Rebellion in the Countryside: From the cities, the Non-Cooperation Movement spread to the countryside. It drew into its fold the struggles of peasants and tribals which were developing in different parts of India in the years after the war.
The peasants’ movement in Awadh was led by Baba Ramchandra. He was a sanyasi who had earlier worked in Fiji as an indentured labourer. The peasants were against the high rents and may other cess which were demanded by talukdars and landlords. The peasants demanded reduction of revenue, abolition of begar, and social boycott of oppressive landlords.
Jawaharlal Nehru began touring the villages in June 1920. He tried to understand the problems of the peasants. Oudh Kisan Sabha was set up by October. It was headed by Jawaharlal Nehru, Baba Ramchandra and a few others. By associating itself with the peasants’ movement, Congress was able to integrate the movement in Awadh with a wider non-cooperation movement. At many places, people stopped paying rents by invoking the name of the Mahatma.
Tribal peasants gave their own interpretation of Mahatma Gandhi and the idea of swaraj. The tribals were prevented from entering the forests to graze cattle, or to collect fruits and firewood. The new forest laws were a threat to their livelihood. The government forced them to do begar on road construction.
Many rebels from the tribal areas became non-violent and often carried guerilla warfare against the British officials.