On 19 March evoked several painful memories at Kishangarh village of Mansa district. In 1949 After Independence, in the Kishangarh village, four farmers were killed on the same date during the “Pepsu Muzara movement”. This movement and those farmers were remembered at several sites of ongoing farmer’s protest.

Muzara Movement

The Muzara Movement was started with the objective of taking ownership rights of land after tilling it for years together. This movement started in the 1930s under the British rule when the Jagirdars were seeking the share in crop of farmers across the villages of Punjab under the Patiala Riyasat. The share used to be passed on to the Maharaja of Patiala and then to Britshers. Thus, the farmers were working like slaves of Jagirdars, Maharaja and British. So, the farmers started the Muzara movement in which they refused to give the food grains to their masters. After India’s Independence some 784 villages of the Patiala Riyasat were named as PEPSU province. Following this, in the month of October 1948, the Patiala Maharaja had passed orders to give one third land of villages to Jagirdars. However, farmers did not accept this. Later on 19th March 1949 these farmers confronted the security forces of Maharaja at Kishangarh in which four farmers, one cop and one patwari were killed.

Backdrop

The word Muzara is used for the “landless farmers” who used to work on someone’s land.  Muzara movement finds its origin in late 19th century, when “princely state of Patiala” was suffering the oppression by ‘Maharaja of Patiala’. The local landlords called the biswedars enjoyed their rights on land but the tenants felt that those landlords had no legitimate right to land. The found an outlet in movements like the Akali and Praja Mandal movements during the 1920s. During the 1930s, liberal atmosphere was created through which the congress party attained its hold in several provinces. After that, Punjab became the nerve centre of Muzara movement. By the year 1948, small armed groups of 30 to 40 people used to protect muzaras against onslaught of landlords.  After the Congress ministry was established in the year 1951, an Agrarian Reforms Enquiry Committee was set up in order to recommend the measures to tackle the issue. In 1952, PEPSU Tenancy (Temporary Provision) Act, 1955 was formulated to protect the tenants. This act provided for peasants to become the owners if they paid compensation twelve times of the land revenue.

About PEPSU Province

PEPSU stands for “Patiala and East Punjab States Union”. It was a state of India, which united the 8th princely states in the year between 1948 and 1956. The capital and principal city of PEPSU was Patiala. Shimla, Kasauli, Kandaghat and Chail were also a part of PEPSU.

What was the Pepsu Muzara Movement