Peasant uprisings were protests against evictions, increase in rents of land, and the moneylenders’ greedy ways; and their aim was occupancy rights for peasants among other things. They were revolts and rebellions of the peasants themselves though led by local leaders in many cases. The peasant movements in India till the outbreak of the Revolt of 1857 (and in its immediate aftermath) are given below:
Mir Nithar Ali (1782-1831) or Titu Mir inspired the Muslim tenants in West Bengal to rise against landlords, mainly Hindu, who imposed a beard-tax on the Faraizis, and British indigo planters. Often considered the first armed peasant uprising against the British, these revolt soon took on a religious hue. The revolt later merged into the Wahabi movement.
The Pagal Panthis
The Pagal Panthi, a semi-religious group mainly constituting the Hajong and Garo tribes of Mymensingh district (earlier in Bengal), was founded by Karam Shah. But the tribal peasants organised themselves under Karam Shah’s son, Tipu, to fight the oppression of the zamindars. From 1825 to 1835, the Pagal Panthis refused to pay rent above a certain limit and attacked the houses of zamindars. The government introduced an equitable arrangement to protect these peasants, but the movement was violently suppressed.
The Faraizis were the followers of a Muslim sect founded by Haji Shariat-Allah of Faridpur in Eastern Bengal. They advocated radical religious, social and political changes. Shariat-Allah son of Dadu Mian (1819-60) organised his followers with an aim to expel the English intruders from Bengal. The sect also supported the cause of the tenants against the zamindars. The Faraizi disturbances continued from 1838 to 1857. Most of the Faraizis joined the Wahabi ranks.