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Bijolia’s resonance

World famous The Jain temple at Bijolia in Rajasthan.  

When farmers across the country are protesting against the new farm laws, the Rajasthan town of Bijolia comes to the mind of people who know the history of pre-Independence peasant movements in India.

Bijolia, along the National Highway 27 in Bhilwara district and almost 50 km from Kota, was part of Mewar prior to Independence. During the freedom struggle, the peasant movement in the town narrated a tale of the power of the common man. The movement started in 1897, led by Sadhu Sitaram. Rao Krishna Singh was the chieftain of Bijolia and Maharana Fateh Singh the ruler of Mewar.

Krishna Singh imposed many taxes on the farmers, even one on the marriage of their daughters. With the imposts hurting their finances, the common men tried to raise their voice in the royal court of Mewar. But it went in vain.

Krishna Singh died in 1906, and his successor, Prithvi Singh, exceeded him in imposing taxing levies. It gave a new momentum to the agitation.

To exhibit their wrath, farmers put off the marriages of their daughters. Vijay Singh Pathik, a legendary freedom fighter, joined the movement in 1916 and started leading it. He wrote several articles in the famous newsletter Pratap at that time. British authorities were compelled to form an enquiry commission headed by Justice Bindu Lal Bhattacharya.

84 taxes

Farmers were paying 84 different types of taxes at that time. Several British officials tried to solve the issue, but to no avail. When Pathik was forbidden from entering the area, leaders like Seth Jamuna Lal, Haribhau Upadhyaya and Manik Lal Verma took over the mantle.

The farmers could get rid of the unjustified taxes only in 1941, after a continuous struggle of 44 years. But the town, which provided a consort to the great fighter Maharana Pratap, did not lose courage against any atrocity.

Bijolia is famous for its association with the 23rd Jain Tirthankara or Lord Parshwanath. The 24th Tirthankara, Vardhamana Mahaveer, was born almost 250 years after him. People from across the world visit the big temple dedicated to him in the town. The temple built in AD 1170 is counted among the most sacred places of Jainism.

atulkanak@yahoo.com

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2020 4:38:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/bijolias-resonance/article32820050.ece

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