Social Scientist. v 4, no. 45 (April 1976) p. 25.


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S K MITTAL KRISHAN DUTT

Raj Kumar Sukul and the Peasant Upsurge in Champaran

G LEFEBVRE expressed a historian's anguish when he wrote:

We must pay more attention to the obscure leaders and the people who listened to them...It was on them that the business depended... it is there that we must seek the explanation of what took place. The people and their unknown leaders knew what they wanted...who then are these leaders to whom the people listened? We know some, nevertheless, in all the decisive days of the revolution, what we most would like to know is for ever out of our reach; we would like to have the diary of the most obscure of these popular leaders; we would then be able to grasp, in the act so to speak, how one of these great revolutionary days began; we do not have it.1

The tale of woes of the indigo ryots forms one of the blackest chapters in the annals of colonial exploitation. It may be a pure accident, but is certainly a fact, that at the very moment when the British abolished, first the slave trade (1807) and then slavery itself in the British dominions (1833) slavery was introduced by the British in India in another form. Recognizing the incompatibility of ^trowel in one hand and the sword in the other,9'2 the British government abolished commercial monopoly of the East India Company and removed all restrictions on European immigration into India by the Charter Act of 1833. In spite of the denunciation by



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