A comic book on freedom fighters of President Murmu’s ilk

Sidhu and Kanhu Murmu from the Santhal community, and their revolt against the British, feature prominently in the latest comic book on tribal freedom-fighters released by the Centre. President Droupadi Murmu, who hails from Odisha, belongs to the same Santhal tribe.

As per a statement by the Ministry of Culture on the release of the latest Amar Chitra Katha comic book on tribal freedom-fighters, “Sidhu and Kanhu Murmu revolted against the British and their stooges. They led the Santhal in the Hul rebellion. Both were betrayed, caught and hanged”.

In fact, in her first speech as India’s 15th President, President Murmu had invoked the Santhal revolution as well. “From the Santhal revolution, Paika revolution to Kol revolution and Bhil revolution, the tribal contribution in the freedom struggle was further strengthened. We were inspired by the sacrifice of Lord Birsa Munda ji for social upliftment and patriotism,” she had said.

Incidentally, Birsa Munda also finds pride of place in the comic. “Birsa Munda, of the Munda tribe, became a legend in his opposition to the British. He led the Mundas in a series of confrontations with them. He was caught and imprisoned and according to British records, died of cholera. He was 25 when he died,” says the statement.

The Santhal Hul took place in 1855-56 and was led by the Santhal adivasis and lower-caste peasants fighting against the atrocities of the upper-caste landlords, moneylenders, traders, police, and administrative officials from the East India Company in the erstwhile Bengal presidency.

The third Comic book on stories of 20 Tribal Freedom Fighters was launched earlier this week in the Capital, in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The collection recalls the sacrifices of some of the bravest men and women who inspired their tribes and gave up their lives to fight British rule.

The Ministry of Culture as a part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav has released pictorial books on 75 freedom fighters in collaboration with Amar Chitra Katha (ACK) to create awareness among the youth and children about the sacrifice and patriotism of our lesser-known heroes of freedom struggle. The first ACK comic book on India’s 20 Women Unsung Heroes, and Second on stories of 15 women elected to the Constituent Assembly were released earlier.

Prominent tribal freedom-fighters whose stories have been included are: Tilka Majhi, who mobilized the Pahadia tribe, and was later hanged; Thalakkal Chanthu of the Kurichiyar tribe; Budhu Bhagat of the Oraon tribe; Tirot Singh, a Khasi chief, who died in prison; Raghoji Bhangre who belonged to the Mahadeo Koli tribe; and Rendo Manjhi and Chakra Bisoi of the Khond tribe.

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