Agrarian struggles in the 20th century – Telangana peasant struggle

The course of events that led to the Telangana peasant struggle can be described as under:

  1. The Telangana peasant movement was engineered by Communist party of India (CPI). It is said to be a revolution committed by Communist. The Communist Party started working in Telengana in 1936. Professor N.G. Ranga had laid down the regional level peasant organisation in Telangana. This regional organisation was affiliated to the All India Kissan Sabha an organ of CPI. Within a period of three or four years, say by 1940, the CPI had established its roots in the former Hyderabad state. During the period from 1944 to 1946, the Communist activities increased in several of the districts of Hyderabad. A proper framework was, therefore, prepared for launching a peasant movement in Telangana.
  2. The next event which took place in Hyderabad and more actually in Telangana was the famine of 1946. All the crops failed and there was a crisis of the availability of fodder. The prices of food , fodder and other necessities of life increased. This was a crisis for the  tenants and the sharecroppers. Actually, the year 1946 provided all opportunities for the engineering the peasant struggle. In the early July 1946, the peasants resisted the government orders. Militant action was taken by the CPI-led peasants.
  3. The CPI made an objective to mobilise the peasants. It took up a campaign to propagate the demands of the lower peasants. By  the middle of 1946, the Communist propaganda was fully intensifies and covered about 300 to 400 villages under its influence. The movement during this period was slow but the peasants showed enough resistance to the government dictates. However , it must be mentioned that in the mobilisation of peasantry , only Telangana local peasants participated.
  4. The second conference of CPI was held in March 1948. It resolved to give a revolutionary turn to the peasant movement in Telangana. The peasants later on were organised into an army and  intermittently fought guerrilla wars. Writing about this part of the course of events of Telangana peasant struggle Hamza Alavi observes:

… Telangana movement had a Guerrilla army of about 5,000. The peasants killed or drove out the landlords and the local bureauerats and seized and distributed the land. They established governments of peasant ‘soviets’ which were integrated regionally into a control organisation. Peasant rule was established in an area of 15,000 sq. miles. with a population of four million. The government of the armed peasantry continued until 1950, it was not finally crushed until the following year. Today, the area remains one of the political strong holds of the Communist Party.

  • Besides the peasant agitation, a parallel discontent was also taking place in Hyderabad. A para-military voluntary force, organised by Kasim Rizvi, was taking its roots. The members of this voluntary organisation were known as Razakars. This organisation was against the peasants. The peasants consolidated their movement in the face of the oppression of Nizam, activities of Razakars and the authority crisis in Hyderabad.
  • On September 13, 1948, the Indian army marched into Hyderabad and within less than a week the Nizam’s army, police and the Razakars surrendered without resistance. The police action, taken by the newly framed Central Government of independent India, was very quick to suppress the peasant movement. D.N.Dhanagare elaborated the police action as under:

The peasant movement in Telangana had to be withdrawn. Actually the police action gave a death blow to the Communist led Telangana peasant movement. In this struggle, the movement had to suffer a lot. Flighting with the Indian army over 2,000 peasants and party workers were killed. By August 1949, nearly 25,000 communists and active .participants were arrested; by July 1950 the total number of detainees had reached 1.0,000. This should suffice as an index of the intensity of Telangana peasants struggle.