Causes & Results of Revolt of Champaran Satyagraha in Bihar
Bihar’s Champaran Satygraha of 1917 was the first satyagraha movement inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and a major revolt in the Indian Independence movement. The Champaran movement was the consequence of the exploitative economic system.
The peasant in the Champaran district were excessively oppressed by the European planters . They were compelled to grow Indigo on atleast 3/20th part of their land . European planters started Indigo cultivation in Bettiah and Ramangar Raj of Bihar’s Champaran district. They used two types of indigo’s farming, one is Jeerat and the other one is Aasamibar. Under Jeerat, European planters supervised the ryots directly on farm. Peasants were hired at cheap wages and their conditions were deteriorating. Under the Asamibar, the peasants were forced to grow indigo on their own land. So under this, there were three ways – teen kathia, Kurtaul, and khushki. Teen Kathia was widely prevalent. This system exploited the ryots in many ways-
- The ryots were forced to grow indigo and this curtailed their freedom of cultivation. A heavy penalty of fine was imposed if they failed to grow Indigo.
- They were forced to sell at the prices fixed by the planters.
- The ryots had to work sometimes with no minimum wages.
Though in Germany, the process for making artificial indigo invented in 1893 and affected the production in Bihar and the planters gradually began to exempt the ryots from this practice but they, on the other hand increased the lagan( tax) on the other agricultural production . No one was there to resist the injustice because the planters had great influence on the local administration.
The exploitation on the peasant fetched the attention of the Indian National Congress. Several representative from Bihar attended the INC session of Lucknow in 1916. Raj kumar Shukla as a representative of farmers requested Mahatma Gandhii to visit the place. Gandh had returned from South Africa, wanted to experience his satyagraha in India.
On 10 April 1917, Gandhi visited Champaran with Rajkumar Shukla where they were welcomed by the locals. After reaching Champaran, Gandhi wandered villages and met farmers to know the atrocities on them. Gandhi got enormous support from the leaders of the Bihar which include Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Brajkishore Prasad, Acharaya Kriplani, Anugraha Narayan Sinha. A new spirit among peasant arose. This step of Gandhi feared the British officials and as a result section 144 imposed and a case was registered . Gnadhi was issued summon to present before the magistrate. He accepted all the allegations charged on him. This was an apparent and important because he told the magistrate clearly that he had violated the English rules. Thus it was the first use of Civil Disobedience Movement. This gave the popularity to Gandhi and the Lt. Governor had to interrupt into the matter to exempt him from all charges. This was the first victory of Civil Disobedience.
Outcomes of the Champaran movement –
Champaran Agrarian Committee was formed and following the recommendations the government end the teen kathia system and return the 25% of illegal cess collected to the ryots. Within a decade, the planters left Champaran.
Thus Champaran movement was the watershed event in the India struggle for Independence.
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