Social Scientist. v 11, no. 125 (Oct 1983) p. 39.


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ATIS DASGUPTA^

Titu Meers Rebellion: A Profile

SINCE the imposition of colonial rule in Bengal, a kind of continuity can be traced in the reactions of the peasantry through the outbreak of risings emerging from different moorings. The last four decades of the 18th century became stormy as the Fakir-Sannyasi rebellion, the Chakma movement, the Chuar revolt and the Rangpur rising were taking shape. In the same tradition of anti-colonial movements, Titu Meer's rebellion stood out strikingly in the first half of the 19th century. This uprising shook the colonial base in the countryside of Barasat sub-division of the 24 Parganas district during 1830-31.

As regards the source material for a study of Titu Meer's rebellion, we, however, still face the limitation of depending primarily on official records of the East India CompanyŚ Golvin's report (a report submitted by the Acting Joint Magistrate of Barasat-to the Secretary of Government of Bengal in the Judicial Department in 1832) and other Judicial (Criminal) Proceedings preserved in the West Bengal State Archives. We also get glimpses of the uprising from contemporary press reports1 which broadly sympathised with those who suppressed the rebellion. A little later W W Hunter came out with his publications2 to provide a more sophisticated rationale for the colonial stand. The first Bengali book on Titu Meer was written in 1897 by Biharilal Sarkar who openly supported the interests of both the Hindu landholders and the officials of the East India Company. A somewhat balanced, though sketchy, viewpoint on the rebellion emerged from around the middle of the present century in the writings of W C Smith,3 in the publications of R C Mazumdar4 and S B Cli^udhuri5 and in the recent works of Sirajul Islam and others.6 But the perspective of a peasant rebellion was still missing. Some Leftist intellectuals7 gradually came forward to provide this crucial dimension, though the rigours of the historian's craft may be apparently lacking in some of their writings.

While we would try to appraise the pivotal perspective of peasant resistance as the major objective of this paper, we should first try to understand the level of perception of the rebel peasants in the social milieu of Bengal during the early 19th century. Otherwise we may ask

*Sociological Research Unit, Indian Statistical Institute.



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