The Coolie-Begar movement was a non-violent movement by the general public of Kumaun in the Bageshwar town of United Provinces in 1921. This movement was led by Badri Datt Pandey, who was awarded the title of ‘Kumaon Kesari’ after the success of this movement. The aim of this movement was to put pressure on the British to end the practice of Coolie-Begar. Mahatma Gandhi, while praising the movement, named it ‘Bloodless Revolution’.
Cause of the movement:
‘Coolie Begar’ referred to the law requiring locals of the hill regions of Kumaun to provide free transportation for the luggage of travelling British officials. The dissatisfaction between the public, due to the collusion of the Village Heads, the landlords and the patwaris, and the discrimination between the people increased as the head and patwari of the village started promoting this virtue to get rid of their personal interests. The locals were being exploited by the British physically and mentally. Eventually, people started to unite to protest against this.
On 14 January 1921, on occasion of the Uttarayani fair, this movement was initiated from the grounds of Confluence (Bagad) of Saryu and Gomati. To participate in this movement, people from different villages came out to the fair ground, and turned it into a huge show. The people first went to the Bagnath Temple to offer prayers, and then about 40 Thousand people went to Saryu Bagad, in front of the procession carrying a flag, with the words “End the Coolie Begar”
After the success of this movement, people gave the title of ‘Kumaon Kesari’ to Badri Datt Pandey. People not only supported the movement but also strictly followed it and continued to protest against this practice. The result was that the government was forced to end the tradition by bringing a bill in the House.