Peasant Revolts of Indigo, Pabna and Deccan

All about the three major revolts of Indigo, Pabna Unrest and Deccan Riots led by peasant, against the revenue demands of British and moneylenders.

The agitation from peasants’ side started against the British from the beginning of 19th century against the strict collection of Land Revenue Demands. These agitations were violent & spontaneous but, got suppressed by British authority

Later, with the beginning of 20th Century, under the influence of organised National Movement, these peasant’s agitation also acquired an organised structure of peasant revolt led by prominent leaders for a considerable period of time with defined objectives.

 Peasant Revolts

Indigo Revolt

  • Indigo was exported from India to European textile markets.
  • This was used by European textile industries as a natural blue dye.
  • It was the first crop to be grown on British plantations as the British required a regular supply of Indigo for its textile factories.
  • The cultivation of Indigo was done in two ways- 

   i.e. Nij System & Ryoti System

  • Under Nij System the planters (European) produced Indigo on Land which they controlled directly (either owned or on lease).
  • These planters also hired Peasants to cultivate Indigo on their plantations.
  • Under Ryoti system the planters compelled the ryots or peasants to sign an agreement so that they could get loans/advances called Dadon for growing Indigo. One of the conditions was that the peasants would cultivate Indigo on at least 25% of the land.
  • Later, planters put a condition in front of the peasants that loans could be repaid only by supplying indigo to them at a fixed price.
  • Violation of these conditions had resulted in oppressive measures such as holding the cultivator and his family as prisoner, burning his house etc.
  • This brutal and inhuman oppression has forced the cultivators to rebel against the British authority in general and planters in particular.
  • The revolt started from Govindpur village in Nadia district of Bengal.
  • Agitation was done through-
  • Denial to grow Indigo 
  • Resisted the attack of Lathiyals
  • Refused to pay rents until demands were accepted
  • Further strike by peasants in order to show their anger against arbitrary policies.
  • Leaders- Digambar Biswas & Bishnucharan Biswas of Nadia district (Bengal), Kader Molla of Pabna and Rafique Mondal of Malda.
  • As a result of this revolt, British Government passed a notification in November 1860 after which peasants finally shut their workshops and the British banned forced Indigo cultivation

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 Peasant Revolts

Pabna Unrest

  • Pabna was famous for growing jute in Bengal.
  • Pabna peasants were forced by the Zamindars to pay revenue taxes higher than the legal limits.
  • They were also being harsh and used methods of forcible eviction, capturing the peasants physically and harassment of cultivators.
  • Act X of 1859 granted occupancy to the tenant farmers but the zamindars resisted the peasants to acquire lands. This led feeling of discontentment among the farmers of Yusuf Shahi Pargana in Patna.
  • The peasants formed an alliance in order to oppose the oppressive demands of the landlords.
  • They decided to unite and resort legal methods through filing cases in the courts against the Zamindars.
  • This Anti Zamanidar sentiment spread rapidly all over Bengal
  • Peasants went on strike and started a movement against the non-payment of rents.
  • Two remarkable features of their struggle were-
  • It was non communal in nature
  • Complete unity among peasants 
  • As a result of this revolt, Bengal Tenancy Act of 1885 was passed and the rights of the Zamindars as well as Tenants were defined.

Deccan Riots

  • The Ryotwari system adversely affected the peasants in the Deccan area (Pune and Ahmednagar).
  • Main concern of peasants in this condition was firstly to pay high tax amounts to the government as well as on other side to repay the loan amount to the money lender.
  • After the termination of American civil war the demand of jute and cotton textiles fell down, but the government instead of reducing the revenue increased it by 50% in 1867 during the time of depression.
  • During the same time, due to inadequate rainfall bad harvest or crop failure was acknowledged at mass level.
  • Here peasants became victim of double jeopardy – firstly exploited by Government and secondly by Money lenders.
  • In such circumstance’s situation became more severe and tension surfaced between peasants and moneylenders. Thus, the anger of peasants turned them to go for social-boycott of the money lenders and their associates.
  • Many villages in Poona were set on fire in riots in 1875, houses and other properties of money lenders were also destroyed.
  • Also, cultivation of Zamindar’s fields were refused by the peasants.
  • Records containing debt bonds and other details were seized and burnt publicly.
  • British government sent troops for suppressing the revolt and thus by June 1875 nearly 1000 peasants were arrested.
  • Later as a result Agriculture Relief Act was passed in 1879, which put restrictions on the alienation of peasant lands and imposed restrictions on the operation of civil procedure code, so that peasant could not be arrested and sent to jail for failure of debts.

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