In 1757, the defeat of the Battle of Plassey resulted in the establishment of the sun of Bengal’s independence. For the next nearly 200 years, the English rule is ruled by the whole of India. But their way of governance has not been disturbed. Against their oppression, the people of Bengal have repeatedly protested, rebelled, fought in the war. Titumir rebellion, sepoy revolt, Masterda Surya Sen’s revolt in Chittagong, and the revolt of Netaji Subhasabu’s ‘Azad Hind Fauj’ has been written in the history of Bengal. But in addition to these rebellions, there have been numerous revolutions and revolutions in our country against the British rule, the history of which most people of this country are not aware about the history. One such anti-British struggle was the Chakma rebellion that took place between 1777 and 1787.
Before discussing the Chakma rebellion, it is important to know the brief history of Chakmas. Chakmas are a nation inhabited in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region, which have their own system of government. The Chakmas are their heads of state. During the independent Sultanate period, during the Mughal regime and during the next independent Nababi regime, the relation between the sultans, subadars and the Nawabs of Bangladesh was congenial with Chakma Raja. Chakma King expressed loyalty to the rulers of Bangladesh and had to pay a limited amount of revenue to them as a sign of submission. There was no circulation in the Chakmas society. They trade in commodity trading. For this reason, the Chakma King used to pay revenue through the goods instead of the currency. In exchange, the rulers of Bangladesh were completely prevented from interfering with the internal affairs of the Chakma state. Under them, Chakmas were enjoying full autonomy. But after the Battle of Palashi, the situation quickly changed.
The British East India Company gradually became the leader of the politics of Bangladesh. In 1760, Nawab Mir Jafar, loyal to the English, became angered by them, and the English occupied his son-in-law, Mir Qasim, as the new Nawab of Bangladesh. In return, Mir Qasim gave the English the Burdwan, Midnapore and Chittagong regions. As a result, Chittagong and Chittagong Hill Tracts came under British rule.
The English started to complain as usual. It has been said before that during the rule of the Sultanate, Mughal and Nawab, the rate of tax imposed on the Chakmas was very limited. Since 1761 the English continued to increase the rate of revenues. Not only that, the English started interfering with the internal affairs of the Chakmas according to their nature. In 1772-1773, the English forced the Chakmas to pay revenue through the currency and took different measures for the introduction of currency based economy in the CHT region. As a result, many problems and chaos prevailed in the social, economic and political life of Chakmas. Gradually, the Chakmas became disconcerted towards the British rule and dissatisfaction among them continued to grow. In 1777, the English increased the rate of revenues on the CHT and appointed ‘Uddar’ (contractual leaseholder) to collect revenue.
At that time, the king of Chakmas was ‘Joan Baksh’ (his name was somewhere ‘jan bakhsh’). His chief naib was ‘Runu Khan’. Runu Khan was entrusted with the responsibility of collecting revenue. But in 1777, if the English increased the rate of revenue, it was not possible for Runa Khan to earn. The English used pressure on Ranu Khan to collect revenue at fixed rates. Rumored RuNu Khan thinks it is appropriate to rebel against the English instead of creating pressure on the subjects to earn more revenue.
In April 1777, with the permission of King Joan Baksh, he declared revolt. Ronu Khan hoisted the flag of independence and expelled the loyal employees of the English and the English from the low-lying areas of the Chittagong Hill Tracts and those areas. The English authorities repeatedly sent troops to the Chittagong Hill Tracts to suppress the rebellion of Reunu Khan, but each time their operation failed miserably. In order to deal with a large number of English soldiers and modern weapons, Runu Khan fought the guerrilla system. In each war, the English soldiers were defeated by the Chakma army. Especially in the year 1780, a large-scale English expedition was completely failed. The adverse geographical environment of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, the unlimited courage of Chakmas and the tactics of Runu Khan – the British power was defeated by these three and the Chittagong Hill Tracts effectively became British East India Company’s ‘VietNam’ **.
As the foil and ball proved both to fail, the English finally resorted to the strategy. Failing to defeat the Chakmas in the war zone, they decided to destroy the Chakmas economically. They imposed economic sanctions on the Chittagong Hill Tracts in 1781. People of Chittagong Hill Tracts used to import salt, fish, dried fish, iron products, potteries etc. from Chittagong. The English completely stopped supplying these goods and strictly imposed the block on the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Maybe they thought, ‘Oh yes! This time I have got you, I have a choice! ‘
But the fate of the fate is that the English blockade of the English blockade of the Great All-Powerful German Empire during the First World War, could not even give ‘flower tapes’ on the Chakmas. On the other hand, Runeu Khan madly imposed counter-economic sanctions on the English people. At that time the salt business was the main business of the English. After Land Revenue, salt business was the second major source of income for them. The main source of English salt production was in Chittagong, and about sixteen of the very important fuel wood for this salt production came from the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Runeu Khan stopped supplying the fuel wood!
Just as Bhimrul’s cheeks fell! The English saw it was a terrible catastrophe! In order to teach the chakmas, they got their own economy twelve times. They had a lot of income from the salt business. Its almost completely closed. That is, the English ‘siege’ weapon Boomerang *** struck on their forehead!
Desperate, the English again decided to send troops to capture the Chittagong Hill Tracts. But again they faced disaster again. Their two large army soldiers, sent in 1782 and 1785, were destroyed by the Chakmas. As a result, the tension of the English has been revived. False-tactics did not come to their work either.
The English had suffered severe military and economic losses due to the failure of the English in Chittagong Hill Tracts and the economic blockade imposed by the Chakmas. The English authorities realize that there is no way to get rid of this war without accepting defeat. In 1787, they signed the peace agreement with Chakma Raja.
Under the terms of the agreement,
(1) The English acknowledged the internal independence of the Chakmas in exchange for a fixed rate of revenue.
(2) The method of reimbursement of money by means of coins instead of coins is restored and Chakma King is accredited to give 300 annually cotton to the Englishmen.
(3) The English agreed to stop the immigration from the plains of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
(4) The English were committed to help the Chakma king to protect the Chakma kingdom from the invasion of the warring nations of Arakan, and for this reason some English soldiers were deployed in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
Through the signing of this agreement, the Chakma rebellion lasted for 10 years. With the end of the rebellion, the English breathed into relief, on the other hand, Chakmas were able to recover their full internal independence or autonomy.
* Chakmas are generally called ‘tribals’ in our country, which is not right. ‘Tribal’ means a small part of any nation. But Chakmas are not part of any other nation. Chakmas are a distinct nation like the Bengalis. Chakmas have their own language and culture, have their own social system, there is a unique history. That is why it is reasonable to call Chakmas a ‘nation’
** After the defeat of the United States in the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s, the defeat of a major nation was compared to ‘Vietnam’ in a small nation. For example, the Afghan war of 1979-1989 is called ‘Vietnam of Soviet Union’. In the meanwhile, during the Chakma rebellion, the Chittagong Hill Tracts were English’s ‘Vietnam’.
*** ‘Boomerang’ is a type of weapon used by the indigenous Australians, which falls on the target when the target is thrown, and if it does not hit, then the caster returns to the hand.
Note that in 1776-1783, the United States defeated the English and got independence. At about the same time (1777-1787) Chakmas defeated the English and achieved internal independence.