The Santal (also spelled as Santhal; formerly spelt as Sontal), are the largest tribal community in India, who live mainly in the states of Jharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, and Assam. There is also a significant Santal minority in neighboring Bangladesh, and a small population in Nepal.
On 30 June 1855, two great Santal rebel leaders, Sidhu Murmu and his brother Kanhu, mobilized ten thousand Santals and declared a rebellion against British colonists. The Santals initially gained some success but soon the British found out a new way to tackle these rebels. Instead, they forced them to come out of the forest. In a conclusive battle which followed, the British, equipped with modern firearms and war elephants, stationed themselves at the foot of the hill. When the battle began the British officer ordered his troops to fire without loading bullets. The Santals, who did not suspect this trap set by the British war strategy, charged with full potential. This step proved to be disastrous for them: as soon as they neared the foot of the hill, the British army attacked with full power and this time they were using bullets. Thereafter, attacking every village of the Santals, they made sure that the last drop of revolutionary spirit was annihilated. Although the revolution was brutally suppressed, it marked a great change in the colonial rule and policy. The day is still celebrated among the Santal community with great respect and spirit for the thousands of the Santal martyrs who sacrificed their lives along with their two celebrated leaders to win freedom from the rule of the Jamindars and the British operatives.
The Santal’s overall population today is estimate at 6,050,000 people.
Text adapted from Wikipedia’s article on the Santal people