Day 3 – Q 3.Why did the peasants rebel against the British rule in the 19th century? Were there religious overtones in some of these rebellions? Examine.
3. Why did the peasants rebel against the British rule in the 19th century? Were there religious overtones in some of these rebellions? Examine.
19 वीं शताब्दी में किसानों ने ब्रिटिश शासन के खिलाफ विद्रोह क्यों किया? क्या इन विद्रोहों में से कुछ में धार्मिक ओवरटोन थे? जांच करें।
The Land revenue system of British extracted money from the peasants even if their crops failed. The impoverished peasants could never pay back this borrowed money. This led to many hardships like extreme poverty and they were forced to work as bonded labourers. All these forced the peasantry to revolt.
Some peasants’ revolts which took place on account of the British policies of 19th Century:
- The Faqir and Sanyasi Rebellions (1770–1820s): The establishment of British control over Bengal after 1757 led to increase in land revenue and the exploitation of the peasants. The Bengal famine of 1770 led peasants whose lands were confiscated, displaced zamindars, disbanded soldiers and poor to come together in a rebellion. They were joined by the Sanyasis and Fakirs.
- The Indigo Rebellion (1859-1862): The British adopted many ways through which they could increase their profits. They also started interfering with the basic means of livelihood of the people. Not only did they introduce new crops, they also brought new techniques of farming. Heavy pressure was put on the zamindars and peasants to pay high taxes and grow commercial crops. One such commercial crop was Indigo. The peasants launched a movement for non-cultivation of indigo in Bengal.
- Faraizi Movement (1838-1848): This was the first ever no-tax campaign against the British Government led by Shariatullah Khan and Dadu Mian. Their band of volunteers fought heroically with the armed group of Indigo planters and zamindars. It brought together all the cultivators of Bengal against the tyranny and illegal extractions by the landlords
- Wahabi Movement (1830’s-1860’s): The leader of the movement was Syed Ahmed Barelvi of Rae Bareilly who was greatly influenced by the teachings of Abdul Wahab of Arabia and Shah Waliullah, a Delhi saint. The movement was primarily religious in its origin. It soon assumed the character of a class struggle in some places, especially in Bengal. Irrespective of communal distinctions, peasants united against their landlords.
- Pabna Agrarian Unrest: Peasants unrest broke out due to the efforts of the zamindars to enhance rent beyond legal limits & prevent the tenants from acquiring occupancy right under Act X of 1859. As a result in May 1873, an agrarian league was formed at Yusuf Shahi Pargana in Pabna district of East Bengal to resist the zamindari oppression.
- Deccan Riots: A major agrarian revolt occurred in Pune and Ahmednagar districts of Maharashtra in 1875 due to the difficulty which the peasants faced in paying land revenue in the Ryotwari System.
Were there religious overtones in some of these rebellions?
Prior to the commencement of mass movements of the freedom struggle, these peasant movements were localized based on religion, caste and social consciousness.
- Wahabi movement was primarily religious in its origin. It soon assumed the character of a class struggle in some places, especially in Bengal.
- The Mappila Uprisings was against atrocities of the landlords (mainly Hindus) led the Mappilas to revolt against them.
- Immediate cause of the Sanyasi rebellion was the restrictions imposed by the British upon pilgrims visiting holy places among both Hindus and Muslims.
Later on, some secular trends were observed in these movements which became national level mass movements resulting in formation of platforms such as Kisan Sabha, Congress Socialist Party, etc.
The peasant revolts taking place in various parts of the country were mainly directed at oppressive British policies. Though these revolts were not aimed at uprooting the British rule from India, they created awareness among the Indians. They now felt a need to organize and fight against exploitation and oppression. In short, these rebellions prepared the ground for various other uprisings such as Sikh Wars in Punjab and finally the Revolt of 1857.