AHMEDABAD MILL A di spute was brewing between them and the mi l l owners over the quest ion of a ‘plague bonus’ the employers wanted to wi thdraw once the epidemic had passed but the workers insi sted i t stay, since the enhancement hardly compensated for the ri se in the cost of l iving during the War. The Bri t i sh Col lector, who feared a showdown, asked Gandhi j i to bring pressure on the mi l l owners and work out a compromi se. Ambalal Sarabhai , one of the leading mi l l owners of the town, was a friend of Gandhi j i , and had just saved the Sabarmat I Ashram from ext inct ion by a generous donat ion. Gandhi j i persuaded the mi l l owners and the workers to agree to arbi t rat ion by a t ribunal , but the mi l l owners, taking advantage of a st ray st rike, wi thdrew from the agreement . They offered a twenty per cent bonus and threatened to di smi ss those who did not accept i t . The breach of agreement was t reated by Gandhi j i as a very serious affai r, and he advi sed the workers to go on st rike. He further suggested, on the basi s of a thorough study of the product ion cost s and profi t s of the indust ry as wel l as the cost of l iving, that they would be just i fied in demanding a thi rty-five per cent increase in wages. He brought out a dai ly news bul let in, and insi sted that no violence be used against employers or blacklegs. Ambalal Sarabhai ’s si ster, Anasuya Behn, was one of the main l ieutenant s of Gandhi j i in thi s st ruggle in which her brother, and Gandhi j i ’s friend, was one of the main adversaries. After some days, the workers began to exhibi t signs of weariness. The at tendance at the dai ly meet ings began to decl ine and the at t i tude towards blacklegs began to harden. In thi s si tuat ion, Gandhi j i decided to go on a fast to ral ly the workers and st rengthen thei r resolve to cont inue. Al so, he had promi sed that i f the st rike led to starvat ion he would be the fi rst to starve, and the fast was a ful fi lment of that promi se. The fast , however, al so had the effect of put t ing pressure on the mi l l
owners and they agreed to submi t the whole i ssue to a t ribunal . The st rike was wi thdrawn and the t ribunal later awarded the thi rty-five per cent increase the workers had demanded. KHEDA The di spute in Ahmedabad had not yet ended when Gandhi j i learnt that the peasant s of Kheda di st rict were in ext reme di st ress due to a fai lure of crops, and that thei r appeal s for the remi ssion of land revenue were being ignored by the Government . Enqui ries by members of the Servant s of India Society, Vi thalbhai Patel and Gandhi j i confi rmed the val idi ty of the peasant s’ case. Thi s was that as the crops were less than one-fourth of the normal yield, they were ent i t led under the revenue code to a total remi ssion of the land revenue. The Gujarat Sabha, of which Gandhi j i was the President , played a leading role in the agi tat ion. Appeal s and pet i t ions having fai led, Gandhi j i advi sed the wi thholding of revenue, and asked the peasant s to ‘fight unto death against such a spi ri t of vindict iveness and tyranny. The cul t ivators were asked to take a solemn pledge that they would not pay; those who could afford to pay were to take a vow that they would not pay in the interest s of the poorer ryot s who would otherwi se panic and sel l off thei r belongings or incur debt s in order to pay the revenue. However, i f the Government agreed to suspend col lect ion of land revenue, the ones who could afford to do so could pay the whole amount . The peasant s of Kheda, al ready hard pressed because of plague, high prices and drought , were beginning to show signs of weakness when Gandhi j i came to know that the Government had i ssued secret inst ruct ions di rect ing that revenue should be recovered only from those peasant s who could pay. A publ ic declarat ion of thi s deci sion would have meant a blow to Government prest ige, since thi s was exact ly what Gandhi j i had been demanding. In these ci rcumstances, the movement was wi thdrawn.
ROWLATT SATYAGRAH It was thi s reservoi r of goodwi l l , and of experience, that encouraged Gandhi j i , in February 1919, to cal l for a nat ion-wide protest against the unpopular legi slat ion that the Bri t i sh were threatening to int roduce. Two bi l l s, popularly known as the Rowlat t Bi l l s after the man who chai red the Commi t tee that suggested thei r int roduct ion, aimed at severely curtai l ing the civi l l ibert ies of Indians in the name of curbing terrori st violence, were int roduced in the Legi slat ive Counci l . One of them was actual ly pushed through in indecent haste in the face of opposi t ion from al l the elected Indian members. Thi s
act of the Government was t reated by the whole of pol i t ical India as a grievous insul t , especial ly as i t came at the end of the War when substant ial const i tut ional concessions were expected. Const i tut ional protest having fai led, Gandhi j i stepped in and suggested that a Satyagraha be launched. A Satyagraha Sabha was formed, and the younger members of the Home Rule Leagues who were more than keen to express thei r di senchantment wi th the Government flocked to join i t . The old l i st s of the addresses of Home Rule Leagues and thei r members were taken out , contact s establ i shed and propaganda begun. The form of protest final ly decided upon was the observance of a nat ion-wide hartal (st rike) accompanied by fast ing and prayer. In addi t ion, i t was decided that civi l di sobedience would be offered against speci fic laws. The sixth of Apri l was fixed as the date on which the Satyagraha would be launched. The movement that emerged was very di fferent from the one that had been ant icipated or planned. On 13 Apri l , Bai sakhi day, a large crowd of people, many of whom were vi si tors from neighbouring vi l lages who had come to the town to at tend the Bai sakhi celebrat ions, col lected in the Jal l ianwala Bagh to at tend a publ ic meet ing. General Dyer, incensed that hi s orders were di sobeyed, ordered hi s t roops to fi re upon the unarmed crowd. The shoot ing cont inued for ten minutes. General Dyer had not thought i t necessary to i ssue any warning to the people nor was he deterred by the fact that the ground was total ly hemmed in from al l sides by high wal l s which left l i t t le chance for escape. For the moment , repression was intensi fied, Punjab placed under mart ial law and the people of Amri t sar forced into indigni t ies such as crawl ing on thei r bel l ies before Europeans. Gandhi j i , overwhelmed by the total atmosphere of violence, wi thdrew the movement on 18 Apri l . That did not mean, however, that Gandhi j i had lost fai th ei ther in hi s non-violent Satyagraha or in the capaci ty of the Indian people to adopt i t as a method of st ruggle. A year later, he launched another nat ion-wide st ruggle, on a scale bigger than that of the Rowlat t Satyagraha. The wrong infl icted on Punjab was one of the major reasons for launching i t . The Mahatma’s ‘Indian Experiment ’ had begun. 1 5 The Non-Cooperation Movement — 1920-22 The Rowlat t Act , the Jal l ianwala Bagh massacre and mart ial law in Punjab had bel ied al l the generous wart ime promi ses of the Bri t i sh. The Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms, announced towards the end of 1919, wi th thei r i l l -considered scheme of dyarchy sat i sfied few. The Indian Musl ims were incensed when they di scovered that thei r loyal ty had been purchased during the War by assurances of generous t reatment of Turkey after the War — a promi se Bri t i sh statesman had no intent ion of
ful fi l l ing. The Musl ims regarded the Cal iph of Turkey as thei r spi ri tual head and were natural ly upset when they found that he would retain no cont rol over the holy places i t was hi s duty as Cal iph to protect . Even those who were wi l l ing to t reat the happenings at Jal l ianwala Bagh and other places in Punjab as aberrat ions, that would soon be ‘corrected’, were di si l lusioned when they di scovered that the Hunter Commi t tee appointed by the Government to enqui re into the Punjab di sturbances was an eye wash and that the House of Lords had voted in favour of General Dyer’s act ion, and that the Bri t i sh publ ic had demonst rated i t s support by helping the Morning Post col lect 30,000 pounds for General Dyer. By the end of the fi rst quarter of 1920, al l the excuses in favour of the Bri t i sh Government were fast running out . The Khi lafat leaders were told qui te clearly that they should not expect anything more and the Treaty of Sevres signed wi th Turkey in May 1920 made i t amply clear that the di smemberment of the Turki sh Empi re was complete. Gandhi j i , who had been in close touch wi th the Khi lafat leaders for qui te some t ime, and was a special invi tee to the Khi lafat Conference in November 1919, had al l along been very sympathet ic to thei r cause, especial ly because he fel t the Bri t i sh had commi t ted a breach of fai th by making promi ses that they had no intent ion of keeping. In February 1920, he suggested to the Khi lafat Commi t tee that i t adopt a programme of nonviolent noncooperat ion to protest the Government ’s behaviour. On 9 June 1920, the Khi lafat Commi t tee at Al lahabad unanimously accepted the suggest ion of non-cooperat ion and asked Gandhi j i to lead the movement . Meanwhi le, the Congress was becoming scept ical of any possibi l i ty of pol i t ical advance throughconst i tut ional means. It was di sgusted wi th the Hunter Commi t tee Report especial ly since i t was apprai sed of brutal i t ies in Punjab by i t s own enqui ry commi t tee. In the ci rcumstances, i t agreed to consider non-cooperat ion. The movement was launched formal ly on 1 August 1920, after the expi ry of the not ice that Gandhi j i had given to the Viceroy in hi s let ter of 22 June, in which he had asserted the right recognized ‘from t ime immemorial of the subject to refuse to assi st a ruler who mi srules.’ Lokamanya Ti lak passed away in the early hours of 1 August , and the day of mourning and of launching of the movement
merged as people al l over the count ry observed hartal and took out processions. Many kept a fast and offered prayers. The Congress met in September at Calcut ta and accepted non-cooperat ion as i t s own. The main opposi t ion, led by C.R. Das, was to the boycot t of legi slat ive counci l s, elect ions to which were to be held very soon. But even those who di sagreed wi th the idea of boycot t accepted the Congress di scipl ine and wi thdrew from the elect ions. The voters, too, largely stayed away. By December, when the Congress met for i t s annual session at Nagpur, the opposi t ion had mel ted away; the elect ions were over and, therefore, the boycot t of counci l s was a non-i ssue, and i t was C.R. Das who moved the main resolut ion on non-cooperat ion. The programme of non-cooperat ion included wi thin i t s ambi t the surrender of t i t les and honours, boycot t of government affi l iated school s and col leges, law court s, foreign cloth, and could be extended to include resignat ion from government service and mass civi l di sobedience including the non-payment of taxes. Nat ional school s and col leges were to be set up, panchayat s were to be establ i shed for set t l ing di sputes, hand-spinning and weaving was to be encouraged and people were asked to maintain Hindu-Musl im uni ty, give up untouchabi l i ty and observe st rict non-violence. Gandhi j i promi sed that i f the programme was ful ly implemented, Swaraj would be ushered in wi thin a year. The Nagpur session, thus, commi t ted the Congress to a programme of ext ra-const i tut ional mass act ion. Many groups of revolut ionary terrori st s, especial ly in Bengal , al so pledged support to the movement . To enable the Congress to ful fi l l i t s new commi tment , signi ficant changes were int roduced in i t s creed as wel l as in i t s organizat ional st ructure. The goal of the Congress was changed from the at tainment of sel f-government by const i tut ional and legal means to the at tainment of Swaraj by peaceful and legi t imate means. The new const i tut ion of the Congress, the handiwork of Gandhi j i , int roduced other important changes. The Congress was now to have a Working Commi t tee of fi fteen members to look after i t s day-today affai rs. Thi s proposal , when fi rst made by Ti lak in 1916, had been shot down by the Moderate
opposi t ion. Gandhi j i , too, knew that the Congress could not guide a sustained movement unless i t had a compact body that worked round the year. Provincial Congress Commi t tees were now to be organized on a l ingui st ic basi s, so that they could keep in touch wi th the people by using the local language. The Congress organizat ion was to reach down to the vi l lage and the mohal la level by the format ion of vi l lage and mohal la or ward commi t tees. The membership fee was reduced to four annas per year to enable the poor to become members. Mass involvement would al so enable the Congress to have a regular source of income. In other ways, too, the organizat ion st ructure was both st reaml ined and democrat ized. The Congress was to use Hindi as far as possible. The adopt ion of the Non-Cooperat ion Movement (ini t iated earl ier by the Khi lafat Conference) by the Congress gave i t a new energy and, from January 1921, i t began to regi ster considerable success al l over the count ry. The educat ional boycot t was part icularly successful in Bengal , where the student s in Calcut ta t riggered off a province-wide st rike to force the management s of thei r inst i tut ions to di saffi l iate themselves from the Government . C.R. Das played a major role in promot ing the movement and Subhas Bose became the principal of the Nat ional Congress in Calcut ta. The Swadeshi spi ri t was revived wi th new vigour, thi s t ime as part of a nat ion-wide st ruggle. Punjab, too, responded to the educat ional boycot t and was second only to Bengal , Lala Lajpat Rai playing a leading part here despi te hi s ini t ial reservat ions about thi s i tem of the programme. Others areas that were act ive were Bombay, U.P., Bihar, Ori ssa and Assam, Madras remained lukewarm. The boycot t of law court s by lawyers was not as successful as the educat ional boycot t , but i t was very dramat ic and spectacular. Many leading lawyers of the count ry, l ike C.R. Das, Mot i lal Nehru, M.R. Jayakar, Sai fuddin Ki tchlew, Val labhbhai Patel , C. Rajagopalachari , T. Prakasam and Asaf Al i gave up lucrat ive pract ices, and thei r sacri fice became a source of inspi rat ion for many. But , perhaps, the most successful i tem of the programme was the boycot t of foreign cloth. The value of import s of foreign cloth fel l from Rs. 102 crore in 1920-21 to Rs. 57 crore in 1921-22. Another feature of the movement which acqui red great populari ty in many part s of the count ry, even though i t was not part of the original plan, was the picket ing of toddy shops. Government revenues showed considerable decl ine on thi s count and the Government was forced to actual ly carry on propaganda to bring home to the people the heal thy effect s of a good drink.
The AICC, at i t s session at Vi jayawada in March 1921, di rected that for the next three months Congressmen should concent rate on col lect ion of funds, enrolment of members and di st ribut ion of charkhas. As a resul t , a vigorous membership drive was launched and though the target of one crore members was not achieved, Congress membership reached a figure roughly of 50 lakhs. The Ti lak Swaraj Fund was oversubscribed, exceeding the target of rupees one crore. Charkhas were popularized on a wide scale and khadi became the uni form of the nat ional movement . There was a complaint at a student s meet ing Gandhi j i addressed in Madurai that khadi was too cost ly. Gandhi j i retorted that the answer lay in wearing less clothes and, from that day, di scarded hi s dhot i and kurta in favour of a langot . For the rest of hi s l i fe, he remained a ‘hal f-naked faki r. In July 1921, a new chal lenge was thrown to the Government . Mohammed Al i , at the Al l India Khi lafat Conference held at Karachi on 8 July, declared that i t was ‘rel igiously unlawful for the Musl ims to cont inue in the Bri t i sh Army’ and asked that thi s be conveyed to every Musl im in the Army. As a resul t , Mohammed Al i , along wi th other leaders, was immediately arrested. In protest , the speech was repeated at innumerable meet ings al l over the count ry. On 4 October, fortyseven leading Congressmen, including Gandhi j i , i ssued a mani festo repeat ing whatever Mohammed Al i had said and added that every civi l ian and member of the armed forces should sever connect ions wi th the repressive Government . The next day, the Congress Working Commi t tee passed a simi lar resolut ion, and on 16 October, Congress commi t tees al l over the count ry held meet ings at which the same resolut ion was adopted. The Government was forced to ignore the whole incident , and accept the blow to i t s prest ige. The next dramat ic event was the vi si t of the Prince of Wales which began on 17 November, 1921. The day the Prince landed in Bombay was observed as a day of hartal al l over the count ry. Riot s fol lowed, in which Parsi s, Chri st ians, Anglo-Indians became special target s of at tack as ident i fiable loyal i st s. There was pol ice fi ring, and the three-day turmoi l resul ted in fi fty-nine dead. Peace returned only after Gandhi j i had been on fast for three days. The whole sequence of event s left Gandhi j i profoundly di sturbed and worried about the l ikel ihood of recurrence of violence once mass civi l di sobedience was sanct ioned. The Congress Volunteer Corps emerged as a powerful paral lel pol ice, and the sight of i t s members marching in format ion and dressed in uni form was hardly one that warmed the Government ’s heart . The Congress had al ready granted permi ssion to the PCCs to sanct ion mass civi l di sobedience wherever they thought the people were ready and in some areas,
such as Midnapur di st rict in Bengal , which had started a movement against Union Board Taxes and Chi rala-Pi rala and Pedanandipadu taluqa in Guntur di st rict of Andhra, no-tax movement s were al ready in the offing. The Non-Cooperat ion Movement had other indi rect effect s as wel l . In the Avadh area of U.P., where ki san sabhas and a ki san movement had been gathering st rength since 1918, Non-cooperat ion propaganda, carried on among others by Jawaharlal Nehru, helped to fan the al ready exi st ing ferment , and soon i t became di fficul t to di st ingui sh between a Non-cooperat ion meet ing and a ki san meet ing. In Assam, labourers on tea plantat ions went on st rike. When the fleeing workers were fi red upon, there were st rikes on the steamer service, and on the Assam-Bengal Rai lway as wel l . J.M. Sengupta, the Bengal i nat ional i st leader, played a leading role in these development s. In Midnapur, a cul t ivators’ st rike against a Whi te zamindari company was led by a Calcut ta medical student . Defiance of forest laws became popular in Andhra. Peasant s and t ribal s in some of the Rajasthan states began movement s for securing bet ter condi t ions of l i fe. In Punjab, the Akal i Movement for wrest ing cont rol of the gurdwaras from the corrupt mahant s (priest s) was a part of the general movement of Noncooperat ion, and the Akal i s observed st rict non-violence in the face of t remendous repression. In September 1920, at the beginning of the movement , the Government had thought i t best to leave i t alone as repression wouldonly make martyrs of the nat ional i st s and fan the spi ri t of revol t . In May 1921, i t had t ried, through the Gandhi -Reading talks, to persuade Gandhi j i to ask the Al i brothers to wi thdraw from thei r speeches those passages that contained suggest ions of violence; thi s was an at tempt to drive a wedgebetween the Khi lafat leaders and Gandhi j i , but i t fai led. By December, the Government fel t that thingswere real ly going too far and announced a change of pol icy by declaring the Volunteer Corps i l legal and arrest ing al l those who claimed to be i t s members. C.R. Das was among the fi rst to be arrested, fol lowed by hi s wi fe Basant idebi , whose arrest so incensed the youth of Bengal that thousands came forward to court arrest . In mid-December, there was an abort ive at tempt at negot iat ions, ini t iated by Malaviya, but the condi t ions offered were such that i t meant sacri ficing the Khi lafat leaders, a course that Gandhi j i would not accept . In any case, the Home Government had al ready decided against a set t lement and ordered the Viceroy, Lord Reading, to wi thdraw from the negot iat ions. Repression cont inued, publ ic meet ings and assembl ies were banned, newspapers gagged, and midnight raids on Congress and Khi lafat offices became common. Gandhi j i had been under considerable pressure from the Congress rank and fi le as wel l as the
leadership to start the phase of mass civi l di sobedience. The Ahmedabad session of the Congress in December 1921 had appointed him the sole authori ty on the i ssue. The Government showed no signs of relent ing and had ignored both the appeal of the Al l -Part ies Conference held in midJanuary 1922 as wel l as Gandhi j i ’s let ter to the Viceroy announcing that , unless the Government l i fted the ban on civi l l ibert ies and released pol i t ical pri soners, he would be forced to go ahead wi th mass civi l di sobedience. The Viceroy was unmoved and, left wi th no choice, Gandhi j i announced that mass civi l di sobedience would begin in Bardol i taluqa of Surat di st rict , and that al l other part s of the count ry should cooperate by maintaining total di scipl ine and quiet so that the ent i re at tent ion of the movement could be concent rated on Bardol i . But Bardol i was dest ined to wai t for another six years before i t could launch a no-tax movement . It s fate was decided by the act ion of members of a Congress and Khi lafat procession in Chauri Chaura in Gorakhpur di st rict of U.P. on 5 February 1922. Irri tated by the behaviour of some pol icemen, a sect ion of the crowd at tacked them. The pol ice opened fi re. At thi s, the ent i re procession at tacked the pol ice and when the lat ter hid inside the pol ice stat ion, set fi re to the bui lding. Pol icemen who t ried to escape were hacked to pieces and thrown into the fi re. In al l twentytwo pol icemen were done to death. On hearing of the incident , Gandhi j i decided to wi thdraw the movement . He al so persuaded the Congress Working Commi t tee to rat i fy hi s deci sion and thus, on 12 February 1922, the Non-Cooperat ion Movement came to an end. 12 February 1922 popularly known as the Bardol i resolut ion which whi le announcing the wi thdrawal , asked the peasant s to pay taxes and tenant s to pay rent s. The other argument that the real mot ive for wi thdrawal was the fear of the growth of radical forces and that Chauri Chaura was proof of the emergence of preci sely such a radical sent iment i s on even thinner ground.In fact , one of the i tems of the oath that was taken by peasant s who joined the Eka movement was that they would ‘pay rent regularly at Khari f and Rabi The Congress had at no stage during the movement sanct ioned non-payment of rent or quest ioned the right s of zamindars; the resolut ion was merely a rei terat ion of i t s posi t ion on thi s i ssue. Non-payment of taxes was obviously to cease i f the movement as a whole was being wi thdrawn. The Non-Cooperat ion Movement had in fact succeeded
on many count s. It certainly demonst rated that i t commanded the support and sympathy of vast sect ions of the Indian people. After Non-cooperat ion, the charge of represent ing a ‘microscopic minori ty,’ made by the Viceroy, Dufferin, in 1888, could never again be hurled at the Indian Nat ional Congress. It s reach among many sect ions of Indian peasant s, workers, art i sans, shopkeepers, t raders, professional s, whi te-col lar employees, had been demonst rated. The spat ial spread of the movement was al so nat ion-wide. Some areas were more act ive than others, but there were few that showed no signs of act ivi ty at al l . The t remendous part icipat ion of Musl ims in the movement , and the maintenance of communal uni ty, despi te the Malabar development s, was in i t sel f no mean achievement . The fraternizat ion that was wi tnessed between Hindus and Musl ims, wi th Gandhi j i and other Congress leaders speaking from mosques, Gandhi j i being al lowed to address meet ings of Musl im women in which he was the only male who was not bl ind-folded, al l these began to look l ike romant ic dreams in later years. Gandhi j i , in an art icle wri t ten in Young India on 23 February 1922 af ter the wi thdrawal of the movement , repl ied: ‘It i s high t ime that the Bri t i sh people were made to real ize that the fight that was commenced in 1920 i s a fight to the fini sh, whether i t last s one month or one year or many months or many years and whether the representat ives of Bri tain re-enact al l the indescribable orgies of the Mut iny days wi th redoubled force or whether they do not . 1 6 Peasant Movements and Nationalism in the 1920s But in the twent ieth century, the movement s that emerged out of thi s di scontent were marked by a new feature: they were deeply influenced by and in thei r turn had a marked impact on the ongoing st ruggle for nat ional freedom. To i l lust rate the complex nature of thi s relat ionship, we wi l l recount the story of three important peasant st ruggles that emerged in the second and thi rd decade of the count ry: The Ki san Sabha and Eka movement s in Avadh in U.P., the Mappi la rebel l ion in Malabar and the Bardol I Satyagraha in Gujarat . Fol lowing the annexat ion of Avadh in 1856, the second hal f of the nineteenth century had seen the st rengthening of the hold of the taluqdars or big landlords over the agrarian society of the province. Thi s had led to a si tuat ion in which exorbi tant rent s, i l legal levies, renewal fees or nazrana, and arbi t rary ejectment s or bedakhl i had made l i fe mi serable for the majori ty of the cul t ivators. The high price of food and other necessi t ies that accompanied and fol lowed World War I made the oppression al l the more di fficul t to bear, and the tenant s of Avadh were ripe for a message of resi stance. It was the more act ive members of the Home Rule League in U.P. who ini t iated the process of the
organizat ion of the peasant s of the province on modern l ines into ki san sabhas. The U.P. Ki san Sabha was set up in February 1918 through the effort s of Gauri Shankar Mi sra and Indra Narain Dwivedi , and wi th the support of Madan Mohan Malaviya. The U.P. Ki san Sabha demonst rated considerable act ivi ty, and by June 1919 had establ i shed at least 450 branches in 173 tehsi l s of the province. A consequence of thi s act ivi ty was that a large number of ki san delegates from U.P. at tended the Delhi and Amri t sar sessions of the Indian Nat ional Congress in December 1918 and 1919. Towards the end of 1919, the fi rst signs of grass-root s peasant act ivi ty were evident in the report s of a nai -dhobi band (a form of social boycot t ) on an estate in Pratapgarh di st rict . By the summer of 1920, in the vi l lages of taluqdari Avadh, ki san meet ings cal led by vi l lage panchayat s became frequent . The names of Jhinguri Singh and Durgapal Singh were associated wi th thi s development . But soon another leader, who became famous by the name of Baba Ramchandra, emerged as the ral lying point . In June 1920, Baba Ramchandra led a few hundred tenant s from the Jaunpur and Pratapgarh di st rict s to Al lahabad. There he met Gauri Shankar Mi sra and Jawaharlal Nehru and asked them to vi si t the vi l lages to see for themselves the l iving condi t ions of the tenant s. The resul t was that , between June and August , Jawaharlal Nehru made several vi si t s to the rural areas and developed close contact s wi th the Ki san Sabha movement . Meanwhi le, the Congress at Calcut ta had chosen the path of non-cooperat ion and many nat ional i st s of U.P. had commi t ted themselves to the new pol i t ical path. But there were others, including Madan Mohan Malaviya, who preferred to st ick to const i tut ional agi tat ion. These di fferences were reflected in the U.P. Ki san Sabha as wel l , and soon the Non-cooperators set up an al ternat ive Oudh Ki san Sabha at Pratapgarh on 17 October 1920. Thi s new body succeeded in integrat ing under i t s banner al l the grassroot s ki san sabhas that had emerged in the di st rict s of Avadh in the past few months; through the effort s of Mi sra, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mata Badal Pande, Baba Ramchandra, Deo Narayan Pande and Kedar Nath, the new organizat ion brought under i t s wing, by the end of October, over 330 ki san sabhas. The Oudh Ki san Sabha asked the ki sans to refuse to t i l l bedakhl i land, not to offer hari and begar (forms of unpaid labour), to boycot t those who did not accept these condi t ions and to solve thei r di sputes through panchayat s. A marked feature of the Ki san Sabha movement was that ki sans belonging to the high as wel l as the low castes were to be found in i t s ranks. A series of incident s, smal l and big, but simi lar in character, occurred. Some, such as the ones at Munshiganj and Karhaiya Bazaar in Rae Barel i , were sparked off by the arrest s or rumours of arrest
of leaders. The lead was often taken not by recognized Ki san Sabha act ivi st s, but by local figures — sadhus, holy men, and di sinheri ted ex-proprietors. The Government , however, had l i t t le di fficul ty in suppressing these outbreaks of violence. Crowds were fi red upon and di spersed, leaders and act ivi st s arrested, cases launched and, except for a couple of incident s in February and March, the movement was over by the end of January i t sel f. In March, the Sedi t ious Meet ings Act was brought in to cover the affected di st rict s and al l pol i t ical act ivi ty came to a standst i l l . Nat ional i st s cont inued to defend the cases of the tenant s in the court s, but could do l i t t le el se. The Government , meanwhi le, pushed through the Oudh Rent (Amendment ) Act , and though i t brought l i t t le rel ief to the tenant s, i t helped to rouse hopes and in i t s own way assi sted in the decl ine of the movement .
EKA Towards the end of the year, peasant di scontent surfaced again in Avadh, but thi s t ime the cent res were the di st rict s of Hardoi , Bahraich, and Si tapur in the northern part of the province. The ini t ial thrust here was provided by Congress and Khi lafat leaders and the movement grew under the name of the Eka or uni ty movement . The main grievances here related to the ext ract ion of a rent that was general ly fi fty per cent higher than the recorded rent the oppression of thekedars to whom the work of rent -col lect ion was farmed out the pract ice of share-rent s The Eka meet ings were marked by a rel igious ri tual in which a hole that represented the river Ganges was dug in the ground and fi l led wi th water, a priest was brought in to preside and the assembled peasant s vowed that they would pay only the recorded rent but pay i t on t ime, would not leave when ejected, would refuse to do forced labour, would give no help to criminal s and abide by the panchayat deci sions. The Eka Movement , however, soon developed i t s own grass-root s leadership in the form of Madari Pasi and other low-caste leaders who were not part icularly incl ined to accept the di scipl ine of nonviolence that the Congress and Khi lafat leaders urged. As a resul t , the movement ’s contact wi th the nat ional i st s dimini shed and i t went i t s own way. However, unl ike the earl ier Ki san Sabha movement that was based almost solely on tenant s, the Eka Movement included in i t s ranks many smal l zamindars who found themselves di senchanted wi th the Government because of i t s heavy land revenue demand. By March 1922, however, severe repression on the part of the authori t ies succeeded in bringing the Eka Movement to i t s end.
In August 1921, peasant di scontent erupted in the Malabar di st rict of Kerala. Here Mappi la (Musl im) tenant s rebel led. Thei r grievances related to lack of any securi ty of tenure, renewal fees, high rent s, and other oppressive landlord exact ions. In the nineteenth century as wel l , there had been cases of Mappi la resi stance to landlord oppression but what erupted in 1921 was on a di fferent scale together. The change was signi ficant because earl ier the landlords had successful ly prevented the Congress from commi t t ing i t sel f to the tenant s’ cause. Simul taneously, the Khi lafat Movement was al so extending i t s sweep. In fact , there was hardly any way one could di st ingui sh between Khi lafat and tenant s’ meet ings, the leaders and the audience were the same, and the two movement s were inext ricably merged into one. The social base of the movement was primari ly among the Mappi la tenant s, and Hindus were qui te conspicuous by thei r absence, though the movement could count on a number of Hindu leaders. Angered by repression and encouraged by rumours that the Bri t i sh, weakened as a resul t of the World War, were no longer in a posi t ion to take st rong mi l i tary act ion, the Mappi las began to exhibi t increasing signs of turbulence and defiance of authori ty. But the final break came only when the Di st rict Magi st rate of Eranad taluq, E.F. Thomas, on 20 August 1921, accompanied by a cont ingent of pol ice and t roops, raided the mosque at Ti rurangadi to arrest Al i Musal iar, a Khi lafat leader and a highly respected priest . They found only three fai rly insigni ficant Khi lafat volunteers and arrested them. However the news that spread was that the famous Mambrath mosque, of which Al i Musal iar was the priest , had been raided and dest royed by the Bri t i sh army. Soon Mappi las from Kot takkal , Tanur and Parappanagadi converged at Ti rurangadi and thei r leaders met the Bri t i sh officers to secure the release of the arrested volunteers. The people were quiet and peaceful , but the pol ice opened fi re on the unarmed crowd and many were ki l led. A clash ensued, and Government offices were dest royed, records burnt and the t reasury looted. The rebel l ion soon spread into the Eranad, Wal luvanad and Ponnani taluqs, al l Mappi la st rongholds. In the fi rst stage of the rebel l ion, the target s of at tack were the unpopular jenmies (landlords),
most ly Hindu, the symbol s of Government authori ty such as kutcheri s (court s), pol ice stat ions, t reasuries and offices, and Bri t i sh planters. Lenient landlords and poor Hindus were rarely touched. Rebel s would t ravel many mi les through terri tory populated by Hindus and at tack only the landlords and burn thei r records. Some of the rebel leaders, l ike Kunhammed Haj i , took special care to see that Hindus were not molested or looted and even puni shed those among the rebel s who at tacked the Hindus. Kunhammed Haj i al so did not di scriminate in favour of Musl ims: he ordered the execut ion and puni shment of a number of pro-government Mappi las as wel l. But once the Bri t i sh declared mart ial law and repression began in earnest , the character of the rebel l ion underwent a defini te change. Many Hindus were ei ther pressurized into helping the authori t ies or voluntari ly gave assi stance and thi s helped to st rengthen the al ready exi st ing ant i –Hindu sent iment among the poor i l l i terate Mappi las who in any case were mot ivated by a st rong rel igious ideology. Forced conversions, at tacks on and murders of Hindus increased as the sense of desperat ion mounted. What had been largely an ant i -government and ant i -landlord affai r acqui red st rong communal overtones. The Mappi las’ recourse to violence had in any case driven a wedge between them and the NonCooperat ion Movement which was based on the principle of non-violence. The communal izat ion of the rebel l ion completed the i solat ion of the Mappi las. Bri t i sh repression did the rest and by December 1921 al l resi stance had come to a stop. But the tol l was in fact even heavier, though in a very di fferent way. From then onwards, the mi l i tant Mappi las were so completely crushed and demoral ized that t i l l independence thei r part icipat ion in any form of pol i t ics was almost ni l . They nei ther joined the nat ional movement nor the peasant movement that was to grow in Kerala in later years under the Left leadership. The peasant movement s in U.P. and Malabar were thus closely l inked wi th the pol i t ics at the nat ional level . In U.P., the impetus had come from the Home Rule Leagues and, later, from the NonCooperat ion and Khi lafat movement . In Avadh, in the early months of 1921 when peasant act ivi ty was at i t s peak, i t was di fficul t to di st ingui sh between a Non-cooperat ion meet ing and a peasant ral ly. A simi lar si tuat ion arose in Malabar, where Khi lafat and tenant s’ meet ings merged into one. But in both places, the recourse to violence by the peasant s created a di stance between them and the nat ional movement and led to appeal s by the nat ional i st leaders to the peasant s that they should not indulge in
violence. Often, the nat ional leaders, especial ly Gandhi j i , al so asked the peasant s to desi st from taking ext reme act ion l ike stopping the payment of rent to landlords.