Conquest of India
Early Resistance to British Rule
Nationalism in India
Indian Freedom Struggle Under Gandhiji
Social Reforms in British India
Partition of India
Other Important Topics

38. Frontier Tribal Uprisings- All you need to know

Tribal Uprisings

Who are the Frontier Tribes?

Frontier Tribes belong to the seven North-eastern frontier states of Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Assam, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura.

Brief into the Frontier Tribes

  • The North-Eastern frontier witnesses major tribal uprisings.
  • This region differed substantially from the rest of the tribal India in basic aspects.
  • The tribals in theses areas formed an overwhelming majority and thus were relatively economically and socially secure.
  • Their geo-political situation and historical background of living in vicinity to the international borders and in relative isolation, saved them from being completely integrated with the politico-economic system of Colonialism.
  • Thus they remained somewhat cut-off from the cultural patterns that were unfolding in the main land.
  • These characteristics affected the types of movements that occurred here.
  • In the first place, these movements somehow remained aloof from the freedom struggle. Their main demand was for political autonomy either within the Indian union or as a separate unit.
  • This was also because many of the tribes were living on the international frontier and shared ethnic and cultural affinities with tribesmen across the border.
  • Similarly, in contrast to central India, there was hardly any agrarian forest-based movement as here the tribals remained in possession of land and their surrounding forests.
  • These movements were by and large revolutionary or revivalist, rather than having sanskritising tendency of the tribal movements that occureed in the plains. also read:-Tribal revolts in India before Indian independence
  • This again was partly on account of their relative isolation from the Hindu society, and a strong Christian Missionary influence in their process of modernization.
  • The major frontier uprisings tended to be political and secular with a definite progressive course, unlike those of Chhotanagpur and other regions that were followed by long periods of dormancy or even extinction.

Notable aspects of Frontier Tribal Uprisings

  • Two aspects may be noted in these movements, which differentiated them from the anti-British movements of the plains.
  • First, the tribals in the frontier araes deeply resented British penetration. The penetration took place somewhat later here than in the plains. Examples of this being- First Anglo-Burmese War (1824-26), Annexation of the Jaintia hills in 1832, including the earlier 25 Khasi states.
  • Each of these events was followed by revolts.
  • Second, these movements under the traditional chiefs lasted longer and continued without much dormancy unlike the plains.

Major Frontier Tribal Uprisings

A. Khasi Uprising

  • As a result of the Burmese war, the British occupied the hilly region between Garo and Jaintia hills, with the intention of building a road linking the Brahmaputra valley with Sylhet and passing through the entire length of the Khasi domain.
  • A large number of Englishmen, Bengalis, and other labourers from the plains were brought to these areas for road construction.
  • This in turn led the Khasis to revolt.
  • The leadership was that of Tirut Singh, a Khasi Chief.
  • They were joined by the Garos.
  • This long and harassing warfare with Khasis continued for four years and was finally suppressed by superior military force in early 1833.

B. Ahom Revolt

  • The British had pledged to withdraw after the first Burma war (1824-26) from Assam but in contrast, they now attempted to incorporate the territories of Ahom’s in their own dominion after the war.
  • This sparked off a rebellion in 1828 under the leadership of Gomdhar Konwar.
  • Finally the company decided to follow a Conciliatory policy and handed over upper Assam to Maharaja Purandar Singh Narendra and parts of the kingdom was restored to the Assamese king.

C. Singhphos Rebellion

  • While the British were engaged in a harassing warfare with the Khasis, the Singhphos broke into an open rebellion in early 1830.
  • This was suppressed after 3 months.
  • But the Singhphos remained in a mood of sullen discontent and again rose in rebellion in 1839.
  • They killed a British political agent.
  • In 1843, the Singhphos Chief, Nirang Phidu attacked the British garrison and killed several soldiers.
  • In 1849, Khasma Singhphos attacked a British village in Assam and was captured in 1855.

Naga Movement (1905 – 1931), led by Rani Gaidiniliu. Sir Jawaharlal Nehru gave her the title of “Rani”.

Practice Questions-

  1. In Pre-independence years, the frontier tribal uprisings were different from the mainland tribal revolts in various aspects. Discuss.
  2. Write short notes on- Khasi Uprising and the Naga Movement.

Also read:-Quit India Movement.