Friday, September 16, 2011

Indigo Revolt of Bengal and Bihar (contd-1)

Dinobandh Mitra

 The revolt

The revolt started from Nadia where Bishnucharan Biswas and Digambar Biswas first took up arms against the planters. It spread like wildfire in Murshidabad, Birbhum, Burdwan, Pabna, Khulna, Narail, etc. Indigo planters were put into public trial and executed. The indigo depots were burned down. Many planters fled to avoid being caught. The zamindars were also targets of the revolting peasants.
The revolt was ruthlessly suppressed. Large forces of police and military backed by the British Government and the zamindars mercilessly slaughtered a number of peasants. In spite of this the revolt was fairly popular, involving almost the whole of Bengal. The Biswas brothers of Nadia, Kader Molla of Pabna, Rafique Mondal of Malda were popular leaders. Even some of the zamindars supported the revolt, the most important of whom was Ramratan Mullick of Narail.

 The effect on the British rulers in India

The historian Jogesh Chandra Bagal describes the revolt as a non-violent revolution and gives this as a reason why the indigo revolt was a success compared to the Sepoy Revolt. R.C. Majumdar in "History of Bengal"[4] goes so far as to call it a forerunner of the non-violent passive resistance later successfully adopted by Gandhi. The revolt had a strong effect on the government, which immediately appoint the "Indigo Commission" in 1860.[5] In the commission report, E. W. L. Tower noted that "not a chest of Indigo reached England without being stained with human blood". Evidently it was a major triumph of the peasants to incite such emotion in the Europeans' minds even though the statement might have been an overstatement.

 Cultural effects

Dinabandhu Mitra's 1859 play Nil Darpan is based on the revolution. It was translated into English by Michael Madhusudan Dutta and published by Rev. James Long. It attracted much attention in England, where the people were stunned at the savagery of their countrymen. The British Government sent Rev. Long to a mock trial and punished him with imprisonment and fine. Kaliprasanna Sinha paid the fine for him.
The play is the first play to be staged commercially in the National Theatre in Kolkata