Mutiny : Indigo agitation

Exact Match
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Prelude | War | Results | Jhansi | Indigo | Farmer agitations 

Indigo factory, 18th centuryThe main jolt of the imperialistic operation was faced by the farmers, as a result they fought against the British rule in each and every step. Sadly though, references to such struggles are not easily available. As seen earlier, all the revolts led by the Jamindar and feudal lords depended mainly on farmers. This fact is true for the mutiny of 1857.

The farmers revolt had a second aspect, which was religious in colour. It started as a religious purification movement but soon changed its character, and without taking into consideration to which religion the Jamindar, landlord and moneylender belonged to, they started attacking on them. Finally their general outburst came out in the form of series of revolts against the British imperialism throughout the country for eg. The Vahabi movement (which at one time had taken Bengal, Bihar and Punjab by storm), Farzi movement and Kuka revolt of Punjab.

After 1858, the face off between the British India Government and the farmers increased in magnitude and changed its character. Now farmers started agitating directly against the Government, foreign owners of tea gardens and Indian landlords-moneylenders.

The Neel (indigo)agitation of Bengal in 1859-60 is one of the largest farmer agitation of the modern times. European farmers had a monopoly over Neel farming. The foreigners used to force Indian farmers to harvest Neel and to achieve their means they used to brutally suppress the farmer. They were illegally beaten up, detained in order to force them to sell Neel at non-profitable rates.

In 1860, Bengali writer Deenbandhu Misra published a play called Neel darpan which depicts the story of oppression faced by the Indian farmers cultivating Neel. Finally in 1859, the farmers revolted, and declined to cultivate Neel. They faced the brutalities unleashed upon them by the landlords and the British officers with courage and determination. At this moment, the educated elite of Bengal stood by its farmers.

The Government was forced to appoint a committee which was to dwell into the corrupt practices related with this system and suggest means to reduce it. Yet the oppression of landowners and agitation of the farmers against them continued. In 1866-68 Darbhanga and Champaran in Bihar witnessed agitation by Neel farmers.

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