Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow:
This is an example of a petition from a ryot of the village of Mirajgaon, Taluka Karjat, to the Collector, Ahmednagar, Deccan Riots Commission:
The sowkars (sahukars) … have of late begun to oppress us. As we cannot earn enough to defray our household expenses, we are actually forced to beg of them to provide us with money, clothes and grain, which we obtain from them not without great difficulty, nor without their compelling us to enter into hard conditions in the bond. Moreover the necessary clothes and grain are not sold to us at cash rates. The prices asked from us are generally twenty-five or fifty per cent more than demanded from customers making ready money payments … The produce of our fields is also taken by the sowkars, who at the time of removing it assure us that it will be credited to our account, but they do not actually make any mention of it in the accounts. They also refuse to pass us any receipts for the produce so removed by them.
(a) What kind of injustice was experienced by ryots?
(b) Why was the harvest taken away by the money lenders and why was it not credited to the peasant’s account?
(c) Give details on the commission that investigated petitions and grievances of the concerned people.
Ordinary life in extraordinary times
What happened in the cities during the months of the revolt? How did people live through those months of tumult? How was normal life affected? Reports from different cities tell us about the breakdown in routine activities. Read these reports from the Delhi Urdu Akhbar, 14 June 1857:
The same thing is true for vegetables and saag (spinach). People have been found to complain that even kaddu (pumpkin) and baingan (brinjal) cannot be found in the bazaars. Potatoes and arvi (yam) when available are of stale and rotten variety, stored from before by farsighted kunjras (vegetable growers). From the gardens inside the city some produce does reach a few places but the poor and the middle class can only lick their lips and watch them (as they are earmarked for the select) .
. . . There is something else that needs attention which is causing a lot of damage to the people which is that the water-carriers have stopped filling water. Poor Shurfas (gentility) are seen carrying water in pails on their shoulders and only then the necessary household tasks such as cooking, etc. can take place. The halalkhors (righteous) have become haramkhors (corrupt) , many mohallas have not been able to earn for several days and if this
situation continues then decay, death and disease will combine together to spoil the city’s air and an epidemic will spread all over the city and even to areas adjacent and around.
(a) Explain what happened in Delhi city during the months of the 1857 revolt?
(b) How did people live through those month of tumult?
(c) How did the routine activities disturb the people?
(a) The kind of injustice experienced by the ryots:
(i) Violation of customary norms by moneylenders.
(i) A high rate of interest charged by the money lenders.
(iii) Moneylenders were being insensitive to their plight.
(b) The reasons:
(i) They were powerful, devious, manipulative and deceitful.
(ii) They had support of the police and the government.
(iii) Peasants were illiterate.
(c) The commission that investigated petitions and grievances of the concerned people was called the Deccan Riots Commission.
(i) It was supposed to investigate the causes and petitions of ryohts.
(ii) The commission held inquiries in the district where riots spread.
(a) There was the breakdown in the routine activities.
(b) From the gardens inside the city some produce does reach a few places but the poor and the middle class can only lick their lips and watch them (as they are earmarked for the select) .
(c) People were facing shortages of vegetables, only rotten vegetables were available. People were not able to earn. There was disease, death and decay in the city. Water carriers had stopped carrying water.