Peasant Activity in Provinces


Peasant mobilizations in Punjab were organized under many organizations such as the Punjab Naujawan Bharat Sabha, the Indian National Congress, the Akali Dal, and the Kirti Kisan Party. The Punjab Kisan Committee have a new direction to the peasant agitations in 1937. The landlords of the western Punjab who dominated the Unionist Party Ministries became the targets of the movement. Resettlement of land revenue in Amritsar and Lahore and increase in water rates in canal colonies of Multan and Montgomery where feudal levies were demanded by the private contractors were the immediate issues which were taken up. The peasants organized a strike in the region and were able to win concessions.

Other regions where the peasant activity was concentrated include Jullundur, Amritsar, Hoshiarpur, Lyallpur, and Shekhupura. The Hindu peasants of south-eastern Punjab, which is present-day Haryana, and the Muslim tenants-at-will of west Punjab remained largely unaffected by the ongoing peasant mobilizations.


The leaders of peasant activity in the region include Sahjanand Saraswati, Karyanand Sharma, Yadunandan Sharma, Rahul Sankrityan, Panchana Sharma, Jamun Karjiti among others. Anti-zamindari became the slogan of the movement in 1935 under the banner of Provincial Kisan Conference. A rift developed between the Indian National Congress and the Provincial Kisan Sabha over the issue of 'bakasht' land because of an unfavourable resolution by the government which was not acceptable to the sabha. The movement got dissipated by August 1939.


Anti-zamindari movements were going in the region for quite some time. The prestige of zamindars further declined with their defeat by Congressmen in elections. The region had many provincial ryot associations which were active. The Indian Peasants' Institute was set up in 1933 by Acharya N.G.Ranga. The Congress socialist leaders began to organize the peasants after 1936. At many places, the summer schools of politics and economics were organized which were addressed by leaders such as R.D.Bharadwaj, P.C. Joshi, and Ajoy Ghosh.


The Congress Socialist Party was active in mobilizing the peasants of the Malabar region. Many peasants organizations, locally known as "Karshak Sanghams", began to be formed. The most popular form of their struggle was the marching of the peasant groups, known as the jaths, to the landlords in order to get their demands accepted. One of the important campaigns by the peasants was in 1938 which demanded an amendment of the Malabar Tenancy Act of 1929.

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