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Various Peasants Movement And Uprisings After 1857

Last Updated : 24 Jun, 2022
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Many peasants and tribal movements after 1857 played an immense role in India’s struggle for freedom. The condition of the Indian peasant gradually worsened during the 17th and 18th centuries. The main cause of Indian peasants and the tribal uprising was the colonial economic policies which affect the transformation of the agrarian structure, the ruin of the handicrafts leading to overcrowding of land, the new land revenue system; and the colonial administrative and judicial system.

Peasants in zamindar areas faced high rents, illegal logging, arbitrary evictions and unpaid work. In Ryotwari districts, the government collected massive revenue from the land. Burdened farmers, who feared losing their only source of livelihood, often turned to a local moneylender, taking full advantage of the hardships of the past, charging high interest on the money lent to them. Gradually, over large areas, the real peasants became volunteer, proportional and landless workers, and the peasants often resisted exploitation and soon realized that their real enemy was the colonial state. Sometimes desperate peasants turned to criminals to escape unbearable conditions.

Indigo Revolt(1859):

In Bengal, almost every European indigo planter has exploited local farmers and forced them to grow indigo instead of more profitable crops such as rice. The plantation owners forced the farmers to withdraw money in advance and enter into fraudulent contracts, then used against the farmers. Peasants’ anger flared up in 1859 when they were led by Digambar Biswas and Bishnu Biswas of the Nadia district of Bengal. They also organized against the attacks of the planters. Plantation owners have also tried methods such as eviction and rent escalation. 

The rioters started a rent strike, refused to pay more rent, and physically resisted eviction attempts. Gradually, he learned to use the legal system and was prosecuted with support to raise funds. Bengali intellectuals played an essential role in supporting the interests of the farmers through newspaper campaigns, organizing rallies, making notes of discontent among the peasants, and supporting them in court battles. In order to investigate the problem of indigo cultivation, the government has constituted the Indigo Commission and in November 1860 the government issued a declaration obliging the raiyat to cultivate indigo and resolve all disputes through legal means. However, the planters have already closed their factories, and indigo cultivation has almost stopped in Bengal by the end of the 1860s.

Pabna Revolt: 

In the 1870s and 1880s, agricultural riots occurred in much of East Bengal due to the repressive methods of the landlords. The landlords appealed for an increase in rent beyond legal limits and prevented tenants from acquiring ownership under Act X of 1859. The league organized a rent strike – the ryots sued the zamindars for refusing to pay the increased rent. The fighting spread to Pabna and other parts of East Bengal. The main form of conflict was legal resistance. Although the discontent of the peasants continued until 1885, most cases were successful in partly explaining to the authorities and the landlords’ concerns.

Deccan Riots:

The districts of the Deccan region of western India were heavily taxed under the Ryotwari system. These moneylenders were mostly Marwaris or Gujaratis and the conditions worsened with the fall of cotton prices after the end of the American Civil War (1865), Secondly, the government’s decision to increase land revenue by 50 per cent in 1867, and thirdly, a series of crop failures. 

This social boycott quickly spread to the villages of Pune, Ahmednagar, Sholapur and Satara. The movement continued for 2 months and spread in 30 villages. The social boycott quickly turned into an agrarian rebellion, with systematic attacks on the homes and shops of moneylenders. As a remedial measure, the Deccan Agricultural relief Act was passed in 1879. Moreover, this time, the modern nationalist intellectuals of Maharashtra supported the interests of the farmers. In 1879, the Farmers Relief Act was passed, which ensured that farmers could not be arrested and imprisoned if they could not pay their debts.

Kisan Sabha Movement:

After the revolt of 1857, the talukas of Awadh regained their land. This increased the power of the peasants, that is, the large landowners, over the agrarian society of the province. World War I raised the price of food and other necessities and due to this, the condition of the farmers of UP worsened.  The Integrated Kisan Sabha Provinces was founded in February 1918 by Gauri Shankar Mishra and Indra Narayan Dwivedi. Madan Mohan Malaviya supported his efforts and the other prominent leaders were Jinguri Singh, Durgapal Singh and Baba Ramchandra.

In October 1920, the Awadh Kisan Sabha was born because of differences in nationalist ranks. The centre of activity was primarily in the districts of Raebareli, Faizabad, and Sultanpur. 

Eka Movement:

 At the end of 1921, peasant discontent rekindled in certain districts in the north of the United Provinces: Khardoi, Bahrain and Sitapur. The following issues arose: High rent – 50% more than the recorded prices.

Meetings of the Eka or Unity Movement included a symbolic religious ritual in which the gathered peasants made a vow that they would pay only the recorded rent but would pay it on time and not leave when evicted. They refuse to do forced labour and give no help to criminals. The basic leadership of the Eka Movement came from Madari Pasi and other low caste leaders and many small zamindars.

Moplah Revolt:

 The revolt took place in the Moplah district of Malabar in 1921. The increasing demand for income and shrinking land, as well as the repression of the authorities, sparked a large-scale peasant revolt among the Malabar Moplahs. Between 1836 and 1854, there were 22 rebellions. However, none of them succeeded. ( However, Hindu Muslim differences distanced the Congress and the Moplahs. By 1921, the Moplahs had been subdued.)

Ramosi Uprising:

Ramosi, who served in the lower ranks of the Marathi army and police, instigated a rebellion in Satara. In 1822, under the leadership of Chittoor Singh, to protest the high price of land. Rigorous methods of revenue and their collection. Another rebellion broke out under his banner in 1825-1826. Due to severe famine and shortage in Umaji Punia. They went bankrupt for three years. Eventually, the British government not only forgave their sins but subdued them. He also gave them plots of land and recruited them for the mountain police.

Kuka Movement: 

This movement was founded in 1840 by Bhagat Jawahar Mal (also called Sian Saheb) in west Punjab. There are two names associated with the start of this movement i.e. Baba Balak Singh and Bhagat Jawar (or Jawahar) Mal.

Balak Singh was born in village Sarvala, in District Attock, in 1799. He started preaching very early in his life and the objective of his preachings was to uphold the religious purity of Sikhism. Some sources say that Balak Singh himself was a disciple of Bhagat Jawahar Mal. When the British took control of Punjab, the movement changed from a campaign of religious purification to a political one. Its basic tenets were the abolition of caste and similar discriminations among Sikhs, discouraging the eating of meat and intake of alcohol and drugs, and encouraging women to step out of seclusion.


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