List of Important Peasant Movements: Part-II

Kisan Sabha Movement

  • It was against the stronghold of taluqdars in Awadh over agrarian society. Majority of the cultivators were subjected to high rents, summary evictions (bedakhali), illegal levies and renewal fees or nazrana. World War I worsened the condition with rising prices of essential items.
  • It was mainly due to the efforts of the home rule activists that Kisan Sabhas was organized in UP. The UP Kisan Sabha was set up in February 1918 by Gauri Shankar Mishra and Indra Narayana Dwivedi. It was also supported by Madan Mohan Malviya. By 1919, it had 450 branches.
  • Other important leaders included- Jhinguri Singh, Durgapal Singh and Baba Ramchandra (On his insistence Nehru visited these villages)
  • The Awadh Kisan Sabha came into existence in 1920, which asked the kisans to refuse to till bedakhali lands, not to offer hari and begar (forms of unpaid labour) and solve disputes through panchayat.
  • From 1921 onwards activities of movement went beyond mass meetings and mobilisations and came to include looting of bazaars and clashes with the police.
  • Centres of Activity- Bareilly, Faizabad and Sultanpur.
  • Declined due to government repression and the passing of Awadh Rent (Amendment) Act 1921.

Eka Movement (1920’s)

  • It occurred in some northern districts of United Provinces: Hardoi, Bahraich, and Sitapur.
  • The initial thrust was provided by Congress and Khilafat leaders.
  • It was a result of the extraction of a rent that was generally fifty per cent higher than the recorded, oppression by thikadars (revenue officials) and the practice of share rents.
  • Eka meetings/ Unity Movement were marked by a religious ritual in which a hole representing the Ganga River was dug and filled with water. Peasants vowed that they will only pay recorded rent, but pay it on time, would not leave when evicted, would refuse to do forced labour, would not help criminals and abide by panchayat decisions.
  • Grassroots leadership was provided by Madari Pasi and other low-caste leaders.
  • He was not particularly inclined to accept the discipline of non-violence that Congress and Khilafat leaders urged.
  • As a result, the movement’s contact with the nationalists diminished and it went its way.
  • However, unlike the earlier Kisan Sabha movement that was based almost solely on tenants, the Eka Movement included in its ranks many small zamindars who found themselves disenchanted with the Government because of its heavy land revenue demand.
  • By March 1922, severe repression on the part of authorities succeeded in bringing the Eka Movement to its end.

Mappila Revolt: 1st– 1836-1854  & 2nd-1920-1921

  • Against the hike in revenue demand and reduction of field size, lack of security of tenure, and oppression of the officials for illegal exactions.
  • Twenty-two rebellions erupted between 1836-1854. However, failed to be a success.
  • Second Uprising: Mappilas were Muslim tenants inhabiting the Malabar region, where most landlords were Hindus. Mappilas were initially organised by Congress and Khilafat supporters during the Non-cooperation movement. Gandhi, Shaukat Ali and Maulana Azad addressed Mappila meetings.
  • They faced oppression from their landlords. The movement merged with the ongoing Khilafat movement.
  • They targeted symbols of Authority– British courts, police stations, offices and unpopular landlords, mostly Hindus.
  • Communalisation of rebellion isolated the Mappilas from the Nationalist ranks and the Congress.
  • Anti-government and anti-British nature of this movement later acquired communal overtones but was repressed by 1921.

Bardoli Satyagraha (1928)

  • With the coming of Gandhi, the Bardoli taluka in Surat district has seen politicisation.
  • In 1926, authorities raised the land revenue by 30% which sparked the protest. Bardoli Inquiry committee found the revenue hike to be unjustified.
  • In February 1926, Vallabhbhai Patel led the movement. He was given the title Sardar by the women of Bardoli.
  • 13 Chhavanis or workers’ camps were organised and Bardoli Satyagraha Patrika was published to mobilise support for the movement.
  • The movement saw the active participation of Kalipraj Tribes as well.
  • Peasants resolved not to pay enhanced rent and those opposing the movement faced a social boycott.
  • K.M. Munshi and Lalji Naranji resigned from the Bombay Legislative council to show their support. 
  • In 1928, Gandhi reached Bardoli as tension was building up and plans were being framed to organise a railway strike in Bombay.
  • Ultimately, a committee was set up, which recommended a rise of 6.03% only.
  • Significance: It was one such episode in India’s national movement which not just elevated Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to a new pinnacle of glory and greatness. It revived the sagging morale of Mahatma Gandhi, undeniably still in ‘recovery mode’ after the setback of withdrawing from the non-cooperation movement after the Chauri Chaura violence.

All India Kisan Congress/ Sabha (1936)

  • This Sabha was founded in Lucknow in April 1936 with Swami Sahajanand Saraswati as the president and N.G Ranga as the general secretary.
  • Indulal Yagnik started a periodical for the movement.
  • It held its session along with Congress at Faizpur in 1936 which influenced the Congress manifesto (agrarian policy) for the 1937 elections.

Kirti Kisan Movement (1926-1934)

  • Started by Bhai Santokh Singh, a Ghadar leader. He believed in Soviet methods of Village propaganda and prepare the masses for action.
  • Launched- Kirti magazine for Amritsar in 1926 to propagate his ideas.
  • Sohan Singh Josh established Kirti Kisan Sabha in 1928 as a society of Kirti (workers) and Kisan (peasants). The goal was to launch a revolutionary movement.
  • It got its funding largely from the Ghadar party.
  • At the Lyallpur conference in 1928, a resolution was adopted for complete independence and rejected the dominion status demanded by the Nehru report.
  • It mobilised masses for active participation in a demonstration against the Simon Commission in Punjab.
  • 1929, Sohan Singh Josh was tried in the Meerut Conspiracy case. Later in 1934, the Sabha was declared unlawful under the Criminal law amendment act, 1908.

Tebhaga Movement (1946)

  • Bengal Provincial Kisan Sabha called to implement, through mass struggle the recommendations of Floud commission.
  • Floud commission recommended Tebhaga- 2/3rd share to bargardars (sharecroppers also known as bagchasi or adhyar), instead of one-half share.
  • Communist cadres organised the bargardars in the countryside. The central slogan was – Nij Khamare Dhan Tolo (sharecroppers taking paddy to their threshing floor and not to the jotedars’, to enforce tebhaga).
  • Principle centre- North Bengal among Rajbanshi’s low caste/tribal origin.
  • The movement gained momentum when the league ministry under Suhrawardy released Bengal Bargardars Temporary legislation bill in 1947 but could not be made into law.
  • Soon the agitation faded because of police repression and other political developments such as riots in Calcutta.

Telangana Movement (1946)

  • Biggest guerrilla war in Modern India.
  • Situation in Hyderabad under Asaf Jahi Nizams: Religious-linguistic domination by small Urdu-speaking Muslim elite, lack of political and civil liberties and forced exploitations by Deshmukh, jagirdars in the form of forced labour (vethi) and illegal exactions.
  • Communists during the war period had built a strong base here and continuously led local struggles. The main uprising began in July 1946.
  • The movement saw the active involvement of peasants who voluntarily formed sanghams and attacked using tools such as lathis. The peak of the movement came from August 1947-September 1948.
  • Peasants fought against Razakars (Nizam’s troops) and with the involvement of Indian security forces, the movement ended.
  • Significance: End of Vethi/forced labour; agricultural wages were raised; confiscated lands were restored; land ceiling and redistribution efforts were taken etc. The movement challenged India’s autocratic-feudal regime which ultimately led to the formation of Andhra Pradesh on linguistic lines (another goal of the movement).

Warli Revolt (1945)

  • Took place in 1945, in Zari village, Talasari taluka (Maharashtra).
  • Reasons: Tribals of Warli were getting affected by the exploitation of the landlords and moneylenders. About 5,000 indentured tribals gathered and refused to work in landlords’ fields until they received 12 annas a day in wages.
  • Relevance:
    • Their resistance sowed the first seeds of rights-based movements among the region’s indigenous communities.
    • Women played an important role in the revolt and helped the men in all possible aspects.
    • The involvement of the women was supported by the Kisan Sabha leader, Godavari Parulekar, also known as Godutai (elder sister) by the Adivasis.
    • Women followed her and spoke at meetings about the oppression they faced and encouraged other women to join the struggle.
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