The Blue Rebellion and After

Ruling the Country Side of Class 8

The Blue Rebellion and After

In March 1859 thousands of ryots in Bengal refused to grow indigo, ryots refused to pay rents to planters, and attacked indigo factories. Those who worked for the planters were socially boycotted, and the gomasthas - agents of planters - who came to collect rent were beaten up. Ryots swore they would no longer take advances to sow indigo nor be bullied by the planters' lathiyals - the lathi-wielding strongmen maintained by the planters.

the blue rebellion and after

Causes of the  Blue Rebellion

  1. In 1859, the indigo ryots felt that they had the support of the local zamindars and village headmen in their rebellion against the planters. These zamindars were unhappy with the increasing power of the planters and angry at being forced by the planters to give them land on long leases.
  2. The indigo peasants also thought that the British government would support them in their struggle against the planters. When the news spread of a simmering revolt in the indigo districts, the Lieutenant Governor toured the region in the winter of 1859. The ryots saw the tour as a sign of government sympathy for their plight. When the magistrate Ashley Eden issued a notice stating that ryots would not be compelled to accept indigo contracts, word went around that Queen Victoria had declared that indigo need not be sown. Eden's action was read as support for the rebellion.
  3. As the rebellion spread, intellectuals from Calcutta rushed to the indigo districts. They wrote of the misery of the ryots, the tyranny of the planters, and the horrors of the indigo system.

Outcome of the Blue Rebellion

  • Worried by the rebellion, the government brought in the military to protect the planters from assault, and set up the Indigo Commission to enquire into the system of indigo production. The Commission held the planters guilty. It declared that indigo production was not profitable for ryots. The Commission asked the ryots to fulfill their existing contracts but also told them that they could refuse to produce indigo in future.
  • After the revolt, indigo production collapsed in Bengal. But the planters now shifted their operation to Bihar. With the discovery of synthetic dyes in the late nineteenth century their business was severely affected, but yet they managed to expand production. Mahatma Gandhi's visit in 1917 marked the beginning of the Champaran movement against the indigo planters.
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