Monday, October 17, 2011

History of Armed Revolution against British Rule (contd-3)

Reprint of authors own post
Monday, July 4, 2011

Titumir of Bengal
Titu Mir (1782-1831) a peasant leader who resisted the oppression of the local zamindars and European indigo planters on the peasantry with ultimate object of liberating the country from British domination. He was a leader of the tariqah-i-muhammadiya in Bengal and his movement initially aimed at socio-religious reforms, elimination of the practice of shirk (pantheism) and bidat (innovation) in the Muslim society and at inspiring the Muslims to follow Islamic principles in their day to day life.

The real name of Titu Mir was Sayyid Mir Nisar Ali. He was born on 14 Magh 1188 BS (1782 AD) at village Chandpur (controversially Haiderpur) under Bashirhat sub-division of the district of 24 Parganas in West Bengal. His father was Sayyid Mir Hasan Ali and his mother's name was Abida Rokaiya Khatoon. Titu's family claimed descent from Hazrat Ali (R). His predecessor Sayyid Shahadat Ali came to Bengal from Arabia to preach Islam. Sayyid Abdullah, son of Shahadat Ali, was appointed the chief qazi of Jafarpur by the emperor of Delhi and was invested with the title of Meer Insaaf. Henceforth the descendants of Shahadat Ali used both the hereditary titles 'Sayyid' and 'Mir'.

Titu Mir had his early education in the village Maktab and then entered into a local Madrasah. He was a Hafiz, excelled in three languages- Bangla, Arabic and Persian and developed keen interest in Arabic and Persian literature. He was well versed in Islamic theology, jurisprudence, philosophy, tasawwaf (Islamic mysticism) and mantiq. While a student in the madrasah Titu Mir grew up into a good gymnast and a renowned pahlwan (wrestler).

Titu Mir went on a pilgrimage to Makka in 1822 AD and came in close contact with the great Islamic reformer and revolutionary leader Sayyid Ahmad of Bareilly who inspired him to free his fellow countrymen from un-Islamic practices and foreign domination. On his return from Makka in 1827 Titu Mir started preaching among the Muslims in the districts of 24 Parganas and Nadia. He advised them to refrain from practising shirk and bidaat and inspired them, especially the weavers and peasants, to follow the Islamic way of life. But soon he was in conflict with the Hindu zamindar Krishnadeva Rai of Purha for his sectarian attitude towards the Muslims and imposing illegal taxes on them. Titu Mir happened to be in conflict with other landlords like Kaliprasanna Mukhopadhyay of Gobardanga, Rajnarayan of Taragonia, Gauri Prasad Chowdhury of Nagpur and Devanath Rai of Gobra-govindpur for their oppression on the peasantry.

To face the situation and to give protection to the peasants Titu Mir formed a Mujahid force and trained them in lathi and other indigenous arms. His disciple and nephew Ghulam Masum was made commander of the force. The increasing strength of Titu Mir alarmed the zamindars who however attempted to take united stand and to involve the English in their fight against him. Being instigated by the zamindar of Gobardanga, Davis, the English kuthial (factor) of Mollahati, advanced with his force against Titu Mir, but was beaten back. The zamindar of Gobra-govindpur was killed in a conflict with Titu Mir. Alexander, the collector of Barasat, advanced against Titu with the daroga of Bashirhat and sustained a severe defeat in the hands of Titu Mir. By this time Titu Mir filed a complain to the government of east india company against the oppression of the zamindars, but to no result.

Titu Mir built a strong fort with bamboo poles at Narkelbaria in October 1831, recruited mujahids and gave them military training. The number of Mujahids rose to nearly five thousand. Having completed his military preparation Titu Mir declared himself Badshah (king) and urged upon the people to participate in jihad against the British. He soon established his control over the districts of 24 Parganas, Nadia and Faridpur. Titu Mir demanded tax from the zamindars of Taki and Gobardanga who implored protection of the English. An English contingent was sent from Calcutta. But the combined forces sustained severe defeat in the hands of the mujahids. Subsequently Lord william bentinck sent a regular army against Titu Mir under Lieutenant Colonel Stewart consisting of 100 cavalry, 300 native infantry and artillery with two cannons.

The English launched attack on the mujahids on 14 November 1831. The mujahids with traditional arms failed to resist the English army equipped with modern arms and took shelter inside the bamboo fort. The English opened fire and totally destroyed the fort. There was heavy casualty on the side of the mujahids. Titu Mir along with many of his followers fell in the battle (19 November 1831). 350 mujahids including their commander Ghulam Masum were captured. Ghulam Masum was sentenced to death and other 140 captives were sentenced to imprisonment on different terms.