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Celebrating 58 th anniversary of a higher educational institute it’s self a big event but the anniversary of Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University (TMBU) is marked today amid confusion and prevailing chaotic situations.
Teachers/ non teachers of some dozen colleges who have been sitting on dharna near the venue of the function inside the varsity campus, threatened to self-immolation, further made the atmosphere heavy. They alleged that despite of Supreme court’s judgement, they have not been paid for the last 9 years. They castigated varsity management for adopting inhuman attitude and not taking the matter seriously.
The varsity campus today also turned into police camp as the threatening by the non- teaching staffs made the administration bewildered. Sub divisional officer and deputy superintendent of police along with sizable forces were campaigning at the spot, latter somehow managed to prevent the self-immolation drive by the staffs.
Vice chancellor, TMBU, Nalinikant Jha who was alleged by the agitating non-teaching staffs for not caring them, however turned polite and talked with the representatives of the non-teaching staffs at his chamber. Later he assured them to take all required measures before July 14 and also compliance to High court Patna so that the matter would be cleared.
TMBU in its 58 years long journey achieved many success but due to mismanagement, it has to face bad reputations also. “There are several instances of irregularities here which in many occasion proved to be fatal for the careers of the students,” said Rajni Sinha, a pass out student from the varsity. Rajni, a frequent visitor to the varsity, came today for her problem : her result has been pending as the varsity shows sociology as her subject while she studied and gave exam for psychology papers.
But the way TMBU remains confused and complete ignorance about Tilka Manjhi, the legendary martyr. The varsity literary is unfazed and unware about the legendary character of Tilka Manjhi , who was said to be a noted freedom fighter and varsity on 1993 adopted his name while changing its old name, Bhagalpur University to Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University.
Interestingly, the varsity has been organizing three days international seminar in post graduate English department with huge budget. But it’s yet not tried to do a single work on Tilka Manjhi, alleged many here. The reason of such annoyances are mainly due to not giving proper reorganization to this forgotten hero like other freedom fighters. Tilka the legendary hero of Paharia revolt at Rajmahal (1766-1780), Asia’s first revolt against the British colonialism however remained a forgotten chapter in history.
Despite TMBU has its name of Tilka Manjhi, there is a chowk, Tilka Manjhi chowk in his name in the heart of this ancient city, no official record is available to throw more light on the issue.
The varsity today celebrated the day in a colourful function but interestingly not a single word highlighted related to the history of Tilka Manjhi. Varsity sources admitted that during the tenure of former vice chancellor, Ramashray Prasad Yadav (2002-03) the varsity published a small book and Sinha was a contributor but he could not give any specific idea about Tilka Manjhi.
“The varsity spent lakhs of rupees in research and other works but it is very unfortunate that no proper research work yet been done to focus on his life. More interestingly, his character is yet not included at any school or college level syllabus,” alleged Raman Sinha, a senior teacher at local SM College.
Like Raman Sinha many historians agree that Tilka Manjhi, hero of the famous Paharia revolt, a pioneer movement of freedom struggle in India, was arrested in 1785, flogged, tied to a horse and dragged through Bhagalpur town before being hanged from a banyan tree which was located at Tilka Manjhi chak and destroyed some years back in lightening. Hence site is known as Tilka Manjhi Chowk, the area is known after him where students of Kala Kendra, a local art college built his statute after the Independence.
“Perhaps TMBU is the sole varsity in the country which has no idea about Tilka Manjhi on whose name it is functioning ; no research was conducted on him so far. This is why Tilka becomes a legendary myth here,” said Rajiv Ranjan, a former student of the faculty of history of TMBU.
People here along with the neighbouring districts of Santhal Parganas at Jharkhand celebrate February 11 as the birth anniversary of this legendary hero who for the first time revolted against the British rule in India though the history does not have evidence on Tilka Manjhi. Interestingly, since there was no contemporary writer or any historian of his age, Tilka Manjhi disappeared form the pages of history.
Many historians found similarity of Tilka Manjhi with Jaora Paharia. The name of Jaora Paharia is might not very familiar to the people although historians are getting increasingly intrigued by his shadowy figure. What is undisputed at the moment though is the empathy that Paharias (endangered primitive tribes resides atop Rajmahal series of hills at neighbouring Santhal Parganas who earlier ruled over the region) along with a section of historians feel today for the late hero, who, they claim, was none else but Tilka Manjhi, deified as a martyr and the first freedom fighter from this region (Santhal Parganas was a part of Bhagalpur).
The British rulers brought out a copper coin on Jaora Paharia around 1894, almost a hundred years after his death. Curiously, British records describe him as a rebel and a “dreaded bandit” ruling over Rajmahal Hills. Why would they issue the coin to commemorate a rebel?
“Historical evidences claim that Jaora was actually made the commander-in-chief of the 1,300-strong Hill Archers’ Core (HAC) comprising Paharias of Rajmahal hills armed with bows and arrows. The band was meant to subjugate the Rajmahal hills. For reasons not yet clear, Jaora Paharia fell from grace and was denounced as a rebel and a bandit.
Some historians have sought to explain that the Company was forced to issue the coin in a bid to win over the Paharias. After having failed to control them, the Company tried everything to appease the tribals.
Former district collector, Bhagalpur, Augustus Cleveland in November 1779 recommended to Warren Hastings that the Paharias be allowed to promote their traditional customs and social systems. He also wantedHastings to provide financial assistance to the Paharias. It was the same design that prompted Eyne Cool, the than in-charge of “Damin-i-koh” (a Partisan word meaning the skirt of the hills and referred on the Rajmahal series of mountains), in 1782 to constitute the Hill Archers’ Core. And the issue of the copper coin, too, appeared part of a desperate appeasement policy, writes Rajendra Singh in his book on Tilka Manjhi.
Singh also advances the theory that the Company and later the British rulers tried to divide the Paharias and the Santhals. In his District Gazeteer of Santhal Parganas, P.C. Roy Choudhury endorses such attempts and records how the village heads were offered allowances to the Paharias. “The chiefs of northern hills gladly accepted the allowances but they were turned down by the chiefs in hills to the south,” mentions the Gazeteer ( page 66).
Tilka Manjhi is acknowledged by historians as well in the folks songs on the Rajamahl series of hills as a Robinhood-like figure. He is said to have sustained a guerrilla warfare, attacked Bhagalpur in 1784 and killed the young collector, Cleveland, with a poisoned arrow. At least that is what Dr Kumar Suresh Singh has written in his book Tribal Society of India (An Anthropology-History perspective), on page-121.
But historical records said about the sudden demise of the 29 year-year old Cleveland on January 13, 1784 after falling ill. But the history did not mention detail about the fatal disease which killed him.
Historians have been claiming that Tilka Manjhi was none else than Jaora Paharia. “The paharais made Jaora alive in the form of Tilka just to keep the revolution alive. He should be given due regards like other martyrs ,” said Lallan Verma, a history scholar here.
A meaningful write-up on Tilka Manjhi. May have included a photograph of the coin. A few private researches on the martyr may not be adequate. It is high time the university takes initiatives for a well funded exhaustive research. But before that it should try to pay the starving employees.