This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Jyotsna Hans. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Tribal Freedom Fighters Who Fought For Their Land and People

More from Jyotsna Hans

Independence Day for Indians brings back remembrances to sacrifices of freedom fighters who envisioned India as an independent free bird; free from the hands of all external forces and stand united as one secular, socialist, democratic republic.

For independence, each and every region was fighting their own war. Many of the protests against the British were led by tribal heroes. Their fight was for their land and most importantly, their people. India has witnessed their struggle turning into a revolution without the use of equipment like bombs and tanks. Let’s take a look at some of the tribal freedom fighters:

1. Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh

A postage stamp issued by India Post on 10 December 1987 to commemorate Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh | Source:

Pride of Sonakhan, Chattisgarh Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh looted trader’s grain stock and distributed them amongst poor after the 1856 famine.

He was then arrested by the British, but managed to escape the prison with the help of other prisoners and reached Sonakhan.

As it was with people across the country, the people of Sonakhan had joined the revolt of 1857 against the British. Veer Narayan Singh formed an army of just 500 men and rose up against the British army, which was led by Deputy Commissioner Smith.

After hours of fighting, Veer Narayan Singh was again arrested and was sentenced to death on charges of sedition.

The sacrifice of Veer Narayan Singh made him a tribal leader and he became the first martyr from Chhattisgarh in the independence struggle of 1857.

2. Birsa Munda

Birsa Munda was a tribal hero from the tribal belt of Chotanagpur. Though he died at the age of 25, he is still remembered as a freedom fighter, religious leader and folk hero. He believed in the importance of cultural roots and influenced people to understand the importance of land and the rights that they possess with the land.

He soon realized the intention of the British was to loot their lands and push the people into the deep pit of poverty and bonded labour. He fought against the forceful seizure of land and raised a rebellion against the British and the middlemen. Under his leadership, many protests took place making his vision into a revolution. He was arrested and passed away in prison on June 9, 1900.

Birsa Munda became the first tribal freedom fighter to have his portrait unveiled at the Indian Parliament.| Source-

3. Shri Alluri Seetha Ram Raju

India Post issued a commemorative postage stamp featuring Raju in the series ‘India’s struggle for freedom’ in 1968.

A brave son of Andhra Pradesh, Alluri Seetha Ram Raju sacrificed his life in the freedom struggle against the British. He is known as “Manyam Veerudu” (“Hero of the Jungle”) by the local people. He was a revolutionary at heart from a very young age. He inspired tribals to stand united as one against the British. He taught them guerrilla warfare—so that they can not only safeguard themselves, but also fight against the English army.

He led the Rampa Rebellion of 1922 in the Godavari districts, which are a part of today’s Andhra Pradesh. In these areas, the land was extensively occupied by tribals and the British wanted to make use of it for commercial purposes. The rebellion broke out in August 1922 and took the form of guerilla warfare, ending in May 1924 with the capture and shooting of Raju.


4. Rani Gaidinliu

Rani Gaidhinliu was a Naga leader from Manipur known for her armed resistance against the British. Gaidinliu joined the Heraka movement in 1927, with an aim to end the British rule and establish the self-rule of  Nagas. By the time she was 16, she became a leader of guerrilla forces fighting against the British rulers.

In a surprise attack, she along with her followers were arrested by the English troops and was then taken to Imphal where she was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Due to her excellent efforts in the freedom struggle, she was given the title of “Rani” by Jawaharlal Nehru who freed her from jail after independence. Rani Gaidinliu continued to work for the welfare of her people even after her release.

Rani Gaidinliu was a Naga spiritual and political leader who led a revolt against British rule in India.| Source:

5. Sidhu and Kanhu Murmu

Brothers and tribal freedom fighters Sidhu Murmu and Kanhu Murmu fought with their bows and arrows against the British in the Santhal Revolt of 1855. The revolt was organized against the Zamindars and British who auctioned away large tracts of land belonging to the Santhals, resulting in loss of land and mass exploitation.

The Murmu Bothers led a movement of liberation which turned into a full-fledged war between the Santhals and East India Company’s army. Almost 20,000 Santhals were killed in the rebellion as they stood  no chance against the weapons used by the company. Sidhu and Kanhu fought till their last breath and in the end succumbed to their injuries.  

Sidhu Murmu and Kanhu Murmu were the leaders of the Santhal rebellion against both the British colonial authority and the corrupt zamindari system.| Source:

You can watch Adivasi Lives Matter’s video on tribal freedom fighters here.

Created by Adivasi Lives Matter

Do you remember reading about tribal freedom fighters in your school/ college books?

About the author: Jyotsna Hans is a content writer for Adivasi Lives Matter. She is pursuing her undergraduate degree in law. She is fond of good food, good reads and good places to travel. “Through my articles, I tend to bring all tribal goodness in the limelight”, she says. 

You must be to comment.

More from Jyotsna Hans

Similar Posts

By Adivasi Lives Matter

By Charkha Features

By vineet Gautam

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below