Early History of Ranchi district
In ancient times, the Munda Tribe and Oraon tribes possessed the tract that corresponds to the district of Ranchi and the neighbouring parganas. The possession was undisturbed. The total area was known to Aryans as Jharkhand or the 'forest territory'. The entire tract was presumably beyond the pale of the direct Hindu influence in ancient India.
However, Jarasandha, the mighty emperor of Rajgriha in the Mahabharata period might have exercised some kind of loose supervision over the area. Similarly, Mahapadmanand Agrasen of Magadha, who inhibited the entire country up to Orissa, might have gained some control over Jharkhand as well.
Possibly, the area was included in the Magadh Empire during the reign of Ashoka, which was from 273 to 232 B.C. With the decline of the power of the Maurya Empire, King Kharvela of Kalinga led on army through Jharkhand and took Rajgriha and Pataliputra. Later, Samudra Gupta whose reign was from 335-380 A.D. must have passed through the area on his journey to the Deccan.
The Empire of the Chotanagpur has been set up in fifth century A.D. This happened after the fall of the imperial Gupta Empire. Phanimukut was elected the first king there. It is said that he was found by the Side of a tank under the protection of a Nag or Snake. So that the reason the dynasty founded by him was named as the Nag Dynasty.
Medieval History of Ranchi district
The historians referred to the Chotanagpur plateau as Jharkhand. Throughout the Turko-Afgan period that is up to 1526, the area remained virtually free from external influence. It is only with the accession of Akbar to the position of Delhi in 1556 that Muslims influence penetrated Jharkhand, then known to the Mughals as Kokrah. In 1585, Akbar sent a force under the command of Shahabaz Khan to reduce the Raja of Chotanagpur to the position of a tributary. Kokrah was included in the Subah of Bihar, as mentioned in the Ain-I-Akbari.
In 1605 after the death of Akbar the area presumably regained its independence. This required an expedition in 1616 by Ibrahim Khan. This is known as Fateh Jang between Governor of Bihar and brother of Queen Nur jahan. Ibrahim Khan defeated and captured Durian Sal. He was the 46th Raja of Chotanagpur. He was later released by the Emperor and allowed to resume his previous position as an independent Chief.
In 1632 Chotanagpur was a Jagir to the Governor at Patna. This was settled for annual payment of Rs. 1, 36,000.00. During the reign of Muhammed Shah i.e.1719-1748 Sar Balland Khan, the Governor of Bihar, marched against the Raja of Chotanagpur and forced his submission. Fakhruddoula, Governor of Bihar in 1731, led another expedition. He came to terms with the Raja of Ramgarh who owed cooperation to the Raja of Chotanagpur. In 1624 Durjan Sal was released, from that time till the appearance of British in 1772 the district seems to have enjoyed almost an unbroken peace.
Modern History of Ranchi district
Emperor Shah Alam-II granted the Diwani of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa to the British East India Company in 1765. This Diwani included Chotanagpur as a part of Bihar. The internal quarrels and destructions of the Raja of Gidhaur, the Raja of Ramgarh and the rival claim between Gopal Rai and Chitrajit Rai for the Kingdom of Palamu led the British take an active interest in the area. In 1771 captain Camac attacked Palamu and put Chitrajit Rai as the Raja. The history of Ranchi for sometime thereafter is interlinked with the history of Palamu, Hazaribagh and West Singhbhum District.
During the operations of Captain Camac against the Raja of Palamu, Dhupnath Shahi, Raja of Chotanagpur provided useful service to British. He acknowledged the authority of the company and offered to pay an annual tribute of Rs. 12000 instead of Rs. 6000 fixed under the Muslim rule. However, arrears in payment resulted in an expedition against him in 1773, as a result of which an agreement was reached stipulating enhanced payment of Rs.15000 per year. The Raja was allowed to retain his hold on the internal administration.
Chapman, civilian administrator of Chotanagpur, succeeded Captain Camac in 1780. The so-called conquered provinces were formed into a district under the name of the Ramgarh Hill Tract in 1780 that lasted till 1863. Though the district of Ranchi was not directly included in this unit but was added under the designation of Tributory Mahal of Chotanagpur. Chapman was at the same time the Judge and the Magistrate and Collector of the district. There was an Adivasi insurrection at Tamar in 1789 that could be inhibited only by the use of force. Isolated movements continued for six more years later on.
Disputes between the Raja and his brothers led to further disturbance in 1807-1808. The Diwan of the Raja who was primarily responsible for the trouble was apprehended and jailed. The Raja paid up arrears of revenue and settled disputes with his brothers. Six police thanas were also set up in 1809, marking the beginning of end of the feudal authority of the Raja. This also marked the induction of non-tribal revenue collecting agents who later oppressed the aboriginal residents.
The discontent among the tribal population evidenced in the earlier revolts, found an outlet in the Kol insurrections of 1831-32. The immediate cause for it was the humiliation caused to Munda Tribe by the Sikh and Muslims Thikadars or intermediaries in revenue collection. The Mundas got together in Laukha village near Tamar and plundered and destroyed many villages held in farm by Sikh and Muslim Thikadars. The forces led by Captain Wilkinson in 1832 overpowered them as well.
Ranchi has attracted many Christian missions, which have contributed much to the growth of education in the district. In 1845 the earliest Christian missionaries reached the district and the first conversions of the tribal population to Christianity took place in 1850.
In 1857 movement the 7th and 8th Native companies of the Ramgarh Battalion were posted at Hazaribagh. They took part in revolt on the 30th July. When this news, Col. Dalton who was the then Commissioner of Ranchi, sent Lt. Graham. He was accompanied with two companies of the Ramgarh Light Infantry, thirty horseman and two guns to disarm the regiment at Hazaribagh. Meanwhile, the insurgents at Hazaribagh started marching to Ranchi by the road via Badam.
After hearing this, the infantry with Lt. Graham also rose against British authority and commenced their return journey to Ranchi. Lt. Graham proceeded to Hazaribagh with the cavalry that remained loyal to him and reached there on the 2nd August. After this Col. Dalton left Ranchi for Hazaribagh. The insurgent troops at Doranda burnt the offices and Courts of the district office and some bungalows. They also set free the prisoners in jail. They expected the insurgents from Hazaribagh to join them. But when the latter did not reach Doranda, they set out in the third week of September to join Babu Kuer Singh in Shahabad. They were attacked and defeated on the 2nd October 1857 at Chatra under a British force commanded by Major English. Meanwhile, Col. Dalton returned to Ranchi on 22nd September with a force. The courts were reopened and at the same time peace and order restored.
Memorable Events in the History of Ranchi district
After the Sepoy Movement 1857, the infiltration of the British in the political horizon of Chotanagpur also synchronized with a great socio-economic revolution. Agrarian discontent against the imposition of "begari" or forced labour and illegal enhancement of rent by the intermediaries resulted in the Sardari agitation. This is so called due to the instigation and leadership provided by the Sardars. By 1887 the movement had grown and many Mundas and Oraon cultivators refused to pay rent to the landlords. The Sardari agitation or Larai was at its height in 1895 when a socio-religious leader named Birsa Munda appeared on the scene.
The movement led by Birsa Munda was half agrarian and half religious. It had a direct connection with agrarian unrest and also appeared to have been influenced by Christian ideas. His teaching was partly spiritual, partly revolutionary. He proclaimed that the land belonged to the people who had reclaimed it from forests, and therefore, no rent should be paid for it. He asserted that he was the Messiah and claimed divine powers of healing. But he was quickly suppressed by the force. He died in the jail in 1900.
A rigorous movement among the Oraons was initiated by Jatra Oraon of Bishunpur police station in 1914. The Tana Bhagat movement also had its genesis in agrarian issues. The Non-Cooperation movement launched by Jatra Oraon and his associates soon spread even to Palamu and Hazaribagh.
The district played a very important role in the national freedom movement. Under the guidance of Ganesh Chandra Ghosh Ranchi became a significant center of work for the follower's of Revolutionary party. Ranchi was the venue of a meeting between Mahatma Gandhi and Sir Edward Albert Gait. He was the Lieutenant Governor of Bihar and Orissa on 4th June and again on 22nd Sept 1917.
The non-Cooperation movement in Ranchi district followed the pattern as the other parts in India. The movement caught the imagination of the people particularly the Tana Bhagats and a large number of them attended the Gaya session of the congress in December 1922. That was presided over by Deshbandhu Chittranjan Das. These Tana Bhagats returned home deeply impressed with the message of freedom Movement. They used to trek over long distances barefooted with congress flags in their hands and they carried the message to the masses in the interior. They attended the meetings organized by the non-cooperation workers.
On 5th October 1926, a Khadi exhibition was opened at Ranchi in presence of Sri Rajendra Prasad in the local Arya Samaj Hall. The Tana Bhagats also attended it. This was a part of the constructive programme launched by Mahatma Gandhi after he had suspended the non-cooperation Movement in 1922. The Simon Commission was boycotted in 1927. On 4th April 1930, Tarun Singh of Ranchi organized a meeting in the local municipal park, which was attended by a large number of students from different educational institutions. The leaders appealed to them to join the Civil Disobedience Movement.
The Salt Satyagraha, which was launched at the behest of Mahatma Gandhi, received great response in Ranchi District. In the wake of the quit India Revolution of 1942 the arrest of national leaders led to strikes, processions, demonstrations and also disruption of the lines of communications. The district took an active part in the Subsequent events which led to country's independence in 1947.
(Last Updated on : 16-02-2013)
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