British rule in India adversely affected different strata of Indian population-both the rich and poor. This led to widespread discontent among the Indians. The adverse impact of the British rule on the political, economic and social spheres resulted in sharp reaction of the Indian people against the foreigners. This led to a series of anti-British movements throughout the country.
Sannyasi and Fakir Uprisings in Bengal
A sect of Sannyasis rose in rebellion against the British during and after the great Bengal famine of 1770.The immediate cause of this upsurge was the restriction imposed by the British upon the pilgrims visiting holy places and shrines. These sannyasis aided by common people raided the English factories and settlements.They also collected huge contributions. All these led to a number of conflicts between the rebels and the company’s forces.
At the same time a large number of Fakirs or Muslim mendicants revolted against the British under the leadership of Majnu Shah and Cheragh Ali.They attacked English factories and looted their goods, arms and money. There were number of battles fought between the Fakirs and the British troops in which the latter suffered heavy losses.
Faraizi Movement (1804-1860)
The founder of this movement was Haji Shariatullah of Faridpur (eastern Bengal).His chief aim was to remove un-Islamic practices from the Muslim society as well as to revive and restore Muslim rule once again by expelling the Christians from India. So this movement was strongly religious-political in character.
His successors Dudu Mian and Nowa Mian successfully mobilized the Muslim peasants of central and eastern Bengal against the zamindars and moneylenders who were mostly Hindus and the indigo planters who were British. The Bengal government finally suppressed them in 1860s after a series of arrests, trials and persecutions.
Wahabi Movement (1820-1870)
This movement was originally an Islamic socio-religious reform movement. It tried to purify Islam by eliminating all the un-Islamic practices which had crept into Muslim society through the ages.Saiyad Ahmad of Rae-Bareily was the founder of this movement in India. But his actual ambition was to revive Muslim power in Hindustan by overthrowing the Sikhs in Punjab and British in Bengal.Wahabism spread very rapidly in Bihar, Bengal, UP and North-Western India.
After Saiyad Ahmad’s death in the battle of Balakot against the Sikhs (1831), Patna became the centre of this movement. In Bengal Saiyad Nissar Hussain led this anti-British struggle which sometimes took a communal turn. Although the Wahabi uprising was mainly inspired by anti-imperialist sentiments yet it had some kind of revivalist and communal tendencies. The British took strong measures against this movement and were able to subdue it completely around 1870.
Kuka Movement in the Punjab (1860-1872)
It was originally founded by Bhagat Jawahar Mal in 1840.His main aim was to purify the Sikh religion by removing all the abuses, superstitions and ill-practices from it. But after the British annexation of Punjab revival of Sikh power and sovereignty became the major objective of the Kukas.This caused a great deal of anxiety in the British official ranks. So they took various measures between 1863 and 1872 and were finally able to suppress this movement.
Santhal Rebellion (1855-1856)
The Santhal rebellion was tribal rebellion marked by tribal passions and strong anti-British feelings. Under the leadership of Sidhu and Kanhu thousands of Santhals revolted against the oppressive British and their local Indian collaborations. The Santhals attacked and destroyed the houses of landlords, moneylenders, planters and British officials. Other people from lower orders also joined them. They proclaimed the end of British rule. After a series of initial setbacks, the British authority could ultimately subdue the santhal rebellion but only with a military aid.
There were several other serious uprisings against the British in the late 18th and 19th century. These were the Chuar rebellion in western Bengal ,the Paik rebellion in Orissa,Vishakapatnam revolts in Andhra,Khasi uprising in Assam.Bundela rebellion in central India, Polygar rebellion in South India, Indigo uprising in Bengal,Deccan riots ,Kol-Munda-Ho uprisings of Chotanagpur region.Tribal uprising under Birsa Munda and so on. All these movements showed clear anti-imperialist feelings and were directed against British oppression and exploitation. People from different castes, creeds and communities actively participated in these movements.