (socio-cultural and educational), Educational Institutions and Peoples Organisations would have to be involved in sensitising and educating the general public on the objectives of the Santal Hul, the need and justifiability of asserting/achieving the objectives to fulfill the dreams of our leaders.
ii)  Political and Parliamentary Action: The leaders of different political parties should be sensitised about the objective of Santal Hul and include Santal Hul 150 action plans in their party agenda/manifesto. Efforts should also be made by the political leaders to raise this issue in State Assemblies, Parliament and also in various other political platforms.
iii) Mass and Agitational Action: Mass action of various types (Mahasabhas, conferences, seminars) should be initiated to make people aware about the objectives of Santal Hul. Further agitational actions like dharnas, rally/processions would have to be organized to sensitise/educate the media, Govt. bureaucrats, judiciary and the politicians about the present day realities of the Santals/Adivasis and the need to empower their self-governance/Rule systems-socio-culturally economically and politically.


(an International Forum marking the Santal Hul 150 worldwide)
Santal Hul 150 is visualised to be an International Network to observe/celebrate the 150th anniversary of Santal Hul 1855. SH150 network would comprise of all the Santals/Adivasi Organisations (NGOs), Peoples Organisations (Manjhi-Pargana System), Movement Groups etc. and would accomplish programmes/activities either independently or in collaboration with other organisations in the network. All the organisations in the network will continue to have their total autonomy and identity. SH150 network will bring about solidarity among all Santal/Adivasi Organisations to achieve the common desired objectives of the Hul Appropriate co-ordination committees of Santal Hul 150 are proposed to be formed at district, State, National and International level. All the co-ordination committees would be open ended to accommodate deserving participations at all level.

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