List of Civil Uprising & it’s Characteristics


  • Most of these uprisings were an attempt to restore old status in terms of authority and social relations.
  • Though the underlying reason across the country and time was the new system of the revenue and governance; local issues and grievances were the major causes and so is true for the consequences.

List of Civil Uprising

Sanyasi Revolt (1763–1800)

 A group of sanyasis stood up in revolt due to hardships created by the famine of 1770 in Bengal and subsequent harsh economic orders of the British.

  • Originally, there were evicted peasants, they were soon joined by small zamindars, disbanded soldiers and rural poor.
  • Equal participation of Hindus and Muslims was a characteristic feature of this uprising.
  • Warren Hasting could subdue the revolt only after prolonged action.
  • Also known as Fakir rebellion.
  • Majnum Shah (or Majnu Shah), Chirag Ali, Musa Shah, Bhawani Pathak, and Debi Chaudhurani were important leaders.
  • Anandamath, a semi-historical novel by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, is based on it. Bankim Chandra also wrote a novel, Devi Chaudhurani, as he saw the importance of women taking up the struggle against an alien rule

Revolt in Midnapore and Dhalbhum (1766–74)

  • After taking control of Midnapore in 1760, EIC introduced a new land revenue system.
  • Ryots backed by zamindars rose in rebellion.
  • Zamindars were ultimately dispossessed of their zamindaries by the 1800s.
  • Important leaders of the uprisings were Damodar Singh and Jagannath Dhal.

Revolt of Moamarias (1769–99)

  • Low-caste peasants Moamarias rose in revolt and challenged the authority of the Ahom Kings of Assam.
  • Resulted in the weakening of Ahoms and allowed others to attack the region.
  • With active help from British Ahoms managed to survive but they ultimately fell to Burmese invasion and eventually came under British rule.

Civil Uprisings in Gorakhpur, Basti and Bahraich (1781)

  • To meet war expenses against Marathas and Mysore, Warren Hastings introduced a system involving English officers as revenue farmers (ijaradars).
  • Hastings involved Major Alexander Hannay as ijaradar of the region in 1778.
  • Hannay’s oppression resulted in zamindars and cultivators rising against this tyranny. Within weeks of the initial uprising, all of Hannay’s subordinates were either killed or besieged by zamindari guerrilla forces. Although the rebellion was suppressed, Hannay was dismissed and his izara forcibly removed.

Revolt of Raja of Vizianagaram (1794)

  • Under a treaty of 1758, the combined army of the King of Vizianagaram (Ananda Gajapatiraju) and English ousted the French from Northern Circars. However, EIC backtracked from its promise and Ananda died before he could tackle the British.
  • EIC started demanding a tribute from Raja Vijayaramaraju and asked him to disband his troops. 
  • Refusing to comply with the demand, Raja rose in revolt and died in the Battle of Padmanabham (Vishakhapatnam district). Thus, Vizianagaram came under Company’s Rule.

Resistance of Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja (1797; 1800–05)

  • Raja popularly known as Kerala Simham (Lion of Kerala) or ‘Psyche raja’, was the de facto head of Kottayam in Malabar region. He fought against the British between 1793 and 1805.
  • After the third Anglo-Mysore War, English paramountcy extended over Kottayam in violation of earlier agreements.
  • English appointed Vira Varma (Uncle of Pazhassi Raja) as the Raja of Kottayam.
  • The new raja, to meet the revenue target fixed by the Company, levied exorbitant rates of tax on the peasants. This led to a mass resistance by the peasants under the leadership of Pazhassi Raja in 1793.
  • In 1797, a peace treaty was made.
  • Soon conflict arose over a dispute on Wayanad in 1800.
  • Pazhassi Raja organised a large force of Nairs which was supplemented by Mappilas and Pathans.
  • In November 1805, Pazhassi Rajadied in a gunfight at Mavila Todu near present-day Kerala- Karnataka border.

Civil Rebellion in Awadh (1799)

  • Wazir Ali Khan ascended the throne (1797) with the help of British. Soon his relationship with British got soured and he was replaced by his uncle, Saadat Ali Khan II.
  • Wazir Ali Khan was granted a pension in Benares. However, in January 1799, he killed a British resident, George Frederick Cherry, who had invited him to lunch. Wazir Ali’s guards killed two other Europeans and even attacked the Magistrate of Benares. The whole incident became famous as the Massacre of Benares.
  • Wazir Ali was defeated by British and was granted asylum by the ruler of Jaipur.
  • Later he surrendered in 1799 and was placed in confinement at Fort William, Calcutta.

Ahom Revolt (1828)

  • 1st Anglo – Burma war concluded with the treaty of Yandabo in 1826.
  • The British backtracked from their pledge to withdraw from Assam after the war. Instead, they attempted to incorporate Ahom’s territories into the company’s territories.
  • This development instigated a rebellion in 1828 under the leadership of Gomdhar Konwar, an Ahom prince.
  • Leaders such as Dhanjay Borgohain, and Jairam Khargharia Phukan also joined the rebellion.
  • Eventually, the company handed over upper Assam to maharaja Purandar Singh Narendra while restoring part of the kingdom to the Assamese king.

Pagal Panthis (1830-40s)

  • A semi-religious group founded by Karam Shah in the northern district of Mymensingh in the erstwhile Bengal province. This group was mainly composed of Hajong and Garo tribes.
  • To fight against oppressive practices of zamindars group organized under Tipu (son of Karam Shah).
  • Panthis refused to pay rent above a certain limit from 1825 till 1835 they also attacked the houses of zamindars.
  • Though the movement was violently suppressed, government did introduce some measures to protect the peasants.

Faraizi Revolt (1838-1857)

  • Followers of a Muslim sect founded by Haji Shariatullah of Faridpur in East Bengal.
  • It advocated radical religious, social and political changes.
  • The revolt was organized under Shariatullah and his son Muhsinuddin Ahmad (Dadu Miyan) and was aimed to expel English from Bengal.
  • They also supported the cause of tenants against zamindars.

Uprisings in Ganjam and Gumsur (1800, 1835–37)

  • Strikara Bhanj, zamindar of Gumsur in Ganjam district, refused to pay revenues in 1797 and openly rebelled in 1800. He was joined by several other zamindars. British had to assign certain districts to Strikara.
  • Dhananjay Bhanj took over from his father (Strikara Bhanj) in 1807-08. He rebelled against English but was forced to surrender in 1815.
  • Unable to pay arrears Dhananjay bhanj again rose against English in 1830
  • British forces occupied Gumsur and Kolaida in November 1835.
  • The revolt greatly reduced the government’s authority, but Dhananjay died in December 1835 and his followers continued the resistance.
  • The struggle lasted till February 1837, when Doora Bisayi, a formidable leader, was arrested. The zamindari of Gumsur was forfeited. 

Uprisings in Palamau (1800–02)

  • Political situation of Palamau was complicated by the crises of agrarian landlordism and feudal system.
  • In 1800, Bhukhan Singh, a Chero chief, rose in rebellion. Colonel Jones camped for two years in Palamau and Sarguja to suppress the rebellion.
  • Bhukhan Singh died in 1802, and, subsequently, the insurrection calmed down.

Poligars Revolt (1795-1805)

  • Poligars of Dindigul and Malabar revolted against the oppressive land revenue system under British rule. Sporadic risings of poligars in the Madras Presidency continued till 1856.
  • Revolts broadly occurred in three phases.
  • Main centres of uprisings were Thirunelveli, Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga, Sivagiri, Madurai, and North Arcot.
  • First phase: Coincides with the event when Nawab of Arcot transferred management and control of Thirunelveli and the Carnatic provinces to EIC.
  • Hitherto sovereign Poligars rose in rebellion against taxation under the leadership of Kattabomman Nayakan, the poligar of Panjalankurichi, he led the insurrection between 1795 and 1799.
  • After initial setbacks, British were able to defeat Kattabomman. He was executed by hanging.
  • Second phase: More violent than the first one. Started with the escape of imprisoned poligars from the fort of Palamcotta in February of 1801.
  • Led by Oomathurai (brother of Kattabomman) this revolt was suppressed in October 1801.
  • Between 1803-1805 poligars of North Arcot again rose in rebellion as they were deprived of their right to collect Kaval fees.
  • Kaval or ‘watch’ was an ancient institution of Tamil Nadu. It was a hereditary village police office with specified rights and responsibilities.

Kutch or Cutch Rebellion (1816–32)

  • British and Raja Bharmal II of Kutch entered a treaty in 1816 through which power was vested in the throne. British started interfering in internal feuds, Raja rose in rebellion with the active support of chieftains. Raja was defeated and British replaced him with his infant son. Thus, making a British resident a de-facto ruler with help of a regency council.
  • Some chieftains continued their rebellion against alien rule. The news of British reverses in the Burma War emboldened the chiefs to rise in revolt and demanded the restoration of Bharmal II.  After extensive military operations failed to control the situation, the Company’s authorities were compelled to follow a conciliatory policy.

Kuka Revolt (1840)

  • Founded by Bhagat Jawahar Mal (Sian Saheb) in Western Punjab. After Sian Saheb, Baba Ram Singh (Founder of Namdhari Sikh Sect) rose as a prominent leader of the movement.
  • Basic tenets: Abolition of caste and similar discrimination among Sikhs, discouraging eating of meat, taking of alcohol and drugs and encouraging women to step out of seclusion.
  • Political aim of Kukas was to restore Sikh rule over Punjab by removing British.
  • Kukas propagated concepts of Swadeshi and non-cooperation (by appealing to followers to wear hand-woven clothes and boycotting English laws and Education) much before they became part of the mainstream national movement.
  • British successfully suppressed the movement by 1872 and Ram Singh was deported to Rangoon.

Uprisings in Haryana Region (1803-1810)

  • Treaty of Surji-Arjungaon in 1803 transferred the control of the Haryana region from Scindia to the East India Company.
  • There was strong opposition to Company rule from Sikh chiefs of Ambala, Karnal and Thanesar.
  • In the western Haryana region, opposition to British was organised by Muslim Bhatti Rajputs under the leadership of Zabita Khan of Sirsa and Rania and Khan Bahadur Khan of Fatehabad.
  • The people of the region comprising Rohtak, Bhiwani, and the eastern part of Hisar were not ready to accept the authority of the rulers chosen by the Company.
  • A long and bloody conflict ensued between British and people of the region.
  • With large forces from Delhi and with their heavy artillery British breached the walls of the town of Bhiwani and soon captured Bhiwani after a bloody battle. The fort of Hansi was converted into a military cantonment.

Diwan Velu Thampi’s Revolt (1808–09)

  • State of Travancore agreed to a subsidiary alliance under Wellesley in the year 1805.
  • East India Company (EIC) imposed harsh conditions which caused resentment.
  • British residents started meddling in the internal affairs of the state.
  • Prime Minister Velu Thampi (assisted by Nair troops) rose in revolt against the company.
  • Thampi addressed a gathering and asked them to take up arms against the British, at a place called Kundara (Kundara Proclamation).
  • A large-scale military operation was undertaken to restore peace.
  • Maharaja sided with British, and Thampi killed himself to avoid capture. The revolt soon weaned out.

Waghera Rising (1818–20)

  • Resentment against the alien rule, coupled with the exactions of the Gaekwad of Baroda caused resentment in the region.
  • Waghera chiefs of Okha Mandal to take up arms. Wagheras carried out inroads into British territory during 1818–19.
  • A peace treaty was signed in November 1820.

Surat Salt Agitations (1840s)

  • In 1844 Government raised the salt duty from 50 paise to one rupee.
  • As a result, European faced attacks from the people of Surat.
  • Faced with a popular movement, the government withdrew the additional salt levy

Kolhapur & Savantvadi Revolts

  • Reorganisation of Kolhapur state after 1844 resulted in disbanding of garrisons of Maratha forts.
  • Gadkari, who was (stationed in these Garrisons) a hereditary military class found themselves side-lined in this new set of schemes. They rose in revolt and occupied the Samangarh and Bhudargarh forts. Similar discontent caused a revolt in Savantvadi areas.
  • British authorities introduced many laws to bring the region under control.

Wahabi Movement

  • Founded by Syed Ahmed of Rai Bareilly who was inspired by teachings of Abdul Wahab (1703–87) of Saudi Arabia and Shah Waliullah of Delhi.
  • Wahabi Movement was essentially an Islamic revivalist movement. To counter western influence on Islam, Syed Ahmed appealed to return to pure Islam as was in Arabia during the time of the Prophet. Syed Ahmed was acclaimed as the Imam and spiritual vice-regents were to be known as Khalifa.
  • Sithana in the northwestern tribal belt was chosen as a base for operations. In India, its important centre was Patna though it had its missions in Hyderabad, Madras, Bengal, United Provinces, and Bombay.
  • To convert Dar al-Harb (territory of war or chaos) into Dar al-Islam (the land of Islam), jihad was declared against the Sikh kingdom of Punjab.
  • When Punjab became part of the company’s dominion in 1849, Indian dominion became the sole target of Wahabi’s attack.
  • Wahabis played an important role in spreading anti-British sentiments.
  • Wahabi resistance got weakened eventually due to persistent military operations by the British. Sporadic encounters with the authorities continued into the 1880s and 1890s.
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