Decided on July 19,1901

KING-EMPEROR Respondents


- (1.) The appellants before us, who are twenty-three in number, have been convicted by the Judicial Commissioner of Chota Nagpore under Section 436 coupled with Section 109, Section 307 coupled with Section 109, and Section 117 coupled with Section 109 of the Indian Penal Code, and each of them has been sentenced in respect of each of the charges under Secs.436 and 307 read with Section 109 to five years rigorous imprisonment, the sentences running concurrently.
(2.) The appellants are Mundas or Kohls in the District of Chota Nagpur, Eighty- seven persons were committed to the Sessions upon the charges already referred to, and upon certain other charges to which it is not necessary to refer. Of these persons only twenty-three have been convicted by the learned Judicial Commissioner, the rest being acquitted.
(3.) The history of the district, the insurrection of the Kohls in 1831 the disturbances which broke out in the year 1858, the agitations which took place subsequently, and the grievances which the Mundas laboured under have been set out in the very careful judgment of the learned Judicial Commissioner, and it is unnecessary to recapitulate them. It will be sufficient here to mention that in the year 1895, a Munda named Birsa proclaimed himself to be an incarnation of the Deity, and established a sect known as the Birsa Bhagwani sect in that part of the country. The persons joining such sect would wear a thread, such as the higher castes of Hindus wear, and were forbidden to work on certain days of the week, to use leathern thongs for yoking oxen, to eat beef or to eat with those nob belonging to their own sect. It would further appear that Birsa impressed upon the followers of his sect the grievances under which the Mundas generally were labouring and that it was necessary to redress such grievances, and he preached that the British Raj had come to an end and that his kingdom had come. The result of all this was that shortly afterwards he was arrested and convicted under Section 505 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment. He was released in the year 1897, and he then held various meetings between February 1898 and the 24 December 1899, at various places; such as the Dumari Hill, the Sembura Hill, Geraiuit Banda Jaipur, Balo, Jalasur, Sattal, Poje, Kotogarah, Bhartodih, Bichakuti, and at other places, not necessary to mention; and the evidence shows, as has been correctly found by the Judicial Commissioner, that the employment of force and arson was advocated from the very earliest meetings, and that bloodshed was also contemplated and preparation of weapons was directed and in some of the more recent meetings, Christmas time, beginning with Christmas Eve, was fixed as the time of rising, and what was preached at these meetings was that Christians and officials and those not following his sect should be killed and their houses burnt.;

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