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Chatra, the gateway of Jharkhand particularly of Chotanagpur, has a glorious past having an eminent historical heritage. The land has been the silent spectator of the vicissitudes of the historical unfolding of human drama.

ANCIENT CHATRA

            It is stated that during Asoka's reign i.e. 232 B.C. the "Atavi" or the forest states too acknowledged the supermacy of the Magadhan Empire. It is said that Samudra Gupta marching through Chotanagpur directed the first attack against the kingdom of south Kaushal in the valley of Mahanadi.

  MEDIEVAL CHATRA

            During Tughlaq's reign,  Chatra came in contact with Delhi Sultanate. Daud Khan, the Mughal Governor of Bihar, during the reign of Aurangzeb occupied Kothi Fort on 5th May 1660 A.D. without much opposition and then he moved towards the fort of Kunda which had a very strong fortification as it was situated on a hilltop.This fort was finally occupied  by him and was completely destroyed on the 2nd of June, 1660 A.D. Kunda Fort was under the possession of Ramgarh Raja in the 17th century. Aliwardi Khan advanced towards Kunda in 1734 A.D. after defeating the rebel Zamindars of Tikari(Gaya)and then he attacked Chatra Fort and demolished it.

 MODERN PERIOD

            The British, for the first time, came in contact with these regions in 1769 A.D. It is interesting to note that Raja Ram Mohan Roy,  the prominent social reformer, worked as a 'Sirishtedar' at Chatra in 1805-06 and lived both at Chatra and Ramgarh in this capacity.

            Chatra offers another fascinating chapter in the history of national movement in Bihar . The most important battle fought between the insurgents and the British in Chotanagpur during the Mutiny of 1857 was the 'Battle of Chatra'. This decisive battle was fought on 2nd October 1857 near 'Phansi Talaab'. It lasted for an hour in which the mutineers were completly defeated. 56 Europeon soldiers and officers were killed whereas 150 revolutionaries were killed and 77 were buried in a pit. Subedar Jai Mangal Pandey and Nadir Ali Khan were sentenced and hanged to death on the 4th of October 1857 A.D. on this very spot. The European and sikh soldiers were buried in a well along with their arms and ammunitions. An inscriptive plaque still exists.

            The inscription informs: "56 men of Her Majesty's 53rd Regiment of foot and a party of sikhs were killed at Chatra on October 2nd 1857 in action against mutineers of the Ramgarh Battalion. Lieutenant J.C.C Daunt of the 70th Bengal Native Infantry and sergeant D. Dynon of the 53rd regiment were awarded Victoria Cross for conspicuous gallantry in the battle, in which the mutineers were completely defeated and lost all their four guns and ammunitions.

            On the other hand the inscription on the bank of the Phansi Talab immortalises the two revolutionary subedars as hereunder:

    "JAY MANGAL PANDEY NADIR ALI,

    DONO SUBEDAR REY,

    DONO MILKAR PHANSI CHARHE,

    HARJEEVAN TALAAB REY."

NATIONAL MOVEMENT

             The national movement picked up momentum in 1921 . One of the most striking features of 1942-- Quit India Movement, was the escape of Shri Jay Prakash Narayan along with six other from The Hazaribagh Central Jail on 9th November 1942 (the night of Diwali). Jai Prakash Narayan came to Tatra( a village of Chatra) and then proceeded towards Sherghati en route to Varanasi . Chotanagpur Kesri, Babu Ram Narayan Singh and Babu Shaligram Singh gave stiff resistance to the British. Their sacrifice bore fruit and India got freedom from the British yoke on the 15th of August 1947 A.D. Thus, Chatra played a short but memorable cameo on the historical canvas of the freedom movement.

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CHATRA THROUGH THE AGES

It would be surprising, rather shocking, to note that the present Chatra district was the Divisional administrative headquarters of south Bihar and it continued to be in the glorious position for about fifty four years, but the declining trend in prosperity started; it was reduced to a subdivision and is the silent spectator of the vicissitudes it has seen from the earliest time to the present day.

           Chatra, the gateway of the Jharkhand, particularly of Chotanagpur lies on a comparatively level tract of land between the  upper plateau of Hazaribagh and the tangled mass of rock and ravine from Gaya and the Gangetic valley to the south and west of Chotangpur. It is 43 miles north-west of Hazaribagh and 48 miles south-west of Gaya and 90 miles from Ranchi in the North-west. It is at a height of 1400 feet from the sea level and is connected with the railway at Koderma railway station by metalled road. It is linked  with G.T.Road at two points i.e. Dobhi 30 miles North & Chauparan 30 miles east which leads to Barhi (12miles) on the G.T.Road. The G.T.Road was the most important means of military communication between the lower provinces and the north of India from 1780 to 1858.

Ancient Chatra :-  It is stated that during Asoka's reign i.e. 232 B.C. the " Atavi " or the forest states too acknowledged the supremacy of the Magadhan Empire and this may justify the conclusion that Chotanagpur was included in the Mauryan Empire, at least in his (Ashoka's) reign.

            There was frequent intercourse between Kashi (Varanasi) and Hazaribagh. Parshvanath, the 23rd Trithankara, attained 'Nirvana' at the summit of the Parasnath Hill in the 8th  century B.C. Swami Shitla , the 10th jain Tirthankara got 'Nirvana' at the hill of Kolhua (Kauleshwari hill in Hunterganj) in about 10 or 12th century B.C. It is a  place of pilgrimage for the Hindus and it is considered to be of Hindu origin. Dr. M.A. Stein visited Kolhua Hill in 1900 A.D. and he was satisfied with his observations of its Jain-origin. The Jains built it and venerated it as the 'birth place' of Swami Shitla, the 10th Trithankara and continued to pay homage here till about 1867 A.D. It is ironical to note that it is now quite unknown to the ordinary Jains and is believed to be associated with the  Pandvas.

            The top of the hill is quite distinctive and is known as Akash Lochan (Sky eye).There are some ancient temples of 'Kali' or 'Kauleshwari Devi'. On Basant Panchami and Ram Navmi every year, a large number of pilgrims visit the hill top to worship and sacrifice of goats in front of the temple is common.

            In a cave, there is a small image which is now worshipped by the Hindus. The image is clearly that of Parshvanath with a hood over the head. When it is observed closely the hood looks like the hoods of several serpents. The 'Dhyani Mudra' image of Parshvanath, with snake-hood over the head is common. The Jain relics at Kolhua hill are of Digambar Jains.

            Bhaduli is another important historcal place of Chatra which is 22 miles away on the north-west of Chatra on the Chatra - Chauparan road only a few hundred meters from   the Itkhori Block. It has Budhist relics; there is an image of 'Sahasra Lingam Shiva' at the top of which there is a cavity where water percolates and it is not known to anybody as to where it comes from. There is an inscription on the pedestal of the idol.

            An ancient temple of Goddess 'Kali' is still existent there. These temple ruins have not been scientifically tested which would have thrown some light on the date of Hindu immigration into Chai (a village of Itkhori ). Siddharth penanced hard at Uruvela but could not achieve his goal. Then he took a holy dip in the River "Niranjana" (modern Lilajan - which flows from Chatra to Gaya via Jori and Hunterganj and culminates in the river Phalgu at Bodh Gaya) meditated at Bodh Gaya under a pipal tree, got enlightenment and was called Buddha, Tathagat & Shakya Muni.  Samudra Gupta (320 to 380 A.D.) also passed through Chotanagpur when he led his expedition to the Eastern Deccan. It is said that Samudra Gupta marching through Chotanagpur directed the first attack against the kingdom of south Kaushal in the valley of Mahanadi. "I tsing" the Chinese traveller who visited "Tamluk" in 637 A.D. passed through the hill tracks of Chotangpur to reach Nalanda and Bodh Gaya.

Medieval Period :-  To the Muhammadan historians the whole of Chotanagpur was in the  tract which they knew as the Jharkhand or the forest country. It remained practically independent through out the Turko-Afghan period (1206 to 1526 A.D.) in India. The Rohtas fortress was the farthest limit of actual penetration made by them towars it.

            Shams-i-Shiraz Afif the author of Tarikh-i-Firoz Shahi enlivens us that Firoz shah Tughlaque after his second campaign against Bengal (1359-1360)  proceeded towards the Rai of Jai Nagar (Modern Orissa) from Jaunpur and coming to terms with the said Rai returned by some route through Jharkhand. Dr. Qanungo opines that Shershah threatened his way to Rohtas through the jungles of Jharkhadn as best he could (second attack on Gaur (Bengal) 1538 A.D.)The Ain-i-Akbari informs us that Chotanagpur or Kukra pradesh was included in the suba of Bihar with the advent of Akbar on the throne of India in 1556. A new chapter was opened  in the history of Chotanagpur.

Alamgir - Namah enlivens us that kothi lies 25 kos (50 miles) and kunda at the distance of 7 kos(14 miles) from palamu,Daud Khan the Mughal governer of Bihar during the reign of Aurangzeb occupied Kothi on 5th may 1660 without much opposition. He then moved towars the fort of Kunda which had a very strong opposition being situated on a hill. This fort came to be occupied and was completely destroyed on 3rd June 1660. Daud Khan stayed here during the rainy season. He also built fortified encampments at short intervals between kothi and kunda forts in each of which he placed a garrison. A personal servant of Aurangzeb named Ram Singh a descendant of Garhwal Rajput of Bundel Khand was granted " thane dari jagir" by Daud khan and Mangal khan in the Fasli year 1076 i.e. 1669 A.D. for the care and guarding of the roads . The analogy of Garhwal would suggest that he was a chieftain of a locally predominent race 'Kharwar'.

            Kendi situated in the Chatra p.s. was in the possession of Ramgarh Rajas in the 17th century. At about1770 A.D. Kendi was reduced by Muhemmadans to the position of Zamindari and the earliest available information shows that one Nahir Singh was the proprietor at the beginning of  the 18th century and his son Fateh Singh was making khorposh (maintenance grant in 1783 A.D.) Chai was subjugated by Mukund Singh of Ramgarh (1770 A.D.) and was partitioned amongst the chieftains of whom apparently four paid tribute to the fifth Raja Lakhan of Jagodih. Mention is made of Chai & Champa in the Ain-i-Akbari as assessed to revenue as a post of Suba Bihar but perhaps this simply indicated Kendi.

Latter Mughal Pediod :- After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707 the Mughal Empire almost collapsed and Muhammad Shah was the Regent of the Mughal Empire from 1719 to 1748. Sir Buland Khan the then governor of Bihar who attacked chotanagpur in 1724 and was back after taking a huge wealth and diamonds. According to Shitab Rai Fugairud-daula proceeded for kunda (Hazaribagh) in 1730. The new Governor of Bihar Aliwardi Khan advanced towars kunda in 1734 after defeating the rebellious zamindars of Tikari (Gaya). He attakced the Chatra fort and the fort was demolished. Ghatwal Bishun Singh of Ramgarh Rajya and Aliwardi Khan possessed Rs. 12000/-  form Ramgarh and Rs. 5000/- from Palamu and for sometime Ramgarh and Palamu Raj was handed over to Tikari and Senaut.

            In 1740 A.D. Aliwardi Khan the Governor of Bihar Bengal & Orissa again sent an expedition against Ramgarh in the command of Hidayat Ali Khan , Jai Kishan Singh the Raja   of Palamu  and Siros, the Zamindar of Kutumba and Sherghati Sunder Singh was with Hidayat  Ali Khan. They subdued the Ramgarh Raja and the Chatra fort of Ramgarh Raja was conquered (See Bihar through the ages p. 503 and P.C. Roy Choudhury 1857 in Bihar , Ramgarh Raj.) . There is no trace of the fort of Chatra now, but a Mohalla Dibha known as Garh par in Chatra proper is said to be the place where the fortress was erected. At two points " Surang " underground path is traceable and "garh par" is situated on a height and the road which leads to Karbala(Chatra) via Chhath Talab is downward. At " Khancha Dabar" (Dibha) some statues of Hindu dieties are to be found,Scattered and unidentified. The battle of Plassey in 1757 handed over the fate of India in the hands of the Britishers.

 Modern Period :- The year 1765 A.D. opens a new epoch in the history of Chotanagpur as on 12th of August 1765. Emperor Shah Alam II granted the Diwani of Bengal,Bihar and Orissa to the East India Company. As Chotanagpur forms a part of Bihar the East India Company was entitled to recieve tribute or Ramgarh, Kharagdiha,Kendi and Kunda. The Britishers for the first time came in contact of these regions in 1769 and captain Camac first subdued  the Rajas of Kharagdiha and Kunda. In 1771. He was the Military collector of Ramgarh district which was comprised of Nagpur, Palamu, and the present district of Hazaribagh and its headquarter was at Chatrfa.In 1780 captain Camac was succeeded by (Captain Heatley & the latter by captain Ramus - Military Collector ship) Mr. Chapman, was the first Civilian administator of chotanagpur " The conquered province". Mr. Chapman acted as a judge , a magistrate and a collector of revenue, his court was alternatlely held at Sherghati and Chatra, and his authority was enforced by the newly formed Ramgarh Battalion which was stationed at Hazaribagh.

            In the year 1799 a Munsif was appointed for the first time and was staioned at Chatra. Ranchi settlement, Report indicates that in the year 1778, an establishment of five companies of sepoy was odered to be staioned at Chatra where the collector of Ramgarh resided for use in the district under his control. There was a vigorous apposition by the merchants of Chatra on the proposal of W.Hunter, the Judge Magistrate of Ramgarh for shifting of the administative headquarter from Chatra to Ichak (42 miles west of Vishnugarh & 6 miles north of the Silwar Dawk-station).

            Governor General in Council thought it proper that the district be continued to remain at Chatra (Ramgarh Collecotr's Despatch Register no.6 page. 126)) and thus Chatra continued  to be the district headquarters of Chatra or Ramgarh Zila from 1771 to 1833 A.D.

            It is also interesting to note that Raja Ram Mohan Roy the father of Modern India worked as a sub-registrar at Chatra in 1805-6 A.D. and lived both at Chatra and Ramgarh in this capacity. When Mr. William Digbay was tranferred to Bhagalpur he took Ram Mohan Roy with him to his new place of Assignment. The old stone building housing the Sub-treasury and Sub-registrar's office was the same building where Raja Ram Mohan Roy worked some 195 years ago, which has been shifted near by. The old banyan tree standing infront of the office of the S.D.O. and Subtreasury is a mute witness to that historical glory of Chatra which it possessed. Hand written documents of Raja Ram Mohan Roy are to be found in the record room of the regristry office in Hazaribagh.

            There was KOL Rebellion in 1831 against the Britishers which rocked the very foundatiuons of the English rule in chotanagpur. The results of this rebellion were far reaching in the administrative annals of Chotanagpur as the Ramgarh Zila was passed into a administrative control of the south western Frontier Agency with its headquarters at Ranchi. Chatra lost its past glories but something was compensated in the year 1914 when Chatra was made a sub-divisional headquarters of the Hazaribagh district.

            Chatra offers another fascinating chapter in the history of freedom movement in Bihar . Just behind the State Bnak of India, Chatra Branch, there is a tank named ' Mangal Talao' and popularly known as 'Phansi Talab' where Sahid Park is made. It is here Jai Mangal Pandey and Nadir Ali Khan the two Subedars were hanged on a near by Mango tree during the great glorious rebellion of 1857. There is one pillar construction on the eastern bank of the said Talao(pond) where there is an inscription of a local poem immortalising the two sepoys :

            "JAY MANGAL PANDEY NADIR ALI

                        DONO SUBEDAR RE

            DONO MILKAR PHANSI CHARHE

                        HARJIVAN TALAB RE"

            The most important engagement fought between the insurgents and the British Chotanagpur during the Mutiny of 1857 was the battle of Chatra. The two detachments of the 8th N.I.staioned at Hazaribagh broke into rebellion at 1.00 P.M. on 30th July 1857. Captain Dalton reoccupied Hazaribagh on 23rd September 1857 though stiffly resisted for the two month. They decided to leave the province by way to  Chatra to join Babu Kunwar Singh of Bhojpur (Jagdishpur) who had rebelled against the Britishers at the age of eighty and had taken a vow drive them out from India. On the way a local zamindar Bhola Singh joined them and the mutineeres reached Chatra via Kuru, Chandwa and Balumath.

            At Chatra they were attacked by a mixed force consisting of a portion of the 53rd Regiment of British troops and a detachment (  of 150) of Rattray's Sikh , numbering in all 320 men. Definitely they were surprised but they took up a strong position on the brow of a hill.

            The hill is known as 'Kalipahari' two miles south west of Chatra. The small but locally important and decisive battle of Chatra was fought on 2 October 1857 near  Chatra Jail (Mangal Talab). The Victoria cross Lieutenant J.C.C. Daunt of the 70th Bengal Native Infantry and sergeant Dynon of the 53rd Foot are stated to have acted with " conspicious gallantry in capturing two guns by pistolling the gunners, who were moving down the detachment with grape". Seventy seven bodies of mutineers were buried in one pit on the 3rd October 1857 and a large number of them were wounded and their arms and ammunitions were captured that some external assistance to the mutineers was suspected Major English asked for one hundred men from Calcutta as "the guns will have to be dragged across many swamps and the road is very difficult". (Hazaribagh old Racord P.C. Roy p.102).

            The Rebellions were crushed mercilessly. Jai Managal Pandey and Nadir Ali Khan subedar of the Battalion were caught and brought before simpson on 3rd October 1857 and were sentenced to death on 4th October 1857 under the provision of the act of XVII of 1857.

            A little away from Chatra town - say one K.m. away there is one village behind the Divisional Forest Office near Catholic Ashram, where an old cemetry over grown with bushes still bears testimony to the heroic battle fought by about 30 sepoys of against the Britishers during the sepoy mutiny in 1857. The inscription on the cemetry says that the Battalion of the army men had to be brought from Ramgarh Cantt. to destroy barely 20 sepoys during the great Mutiny. The inscription runs as follows.:-

            In the grave are buried "The 56 men of Her Majesty's 53rd Regiment of foot and a party of Rattrys sikhs who were killed at Chatra on October 2, 1857 in action against mutineers of the Ramgarh Battalion, Lt. J.C.C.Daunt of the 70th Bengal Native Infantry and sergeant D.Dynon of the 53rd regiment were awarded victoria cross fro conspicuous gallantry in the battle  in which the mutineers were completely defeated and lost all their four guns and ammunitions.

            The British chroniclers have given a very perverted account of what is known as the 'MUTINY of 1857' in Chotanagpur which needs exploration and probe as the movement was very popular, wide spread and acute.

 National Movement :- On December 12th 1912 Bihar and Orissa and Chotanagpur were seperated from Bengal by a Royal Proclamation to form a separate provice under  a lieutenant General in Council. In Nov. 1914 Chatra Subdivision was formed with Chatra as its headquarter. Orissa was separated from Bihar in 1936.

            The national movement picked up momentum in Bihar in 1921. Dr. Rajendra Prasad  the first President of free India visited Hazaribagh the same year and addressed a meeting at Chatra and Hazaribagh, there was also a move to boycott the local Schools.National schools were started at Chatra , Hazaribagh and Dhanwar, but these schools collapsed due to financial hardships.

            One of the most striking feature of 1942 i.e. Quit India Movement was the escape of Shree Jai Prakash Narayan and seven others from  the Hazaribagh Central Jail. Here notable congress leaders were lodged on the Night of Diwali (9th Nov.1942) Jai Prakash Narayan  escaped from the Jail and came to Tatra ( a village of Chatra). All efforts for their detection failed.

            Chotanagpur Keshri Babu Ram Narayan Singh of p.s.Hunterganj fought bravely and gave stiff resistance to the Britishers and  took rest only after driving them out of India (1947). And now Chatra has become a district of  Bihar since July 1991.

            THE BATTLE OF CHATRA (1857) 

                The Revolt of 1857 began in the tribal and hilly area of Chotanagpur on 30 July when the sepoys stationed at Hazaribagh rose in revolt and all the Europeans deserted that station. The soldiers of the Ramgarh battalion stationed at Doranda, near Ranchi, sent to control the situation at Hazaribagh, themselves revolted in the way and returned to their station, making Ranchi and Doranda, the two newly created townships, the centre of their revolt .The Commissioner of the Chotanagpur Division,E.T.Dalton,left Ranchi along with other Europeans and remained at Bagodar ,Barhi and Hazaribagh for about seven weeks.

            Meanwhile the rebels plundered the treasury and burnt houses at Hazaribagh and Ranchi both . They also tried to enlist the support of the local zamindars .As Dalton and others were frantically seeking reinforcements from Calcutta , the British rule in Chotanagpur seemed to have ended.

            It is only with the arrival of the Madrasis and the Sikhs in September that the local authorities could do something to restore the order.

            As F.B.Bradley-Birt says,"The five hundred Madrasis and the detachment of Her Majesty's 53rd Foot must have been a welcome sight as they came up the Grand Trunk Road."1  But before these troops could act,the Hazaribagh and Ranchi mutineers had left these stations and Colonel Fisher lamented on 24 September that "the Ramgarh mutineers ,with their guns,are ,moving about  in a small province,and not an official,civil and military,can tell where they are to be found."2

            On 11 September the rebels left Doranda and at Chutia they were joined by a zamindar named Bhola Singh.Then through Kuru and Chandawa they reached Chatra,presumably to march further to Rohatasgarh to join the rebel chief Kunwar Singh of Jagdishpur in Shahabad (west Bihar).3

            Since the rebels have not left any written account we have to rely on the records of the English East India Company which often gives a blurred  picture of the movements and actions of the rebels.So we do not know much about how they reached Chatra,forty miles away from Hazaribagh.4

            Dalton sent 150 men of the 53rd Food of the British Army and 50 of Rattray's Sikhs under Major English in pursuit of the rebels. At Hazaribagh they were joined by Captain J.Simpson ,the Deputy Commissioner of that district,5 and then they moved towards the rebels.

            According to the statement of Jaimangal Singh before Simpson, when the rebels reached Chatra their leader,Madhav Singh a Jamadar,seized the local Mahant's horse and tried to rob him off.But as they heard of the arrival of the European and Sikh forces in a neighbouring village Dhoree , they thought this was a rumour6 and continued with their Robinhood syndrome as well as the shooting practice of their new recruits from Bhojpur and elsewhere , According to Simposon , their want of behalf in the approach of the English army proved must fatal.

            By 30 September the Comapy's forces under Major English headed towards Chatra and when the rebels were convinced that a class was inevitable they took up" a strong position" in the western part of this town' with the whole city on their east, the narrow streets which could  not be passed through ' without endangering the small British forces. The rebel army led by the former subadars  and jamadars of the Ramgarh battalion and a few zamindars, knew fully well the geopolits of the area and stationed themselves at a place of strategic importance. The road to the town was over a bridge and there were"deep rice fields"to the north of the bridge, making it difficult for the company's forces "to pass with rapidity" However due to the suddenness of the English attack the rebels who were plundering the city could not join the main body of the rebel force.

            Major Smith who was somewhat familiar with the area drew up a rough plan of the Chatra town and its approach on the basis of which Major English decided to launch the attack after rounding the south of the city and coming opposite the position of the rebels near the old jail.

            According to an official estimate the total number of the rebels at the Chatra encounter was 3,000 and the English side had Rattray's Sikhs from Burhee and Hazaribagh in all 320 rank and file form the 53rd regiment as well as from the Bengal police battalion.10

            The advanced guards located the main body of the rebels on the heights and immediately the skirmishers got to the north across a narrow belt of rice ground and engaged the rebels. The Enfield  rifle  ball discharged at a distance of 900 yards proved effective and the  rebels immediately reped by around shot fired towards the approaching English army . But since the Europeans and the Sikhs had almost crossed the rice fields not much harm was done to them .However, a horse was killed and its owner had to advance on foot.

            After crossing the rice fields the Europeans moved by the east of the village Kulotia and Lt Earle commanding the Sikhs with Major T.Simpson and some men,proceeded through the hamlet and came near the rebel force . The Europeans were already "hotly engaged with the rebels at the tops of trees".11

                        A large number of the rebels now rushed up in a "skirmishing order" advancing on the rear of the Company's forces. Simpson immediately warned the Sikhs of the imminent danger and they took up a position in the grove and " fired steadily upon the enemy, killing and wounding some 7 including a former Jamadar with a blue coat12.

            As soon as the main body of the Sikhs has beaten off the attack from the south - east they joined the attack on the two remaining guns which were pouring grape shots, etc, upon Simpson and his men passing through the grove which proved to be the graveyard of "many of the Europeans and some of the sikhs"13.It was only due to "the determined intrepidity" of Lt. Daunt who rushed to the left flank of the remaining gun and captured it, that the rebels left this spot, but only after many of them were killed and wounded by the Enfield rifles. however, the shot, of the rebel guns still moved down the Company's forces "tearing away the branches or ploughing up the ground."14 But for the partial   cover of the trees the loss on the English side would have been heavier.

            On the English side 56 men were killed and wounded 46 Europeans and 10 Sikhs.15 the wounds of some of the Europeans were so severe that four of them had to undergo amputation. Later more than a hundred men on the government side were hospitalised. On the rebel side 150 died 77 bodies were buried in one pit alone on 3 October and the number of the wounded was very large, about a hundred found lying in the jungle. Many of the wounded who had somehow escaped form the battle field were captured and brought by the rural police(Chaukidars and Dafadars) and the villagers. Many rebels fled towards Sherghati after throwing their arms which were picked up by the government's men.

            The clash, one of the biggest in 1857 in Bihar, had lasted one hour and the rebels completely defeated and routed. Four guns with the wagons, ten elephants, all the ammunitions and several boxes containing the looted government treasure and other articles were captured.16

            Simpson spoke highly of the conduct of the troops under Major English in this battle: the cool intrepidity of the detachment of Her Majesty's 53rd with every officer attached to in, well seconded in the attack by the Sikhs under lieut. Earle and the excellent arrangements of Major English and his staff rendered success certain and although it has been achieved at (a) considerable loss, yet the object gained has been great."17 Two Victoria Crosses were won-on by Lt.Daunt of the 7oth Bengal N.1 and the other by sergeant Dynon of the British 53rd foot for "conspicuous gallantry in capturing two guns by pistolling the gunners who were moving down the English detachment"18

            Such was the impression created by the rebels that L.E.W.O Brien,the 3rd Assistant in charge, informed Calcutta through Lt.Stanton on the electric telegraph form Sherghati that Major English did not feel "strong enough to escort "the captured articles through the surrounding jungles which werre full of disbanded sepoys and plunderers'19  He wanted 10 men more for he had only 25 Sikhs with with him at Sherghati and he was to march to Chatra with a detachment on the Europeans to help in bringing in the captured ammunition. In another  message Major English reiterated that his party was "very weak" to carry the wounded and the guns etc"20

            Soon the Company's side changed   its camp from the west of Chatra to Kalapahari, two miles away, because they could not stand the offensive smell of the corpses strewn at the battle ground. Two Subadars of the Ramgarh battalion, Jai Mangal Pandey and Nadir Ali ,who had led the assault at Chatra, were captured in the jungle on the 3rd, tried under the provisions of the Act XVII of 1857 and Simpson in his capacity of the Commissioner under this act, sentenced them to death "on the very ground where they had made such an exemplary resistance to the British troops two days previously.'21

            The statement 22 of these martyrs sent to Calcutta by the Commissioner, are quite revealing. Jagatpal Singh, the Lal of Salgi, was in close touch with his uncle-in-law Kunwar Singh of Shahabad. According to Simpson, eight of the sepoys of the two companies of the 8th regiment native infantry who mutinied at Hazaribagh, had joined the chief of Salgi " to keep up the excitement and spirit of rebellion" already engendered in the Ramgarh Light Infantry by the machinations of Jamadar Madho Singh" at Doranda and Ranchi.

            The Jamadar Madho (Madhav) Singh escaped from the Chatra battle and even though a reward of Rs. 1,000 was declared on this prime-over of the rebellion in Ranchi, like Nana Saheb of Kanpur, he could never be traced.

            The two other rebel leaders, Thakur Bishwanath Sahi of Barkagarh  and Pandey Ganpat Rai, a former Diwan of the Chotanagpur estate, also escaped and the Thakur's planquin and two personal servants were found  in the jungle .Sahi returned  to his zamindari in the Lohardaga district, collected a large number of men, plundered several villages ,burnt the government thana at Barwa and with 1,100 men proceeded to attack the lohardaga town when he was captured and all his property confiscated .His associate Pandey was also arrested and both of them were sentenced to death in a summary trial and hanged on the trees at Ranchi in April 1858.

            This shows that even after the Chatra defeat ,some leading lights among the rebels were not disheartened; they only shifted the scene of their operation. As P.C Roy Choudhury remarks  ,the English victory at Chatra "crushed the movement in the Hazaribagh district"24  but the rebels in other areas were not at all cowed down.

            After all mere courage could not bring success to the rebels against a well organised army ,but there is no doubt that the Chatra engagement was "a grim fight" with a "terrible blood shed on either side "25 However the support given to the British side by the inhabitants of  Chatra is surprising indeed .The mahajans who had been plundered at the orders of Bhola singh Baraik of Chutia ,captured the latter ,shut him in a room and starved him to death.26

            In view of the seizure of a large amount of ammunitions at Chatra Simpson suspected that besides the ones plundered at Doranda the rebels might have other sources of supply. Moreover, small coins and a chest of opium were also recovered from the rebels.

            While transmitting Simpson's report on the Chatra clash Dalton rejoiced that" nothing could have been more favourable to the through re-establishment of the authority of Government and the speedy restoration of order than the circumstance under which the mutineers were signally defeated. Since the rebels had brought in their service hundreds of the labourers of the various regions of the Chotanagpur division who saw the defeat of the rebel force with their own eyes, the news spread like wild fire and had " a dampening effect" on the villagers near by. Dalton called the success at Chatra "brilliant" and expected "most important results." The Chatra encounter, he hoped, would have the way for the restoration of peace at Doranda (Ranchi). On this point he was right, but the other areas of his division, especially Singhbhum, soon saw a bigger conflagration than had occurred before the Chatra battle. No doubt it was an uneven fight, but the courage shown by the rebels kept on inspiring their counterparts in other areas. The two tombs near the forest colony to the western periphery of Chatra still "recall the great battle that took place" on 2 October 1857.  According to the oral tradition a large number of the rebels were hanged on the mango tree by the side of the tomb and their dead bodies thrown in the tank near by. No wonder this tank at Chatra is called the Phansi (connected  with hanging) and bhutaha talab (the tank with ghosts). 12th of August 1765. Emperor Shah Alam II granted the Diwani of Bengal,Bihar and Orissa to the East India Company. As Chotanagpur forms a part of Bihar the East India Company was entitled to recieve tribute or Ramgarh, Kharagdiha,Kendi and Kunda. The Britishers for the first time came in contact of these regions in 1769 and captain Camac first subdued  the Rajas of Kharagdiha and Kunda. In 1771. He was the Military collector of Ramgarh district which was comprised of Nagpur, Palamu, and the present district of Hazaribagh and its headquarter was at Chatrfa.In 1780 captain Camac was succeeded by (Captain Heatley & the latter by captain Ramus - Military Collector ship) Mr. Chapman, was the first Civilian administator of chotanagpur " The conquered province". Mr. Chapman acted as a judge , a magistrate and a collector of revenue, his court was alternatlely held at Sherghati and Chatra, and his authority was enforced by the newly formed Ramgarh Battalion which was stationed at Hazaribagh.

            In the year 1799 a Munsif was appointed for the first time and was staioned at Chatra. Ranchi settlement, Report indicates that in the year 1778, an establishment of five companies of sepoy was odered to be staioned at Chatra where the collector of Ramgarh resided for use in the district under his control. There was a vigorous apposition by the merchants of Chatra on the proposal of W.Hunter, the Judge Magistrate of Ramgarh for shifting of the administative headquarter from Chatra to Ichak (42 miles west of Vishnugarh & 6 miles north of the Silwar Dawk-station).

            Governor General in Council thought it proper that the district be continued to remain at Chatra (Ramgarh Collecotr's Despatch Register no.6 page. 126)) and thus Chatra continued  to be the district headquarters of Chatra or Ramgarh Zila from 1771 to 1833 A.D.

            It is also interesting to note that Raja Ram Mohan Roy the father of Modern India worked as a sub-registrar at Chatra in 1805-6 A.D. and lived both at Chatra and Ramgarh in this capacity. When Mr. William Digbay was tranferred to Bhagalpur he took Ram Mohan Roy with him to his new place of Assignment. The old stone building housing the Sub-treasury and Sub-registrar's office was the same building where Raja Ram Mohan Roy worked some 195 years ago, which has been shifted near by. The old banyan tree standing infront of the office of the S.D.O. and Subtreasury is a mute witness to that historical glory of Chatra which it possessed. Hand written documents of Raja Ram Mohan Roy are to be found in the record room of the regristry office in Hazaribagh.

            There was KOL Rebellion in 1831 against the Britishers which rocked the very foundatiuons of the English rule in chotanagpur. The results of this rebellion were far reaching in the administrative annals of Chotanagpur as the Ramgarh Zila was passed into a administrative control of the south western Frontier Agency with its headquarters at Ranchi. Chatra lost its past glories but something was compensated in the year 1914 when Chatra was made a sub-divisional headquarters of the Hazaribagh district.

            Chatra offers another fascinating chapter in the history of freedom movement in Bihar . Just behind the State Bnak of India, Chatra Branch, there is a tank named ' Mangal Talao' and popularly known as 'Phansi Talab' where Sahid Park is made. It is here Jai Mangal Pandey and Nadir Ali Khan the two Subedars were hanged on a near by Mango tree during the great glorious rebellion of 1857. There is one pillar construction on the eastern bank of the said Talao(pond) where there is an inscription of a local poem immortalising the two sepoys :

            "JAY MANGAL PANDEY NADIR ALI

                        DONO SUBEDAR RE

            DONO MILKAR PHANSI CHARHE

                        HARJIVAN TALAB RE"

            The most important engagement fought between the insurgents and the British Chotanagpur during the Mutiny of 1857 was the battle of Chatra. The two detachments of the 8th N.I.staioned at Hazaribagh broke into rebellion at 1.00 P.M. on 30th July 1857. Captain Dalton reoccupied Hazaribagh on 23rd September 1857 though stiffly resisted for the two month. They decided to leave the province by way to  Chatra to join Babu Kunwar Singh of Bhojpur (Jagdishpur) who had rebelled against the Britishers at the age of eighty and had taken a vow drive them out from India. On the way a local zamindar Bhola Singh joined them and the mutineeres reached Chatra via Kuru, Chandwa and Balumath.

            At Chatra they were attacked by a mixed force consisting of a portion of the 53rd Regiment of British troops and a detachment (  of 150) of Rattray's Sikh , numbering in all 320 men. Definitely they were surprised but they took up a strong position on the brow of a hill.

            The hill is known as 'Kalipahari' two miles south west of Chatra. The small but locally important and decisive battle of Chatra was fought on 2 October 1857 near  Chatra Jail (Mangal Talab). The Victoria cross Lieutenant J.C.C. Daunt of the 70th Bengal Native Infantry and sergeant Dynon of the 53rd Foot are stated to have acted with " conspicious gallantry in capturing two guns by pistolling the gunners, who were moving down the detachment with grape". Seventy seven bodies of mutineers were buried in one pit on the 3rd October 1857 and a large number of them were wounded and their arms and ammunitions were captured that some external assistance to the mutineers was suspected Major English asked for one hundred men from Calcutta as "the guns will have to be dragged across many swamps and the road is very difficult". (Hazaribagh old Racord P.C. Roy p.102).

            The Rebellions were crushed mercilessly. Jai Managal Pandey and Nadir Ali Khan subedar of the Battalion were caught and brought before simpson on 3rd October 1857 and were sentenced to death on 4th October 1857 under the provision of the act of XVII of 1857.

            A little away from Chatra town - say one K.m. away there is one village behind the Divisional Forest Office near Catholic Ashram, where an old cemetry over grown with bushes still bears testimony to the heroic battle fought by about 30 sepoys of against the Britishers during the sepoy mutiny in 1857. The inscription on the cemetry says that the Battalion of the army men had to be brought from Ramgarh Cantt. to destroy barely 20 sepoys during the great Mutiny. The inscription runs as follows.:-

In the grave are buried "The 56 men of Her Majesty's 53rd Regiment of foot and a party of Rattrys sikhs who were killed at Chatra on October 2, 1857 in action against mutineers of the Ramgarh Battalion, Lt. J.C.C.Daunt of the 70th Bengal Native Infantry and sergeant D.Dynon of the 53rd regiment were awarded victoria cross fro conspicuous gallantry in the battle  in which the mutineers were completely defeated and lost all their four guns and ammunitions.

            The British chroniclers have given a very perverted account of what is known as the 'MUTINY of 1857' in Chotanagpur which needs exploration and probe as the movement was very popular, wide spread and acute.

 National Movement :- On December 12th 1912 Bihar and Orissa and Chotanagpur were seperated from Bengal by a Royal Proclamation to form a separate provice under  a lieutenant General in Council. In Nov. 1914 Chatra Subdivision was formed with Chatra as its headquarter. Orissa was separated from Bihar in 1936.

            The national movement picked up momentum in Bihar in 1921. Dr. Rajendra Prasad  the first President of free India visited Hazaribagh the same year and addressed a meeting at Chatra and Hazaribagh, there was also a move to boycott the local Schools.National schools were started at Chatra , Hazaribagh and Dhanwar, but these schools collapsed due to financial hardships.

            One of the most striking feature of 1942 i.e. Quit India Movement was the escape of Shree Jai Prakash Narayan and seven others from  the Hazaribagh Central Jail. Here notable congress leaders were lodged on the Night of Diwali (9th Nov.1942) Jai Prakash Narayan  escaped from the Jail and came to Tatra ( a village of Chatra). All efforts for their detection failed.

            Chotanagpur Keshri Babu Ram Narayan Singh of p.s.Hunterganj fought bravely and gave stiff resistance to the Britishers and  took rest only after driving them out of India (1947). And now Chatra has become a district of  Jharkhand.

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