Timeline of formation of Purulia district and BHASA ANDOLON -Language Agitation [Bhasa Andolan] at Manbhum (now Purulia) district – A Brief Reconnoiter-

  • East India Company attained “Diwani” of Bihar-Orissa from Shah-Alam in 1765 A.D,
  • Tax-Collection process was initiated by the East India Company in Jungle-Mahal area,
  • “CHUAR”-Mutiny started at Barabhum-Manbazar-Balarampur-Kuilapal in 1767 A.D – continued for long 66 years from 1767 to 1832,
  • “Panchakot” kingdom was auctioned by British due to non-payment of taxes.(1798- 99), The subjects of “Panchakot-Raj” rebelled against the Company and denied to pay taxes to anyone else except the Panchakot King. The auction process was stalled due to the rebellion which was a rare incident in the history of this country.
  • Have a greater control over the Jungle-Mahal area, East India Company began to split it into several smaller districts like Panchet (1773), Jungle-Mahal (1805) and Manbhum (1833). The district of Manbhum was formed with 7896 sq. mile area,
  • Santhal Rebellion started in 1855 followed by Sepoy Mutiny in 1857,
  • The district of Manbhum was split in the following years-1845, 1846, 1871 and finally in 1879, as a result of which the area of Manbhum was reduced to 4112 sq. mile,
  • The movement against the split of Bengal (Banga-Bhanga) started in 1905. The division of Bengal was stopped in 1911 and the state of Bihar-Orissa was formed in 1912. Manbhum was included to Bihar-Orissa. The protest against the inclusion of Manbhum in Bihar-Orissa spread out in the whole district. The “Language Movement” (BHASA ANDOLON) for inclusion to Bengal slowly gathered storm at Manbhum district. However the popularity of the freedom struggle restricted that of Language movement,
  • Congress Party was formed at Manbhum in 1921 with Nibaran Chandra Das Gupta as the President and Atul Chandra Ghosh as the Secretary. Rishi Nibaran Chandra died in the year 1935. Atul Chandra Ghosh became the new President and Bivuti Bhushan Das Gupta became the new secretary of Manbhum Congress,
  • India attained freedom on 15th August 1947. Manbhum was conceded to Bihar. All the Bengali Officers of Manbhum district was transferred to other district of Bihar in 1948. The D.I. of School issued an order to teach Hindi from primary classes. The Bengali department was closed in Zilla School. Installation of a signboard in Hindi in schools and business establishments became compulsory. It became mandatory for the Bengalis of Manbhum district, to show Domicile Certificate. Hindi was declared as the official language of the Manbhum district. The language policy and the education policy of the National Congress Party was neglected at Manbhum.
  • The proposal for Bengali as the language of Manbhum district was defeated by 43-55 votes at the Congress Party on the 30th May 1948. The President & Secretary along with 35 members resigned from of Congress Party at Manbhum district. On 14th June, 1948, Lok Sevak Sangha was formed at Pakbirra village to fight for Bengali language and to protest against the forcible imposition of Hindi on the Bangla speaking people as a state policy. This linguistic-agitation (BHASA ANDOLON) was the first of its kind in India. The then Bihar state government had restricted the use of Bengali in the education of the Bengalis of Manbhum district, despite that Bengali was their mother tongue. The Bihar state government let lose repression, by banning rallies, etc. This culminated in a fierce protest throughout the length and breadth of Manbhum district.

    Lok Sevak Sangha started agitation at multi-level pattern

    • Satyagraha Andolan (Non-violent agitation) , 1949-51,
    • Hal Joal Andolan,
    • Tusu Satyagraha Andolan (Jan 9- Feb 8, 1954)
  • Along with the song “Shun Bihari-bhai / Tora Rakhte Larbi / Dang Dekhai… … (O Bihari-brothers/ You cannot keep us in Bihar / We are showing you sticks… …) thousands of Bengali-speaking people of Manbhum district went to jail. Communist Party, Bar Association, Purulia Municipality eventually participated in this agitation for accession to Bengal.

  • As a result of this agitation, Central Government declared the formation of “State Re Organization Commission” (23rd December 1953). The commission held hearings at Manbhum district on 5th February 1955. The commission submitted its report on 10th October 1955.
  • In its report, the commission proposed the formation as well as the accession of a new district “Purulia” primarily dominated by Bengali-speaking people to West Bengal from erstwhile Manbhum district of Bihar. The new district comprised of 19 thana (Police stations) from the then Manbhum district. Bihar would have its share from Manbhum district with 10 thana (Police stations) from Dhanbad sub Division and 2 thana (Police stations) of Purulia sub Division.
  • Later on the then Chief Minister of West Bengal Bidhan Chandra Roy gave his consent for accession of 3 thana (Police stations) namely Patamda, Ichagarh and Chandil to Bihar by a special request of TISCO, Jamshedpur.
  • The report provoked mixed reaction at Manbhum district. Pro-Bihar supporters called strike at Manbhum district for 17-20th June 1956. Pro-Bengal supporters were also not were very happy with the proposed accession of Dhanbad district to Bihar.
  • In the meantime, the Chief Minister of West Bengal Bidhan Chandra Roy and Chief Minister of Bihar Shrikrishna Singh came forward with a unique proposal of unification of West Bengal with Bihar,
  • In protest against the said unification proposal, Lok Sevok Sangha started a non-violent march on foot to Kolkata from Pakbirra village (20 April 1956) comprising of 1005 supporters. The procession reached Kolkata and went to jail on 7th May 1956.
  • Subsequently, proposal for unification of West Bengal with Bihar was withdrawn. The “Bengal-Bihar Border Demarcation” Bill was passed at the Parliament on 17th August 1956 and at Rajya Sabha on 28th August 1956. The bill got the signature of the President of India on 1st September 1956.
  • Finally, with 16 thana (Police stations), 2007 square mile area and a population of 11,69,097 the new district Purulia was acceded to West Bengal on 1st November 1956.
  • Given the extent of mass participation in anti-authoritarian social agitation, Manbhum district (now Purulia) proudly stands with countries like Bangladesh, Philippines, Haiti, and many other on linguistic issue.

(Source: D.I.C.O, Purulia)