Kisan Sabha Movement

The Peasants Movements of the 20th century considerably influenced the National Freedom Struggle. After the revolt of 1857, the Awadh taluqdars got back their lands, which strengthened the hold of taluqdars (or landlords) over the Agrarian society of the United Province. Several cultivators were subjected to high rents, illegal levies, renewal fees (or nazrana), and summary evictions (bedakhali). The First World War hiked the prices of food and other necessities, which worsened the conditions of the peasants.

The 1920-30s witnessed the nationwide awakening and organisation of the peasants and workers in India. Kisan Sabhas were organised in the United Province, mainly due to the efforts of Home Rule activists.

In February 1918, the United Provinces Kisan Sabha (UPKS) was established by Gauri Shankar Mishra and Indra Narayan Dwivedi. By June 1919, the UPKS had 450 branches. Other prominent leaders were Durgapa Singh, Jhinguri Singh, and Baba Ram Chandra.

Baba Ram Chandra organised the farmers of Awadh into forming a united front to fight against the abuses of landlords in the 1920s and 1930s. In June 1920, Baba Ram Chandra urged Nehru to visit the villages of Awadh. Nehru developed close contact with villagers during these visits.

In October 1920, Awadh Kisan Sabha came into existence due to differences in nationalist ranks. Baba Ram Chandra established the Awadh/Oudh Kisan Sabha and organised farmers’ protests.

The Awadh Kisan Sabha (or Oudh Farmer’s Association) encouraged the peasants to refuse tilling bedakhali land, not to offer begar (forms of unpaid labour), boycott those who did not accept these conditions and solve their disputes through panchayats.

However, in January 1921, the patterns of activities changed rapidly from the earlier forms of mass meetings and mobilisation to the looting of bazaars, houses, granaries, and clashes with police. The centres of these activities were primarily the districts of Faizabad, Rai Bareilly, and Sultanpur.

Soon the Movement declined, partly due to Government repression and partly due to the passing of the Awadh Rent (Amendment) Act of 1921.

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