derogatory language of the colonial officials was often repeated in a wholly
uncritical manner in such studies.
In many studies, it has been argued that rural resistance had in most cases,
been led by the upper classes of the countryside, such as landlords and rich
peasants, who had used ties of patronage and caste to mobilise the poorer
The great revolt of 1857 was often explained in such terms. In addition, when
the poor had rebelled, their resistance was often described as mere outlawry
or a form of ‘communalism’, rather than as a protest against harsh agrarian
conditions. In this way, most peasant resistance had been written out of
Indian history.
Revival of Interest in Peasant Insurgency due to Naxalism However, a
few scholars have correctly contended that there was in fact, a strong history
of rural revolt against colonial rule and the indigenous beneficiaries of
colonial rule. From the 1960s onwards, an interest began to emerge in the
masses of nineteenth-century India, not as the mere ‘objects’ of colonial rule,
but as the subjects of their own history. The emergence of the Naxalite
movement in the late 1960s forced many historians to revise their opinion
about popular resistance. Through this revolt, the poor and landless
demonstrated that they could be every bit as assertive and political as the
more prosperous classes. The Naxalite movement let to a revival of interest in
the history of peasant insurgency in India. It was discovered that this history
had been either denied or marginalised in most existing histories. Only a few
claimed that the peasant militancy seen in the Naxalite movement had a long
  Some scholars have attempted to divide popular resistance into five types:
  (1) restorative rebellions to drive out the British and restore earlier rulers
  and social relations; (2) religious movements for the liberation of a region
  or an ethnic group so as to establish a new form of government; (3) social
  banditry; (4) terrorist vengeance, with ideas of meting out collective
  justice; (5) mass insurrections for the redress of particular grievances.
  Others see the chief areas