Peasant Movements are a part of social movements against British atrocities in the 18th and 19th centuries of the British Colonial Period. These movements had the sole purpose of restoring the earlier forms of rule and social relations.

There were various reasons related to agrarian restructuring for peasants to revolt. The reasons are given below:

  • Peasants were evicted from their lands
  • The rent that the peasants had to pay for their lands was increased
  • Atrocities by the Moneylenders
  • Peasants’ traditional handicrafts were ruined
  • The ownership of land was taken away from peasants during Zamindari rule
  • Massive Debt
  • Colonial Economic Policies
  • Land Revenue System was not favouring the peasants

List of Peasant Movements

Peasant MovementDetails
Poligars Revolts (1795 – 1805)The Poligars of Dindigul and Malabar took up arms against the evils of the English land revenue system. During 1801-05 the Poligars of the ceded districts and North Arcot revolted against the Company. Sporadic risings of the Poligars in the Madras presidency continued up to 1856.
Indigo Revolt (1859-60)Indigo was recognized as a chief cash crop for the East India Company’s investments. It is also known as ‘Nil Bidroho’. All categories of the rural population, missionaries, the Bengal intelligentsia and Muslims. This indigo revolt gave birth to a political movement and stimulated national sentiment against the British rulers among Indian masses.
Rangpur Dhing (1783)Rangpur uprising took place in BengalIt is called the first tough peasant rebellion against the rule of the East India Company. It evidently uncovered the evils like Ijaradari scheme related to the system of colonial exploitation. It paved the way for formulating a land settlement that would be permanent in nature. The rebellion spread over a significant area, including Ranchi, Hazaribagh, Palamau and Manbhum. After two years of strong confrontation, they lost to modern weapons of the British.
Kol Rebellion (1832)The Kols and other tribes enjoyed independence underneath their chiefs but the British entry threatened their independence. The handover of tribal lands and the encroachment of moneylenders, merchants and British laws generated a lot of pressure. The Kol tribal planned an insurgency in 1831-32 which was engaged primarily against Government officers and private money-lenders.
Mappila Rebellion in Malabar (1841-1920)Mappila uprising was sequences of rebellions by the Mappila Muslims of Malabar region of Kerala. The main causes were, increase in land tax, the security of tenure and exploitation of the poor peasantry by the landlords. The revolt goes fell into the trap of Hindu-Muslim riot. During this period there was Khilafat movement was raised for the fulfilment of freedom for Muslims. The 1921 uprising was a manifestation of long-lasting agrarian dissatisfaction, which was only strengthened by the religious and ethnic uniqueness and by their political alienation.
Santhal Rebellion (1855)It was a native rebellion in present-day Jharkhand against both the British colonial authority and zamindari system by the Santhal people. It was planned by four Murmu brothers -Sidhu, Kahnu, Chand and Bhairav. The rebellion was suppressed thoroughly and largely shadowed by that of the other rebellions.
Kisan Sabha MovementKisan Sabha Movement was a peasant movement which happened in the Awadh region of the erstwhile United Provinces (U.P). The main cause of this movement was the miserable conditions of the U.P peasants because of the policies of the British Government and the Awadh Taluqdars.
Deccan Uprising (1875)Along with the Permanent Settlement, the British extended their presence beyond Bengal. Ryotwari Settlement was the revenue system that was introduced in the Bombay Deccan region. The revolt started in Poona and henceforth it spread to Ahmednagar. This uprising also involved a social boycott of the moneylender.
Pabna Peasant Uprisings (1873–76)Peasants of India under the oppression of the ‘zamindars’ revolted against them as the levies on the peasants continued to increase in terms of high rents, evictions, etc. The peasants, known in the native as ‘Ryots’, started the resistance movement, now known as the Pabna revolt (1873-1876), as it started from Yusufshahi Pargana of Pabna, now in Bangladesh.
It was led by Ishan Chandra Roy (Ishan Chandra Roy is known as “Bidrohi Raja” or in English “Rebel King”). It was supported by intellectuals such as R.C Dutt, Surendranath Banerjee, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, etc. It was overall a peaceful movement.
Munda Ulgulan (1899- 1900)Birsa Munda-led this movement in the region south of Ranchi. The Mundas conventionally enjoyed a special rent rate as the original clearer (Khuntkatti) of the forest. But this was eroded by the jagirdars and thikadars arrived as traders and moneylenders. As a result of this rebellion, the government enacted the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act 1908, recognized Khuntkatti rights, banned Beth Begari (forced labour)
Eka Movement (1921)The Eka Movement is a peasant movement that began in Lucknow and quickly spread to Hardoi, Unnao, and Sitapur districts, becoming a powerful force. The movement began in November 1921 and lasted until April 1922. The Eka movement was part of a wave of peasant uprisings that erupted in colonial India following World War I.
Initially started by Congress and the Khilafat movement, it was later headed by Madari Pasi. 
Narkelberia Uprising (1782-1831)Led by Titu Mir/ Mir Nithar Ali. In West Bengal against landlords, mainly Hindu, who imposed a beard-tax on the Faraizis, and British indigo planters – merged into the Wahabi movement.
The Pagal PanthisLed by Karam Shah.
To fight the oppression of the zamindars.
Faraizi RevoltLed by Shariat-Allah and his son Dadu Mianto expel the English intruders from Bengal
Champaran Satyagraha (1917)The peasantry on the indigo plantations in the Champaran district of Bihar was excessively oppressed by the European planters and compelled to grow indigo on at least 3/20th of their land and sell it at prices fixed by the planters.
In 1917, Mahatma Gandhi reached Champaran and began to conduct a detailed inquiry into the condition of the peasantry.
He defied the orders of district officials for leaving Champaran.
In June 1917, the Government appointed an enquiry committee with Gandhiji as one of the members.
The enactment of the Champaran Agrarian Act, 1918 freed the tenants from the special imposts levied by the indigo planters.
Kheda Satyagraha (1918)It was chiefly directed against the Government.
In 1918, the crops failed in the Kheda district of Gujarat but the government refused to remit land revenue and insisted on its full collection.
Gandhiji along with Sardar Vallabhai Patel supported the peasants and advised them to withhold payment of revenues till their demand for its remission was met.
The satyagraha lasted till June 1918. The Government conceded the demands of the peasants.
Bardoli Satyagraha (1928)Enhancement of land revenue by 30% in the Bardoli district of Gujarat by the British government led to the organisation of a ‘No-Revenue Campaign’ by the Bardoli peasants under the leadership of Vallabhai Patel.
A woman in Bardoli gave Vallabhai Patel the title of ‘Sardar’.
Unsuccessful attempts of the British to suppress the movement by large scale attachment of cattle and land resulted in the appointment of an enquiry committee.
The enquiry came to the conclusion that the increase had been unjustified and reduced the enhancement to 6.03%.
Bakasht Movement (1937-39)Bakasht Movement was organised in Bihar during 1937-39. The movement was organised by Swami Sahajanand Saraswati in Bihar. The movement was against the eviction of tenants from Bakasht lands by zamindars and led to the passing of the Bihar Tenancy Act and the Bakasht Land Tax. The Bakasht movement spread all over Bihar. Kisan Sabha actively organized and motivated the peasants in Bakasht movement. The annual conference of the Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha held at Waini in Darbhanga in December 1938 resolved to protest the zamindars and fight for the tenant’s rights in Bakasht land.
Tebhaga Movement (1946–47)The Tebhaga movement was manifested in the undivided Bengal in the mid-1940s. This movement centers around a demand for tebhaga (two-third shares) by sharecroppers of their produce for themselves, instead of one-half traditionally given to them by the jotedars—a class of intermediary landowners. The colonial rulers used all possible repressive measures to crash this movement by introducing a reign of terror in the rural areas.
Telangana Movement (1946-52)The Telangana Movement (1946-52) of Andhra Pradesh was fought against the feudal oppression of the rulers and local landowners. The agrarian social structure of Hyderabad emerged to be very oppressive in the 1920s and thereafter. In rural Telangana’s political economy, the jagirdars and deshmukhs, locally known as dora, played a dominant role.

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