The young revolutionary Birsa Munda belongs to the forest of Chota Nagpur Plateau (today’s Jharkhand region). He was a freedom fighter who mobilised the tribals against the British and forced them to enact a law on protecting the land rights of the tribals. To add a feather to his cap, a portrait of Birsa hangs in Parliament, and the airport, stadium and Central Jail in Jharkhand are all named after him.
Birsa was born on November 15, 1875, in Ulihatu village of Kunti district, Jharkhand. On the recommendation of his teacher Jaipal Nag, he embraced Christianity to join German Mission School – since it was compulsory to convert to get an admission. Later, when he realised about the British colonialists and the missionaries who were trying to convert tribals to Christianity, he gave up Christianity and returned to his traditional faith.
When the British started devastating the lives of tribes by introducing rent and tax for the land, Birsa began his full-time agitation against them. He started the movement called ‘Ulgutan’ or ‘The Great Tumult’ to assure the rights of Adivasis who were the real owners of the land. In October 1894, he mobilised the tribes and marched for the remission of tax collected by the Zamindars from the tribes. He stressed upon the need for tribals to know their culture and rights to their land and influenced them to protest against the injustice done to them. He also worked to rationalise his community and get rid of their superstitious beliefs, animal sacrifice and alcoholism.
To oppress this movement, the British started the brutal attack by firing against the local tribal community. Hundreds of tribals died in this attack. A few months later, Birsa was imprisoned by the British. He passed away on June 9, 1900, at the age of 25 in Ranchi Jail. Although he had no symptoms of the disease, the British authorities claimed that he died of cholera. There was a tittle-tattle among people that jail authorities might have poisoned him. However, eight years after his demise the British enacted the Chota Nagpur Tenancy Act, which restricted the sale of Adivasi land to non-Adivasis.
The young revolutionist is still celebrated through literature, mass media for his remarkable and brave movement against the British to ensure the land rights of tribals.
Pa.Ranjith, the director of critically acclaimed movies like “Madras”, “Kabali” and“Kaala” is elated to be debuted in Bollywood by Namah movies for a film on the revolutionary tribal leader Birsa Munda. The production house proudly made an announcement about the film during his birth anniversary celebrations on Thursday, November 15th.