Thursday, 2 January 2020

Rajkumar Shukla, a patriot who helped Gandhiji launch his very first ''Satyagraha'' movement in Champaran, Bihar


Patriot, Champaran. Rajkumar Shukla. en.wikipedia.org
Among Indian patriots who fought against the British Raj, there are many unsung heroes. One among them is Raj Kumar Shukla, the man  who provided a veritable space for Gandhiji  to launch his very first Satyagraha movement. He made a seminal contribution culminating in the launch of the Champaran Satyagraha in 1917 by Mahatma Gandhi. Being the first civil disobedience agitation of India,  it saw  Gandhi’s popularity taking off to  new dizzy heights.
Chanparan Stayagraha Gandhiji and others thewire.in
Indigo farmers Champaran, Bihar. en.wikipedia.org
Raj Kumar Shukla, son of  Kolahal Shukla who owned several acres of  farming land in Murli Bharahwa, another village in Champaran, district, Bihar  was quite disillusioned by the plight of farmers like him  who were cultivating indigo. Born in 1875 at Satwaria village, in Champaran,  his ancestors lived for 200 years. The farmers  of this district were poorly paid for their indigo crops and the landlords happened to be mostly British.  Being poor, they were afraid to revolt against the unscrupulous, greedy British and their cohorts. Being content with hand to mouth living, despite their toil on the lands for hours together under the sun, they were living in the shadow of fear and threats. If  they refused to plant indigo and go against the British, they  faced another hurdle in the form of heavy taxes. The custom had been that the merciless oppressive  landlords  enforced  this system through  their agents, called gumasta, who who would treat them brutally under the very nose of their British  masters. The British forced the farmers to raise Indigo on conditions of providing loans in collusion with local rulers, Nawabs and landlords.  It was a money-spinning  business for the colonists and the money lenders  reaped a lot by squeezing poor farmers. It was a sort of a vicious circle and the victims were cultivating farmers.
To add insults to injuries, the poor farmers were not allowed to raise food crops  much needed for their families including children during off-season. This  artificially created famine-like situation due to poor availability  of food grains like rice and pulses   for their daily needs. They stoically brooked untold miseries and pain. Upon his return from  South Africa in 1915, Gandhiji established the Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat. Then he undertook a long journey across India to understand the various problems being faced by the natives  and he did it on the advice of his mentor, Gopal Krishna Gokhale. He traveled widely and met with lots of people and leaders. 
It was Rajkumar Shukla, a representative of farmers from Champaran, who met Gandhiji  during the 31st session of the Congress (INA) in Lucknow in 1916.  He requested  Gandhiji to visit his village and other places  to  see for himself the precarious conditions of the Indigo ryots (tenant farmers) there and the famine like situation prevailing there. At that point of time, Gandhiji had no idea whatsoever about either the Indigo plantation or the miseries of farmers there. On 17 April 1917 Gandhiji was greeted  at the Mothari railway station by Shukla and a large gathering of farmers. When infuriated Gandhiji Gandhiji visited another near-by village, the police arrested him and he told the Magistrate,  “This cannot be, I came here to render humanitarian services to the people of this region. I shall make Champaran my home and not leave till I have helped these suffering people''.Raj Kumar Shukla, diligently approached the right  person  to expose the atrocities of the British rule under the Crown. Their lousy treatment of Indians was as much disgusting  and repressive as it was under the unjust East India company rule that plundered many parts of India  and Indian resources as much as they could until 1857 that culminated in the ''Great Rebellion''.  Shukla  found a savior in Gandhiji  and made   him aware of the plight of the poor cultivators in Champaran and persuaded him to visit the villages in Bihar.  He was  an Indigo cultivator of the area as well as  a money lender from village Murli Bharahwa near Narkatiaganj in West Champaran, earning, according to his own statement before the enquiry committee set up by the provincial government, a sum of Rs.2000 a month from interest
Gandhi later wrote in his autobiography, “I must confess that I did not then know even the name, much less the geographical position, of Champaran, and I had hardly any notion of indigo plantations.
Rajkumar Shukla, Champaran hero. currentriggers.com
Above image: Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Communications and Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha released a Commemorative Postage Stamp on Champaran Satyagraha hero Rajkumar Shukla on December 18th 2018 at New Delhi in the presence of Dr. Sanjay Jaiswal, MP (West Champaran) and Satish Chandra Dubey, MP (Valmikinagar)..................
Anyway,  Sri Rajkumar Shukla  provided an opportunity for Gandhiji to experiment his concept of Satyagraha  as a tool to fight against the tyrannical British Raj.  So, the Champaran Satyagraha of 1917  happened to be the first Satyagraha movement inspired by Gandhi and a major revolt in the Indian Independence Movement that gave a new direction to the freedom fighters. It was a farmer's  effective uprising that took place in Champaran district of Bihar, India during the British colonial period that formed the solid platform to go ahead with his new tool with vigor and vitality.  http://champaransatyagrah.org/2017/01/17/how-champaran-transformed-gandhi-india/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raj_Kumar_Shukla