CHAPTER VIII: Tebhaga Movement

 The Tebhaga movement was one of the proudest moments in the history of the farmers’ movement in undivided Bengal. Tebhaga, simply put, mean that 2/3rds of the crops tilled by the Baradyas and Adhiyars would have to go to the farmers. The idea was to enact a low to give recognition to this demand. 41% of the farmers, according to the Land & Revenue Commission in 1940 were Baradyas and Adhiyars. In the same year the Commission had agreed that this demand was only in order. A draft bill was been readied and circulated. But this had been swept under the carpet later on. I asked Suhrawarddi as to why this has been done. Suhrawarddi told me that he did not know that we had so many landlords in his party! In other words, he admitted that it was these Zamindars who had forced the Bill to be sabotaged.

The farmers waited for years. When it was realised that the Bill was only a pipedream, it was then decided that the Tebhaga demand would have to take an agitational route. After the Second World War, the farmers took to active struggle. The movement was already taking place in bits and starts in many districts. However in the beginning of 1947, it took the form of an organised movement throughout the State particularly in North Bengal. There was a general awakening in places like Mymensingh, Jalpaiguri, Jessore, Khulna, Rangpur, Dinajpur and 24-parganas. The catchword that went around was; “We want Tebhaga. We will give our lives but not our crop.”

With law and order being the easiest excuse, the Police went on torturing the farmers; firing and lathi charges on peaceful gatherings were the order of the day.

In the early part of 1947, I moved extensively in Mymensingh, Khulna and Jalpaiguri. My report was as an eyewitness.

At least 70 farmers had died because of unjustified police firing,. There was arson by the Police. Even women were not spared.

But this sort of atrocities could not stop the progress of the movement. The movement went ahead even though the police torture grew. I raised the issue four times during the month of March 1947. We had published a number of leaflets about the agitations; detailed repots had also come in from the District Units. My first hand experience during my tours also helped in preparing my speeches.

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