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New Delhi: Today is the birth anniversary of freedom fighter Birsa Munda. A member of the Munda tribe, Birsa Munda led a tribal revolt against the British which had its epicenter in present day Jharkhand. The revolt also encompassed several districts of modern day Bihar and West Bengal.
Birsa Munda was born on November 15, 1875, in a poor farmer's family in Ulihatu village of Khunti district of Jharkhand. He was from a tribal family.
After his primary education in Salga village, he studied in Chaibasa GEL Church (Gosner and Jilkal Luthar) school. Their minds were always thinking about the bad condition of the Indian society, especially the tribals, created by the British rulers.
Leadership of the Munda Rebellion
On October 1, 1894, as a young leader, he gathered all the Mundas and started a movement for tax exemption from the British. He was arrested in 1895 and sentenced to two years in Hazaribagh Central Jail.
But Birsa and his followers were determined to help the famine-stricken masses of the region, and as such, he attained the status of a great man during his lifetime. The people of that area used to call and worship him by the name of "Dharti Baba". As his influence increased, so did the goal of organizing in the Mundas of the whole area.
Participation in the Munda Rebellion and death
Between 1897 and 1900, there was an armed conflict between the Mundas and the British sepoys. Birsa Munda and his followers kept the British at bay. In August 1897, Birsa and his four hundred soldiers, armed with bows and arrows, stormed the Khunti police station.
In 1898, the Mundas clashed with the British forces on the banks of the Tanga river. At first, the British forces were defeated but later many tribal leaders of the area were arrested instead.
January 1900 Another conflict erupts on Mount Dombri in which many women and children are killed. Birsa was addressing his public meeting at that place. Later some of Birsa's disciples were also arrested.
Finally, Birsa Munda was himself arrested by the British on 3rd February 1900 from Jamkopai forest of Chakradharpur. Birsa died of poisoning by the British on June 9, 1900. He was taken to Ranchi Jail in 1900. Birsa Munda is still worshiped as a deity in the tribal areas of Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal.
Birsa Munda's mausoleum is located near the distillery bridge near Kokar in Ranchi. There is also a statue of him. In his memory, Birsa Munda Central Jail and Birsa Munda International Airport are also in Ranchi.
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On November 10, 2021, the Government of India declared November 15, i.e. Birsa Munda's birthday as Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas.