The formation of the
AIKS was a response to the highly exploitative methods adopted by the British
Imperialists to squeeze the peasantry.
All the agrarian systems developed by the colonial masters viz.,
Jamindari, mahalwari etc., solidified unbearable absentee landlordism and
deprived the actual tillers of their rights on land. Within no time they developed into extremely
oppressive systems of exploitation.
Arbitrary laws were made to grab age old rights of tribals on forest land
illegal exactions, rack-renting, subinfeudation, fragmentation of holdings,
indebtedness, increasing taxation, increasingly unfavorable market
manipulation, decreasing real wage of agricultural laborers, and gradual
impoverishment and pauperization of the peasantry – all this created a very
serious and untenable social situation in India when their very survival was
threatened, the peasants revolted. Some
of these upheavals were the Mopla revolts of Malabar, the Deccan riots, and the
Santhal rebellion and the Indigo revolt of Bengal. The Wahabi movement
of upper India, and the Sannayasi
revolt and the Faraizi
movement of Bengal, though of dubious
political character, were nevertheless largely influenced by peasant
first world war adversely affected the economy in general and the agriculture
in particular. Bolshevik Revolution
supplied necessary anti colonial spirit and provided an alternative political
and social goal. That change in thinking ignited a massive
protest in the form of non-cooperation movement on an all India Scale. The peasants and agricultural labor remained
as back bone of this massive movement.
Though short lived and withdrawn abruptly, this movement gave confidence
to peasants for collective action.
and late 1920s witnessed the birth and growth of present organizations in all
states. Andhra, Madras,
Malabar, United Provinces, Bihar, Bengal
buzzed with activity. An all India peasants
and workers party was formed in 1928.
Though short lived this party tried to co-ordinate hitherto sporadic and
localized peasant movements.
world economic depression which began in 1929 (and intensified in only
thirties) hit Indian peasants very hard.
The price of the crops dropped to very low. As there was no corresponding drop in rates
of rent, taxes and moneylenders interest, the pauperization of the peasantry
was complete. The peasants participated
in Civil Disobedience movement with vengeance.
The sudden withdrawal of the movement forced them to look for an
alternative organization, to serve their interest. The result was the birth of All India Kisan
Congress (latter All India Kisan Sabha).
Preparatory meeting to form AIKS :
National Conference of the congress socialist party was held in Meerut (Uttar Pradesh) in
January 1936. During this conference
left minded and pro peasant leaders informally held a meeting on 15th
January 1936 to discuss the problems faced by the peasantry. At the end of the discussion they felt that
the time is rip to form an organization exclusively to defend the kisans of the
country. In that same meeting
and Jayprakash Narayan were selected as joint conveners to make preparations to
hold an All India Conference.
India Conference of Kisans was held on 11th April, 1936 at
Lucknow. The “All India Kisasn Sabha” was thus formed
in Lucknow. The
organization was at first officially called the All India Kisan Congress. Some people also called it the All India
Kisan Sangh. The name was changed
India Kisan Sabha in 1937.
Nehru, president of the National Congress greeted the conference in
person. He said he welcomed the
formation of the Kisan Congress and expressed his sense of solidarity with the
kisan movement. The kisans were
exploited of India’s
population, he added. The conference
elected the All India Kisan Committee (AIKC).
Swami Sahajananda Saraswati was elected president and Ranga general
AIKS launched major struggles in a number of states. In fact the history of the AIKS was the
history of struggles to protect the rights and interests of Kisans. Struggles launched by AIKS in zamindari and
princely states need a particular mention, because majority of the congress
leadership was not willing to launch any agitation in princely and zamindari
parts of the country. One of those
historic struggles was the Bakashat Satyagraha of Bihar. The lands cultivated
by kisans for 12
continuous years without any legal rights were called Bakashat lands. The Bihar Tenancy Act conferred under tenant
states to kisans who are cultivating these lands. But the zamindars who had been claiming
rights over these lands tried to drive the kisans from these lands. The Congress Government which was ruling the Bihar State
did not protect the kisans. This issue
taken up by the AIKS.
were launched in West Bengal (on the issues of Khas lands and taxes), in Punjab
(against the exploitation of tenant – holders), in North-West
Province (against the exploitation of
fuudal Nawabs), in Central Provinces
(against Malguzari (landlord) system, in Andhra Pradesh (against the atrocities
of Munagala zamindar) in malabar (against the oppressive Malabar Tenancy Act)
and in other states. Tens of thousands
of peasants participated in these struggles braving land lord and police
atrocities. Though the AIKS
innumerable struggles the following remained as the most glorious in its
Telangana Struggle :
Telangana struggle was the armed revolt of the peasants and people started in
September 1946 under the leadership of the AIKS and Communist Party of India and withdrawn on 21 October
1951. As many as 4,000 communist and peasant
militants were killed and more than 10,000
activists were thrown into detention camps and jails for
a period of 3-4 years. 50,000 people
were dragged into police and military camps. They were beaten, tortured and
terrorized for weeks and months. Several lakhs of people in the thousands of
villages were subjected to police and military raids and suffered cruel lathi
the course of the struggle the peasantry had succeeded in setting up gram raj in
about 3,000 villages. In these villages
the hated landlords were driven away from their fortress like houses (‘gadis’)
and their lands were seized by the peasantry.
One million acres of land was distributed among the peasantry under the
guidance of the people’s committees. All
evictions were stopped and the forced labour service was abolished. The plunderous and exorbitant rates of usury
were either drastically cut or altogether forbidden. The daily wages of agricultural labourers
were increased and a minimum wage was enforced.
The oppressive forest officialdom was forced to abandon the entire
forest belt and the tribals and the people living in the adjoining areas of
these forests were able to enjoy the fruits of their labour. For a period of 12 to 18 months the entire
administration of these areas was conducted by the village peasant committees.
Punnapra-Vayalar Struggle :
struggle of Punnapra and Vayalar, two places in Ambalapuzha-Shertallai taluks
in Alleppey district, Travancore
State, now in Kerala,
the armed resistence movement of peasants and agricultural labourers against
the medieval oppression by landlords and of coir industry workers against their
oppressive employers. The movement was
started in October 1946.
agricultural labourers and tenants began to organize themselves in a resistance
movement under the leadership of the Coir Workers Union and the Communist Party
of India. Ward committees
were formed by agricultural workers all
Shertallai taluk in 1944-45. In July –
August 1945 coir workers of Alleppey, Shertallai and Muhamma called a general strike
on their demand for supply of necessities at fair prices. The Travancore state government agreed to set
up machinery for their distribution. But
this promise was proved to be false.
was unleashed in the two taluks. The
Regulation of 1946 for emergency powers was declared. Police and goonda action was rampant. Union officers
were raided, burnt and
destroyed. Landlords were
active. The leaders of the movement were arrested
workers and tenants under the leadership of AIKS and Communist Party of India
decided to resist the terror rule. The
All Travancore Trade Union Congress gave a call for general strike which began
on 22 October 1946.
large numbers of workers began their demonstration and marched to the Reserve
Police camps at Punnapra with a demand for freedom. The officer in charge of the camp ordered to
open fire on the demonstrations. A clash
ensued. The officer and five of his men
were killed while police bullets were responsible for the death of at least 100
Within 24 hours
of the Punnapra clash Ambalapuzha-Shertallai taluks were handed over to the
army. There was a regular manhunt in the
villages. The people were
and shot or beaten to death. They set up
a resistance camp at Vayalar. On 27
October 1946 when the inmates of the camp were having their midday meals they
were suddenly surrounded by the army which at once began firing and killed not
known how many hundreds. Firing was
continued till the ammunition supply was exhausted. Then bayonets were used to kill those who
were still alive. Not even the names
all the martyrs were known; they remained unknown heroes.
The tebhaga movement was the
biggest, most militant and most broad-based class struggle of the kisans of Bengal led by the
Kisan Sabha. It drew into its
parts of at least 15 of the 28 districts of Bengal and at least five million
kisans of the poorer and more exploited strata who fought heroically against
the jotdars, their goondas and the police and defied all hostile propaganda,
both official and non-official, provoking communal hatred and rioting. In order to guide and conduct the movement
locally, kisans spontaneously formed local councils of action in many places.
movement covered the entire period of harvesting from November 1946 to February
1947. In some areas it extended to March
1947. Terrific police repression was let
loose on the struggling kisans everywhere and particularly the northern
districts of Dinajpur, Rangpur and Jalpaiguri, the coastal areas of 24-Parganas
and Khulna, and the eastern district of
Mymensingh, particularly the tribal areas of the Garo Hills on the Assam
border. Jotdars and their gangsters beat
up kisans and even used guns to kill some of them.
the extensive repressive measures kisans had to fight back in self-defence and
some sort of a resistance movement was developed among them – not always on a
planned basis, and mostly sporadically.
During the latter months, mainly in January and February 1947; the armed
police force resorted to firing in quite a number of places. Altogether 73 kisans – Hindu, Muslim and
Tribal, men and women – had to lay down their lives in the movement.
AIKS not only championed the course of kisans but also consistently tried to
forge unites among all oppressed like kisans, agriculture labour, factory
workers etc. It also tried
ideas of nationalism and socialism among its ranks. It is one of the very few organizations which opposed partition of the country and
dividing the oppressed sections in the name of religion.
independence the AIKS had been trying to mobilize the people to complete the
unfinished tasks, viz., economic independence, self sufficiency, radical land
reforms etc. From zamindari abolition acts to land reform acts to national rural
employment guarantee programmes, every progressive enactment was a direct
result of the uncompromising struggles launched by the AIKS.