|Birth||9 February 1806|
|Death||23 April 1880|
Telanga Kharia (1806 - 1880) was a great Indian Tribal freedom fighter, who spearheaded a rebellion against the British Raj in Chota Nagpur Region during 1850-1860.This rebellion was mainly against injustice, atrocities and land alienation of tribal people resulted in British Rule. In the freedom struggle in Chota Nagpur region Telanga Kharia keeps an important figure along with other great freedom fighters like Vir Budhu Bhagat, Sidhu Kanhu, Birsa Munda, Tilka Manjhi etc.
Telanga Kharia was born on 9 February 1806, at Murgu village, Gumla district of modern-day Jharkhand state. He belonged to Kharia tribe. His father's name was Thunya Kharia and mother's name was Peti Kharia. His father was a storekeeper at Chota Nagpur Nagvansi king of Ratu. Since childhood he was brave, honest and very talkative by nature. He was involved in agriculture and animal rearing. He later married to Ratni Kharia. He developed keen interest on social and political issues as he often had chance to witness debates on these topics in the court of King of Ratu, where he used to go with his father. As an adult, he was well known for his revolutionary thoughts, reasoning skill and dedication to social service.
Movement against British Raj
By the end of 1850 the British rule was established in Chota Nagpur region. From ages tribals have their own traditional autonomous self-governance rule of "Parha System" and they were almost free from any outside interference. But this autonomous self - governance rule was disturbed and destroyed by the regulations imposed by British Raj. Now tribals had to pay revenue(malgujari) on their own land which they had been prepared and cultivated for centuries. They were alienated from their land in the hands of zamindars and Britishers, when they failed to pay land revenue. In their own land they were forced to live like a farm labourers. The middlemen like money lenders(sahukars) and zamindars didn't miss any single chance to loot common people. There also existed the major problem of rural indebtness. Poor people had to lose their land when they were unable to repay loans taken from village moneylenders. Many times these debts were inherited from the past and increased with the passage of time. The plight of a common man was very miserable.
Telanga Kharia couldn't tolerate these injustice and atrocities and started the fight against British rule and their middlemen. He started organising people and creating awareness among them. He created Jury Panchayat in many villages, which worked as self-governance rule parallel to British rule. There were 13 jury panchayats formed by Telanga Kharia, which were spread across Sisai, Gumla, Basia, Simdega, Kumhari, Kolebira, Chainpur, Mahabuang and Bano area. He created "Akhara", where he used to give arms training to his followers. Their main weapons were sword and bow-arrow. He raised an army of around 900 to 1500 trained followers. Their used Guerrilla style of fighting. Telanga Kharia and his follower attacked Britishers, their middlemen and every other establishment of the British Raj. They also looted British banks and treasuries. During the period of 1850-1860 the rebellion led by Telanga Kharia against the British Raj in Chotanagpur region was at its peak. British Raj became very desperate to get rid of Telanga Kharia and wanted to suppress this uprising by any means. After knowing the intention of British Telanga Kharia became very alert, he now used to control his operations mostly from hideouts inside the forest and unknown locations. Once, when Telanga Kharia was busy conducting a meeting at one village Jury Panchayat, the information about his presence at the meeting was passed by an agent of Zamindar to the British. And soon the meeting place was surrounded by the British army and then they arrested Telanga Kharia. He was first sent to Lohardaga Jail, then to Calcutta Jail, where he got imprisonment of 18 years.
Release from jail, revival of movement and death
When Telanga Kharia was released after completing his imprisonment in Calcutta jail, he again met his followers at Sisai Akhara. He started to revive the movement and started making plans to strengthen the organisation. Information about his rebellion activities soon reached in the ears of the British and they started making plans to kill him. On 23 April 1980, Telanga Kharia was offering daily prayer at Sisai Akhara before the start of training session, he bowed down for prayer, one of the British agents, named Bodhan Singh ambushed nearby that Akhara, opened fired at him. After being hit by bullet he was collapsed. Then his followers immediately carried his body and moved towards forest, so that Britishers couldn't find his body. After crossing the Koel river they buried the body of Telanga Kharia at Soso Neem Toli village of Gumla district. Now this burial place is called as 'Telanga Topa Tand' meaning 'burial ground of Telanga' and considered very sacred by the people of Chotanagpur specially by Kharia community and every year his martyrdom is commemorated by the people. Also one week long 'Sahid Telanga Mela' is organised on 23 April every year at Dhedhouli village of Gumla district. Telanga Kharia is still an inspiration of millions in the region of Chotanagpur for his bravery, sacrifice and martyrdom.