Ramosi Uprising – UPSC Notes

Ramosi revolt took place in 1822 in Satara under the leadership of Chittur Singh against British rule. The Ramosis resented the British policy of annexation. The main reason for the uprising was the large-scale unemployment among Ramosis after the British annexation of Maratha territories in 1818. But later, the British pacified the movement by taking them into their forces.

Historical Background

Ramosis were the hill tribes of the Western Ghats who had not reconciled to the British rule. Before the decline of the Maratha empire, they served in the inferior ranks of the Maratha army and police.

After the British annexed the Maratha territories in 1818, the Ramosis, who earlier had been employed by the Maratha administration, lost their means of livelihood. The British levied taxes on these unemployed families amidst the famine. These tribals believed that the new structure of the British administration was highly unfair to them, which led to the famous Ramosi rebellion.

Ramosi Rebellion (1822-29)

In the initial phase of the uprising, Ramosis rose against the British in 1822 under Chittur Singh and plundered the country near Satara. Later on, the second phase of revolt had a series of revolutionary events organised by the tribals of the region from 1825 to 1829.

In 1825-26, under the leadership of Umaji Naik of Poona and his supporter Bapu Trimbakji Sawant, the Ramosis again rebelled against the British. They rebel on account of acute famine and scarcity in Pune. For three years, they ravaged the Deccan. The disturbance continued till 1829. To overcome the rebellion, the Britishers followed the pacifist policy toward the Ramosis and even recruited some of them into the hill police.

Ramosi Rebellion of 1879

Ramosi revolt of 1879 was a peasant uprising against the British failure to take up anti-famine measures. It was the first of the revolutionary activities in Maharashtra. The rebellion took place in the Satara region of Maharashtra under the leadership of Vasudev Balwant Phadke.

The Deccan famine of 1776-77 caused more hardships to the peasants. The peasants resented the exploitive land revenue policies of the British. Severe famine coupled with the apathy of the British administration propelled Vasudev Balwant Phadke to tour the Deccan region, urging people to strive for an independent Indian republic.

Unable to get support from the educated classes, Phadke gathered a band of people from the Ramosi caste. Phadke taught himself to shoot, ride and fence. Then, he organised the Ramosi Peasant Force, which aimed to rid the country of the British by instigating an armed revolt by disrupting communication lines.

Phadke intended to build an army of their own but lacked funds. They decided to break into government treasuries to raise funds. They first raided the treasury in a village called Dhamari in Shirur taluka in the Pune district. The income tax, collected to be sent to the British government, was kept in the house of a local businessman Balchand Fojmal Sankla. They attacked the house and took the money to help famine-stricken villagers.

Phadke performed many such invasions in regions near Shirur and Khed talukas in Pune. The general plot would be to cut off all the communications of the British forces and then raid the treasury. The purpose of these raids was to feed famine-affected peasant communities.

Meanwhile, Daulatrav Naik, the leader of Ramosi and the prominent supporter of Phadke, headed towards the Konkan area of the western coast. In May 1879, they raided Palaspe and Chilkhali, looting around 1.5 lakh rupees. While returning to Ghat Matha, the British forces attacked Naik and shot him dead. His death was a setback to Phadke’s revolt.

The British forces captured Phadke in a temple after a fierce fight at the district of Kaladgi on 20 July 1879, while he was on his way to Pandharpur. From here, he was taken to Pune for trial and then transported to jail at Aden. On 13 February 1883, he escaped prison but was soon recaptured. Then he went on hunger strike, dying on 17 February 1883.

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