In the beginning of 19th century, princely states of Rajasthan started signing treaties with the British (1818). These treaties relieved princely states from external attacks of Marathas, Pindaris as well as other princely states. All these security came at cost of additional taxes, which the rulers passed on to peasantry classes as they continued to live a life of luxury and comfort.
Example: In case of the state of Udaipur the tribute paid to the British was l/4th of the total revenue of the state for the first five years of the treaty; it was fixed 3/8th of the total revenue after five years. The enhancement in land revenue was enhancement in the income of the Britishers that came at cost of increase in taxes on peasants.
Hence, the peasantry in the princely states of Rajasthan started suffering under the weight of double exploitation of British imperialism and native feudalism. Over the period of time, this caused significant dissatisfaction among the public which results in numerous peasant movement across Rajasthan. The peasantry in Rajasthan had to pay a large number of lag-bags (cesses), custom duties and also perform begar (forced labour) in addition to paying heavy land-revenue which was half of the gross produce.
After 1878, new land revenue settlements were made on the British lines to institutionalise the loot by the states. These settlements were not aimed at improving the agriculture and working conditions of the peasantry but their sole object was to collect more money. These resulted in the decline of agriculture on the one hand, and increase in poverty and indebtedness of the peasantry on the other (Source).
General Features of Peasant Movements in Rajasthan
- In the initial stages most of the peasant movements were spontaneous and were the outcome of social reform movements. In fact, the peasant movements in Rajasthan initially arose under the banner of social reforms and culminated into an economic struggle.
- The caste panchayats played an important role in the early stage of these movements. The caste organisations developed into class organisations during the peasant struggles.
- Between 1938-1949 the peasant movements and the Praja Mandal movement for responsible governments remained in close co-operation with each other irrespective of their class characters.
Peasant Movements of Rajasthan
|S.NO||Year||Movement Name||Important Facts|
|1||1818||Bheel (Bhil) Movements in Rajasthan||Three Phases:|
1. Early Bheel Movements,
2. Bheel Movements under Govindgiri,
3. Bheel Movements under Motilal Tejawat
|2||1897-1941||Bijoliya Peasant Movement||Three Phases|
|3||1911||Bhagat Peasant Movement|
|4||1921||Begun Peasant Movement||Leader Ramnarayan Choudhary|
|5||1923||Marwar Peasant Movement||Leader Jaynarayan Vyas|
|6||1920||Eki Peasant Movement||Leader Motilal Tejawat|
|7||1925||Neemcuhana Movement||Founders: Mev Farmers|
|8||1926||Bundi Peasant Movement||Leader Nathuram Sharma|
|9||1932-1935||Alwar – Bharatpur Peasant Movements|
|10||1939||Zakat Movement||Leader Narottam Lal Joshi|
|11||1945||Meena Movement||Leader Thakkar Bappa|
|12||1946||Bikaner Movement||Leader Kumbharam Arya|
Bharatpur Peasant Movement
- 95% of the agricultural land was in direct control of state government.
- A new land settlement policy was implemented in 1931 raising the land revenue and in response the revenue officers started protesting against this sudden increase.
- On 23 nov 1931 “bhoji lamberdar” organized a mass farmer protest and he was arrested for the same ending the short peasant movement.
Mev Peasant Movement
- Mohammed hadi in 1932 gave the movement an organized form under his institution “Anjuman khaadim ul islam”.
- The alwar mev peasant movement was led by “chaudhary yaseen khan” of gurgaon and under his command they relinquished giving tax on kharif crops.
- In 1937 a special committee formed by the state govt of alwar resolved the issues and led the movt. to its end.
Alwar Peasant Movement and Nimuchana incident (1921-25)
- State government was keeping wild boars in its menageries and these animals quite frequently destroyed the standing crops of the nearby villages.
- In 1921 a movement was started to get permission to hunt these wild boars and the state government after a while agreed to this point.
- 1923-24 was the year when alwar ruler Jai singh increased the land revenue substantially pushing the farmers to organize a mass agitation.
- On 14th may 1925 a mass of around 800 farmers gathered in nimuchana village of alwar against the state policy and the state army fired upon the crowd with machine guns killing many of them on the spot.
- Mahatama Gandhi condemned this incident and declared it as “more brutal than jallianwala bagh massacre”.
Bundi state Peasant Movements
- Led by – rajasthan seva sangh member “Nainuram”
- Around 25 types of lagbhags and high revenue rates were the prime reasons which led to this movement.
- On 2nd april 1923 state police lathi charged and fired upon a group of protesters assembled in Dabi village killing “nanak bheel” and “devlal gujjar”.
- The first phase ended in 1923 after a temporary compromise.
- The second phase started on 5th oct 1936 at hudeshwar mahadev temple in hindoli with a large gathering of farmers, which drafted a demand letter for the government.
Jaipur State Peasant Movements
- Area of influence – the western part of the kingdom (shekhawati, torawati, sambhar, sikar and khetdi) . The movement started from sikar.
- In 1922 a new ruler got enthroned in sikar thikana who increased the land revenue from 25% to 50% starting a phase of tension between farmers and the state government.
- Ramnarayan chaudhary and Hari brahmachari got involved in the sikar agitation in the initial phase.
- Jats were the main peasant community involved in the protests against the increased land revenue rates and faulty land settlement techniques used by the sikar thikana administration.
- In 1933 jat leader “deshraj” from bharatpur state tried to organize farmers and announced a “mahayagya” in sikar.
- The permission for the use of an elephant for the secretary of jaat sabha during this mahayagya was denied by the sikar ruler resulting in heavy friction between the administration and the jaat peasant leaders.
- Thakur maansingh of sehot misbehaved with female farmers in a the village “sotiya ka baas” which resulted in a grand all women conference on 25 april 1934 under the leadership of “kishori devi”.
- In april 1935 a violent incident happened in “kudan” village of sikar thikana where police fired upon jat farmers over the issue of non payment of revenue, killing around 4 farmers.
- This particular incident amplified the vigour of the movement and ultimately the Jaipur ruler took notice of the problem and situation finally eased down.
- The main leaders involved in the movement from sikar were – Sardar Harlal singh, Netram singh, Prithvisingh gothda and a notable female leader was “Dhaapi dadi”.
- The movement spread to other thikanas of shekhawati as well, pushing the government to form proper land survey and settlement system.
- The prolonged farmer agitations ended with the formation of popular government under Hiralal shahtri in 1947.
Marwar Peasant Movement
- In may 1938 Marwar lokparishad was established which started the agitation in the support of farmers.
- On 28th march 1942 the members of the parishad tried to celebrate “responsible government day” in a chandrawal village of the state escalating the movement to another level.
- Dabra incident – on 13th march 1947 in the village of Dabra(deedwana) the men of local zamindar attacked the gathering of farmers called by the marwar lok parishad in the house of local peasant leader “motilal chaudhary”.
- Some leaders who were beaten badly in the violent incident – Mathuradas mathur, Dwarkadas purohit, Radhakishan bohra, CR chaupasniwala and others.
Bikaner Peasant Movement
- In the series of events, the agitations in the “dudhwakhara” village led by leader hanumansingh occupies a specific place, he got jailed in the process and kept fighting for the rights of farmers till the very end.
- On the call of Bikaner praja parishad a political assembly was organized in raisinghnagar on 30th june 1946, where a person named “birbal singh” died in the the scuffle between police and the agitators.
- Kaangad incident – during the famine of 1946 the jagirdar of kangad tried to collect full revenue from the farmers leading to his official complaint to the Bikaner maharaja.
- In the aftermath of this event the jagirdar tortured the farmers with heavy violence which was condemned by everyone.
- “Kumbharam arya” was one of the main leaders involved in this movement, he was also associated with Bikaner praja parishad and wrote a book “Kisaan andolan kyu? “ based on his experiences and observations.