Non-Cooperation Movement in Ranchi

The non-Cooperation movement in Ranchi district followed the pattern as elsewhere 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 which was presided over by Deshbandhu Chittranjan Das. These Tana Bhagats returned home deeply impressed with the message of freedom Movement. Barefooted they used to trek over long distances 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 program 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 (Youth league) 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 Satyagrah which was launched at the behest of Mahatma Gandhi received a 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 the country’s independence in 1947.

Main Events after 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 beggars (forced labor) and illegal enhancement of rent by the intermediaries resulted in the Sardari agitation, 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 as it was called ) was at its height in 1895 when a socio-religious leader named Birsa Munda appeared on the scene. The importance of his role in the social history of Ranchi is borne out by the appellation of Birsa Bhagwan given to him.

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. Birsa Munda was an apostate from Christianity. 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.
Birsa’s crusade brought about an armed rising of the deluded peasantry which was quickly suppressed. Birsa died in the jail in 1900.

A religious movement among the Oraons was initiated by Jatra Oraon of Bishunpur police station in 1914. The Tana Bhagat movement, as it was called, also had its genesis in agrarian issues and particularly the economic disparity between Christian converts and the traditional or sansari Oraons. The non-Cooperation movement launched by Jatra Oraon and his associates soon spread even to Palamu and Hazaribagh.

The district played an important role in the national freedom movement. Under the guidance of Ganesh Chandra Ghosh Ranchi became an important center of work for the followers of Revolutionary party. Ranchi was the venue of a meeting between Mahatma Gandhi and Sir Edward Albert Gait, Lieutenant Governor of Bihar and Orrisa on 4th June and again on 22nd Sept.1917 in the context of the Champaran Indigo planters repressive measures against the raiyats of that district. The Champaran agrarian law subsequently passed under the name of Bihar and Orrisa Act-I of 1918.