The massacre of peasants at Patharughat of Assam in 1894 is yet another poignant incident of the British Raj

The Patharughat Peasant Uprising is indeed a significant yet often overlooked chapter in India's freedom struggle. Occurring on January 28, 1894, in the Darrang district of Assam about 60 km from the capital Guwahati,  this event highlights the bravery, sacrifice, and resilience of the local peasants against British colonial rule.

The Patharughat Peasant Massacre, Assam 1894


The uprising was primarily a response to the British colonial authorities' imposition of exorbitant land taxes in 1826, which had soared to an unsustainable 70-80%. under the Raj controlled by the British Crown administration. The local farming community, accustomed to paying taxes in kind or through services rather than cash, found these rates unbearable. The British authorities, perceiving any form of protest as seditious, dismissed the grievances of the peasants, exacerbating the tensions.

The Uprising:

On the day of the uprising, thousands of frustrated  peasants assembled at Patharughat to vent out their anger by protesting  against the oppressive land tax. The collective resolve of the peasants to resist unjust taxation culminated in their decision to withhold tax payments until a fair resolution was reached. The situation escalated when British officials, including Deputy Commissioner JD Anderson, Divisional officer Remington and   other officers, arrived with a large police force headed by Barrington. Despite the peasants' pleas, the officials refused to reduce the tax rates. Following orders, the police without any direct warning or any tangible reason opened fire on the unarmed  daring gathering, resulting in a massacre where around 140 peasants were killed on the spot, and hundreds were injured.


The massacre at Patharughat, often compared to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre  which took place 25 years later (April 13,1919 under Brig. Gen R. Dyer) in Punjab, had a profound impact on the freedom movement in Assam. It became a symbol of resistance and galvanized the regional struggle against British oppression. The sacrifice of the peasants at Patharughat fueled the resolve of freedom fighters and became a rallying point in the larger narrative of India's fight for independence.

Peasant massacre, Assam 1894


Today, Patharughat is remembered and honored, especially during the Krishak Swahid Divas on January 29 each year. The Indian Army pays homage to the martyrs, underscoring the importance of their sacrifice. The bravery of the Patharughat peasants continues to inspire generations, serving as a reminder of the significant sacrifices made in the pursuit of India's independence.

The Patharughat Peasant Uprising is a poignant example of the local resistance movements that played a crucial role in the broader context of India's freedom struggle. It underscores the resilience and courage of ordinary people who stood up against colonial exploitation and injustice.