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In the annals of India’s freedom struggle, the historic uprising of the peasants at Patharughat in the Darrang district, Assam, stands as a poignant chapter of bravery, sacrifice, and resilience against oppressive British rule. The incident, immortalised as the “Patharughat Peasants Uprising,” unfolded on January 28, 1894, leaving an indelible mark on the pages of history.
As the British colonial rulers intensified their imposition of land taxes, the local peasants found themselves grappling with skyrocketing rates, reaching an unbearable 70–80 percent. The discontent simmered among the farming community, which was accustomed to paying taxes in kind or providing services in lieu of cash. The British authorities, viewing peasant protests as seditious, turned a blind eye to their grievances, escalating tensions.
On that fateful day, thousands of peasants gathered in protest at Patharughat, denouncing the exorbitant land tax imposed by the British. The atmosphere was charged with the collective determination to resist the unjust taxation that had pushed the poor farmers to the brink of despair. A rebellion brewed, and the peasants, resolute in their cause, decided to withhold tax payments until a fair resolution was reached.
The turning point came when Deputy Commissioner JD Anderson, along with officials Barrington, SP, and Remington, SDO, arrived at the protest venue with a formidable police force. Despite the pleas and protests of the peasants, the British officials adamantly announced that tax rates would not be reduced under any circumstances. In response, the police, acting on orders, opened fire on the unarmed gathering.
The Patharughat massacre unfolded with devastating consequences, as hundreds were injured and around 140 innocent peasants lost their lives on the spot. The incident, often likened to Assam’s Jallianwala Bagh, galvanised the freedom movement in the region, providing renewed impetus to the struggle against British oppression.
The sacrifice of the martyrs of Patharughat became a rallying point for the larger cause of India’s freedom. The brutality of the British forces on that day fueled the flames of resistance, and the deaths of these brave farmers strengthened the resolve of those fighting for independence.
In the present day, Patharughat is remembered and honored as the site of the Krishak Swahid Divas, commemorated on January 29 every year. The Indian Army pays homage to the martyrs, emphasizing the significance of their sacrifice in the larger narrative of India’s struggle for freedom.
The Patharughat Peasants Uprising remains etched in the collective memory of Assam, symbolizing the unwavering spirit of its people in the face of colonial injustice. The bravery of those who stood up against exploitation continues to inspire generations, reminding us of the sacrifices made on the journey to India’s independence.