100 years of a peasant upsurge

The royal military fired at a gathering of farmers in Neemuchana in 1925, killing 250 of them

Published - June 09, 2024 12:01 am IST

A bullet-riddled building in Neemuchana.

A bullet-riddled building in Neemuchana. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Neemuchana is a tiny town in Alwar district of Rajasthan. The area traces its history to the Mahabharata period, and was part of the independent princely state of Alwar that came into existence in 1775. Earlier, it was part of the princely state of Bharatpur.

It is said that rulers of Alwar helped the British in quelling the popular upsurge of 1857, which is also known as the First War for Independence of India. When the mutiny was crushed, the Alwar ruler established friendly relations with the British. As a puppet of the foreigners, he was used to exploit the common people and fulfil unjustified demands such as several new taxes on peasants.

New land settlement laws were introduced in 1924, raising the rate of land revenue up to the level of 40-50%. Perplexed peasants were compelled to raise their voice against this unjustified rate, but nobody paid attention to their sufferings. Gradually, they started organising to discuss their sufferings. Authorities got the hang of things and started new domination. Finally, the peasants decided to raise their voice through a common platform. Govind Singh and Madho Singh of Neemuchana realised the importance of unity and an organisation. They organised a summit of peasants on May 14, 1925. Peasants, common men and other suffering people gathered at Neemuchana for the event.

When the farmers were discussing their matters at a massive meeting, the royal military surrounded the area and started firing without warning. The official records say 250 peasants were killed and more than 600 injured. However, unofficial accounts say nearly 1500 farmers lost their lives in this attack. When the news of the cruelty spread, several national leaders visited the town to express their solidarity with the agitation. Mahatma Gandhi called the incident the second Jallianwala Bagh. The centenary of this dark episode reminds us of sufferings, sacrifices, bravery, courage and determination of those people who fought for the independence of the country.

atulkanak@yahoo.com

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