We turn to Bengal’s “Titu Mir” who led a peasant rebellion against Zamindars & British

In light of #75yearsofIndependence, we’re celebrating Muslims’ role in freedom movement. So far, we’ve seen freedom fighters from Hyderabad, Mewat, Malegaon, Bhopal & Ranchi. Today, we turn to Bengal’s “Titu Mir” who led a peasant rebellion against Zamindars & British

Titu Mir (Syed Mīr Nisār Alī) was from a peasant family in Haidarpur, Barasat. He had memorised the Holy Qur’an and was a hafiz. He knew Bengali, Persian & Urdu. Titu went on pilgrimage to Makkah, where he learnt about Islamic principles & practices.

Upon his return home, Titu Mir began working with peasants, especially against the alliance of exploitative Zamindars & the British. In June 1830, a talukdar imposed a tax on anyone with a beard (to target Titu Mir’s followers). He sent a force of 300 men to collect the tax

An enraged Titu Mir declared that the tax was communal & exploited the poor peasants who should refuse to pay the tax. The peasants responded to the call and none turned up to pay the tax. The talukdar punished the peasants by burning down their homes & destroying a masjid

Local zamindars increased their taxation & exploitation of poor cultivators. Titu then issued a declaration rejecting British rule. He decreed that zamindars should not remit taxes to British. Titu’s militia looted the property of a Muslim landholder for disobeying his order

Titu also asked the ryots not to pay rent or illegal taxes to the zamindars Such was the fear of Titu’s movement that some zamindars & talukdars fled to Calcutta. His militia also began targeting European indigo planters in the region

After multiple successes, nearly 8000 Hindu & Muslim peasants joined Titu. His movement held significant territory. Under his ‘rule’ Titu carried out a “peasants’ autonomous government” for nearly a year. The local zamindars were suppressed or expelled from their territories

Peasants collected taxes, administered justice & maintained internal law and order. Anticipating retaliation from East India Company’s forces, Titu constructed the famous “banser kella” or a bamboo-fortress, which the peasants built with incredible speed

In Nov 1831, Titu’s men defeated 300 British forces in an armed confrontation. The Brits then sent a stronger force which laid siege to his bamboo fortress. Titu’s men put up a brave fight for 3 hours with arrows, spears, lances & muskets against superior British weaponry

An injured Titu continued to fight to the end. Eventually, the bamboo fortress fell. The British bayonetted Titu to painful death. 50 brave peasant-comrades were also killed. Titu’s defiance, bravery & martyrdom is a lesson for us all. May Allah elevate his status in jannah