Tax Resisting Meo in Open Rebellion in Alwar

Here’s a dispatch from India from :

Peasants Revolt.

Trouble in India

Tax Resisters Destroy Roads

A serious situation has arisen at Alwar, a State in central India, where the peasants of hundreds of villages are refusing to pay land revenue to the Maharajah.

The resisters, including hundreds who served in the Indian Army during the Great War, armed themselves with ancient rifles and muskets, and destroyed roads and barricaded the passes leading to their villages, defying the tax collectors.

The disturbances are a sequel to the imposition of new taxes on animals and State irrigation schemes which the peasants claim infringe their rights. State troops have been sent to quell the outbreak, which closely resembles the recent revolt against the State administration in Kashmir.

And another take on it from :

Tax Revolt

Peasant Rising in Indian State

Resistance to Collectors

Demand for Inquiry

The agrarian situation in Alwar State is assuming serious proportions. Thousands of armed Hindu Moslem [sic] peasants of splendid physique with fighting spirit are concentrating in an area of 32 square miles to repel the State tax gatherers.

The roads by which the lorries have been bringing troops have been made impassable. The paths are blocked by huge boulders and at intervals along the hills remote from the towns are watchers with giant tom-toms which are heard for five miles, giving warning of the approach of troops or the revenue collectors.

The inhabitants of hundreds of villages absolutely refuse to pay the taxes and are attacking small parties of troops and collectors.

The peasants are demanding an inquiry into their grievances by a commission of State officials and cultivators under the chairmanship of an Englishman from British India.

I’ve found a few other references to this on-line, but only have the sketchiest of sketches about what was going on. The Meo were Indian Muslims in the area, and in they rose up against what they felt to be discriminatory treatment by the Hindu-dominated Maharaja regime.

There had been earlier tax revolts, some quite violently repressed, that had been more ecumenical. But the Maharaja tried to divide the opposition by taking on a more-Hindu-than-thou attitude, which partially placated the Hindu opposition and further enraged the Muslims. Lots of people were refusing to pay the recently-inflated taxes in , but the Meo wanted to go further and make an armed rebellion.

All of this took place around the same time as Gandhi’s nonviolent nationalist resistance, but they seem not to have had much to do with each other.

In one village, a tax collector was killed by Meo farmers. I found a reference to a song that was written to celebrate the attack:

Rebels in the open the Meos did then rejoice
They conferred among themselves and spoke in a single voice
Your názim’s dead and ever since
  we aren’t ruled by any prince
To London by now you should’ve fled,
  and do take along your dead.

Things went south, and the rebellion took on the look of a religious war. The British imperial authorities didn’t care for how the Maharaja failed to keep a lid on things and sent him into exile, and the acting administrator they appointed tried with some success to settle things down with compromises and conciliations.