Titu Mir


Syed Mir Nisar Ali commonly known as Titu Mir was a great Bengali freedom fighter and a peasant leader who resisted the oppression of the local zamindars and European indigo planters on the peasantry with ultimate object of liberating the country from British domination. He led the Muslim religious reform movement Tariqah-i-Muhammadiya in Bengal.

Titu Mir belonged to a Muslim aristocratic family. His predecessor Syed Shahadat Ali came to Bengal from Arabia to preach Islam. Syed Abdullah, son of Shahadat Ali, was appointed Chief Qazi of Jafarpur by the emperor of Delhi and was invested with the title of Meer Insaaf. Henceforth the descendants of Shahadat Ali used both the hereditary titles ‘Syed’ and ‘Mir’. Titu Mir was well-versed in Islamic education and had memorized the holy Quran at an early age. He acquired his early education from village maktab and then admitted to local madrassah. He had command over three languages – Bangla, Arabic and Persian and developed keen interest in Arabic and Persian literature. He became an expert of Islamic theology, jurisprudence, philosophy, tasawwaf (Islamic mysticism) and mantiq. He was also an expert gymnast and a renowned pahlwan (wrestler) of his madrassah.

In 1822 Titu Mir went on a pilgrimage to Makka where he came in close contact with the great Islamic reformer and revolutionary leader Syed Ahmad of Bareilly who inspired him to free his fellow countrymen from unislamic practices and foreign domination. In 1827 Titu Mir returned to Bengal and preached pure Islam amongst the Muslims and advised them to refrain from practicing shirk and bidaat. He had great influence on weavers and peasants but came in conflict with oppressing zamindars such as Krishnadeva Rai of Purha Kaliprasanna Mukhopadhyay of Gobardanga, Rajnarayan of Taragonia, Gauri Prasad Chowdhury of Nagpur and Devanath Rai of Gobra-govindpur. To overcome the force of the land lords Titu Mir organized a Mujahid force and trained indigenous people with lathi. With an army of five thousand men, he had built a bamboo fort at Narkelbaria in October 1831. He proclaimed himself the king and instigated the people for jihad He soon established his control over the districts of 24 Parganas, Nadia and Faridpur. Titu Mir demanded tax from the zamindars of Taki and Gobardanga who entreated the English for protection. An English contingent was sent from Calcutta. But the combined forces of the English and Zamindars met humiliating defeat at the hands of the mujahids. Subsequently Lord William Bentinck sent a regular army against Titu Mir under Lieutenant Colonel Stewart consisting of 100 cavalry, 300 native infantry and artillery with two cannons.

The English attacked the mujahids on 14 November 1831. The mujahids failed to resist the English army outfitted with modern arms and took shelter inside the bamboo fort. The English opened fire and totally destroyed the fort causing heavy casualties on the side of the mujahids. Titu Mir along with many of his followers died on 19 November 1831. 350 mujahids including their commander Ghulam Masum were captured. Ghulam Masum was sentenced to death penalty and other 140 captives were punished on different charges.

This article was last updated on Wednesday, Jan 04, 2006