Patharughat Peasant Uprising
- After the British annexation of Assam in 1826, surveys of the vast lands of the state began.
- On the basis of such surveys, the British began to impose land taxes, much to the resentment of the farmers.
- In 1893, the British government decided to increase agricultural land tax reportedly by 70- 80 per cent.
- Up until then the peasants would pay taxes in kind or provide service in lieu of cash.
- Across Assam, peasants began protesting the move by organising Raij Mels, or peaceful peoples’ conventions.
British reaction to the protest
- The unarmed peasants were protesting against the increase in land revenue levied by the colonial administration when the military opened fire.
- Despite these gatherings being democratic, the British perceived them as “breeding grounds for sedition”.
- On January 28, 1894, when the British officers were refusing to listen to the farmers’ grievances, things heated up.
- There was a lathi charge, followed by an open firing which killed many of the peasants present.
Significance of the incident
- The incident was one of the most tragic and inspiring episodes in the saga of the Indian freedom movement.
- However, it rarely features in the mainstream historical discourse of the freedom struggle.
- For the larger Assamese community, Patharughat comes second only to the Battle of Saraighat, when the Ahoms defeated the Mughals in 1671.