ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Unfinished Struggle of Santhal Bataidars in Purnea District, 1938-42

The Unfinished Struggle of Santhal Bataidars in Purnea District, 1938-42 Anand Chakravarti In recent years the countryside in Bihar has been convulsed by severe agrarian tensions arising to a large extent from the deliberate negligence on the part of the government of issues effecting the interests of oppressed sections, such as tenants-at-will and agricultural labourers. The persistence of the problems of these sections is an outcome of the failure of the Indian National Congress to effectively integrate agrarian issues with its programme for attaining Independence. This argument has been demonstrated here by examining in detail the struggle of the Santhal bataidars (sharecroppers who were tenants-at-will) against their maliks (comprising tenure-holders and occupancy tenants) in Dhamdaha revenue circle in the western pari of Purnea district between 1938 and 1942. The conflicr occurred in a political environment dominanted partly by the national movement and partly by the struggles of the upper layers of the tenantry against the zamindars in Bihar. The capacity of the Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha and the Congress to take up the problems of tenants-at-will has been critically examined, and a point of view that endorses the latter's position giving primacy to the campaign against colonial rule, while postponing the solution of agrarian issues till the attainment of Independence, has been questioned.

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