- The term ‘civil’ refers to anything that isn’t related to defense or military, but we’ve included here uprisings led by deposed native rulers or their descendants, former zamindars, landlords, poligars, ex retainers, and officials of conquered.
- Although the power-wielding classes were at the heart of these upheavals, the majority of support came from rack-rented peasants, jobless craftsmen, and demobilized soldiers.
Causes of Civil Uprisings
- Rapid changes in the economy, administration, and land revenue system occurred during Company rule, all of which were detrimental to the people.
- Several zamindars and poligars, who had lost control of their lands and earnings as a result of colonial authority, held personal grudges against the new authorities.
- Traditional zamindars and poligars’ egos were bruised when they were demoted in status by government officials and a new class of merchants and moneylenders emerged.
- Millions of craftsmen were destitute as a result of colonial policies that destroyed Indian handicraft industries.
- Their misery was worsened by the departure of their traditional supporters and buyers—princes, chieftains, and zamindars.
- As religious preachers, priests, pundits, maulvis, and others were reliant on the traditional landed and bureaucratic elite, the priestly classes fostered hostility and resistance against alien control.
- The priestly class was directly affected by the demise of zamindars and feudal rulers.
- The British rulers’ foreign nature, which has always been alien to this region, and their disdainful attitude toward the native people harmed the latter’s pride.
- In most cases, these revolutions reflected shared conditions, even though they occurred at different times and in different places.
- The semi-feudal commanders of civil uprisings had a traditional worldview and were backward-minded.
- Their main goal was to return to older systems of government and social ties.
- These revolutions arose from local causes and concerns, and their repercussions were as localized.
Important Civil Uprisings
|The Sanyasi revolt was a late-eighteenth-century rebellion in Bengal, India, in the Murshidabad and Baikunthpur forests of Jalpaiguri under the leadership of Pandit Bhabani Charan Pathak.
In the 18th century, the Sanyasis who rose against the English were not always individuals who had given up the world.
The uprisings were marked by equal participation by Hindus and Muslims.
|Revolt in Midnapore and Dhalbhum
|In cases of dispute between the ryots and the English revenue collecting authorities, the zamindars of Midnapore sided with the ryots.
By the 1800s, the zamindars of Dhalbhum, Manbhum, Raipur, Panchet, Jhatibuni, Karnagarh, and Bagri, who lived in the huge Jungle Mahals of the west and north-west Midnapore, had lost their zamindaries.
Damodar Singh and Jagannath Dhal were key figures in the uprisings.
|Revolt of Moamarias
|The Moamaria insurrection of 1769 was a powerful threat to the authority of Assam’s Ahom monarchs.
The Moamarias were low-caste peasants who followed Aniruddhadeva’s (1553–1624) teachings, and their growth paralleled that of other North Indian low-caste communities.
Their uprisings weakened the Ahoms and allowed others to assault the territory.
Despite the fact that the Ahom kingdom survived the uprising, it was devastated by a Burmese invasion and eventually fell under British authority.
|Civil Uprisings in Gorakhpur, Basti, and Bahraich
|In order to pay for the war against the Marathas and Mysore, Warren Hastings devised a scheme to employ English officers as ijaradars (revenue farmers) in Awadh.
In 1781, the zamindars and farmers revolted against the oppressive taxes, and within weeks, all of Hannay’s subordinates were either slain or besieged by zamindari guerrilla troops.
|Revolt of Raja of Vizianagaram
|The English and Ananda Gajapatiraju, the monarch of Vizianagaram, signed a deal in 1758 to jointly expel the French from the Northern Circars.
The raja rose up in revolt, backed by his subjects.
In 1793, the English captured the raja and sentenced him to exile with a pension. The raja was adamant in his refusal.
In 1794, the raja was killed in a fight at Padmanabham (now in the Andhra Pradesh district of Visakhapatnam). The Company took control of Vizianagaram.
|Civil Rebellion in Awadh
|In Benares, Wazir Ali Khan was given a pension. However, in January 1799, he assassinated George Frederick Cherry, a British citizen who had invited him to lunch.
Wazir Ali’s soldiers also killed two other Europeans and assaulted the Benares Magistrate.
The entire episode became known as the Benares Massacre.
Wazir Ali was able to raise a force of many thousand soldiers, but General Erskine was able to beat them.
|Revolt of Velu Thampi
|In 1808-09, Velu Thampi, the Diwan of Travancore(Kerala), rose in rebellion against the British attempts to remove him from the Diwanship and the heavy burden imposed on the state through the Subsidiary alliance system by British. He rose against a large British force with help of Nair Battalion. A large British force was deployed to meet the situation. He was injured and died in the forest causing end to this revolt.
|Kutch or Cutch Rebellion
|The British meddled in the Kutch’s internal feuds, prompting Raja Bharmal II to gather Arab and African forces in 1819 with the goal of driving the British out of his realm.
In favour of his newborn son, the British defeated and removed Kutch monarch Rao Bharamal.
The regency council’s administrative innovations, along with excessive land valuation, sparked significant dissatisfaction.
|Rising at Bareilly
|When Mufti Muhammad Aiwaz, a revered old man, petitioned the town magistrate in March 1816, the dispute became religious.
The scenario became even worse when a lady was hurt by police while collecting taxes.
The Mufti’s supporters and the police got into a brutal brawl as a result of this incident.
Within two days following the incident, armed Muslims from Pilibhit, Shahjahanpur, and Rampur rose up in revolt to defend the faith and the Mufti.
The revolt could only be put down with the strong deployment of military troops, which resulted in the deaths of over 300 insurgents, as well as the wounding and imprisonment of many more.
|The Paiks of Odisha were the traditional landed militia (meaning “foot soldiers”) who had hereditary land tenures in exchange for their military duty and policing tasks.
Bakshi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar was the military commander of the Raja of Khurda’s army.
The Company took away Jagabandhu’s ancestral estate of Killa Rorang in 1814, leaving him destitute.
The entry of a group of Khonds from Gumsur into Khurda territory in March 1817 lit the fuse.
Paika Bidroh was the name given to the insurrection (rebellion).
For a time, the rebels’ early success galvanized the whole province of Odisha against the British administration.
The Paika Rebellion was successful in obtaining huge remissions of arrears, reductions in assessments, a moratorium on the sale of defaulters’ properties at will, a new settlement on permanent tenures, and other liberal governance adjuncts.
|The Waghera leaders of Okha Mandal were forced to take up arms due to resentment of the alien authority, as well as the demands of the Gaekwad of Baroda, who were backed by the British administration.
During the years 1818–1819, the Wagheras made incursions into British territory.
In November 1820, a peace deal was concluded.
|Revolt of Kittur Chennamma
|During 1824-29, there was a serious uprising at Kittur (in the present state of Karnataka), when the British after the death of the local chief in 1824, refused to recognise the adopted heir to the throne of Kittur and took over the administration.
Kittur Chennamma, the widow of the deceased chief, assisted by Rayanna, rose in rebellion. The Kittur rebellions killed the collector of Dharwar and declared independence of Kittur. The British used repression to crush this revolt. Rayappa was captured and executed by the British and Chennamma died in Dharwar prison.
|After the First Burma War (1824–26), the British promised to leave Assam.
Instead of leaving after the conflict, the British tried to absorb the Ahoms’ regions under the Company’s rule.
This triggered a revolt in 1828, led by Gomdhar Konwar, an Ahom prince, and his countrymen, including Dhanjay Borgohain and Jairam Khargharia Phukan.
The rebels formally installed Gomdhar Konwar as king at Jorhat.
Finally, the Company adopted a conciliatory stance and gave up Upper Assam to Maharaja Purandar Singh Narendra, reuniting the Assamese ruler with a portion of his realm.
|Surat Salt Agitations
|In 1844, a strong anti-British feeling led to attacks against Europeans by the local Surat populace over the government’s decision to raise the salt levy from 50 paise to one rupee.
The administration dropped the extra salt fee in response to public outcry.
In 1848, the government was compelled to cancel its plan to implement Bengal Standard Weights and Measures in the face of a persistent campaign of boycotting and passive resistance by the people.
|Syed Ahmed of Rai Bareilly, influenced by the teachings of Saudi Arabia’s Abdul Wahab (1703–87) and Delhi’s Shah Waliullah, formed the Wahhabi Movement, which was primarily an Islamic revivalist movement.
Syed Ahmed denounced Western influence on Islam and called for a restoration to genuine Islam and society as it was in the Arabia of the Prophet’s day.
|Kolhapur and Sawantwadi Revolts
|The hardship caused after 1844 in the state of Kolhapur caused deep resentment among the Gadhkaris. The Gadkaris, the military class which garrisoned Maratha forts were disbanded. Faced with the ghost of unemployment, the Gadkaris rose in revolt and occupied the forts of Samangarh and Bhudargarh. Similarly, the discontent caused a revolt in Sawantwadi, areas.
|The Kuka movement started as a religious purification movement in western Punjab by Bhagat Jawahar Mai in 1840. The movement transformed from a religious purification campaign to a political one after the capture of Punjab by the British. Its basic tenets were abolition of caste discrimination among Sikhs, discouraging the eating of meat and taking of alcohol and drugs, and encouraging women to step out of seclusion. In 1872, Ram Singh, a leader of Kuka movement was deported to Rangoon.