Maharashtra State BoardHSC Arts 12th Board Exam
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Struggles before 1857

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Struggles before 1857:

In 1818, the British East India Company took complete charge of Khandesh. The Bhils in the region of Satpuda, Satmala, and Ajintha united against the British. Trimbakji Dengale, an advisor of Bajirao Peshwa II, was imprisoned by the British. He somehow managed to escape from the prison. Under the leadership of Godaji and Mahipa, nephews of Trimbakaji Dengale, the Bhils revolted against the British. There were 8000 of them who participated in the revolt.

Bhils or Bheels are an ethnic group in West India. They speak the Bhil languages. As of 2013, Bhils were the largest tribal group in India. Bhils are listed as indigenous people of the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan - all in the western Deccan regions and central India - as well as in Tripura in far-eastern India, on the border with Bangladesh. Bhils are divided into a number of endogamous territorial divisions, which in turn have a number of clans and lineages. Most Bhils now speak the language of the region they reside in, such as Marathi, Gujarati, or a Hindustani dialect.

Captain Briggs blocked all the supplies coming to the Bhils. At the same time Mount Stuart Elphinston, a British officer adopted a policy of pacifying the Bhils. They were recruited to protect travellers. He offered them jobs and pensions. However, the policy of cornering the Bhils was also continued. Major Morin left no alternative for the Bhils but to surrender. Around 1822, the revolt under the leadership of Hariya Bhil was crushed by Captain Robinson. Another revolt of the Bhils, in which thousands of Bhils participated, was crushed by Lieutenant Outram. However, he also stayed among the Bhils and won their confidence. He tried to bring them in the mainstream of urban life. He adopted measures like a declaration of amnesty, land grants, agricultural loans (tagai), reprieve from the past crimes, and recruitment in the army to weaken the opposition from Bhils.

Tantia was a member of the Bhil tribe, of the indigenous Adivasi community, and born in Nimad, Madhya Pradesh around 1840. Per one modern account, he embarked on his career after the harsh measures taken by the British following the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Tantia was first arrested around 1874 for "bad livelihood" and after a year's sentence turned to more serious crimes of theft and kidnapping. He was arrested for the second time in 1878 by Haji Nasrullah Khan Yousufzai and jailed in Khandwa, escaping after only three days, and from there took up his career as a dacoit. Tantia was lured to a parley by an officer of the Indore army who promised him a pardon but was ambushed and taken to Jubbulpore where he was tried and hanged on 4 December 1889.

Hansaji Naik ruled the region of Nanded. He refused to merge his territory in Nizam’s dominion. On the contrary, he conquered some forts of the Nizam. War was inevitable. Major Pitman, Captain Evans, Captain Taylor with a regiment of 400 soldiers joined Nizam for his protection. The war continued for 25 days. In the end, Hansaji was defeated.

In Satara District, the Ramoshi community revolted under the leadership of Chitursingh. Santaji Naik and Umaji Naik were among the captains heading the Ramoshi groups. They seized the consignment of some moneylenders that was in transit from Pune to Mumbai. In 1824, Umaji Naik seized the government treasury at Bhamburde (presently Shivajinagar, Pune). Both together, with their activities, made the British desperate. To put an end to their activities the British Government declared an award of Rs. 5000 each, for catching Umaji Naik and his mates Bhujba, Pandya, and Yesaji. Meanwhile, Umaji Naik regularly held meetings with his people and planned further actions. To stop it, the British Government ordered the peasants not to offer the rebels any food, clothing, shelter, and money. In addition, people were also threatened with confiscation of their lands. They also ordered people to inform the government about Umaji’s whereabouts, if they come to know of it. Captain Davis with the help of five companies of cavalry began chasing Umaji. However, he did not succeed in his task. The rebels were continuously at war with the British, often changing locations from Satara, Wai, Bhor to Kolhapur. Captain Mackintosh took over the task of capturing Umaji. Umaji ordered his mates to kill the British officers. However, the British caught Umaji near Bhor. Umaji was presented in the court and was sentenced to death. He was hanged at Pune.

In 1828, Phondsavant Tandulwadikar, the in-charge (‘Killedar’) of Mahadevgadh rebelled against the British. However, the British promptly crushed it.

Angered by the British policies, the members of the Sawantwadi aristocracy got together and revolted against the British. However, Spooner, the British political agent was successful in crushing it. Even after their defeat a few of the Sawantwadi aristocracy reattempted a revolt. By then the British had imposed military law in the area. Captain Outram finally managed to end the revolt permanently.

In Kolhapur state, there used to be keepers of forts, called ‘Gadkari’. A Gadkari was a salaried officer in the Maratha regime. However, the British Government took away the authority of the Gadkari's and stopped paying them salary. The first resistance to this decision was raised at Samangadh near Kolhapur. Captain Outram arrived with his platoons to bring the Gadkari's under control. However, in the first run, the rebels were successful in taking charge of Panhala, Pavangadh, and Vishalgadh. Later, more equipped platoons arrived from Madras (Chennai) and the Gadkaris were forced to surrender.

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