Adivasi Movements / Tribal Revolts in India

The tribals of India, 1ike.other social groups, participated in the anti-colonial movement. The tribal anti-colonial movements were of two types - .first, the movements against their oppressors i.e. landlords, money-lenders, traders, thekedars (contractors), government officials and Christian missionaries and second, the movements which were linked to and merged with the Indian , National movement. The first type of movements can be termed as anti-colonial because these movements were directed against those classes which were the
creation of British colonialism and who collaborated with the tribals. These classes were considered outsiders by the tribals. According to an estimate there were more than 70 tribal revolts over a period of 70 years (1778 to 1948). These revolts were anti-colonial in varying degrees. The main anti-colonial tribal movements and revolts were: The tribal revolts in Chotanagpur region - Tamar revolt (1789-1832), Kherwar movement of Santhals (1833), Santhal revolt of 1855, Bokta risings, Sardari Larai or Mukti Larai movemeint of 1858-95, Birsa
Munda’s movement (1895-1901), Devi movement in Gujarat (1922-23), Tribal movement in Midnapur (1918-1924), Jitu Santhal’s movement in Malda (1924-32), Tribals and National Movement in Orissa (1921-.36) and Tribal movements in Assam in the late nineteenth century.

During the period of British rule, India saw the rebellions of several backward castes, mainly tribal peoples that revolted against British rule. These were:

Tamar Revolts (1789-1832)
The Kherwar Movement of the Santhals (1833)
Santhal Revolt of 1855
Bokta Rising, Sardari Larai or Mukti Larai Movement of 1858-95
Birsa Munda Revolt (1895-1901)
Devi Movement in Gujarat (1922-23)
Tribal Movement in Midnapur (1918-1924)
Jitu Santhal’s Movement in Malda (1924-32)
Tribals and National Movement in Orissa (1921-36)
Tribal Movement in Assam (the then Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya and ‘Mizoram)


The Kukis are indigenous people of Zale’n-gam, meaning ‘Land of Freedom’. Zale’n-gam is a terminology used to refer to the contiguous ancestral land situated in present-day Northeast India, Northwest Burma and the Chittagong hill tracts in Bangladesh. Broadly defined, in India, this includes areas in Assam, Tripura, Nagaland and Manipur; in Burma predominantly the Sagaing Division and in Bangladesh the Chittagong hill tracts. Prior to the advent of the British colonialists, the Kukis were an independent people in their undivided domain, each of the clans governed by the Chief according to its own law, custom and tradition.


(Read more on this at
Territory of the Kukis  Published on June 27, 2011, By George T. Haokip

The Encyclopaedia Britannica records ‘Kuki’ as a name given to a group of tribes inhabiting both sides of the mountains dividing Assam and Bengal from Burma, south of Namtaleik River (Britannica 1962). G.A. Grierson provides a general idea of the wingspan of the Kuki territory and the composition of its people. An excerpt of the general introduction of the chapter on ‘Kuki-Chin- Group’ in The Linguistic Survey of India, Volume III, Part-III, is reproduced as follows:

“Territory inhabited by the Kuki-Chin tribes extends from the Naga Hills in the North down into the Sandoway District of Burma in the South; from the Myattha River in the East, almost to the Bay of Bengal in the West. It is almost entirely filled up by hills and mountain ridges, separated by deep valleys. (Courtesy: Kuki Forum)

Read more on this at

Further Readings:


Guardians of the North East: The Assam Rifles, 1835-2002 (2003, 11), First published in India by Directorate General Assam Rifles, Laitumkhrah, Shillong, 11 in association with Lancer Publishers & Distributors, New Delhi[Expeditions]’ include ‘Kuki operations of 1880-1882 and 1917-1919’

JOURNAL ARTICLE: Kuki Disturbances in Tripura, 1860-61Nalini Ranjan Roychowdhury. Social Scientist
Vol. 4, No. 9 (Apr., 1976), pp. 60-65. Published by: Social Scientist. 
DOI: 10.2307/3516179 Stable URL: 

Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. Vol. 71 (2010-2011), pp. 642-647. Published by: Indian History Congress. Stable URL:


Kuki People:

Kuki People:

Kuki Forum:



HALBA REBELLION (1774 – 1779)

The Halba rebellion is considered as an important trial rebellion in the history of the present day state of Chhattisgarh in India. The event of Halba rebellion took place in the area of the Bastar District in Chhattisgarh. It created everlasting alteration in the Bastar District.

After the decline of the Chalukyas, the situations were such that both the Marathas and the British came one after the other, to the place in order to rule. The Halba rebellion started against them in the year seventeen hundred and seventy-four. The then governor of Dongar, Ajmer Singh, was the initiator of the revolt of Halba. The revolution of Halba was started with the desire of forming a new and independent state in Dongar.

The Halba tribe, as well as the soldiers, stood beside Ajmer Singh. The main reason behind the revolt was lack of money and food in the hands of the common people. A long drought had affected the people especially those who had very little cultivable land in their hands. Added to this severe problem, there were the pressure and fear caused by the Maratha and the British on the commoners, which eventually resulted in the uprising.

The British armies and the Marathas suppressed them and in a massacre, many of the Halba tribal people were killed. Subsequently, the army of Halba was also defeated. However, the situation was such after the defeat of the Halba army that the history of the district of Bastar changed forever.


Further Readings:

Halba Tribe.

“The Forest is Ours” — Assert the indigenous Adivasi inhabitants of Dandakaranya and the vast hinterland of India.

The history of Chhattisgarh.



The Chakmas, also known as the Changma, Daingnet people, are an ethnic group scattered in Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya and West Bengal of India and in Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. Today, the geographic distribution of Chakmas is spread across Bangladesh and parts of northeastern India, western Burma, and diaspora communities in Yunnan Province, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, South Korea, Japan and Australia.

Within the Chittagong Hill Tracts, the Chakmas are the largest ethnic group and make up half of the region’s population. The Chakmas are divided into 46 clans or Gozas. They have their own language, customs and culture, and profess Theravada Buddhism. The community is headed by the Chakma Raja. Read more on this. Ref:

Read more on this at: The Chakma People:,_The

Further Readings:

Willem van Schendel (ed), Francis Buchanan in South-east Bengal (1798): His Journey to Chittagong, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Noakhali and Comilla; Meshbah Kamal et alCultural Survey of Bangladesh Series-5, Indigenous Communities, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh 2007; Sirajul Islam (ed), History of Bangladesh, vol. 1 (2007), chapter Five

Bhuiyan, Muhammad Masudur Rahman (2012). “Noakhali Sadar Upazila”. In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh

Ishtiaq Ahmed (1998). State, Nation and Ethnicity in Contemporary South Asia. A&C Black. pp. 232–. ISBN978-1-85567-578-0.

Chandrika Basu Majumdar (2003). Genesis Of Chakma Movement In Chittagong Hill Tracts. Progressive Publishers. p. 38. ISBN978-81-8064-052-0.



Towards the end of the 18th century certain portions of the district around Raipur was affected by the Chuar rebellion. The leader of the rebels was Durjan Singha, a former zamindar of Raipur. He had a following of about 1,500 men and created havoc in certain areas. The police force was simply not in a position to control the situation. At the time Bankura appears to have been part of Jungle Mahals. While the Chuars continued to be a menace, Bankura played an important role in the commercial department of East India Company. Sonamukhi had a head factory with 31 subordinate ones, including one at Patrasayar, as well as at Surul and Ilambazarin Birbhum. The disturbances of the Chuars in 1832 in the western part of the district lead to the disbandment of the Jungle Mahals in 1833. While Bishnupur was transferred to Burdwan, most of the district formed a part of Manbhum and what was known as North-west Frontier Agency. In 1872, the parganas of Sonamukhi, Indas, Kotulpur, Shergarh and Senpahari were transferred to Burdwan.

Read more on this at:

History of Bankura District:

Chuar Rebellion:

Further Readings:

Binod Shankar Das. Changing Profile of the Frontier Bengal, 1751-1833. Mittal Publications. Delhi. 1984



The history of Chhattisgarh , which was called as South Kosala goes back to the 4th century AD. The mythological history of the state can be traced back to the days of Mahabarata and the Ramayana. The Haihaya dynasty ruled Chhattisgarh for six centuries during the 14th century. During the middle ages, Chalukya dynasty established its rule in Bastar. Annmdev was the first Chalukya ruler, who founded the dynasty in Bastar in 1320.

In 1741, the kingdom was seized by the Marathas from the Haihaya dynasty. After conquering bthe kingdom during 1745 AD, Raghunathsinghji, the last descendant of the Ratanpur house was forced to leave the area. So finally in the year 1758, Chhattisgarh was conquered by Marathas and Bimbaji Bhonsle was appointed as the ruler. After the demise of Bimbaji Bhonsle, suba system was followed by the Marathas. It was an era of unrest and misrule. Maratha army was involved in large-scale loot and ransack. The Maratha officials compromised the interests of the region to the British. The atrocities of the Maratha rule were opposed by the Gonds. The kingdom was attacked by the Pindaris during the early Nineteenth Century.

In the year 1818, Chhattisgarh came under the British rule. After Nagpur was included under the rule of the British government in 1854, Chhattisgarh was created into a deputy commissionership. Its headquarters were located at Raipur. The British government brought about certain reforms in the administrative and revenue systems.

The tribals of Bastar strongly stood firmly against the British, which resulted in the Halba rebellion, which continued for about five years from 1774-1779. Vir Narain Singh’s name is written in golden words in the history of Chhattisgarh, as he was the first martyr from this region in the struggle of independence.

During the ancient period, Chhattisgarh was called Dakshin Kosala. We can get an evidence of it in the inscriptions and literary works of the early writers. During the Mughal reign, the region was called Ratanpur territory and not Chhattisgarh. The word Chhattisgarh gained popularity during the rule of the Marathas. It was used for the first time in 1795, in an official document.



First Freedom Struggle

Bastar was actively involved in the First Freedom Struggle of India in the year 1857. It was the year of the glorious revolution of Sepoy Mutiny, a big blow to the oppressive rule of British. This freedom movement in Bastar was one of the First War of Independence of the country. Bastar was an integral part of one of the earliest movements of independence. The southern part of Bastar acted as the pivotal point of the First Freedom Movement. Dhruvarao headed the movement and a battle was fought against the oppressive Rule of British. Dhruvarao belonged to one of the many Maria tribes that are found in the region in and around Bastar. The tribe in which Dhruvarao belonged to is known as Dorlaon. All his tribesmen and even people from other tribes supported him in this freedom. It was one of the main centres of the revolt and history will forever remember the name of Bastar for its contribution to the First Struggle for Freedom.

Rebellions in Chhattisgarh


Some of the important Chhattisgarh Rebellions are: –

Halba rebellion – started in 1774 and continued till 1779
Bhopalpatnam Struggle of 1795
Paralkot rebellion of 1825
Tarapur rebellion – started in 1842 continued till 1854
Maria rebellion – started in 1842 continued till 1863
First Freedom Struggle – started in 1856 continued till 1857
Koi revolt of 1859
Muria rebellion of 1876
Rani rebellion – started in 1878 continued till 1882
Bhumkal of 1910


Further Reading:

Russell, R. V., The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India, London, 1916.
Tribal Heritage of India, by Shyama Charan Dube, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Indian Council of Social Science Research, Anthropological Survey of India. Published by Vikas Pub. House, 1977. I
Tribal Movements in India, by Kumar Suresh Singh. Published by Manohar, 1982.
Tribal Society in India: An Anthropo-historical Perspective, by Kumar Suresh Singh. Published by Manohar, 1985.


The Paik Rebellion, also called the Paika Bidroha, was an armed rebellion against the British East India Company’s rule in Odisha in 1817. The Paikas rose in rebellion under their leader Bakshi Jagabandhu and, projecting Jagannath as the symbol of Odia unity, the rebellion quickly spread across most of Odisha before being ruthlessly put down by the company’s forces.  The Paika Revolt was an armed revolt of the traditional Paika militia in the state of Khurda in Odisha in the year 1817. It began in the month of March and sporadically and intermittently continued for nearly a year. The revolt had been led by Jagabandhu Bidyadhar Mahapatra, who was traditionally a Buxi, military commander, under the king of Khurda. It had nearly swept away the British in Khurda, Pipili, Banapur and Puri for months before being crushed by the forces of the East India Company. Read more on this at:


  • Khurda Rebellion in Odisha (1817)[48]
  • Bhil rebellion (1822–1857)[49]
  • Ho-Munda Revolt(1816-1837)[50]
  • Paralkot rebellion (1825)
  • Khond rebellion (1836)
  • Tarapur rebellion (1842–54)
  • Maria rebellion (1842–63)
  • First Freedom Struggle By Sidu Murmu and Kanu Murmu (1856–57)
  • Bhil rebellion, begun by Tantya Tope in Banswara (1858)[51]
  • Koi revolt (1859)
  • Gond rebellion, begun by Ramji Gond in Adilabad (1860)[52]
  • Muria rebellion (1876)
  • Rani rebellion (1878–82)
  • Bhumkal (1910)
  • The Kuki Uprising (1917–1919) in Manipur
  • Rampa Rebellion of 1879, Vizagapatnam (now Visakhapatnam district)
  • Rampa Rebellion (1922–1924), Visakhapatnam district
  • Santhal Revolt (1885–1886)
  • Munda rebellion
  • Yadav rebellion

18th century

  • 1766-72 Chuar revolt under the leadership of Raja Jagannath.
  • 1774-79: Halba rebellion in Dongar (By Halba tribes in Bastar Chhattisgarh) against British armies and the Marathas.
  • 1778: revolt of the Pahariya Sardars of Chota Nagpur against the British Government.
  • 1784-1785: Uprising of the Koli Mahadev tribes in Maharashtra.
  • 1789: revolt of the Tamar of Chota Nagpur against British.
  • 1794-1795: the Tamars revolted again.
  • 1798: The revolt of the tribals against the sale of Panchet estate.


  • 1812 Kurichya Rebellion organised by the tribal people Kurichyas against the Wayanad invasion of British in 1812.
  • 1850 The Kond tribe revolted in Orissa under leadership of chief Bisoi.
  • 1855 The ‘Great Rebellion’by the Santal community against the British in Eastern India led by Sido and Kanho, claiming to have supernatural powers.
  • 1857-1858 The Bhil revolted against under the leadership of Bhagoji Naik and Kajar Singh.
  • 1860 The Lushai tribal people raided the then British Tripura and killed 186 British subjects.
  • 1860-1862 The Synteng tribal Jaintia Hills in North-East India.
  • 1861 The Juang tribal community revolted in Orissa.
  • 1862 The Koya tribal community revolted in Andhra against tribal landlords called ‘Muttader’ in tribal dialect.
  • 1869-1870 The Santal people revolted at Dhanbad in Eastern India against a local monarch.The British mediated to settle dispute.
  • 1879 The Naga tribal people revolted in North-Eastern India.
  • 1880 The Koya revolted again at Malkangiri in Orissa under leadership of Tammandora.
  • 1883 The Sentinelese tribal people of Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Indian Ocean attacked the British.
  • 1889 The mass agitation by the Munda against the British in Eastern India.
  • 1891 The tribals of North-East India revolted against the British under leadership of Tikendraji Singh.
  • 1892 The Lushei people revolted against the British repeatedly.
  • 1895 The famous revolt by the Munda tribal community under leadership of Birsa Munda.Later, Birsa was arrested.

20th century

  • 1911 The uprising of the tribal people of Bastar.
  • 1913-1914 Tana Bhagat movement in Bihar
  • 1913 samp sabha by guru govind & 1507 bhil people against British at mangadh hill
  • 1917-1919 Kuki Uprising in Manipur against British colonialism under the leadership of their chieftains called haosa
  • 1920-1921 Tana Bhagat movement happened again.
  • 1922 The Koya tribal community revolted at Rampa against the British under leadership of Alluri Sitarama Raju
  • 1932 The Nagas revolted under leadership of 14-year old Rani Guidallo in North-Eastern India.
  • 1941 The Gond and the Kolam revolted in collaboration against British Government in the Adilabad district of the state of Telangana.
  • 1942 Tribal revolt under leadership of Lakshmana Naik at Koraput in Orissa.
  • 1942-1945 The tribes of Andaman and Nicobar islands revolted against occupation of their islands by Japanese troops during world war.

The bedi pratha of the people of Rajasthan was removed by Shri Karunashankar Prahaladji Raval He made bombs against the Britishers and feared none, he was a great freedom fighter

Cultural Movements
Dalit Movements
Namantar Andolan is revolutionary Dalit movement continued for 16 years to rename Marathwada University to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University. In 1977, Chief Minister (cm) on Maharashtra, Mr Vasantdada Patil promised to Dalit Panther leaders to rename after Dr B R Ambedkaer’s name. In fulfillment of this promise, both houses of Maharashtra Legislature passed a resolution to this effect in July 1978. And attacks continued on Dalits by Non Dalits by fortnight. As a result of violence Dalits did not reacted for shorter tenure. Then Chief Minister Mr Sharad Pawar kept on postponing the matter. As a result, Long March was planned by Dalit leaders on December 6, 2021 led by Jogendra Kawade. Thousands of participants and prominent leaders were arrested. After 16 years of protest, government finally renamed the Marathwada University to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University on 14 January 1994. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University is expansion of name (Namvistar) rather than complete change of name (Namanatar).During Namantar Andolan Aurangabad district and its villages faced cultural animosities which brought civil rights revolution in Marathwada region.
Indigenous Identity Movements
Environment Movements
Anti-Displacement Movements
Political Movements
 Citizen Movements in India
India has seen some of the most powerful people’s movements which led to some of the landmark decisions and brought the entire nation together.

While events like the Sepoy mutiny played an important role in Indian history, they were led by a small group of people in the British army. Here is a list of 9 most powerful and talked about movements in Indian history which were led by citizens –