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Dudu Miyan


Dudu Miyan (1819-1862) succeeded to the leadership of the faraizi movement at the death of his father, Haji shariatullah, in 1840. Born in 1819 in a village of Madaripur of greater Faridpur district, Dudu Mia's real name was Muhsinuddin Ahmad, 'Dudu Miyan' being his 'fond name'

He spent about five years at Makka for schooling and at the age of 19 was called back on account of his father's illness. It was a very critical moment of serious confrontation of the Faraizis with the landlords, European indigo planters, conservative Ulama and the Sabiqi or the non-Faraizi Muslim society, who began to attack the Faraizis individually as well as in combination, in which the government sided with them. Though less learned than his father, he was youthful, energetic and astutely diplomatic. For all practical purposes he inaugurated an age of his own in the hapless rural society of Faridpur.

To confront the opponents of the Faraizis effectively, he revived the traditional self-governing organisation of panchayet system for minimising discord in the countryside, to check and control local disputes by good-will compromises and arbitration. For systematic and successful operation of the panchayet, he took several measures. He organised a corps of Lathiyals (affray fighters), with whose help he broke the power of the mercenary and hired clubmen of the zamindars and Indigo Planters so completely that for the two decades from 1838 to 1857 peace and tranquility prevailed all over the Faraizi areas. Besides, he organised the Faraizi hamlets, enclaves and settlements (of say 50 to 500 persons) into core-associations by appointing a gram khalifah (village representative) from amongst them as a coordinator between him and the villagers. A good number of villages, again, were grouped into a gird (circle) over which was appointed a superintendent khalifah. The village khalifahs formed a council headed by the superintendent khalifah and decided various disputes through arbitration courts. He set up his headquarters at Bahadurpur and kept around him a number of uparistha (superior) khalifahs to advise him on important issues raised by circumstances or referred to by the superintended khalifahs for final settlement.

With these tentacles, he maintained his symbolic presence everywhere in the Faraizi societies and developed an effective system of private administration in the rural areas, which had still remained out of the reach of the company administration. So long the Indigo Planters were the autocratic lords and the zamindars, with their long ropes of permanent settlement, were the hands of the government.

Following the socio-economic policy of his father, Dudu Miyan declared equality and brotherhood of mankind and propounded the doctrine of the proprietorship of land as due to the labour. He declared that 'the land belongs to the tiller'. This attracted the attention of all denominations of down trodden peasantry and irrespective of religion and caste all peasantry flocked around him as the supporters of the Faraizi movement. With the help of his core-khilafat organisation, he minimised the quarrels of the people in the rural society, arbitrated their disputes, summoned and tried the culprits in khilafat courts and enforced the judgments effectively. He even conventionally enforced a verbal injunction against referring any case of the dispute to the government courts without the permission of the Faraizi Khalifahs on duress of ensuring non-availability of witness for or against the case.

Dudu Miyan was, however, prudent enough to recognise the political power of the east india company. He frequently associated himself with the English officers, hunted wild buffaloes with them and kept them in good humour. He recognised the legal revenues of land as due to the zamindars as displayed in the rent-roll list of the khas mahal. Following the wisdom of his father, he kept his activities strictly within the legal limits of the lawful subjects of the government, lest the Faraizis should have to meet the fate of the followers of titu mir, whom he met in 1830, one year before the latter was destroyed by a military expedition of the company government.

After the break up of the sepoy revolt in 1857, the government arrested him and kept him under detention at the Alipore Jail near Calcutta till he was set free in 1861. He died at Dhaka in 1862. [Muin-ud-Din Ahmad Khan]

Bibliography MA Khan, History of the Fara'idi Movement, Dhaka, 1984.