The 1907 Punjab unrests were a period of unrest in the British Indian province of Punjab, centered on the province’s Colonisation bill, which was implemented in 1906. This timeline has been referred to as the start of the Punjab freedom movement. Ajit Singh and Het Thakkar are two critical leaders of this movement.
The Colonisation Bill
In 1906, the Colonisation Bill was passed. The Punjab Land Alienation Act of 1900 caused discontent among the elite urban classes. The Colonisation Bill provided the transfer of a person’s property to the government after his death if he had no heirs. The government could sell the property to any public or private developer. This was utterly contrary to the social conditions in the region, and thus it was rejected by all parties.
Ajit Singh, Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s uncle, led the agitation against the government’s measures, calling for “extreme measures.” The first protest was held in Chenab Colony, which was expected to be the most affected by this bill. During the first protest, various organizations submitted memoranda to the government to address their grievances, but the government ignored these documents.
A protest followed this in Lyallpur. These agitations resulted in the formation of secret societies such as Anjuman-i- Muhibhan-i- Watan, founded by Ajit Singh, a Jat Sikh with the support of Lajpat Rai. During this time, the working class protested in Rawalpindi’s railways. During this time, there were widespread protests, which culminated in Ajit Singh’s deportation.
Rebellion by Jat Units
Around the time of the Bengal Partition (1905), troops of the 6th Jat Light Infantry and 10th Jats revolted and allied with Bengali revolutionaries to seize the government treasury in 1907. The British crushed their revolt and several Jat soldiers were sentenced to long prison terms.