Describe the nature and extent of the armed revolts against the British during the latter half of the 19th century. What was their chief handicap? Why did they fail?
In different parts of the country, the popular discontent against British rule manifested itself in armed revolts even after the great uprising of 1857 had been crushed. These continued throughout the remaining years of the 19th century. Peasants, tribal people, certain religious sects and, in some cases, sections of old ruling families were up in arms.
The first of these, the indigo revolts in lower Bengal (1859-62) and North Bihar (1866-68) were against the British planters who forced peasants to cultivate indigo and sell it to them at prices fixed by the planters.
These were followed by peasant uprising in Patna and Bogra in Bengal (1872-76) Maharashtra (1874-75, 1878-79) and Rampa in Andhra (1879-80), against the oppression of landlords, money-lenders and the British authorities. A very important book Neel darpan by Dina Bandu Mitra vividly portrays the condition of the Indigo workers.
The peasants and tribals in north eastern India took up arms against British oppression. The Wahabis who had played an important role in the earlier anti-British uprising tried to reorganise themselves after 1857, but were suppressed in 1863-64. Sher Ali, a Wahabi, killed Lord Mayo in the Andamans in 1872.
In Punjab, the Namdhari or the Kuka movement under the leadership of Guru Ram Singh clashed with local chiefs and the British authorities. While many of the Kukas were massacred, Guru Ram Singh was exiled to Burma.
Vasudev Balwant Phadke in Maharashtra led an armed revolt against the oppression of money-lenders and to over-throw the foreign rule, but he was routed in 1869 and imprisoned for life.
Tikendrajit in Manipur led an anti-British uprising in 1891, but was defeated and executed.
The Anti-British resistance of the Pathanas in North Western India, which had come under British control, continued throughout the 1890’s.
In Chotanagpur, Bihar ,Birsa Bhagwan oragnised the Mundas to fight the British police and army. Many of his followers were killed, and Birsa died in prison, perhaps due to poisoning.
All most all these revolts were spontaneous and localised and they lacked political vision. However, side by side with these uprisings , new political forces emerged, new types associations were formed, which gave rise to a nation-wide movement for national liberation.