The Ahmednagar District was formed in 1818. Primarily was Revenue and Police were the responsibilities of the District Magistrate. There after we find reference of Lieutenant Gell as the Superintendent of Police.
Lieutenant J W Henry
Major H Daniel
When the British government took possession of Ahmadnagar much of it was almost ruined. According to Mr. Elphinstone the east of Gangthadi, though open and fertile, was almost entirely uninhabited since the famine of 1803 and 1804 in which years out of 180 villages in Nevasa only twenty-one were inhabited. The country between that and Ahmadnagar was better and the plains south of Ahmadnagar were for many marches one sheet of the richest cultivation. Still in 1819 more than half of the arable land was waste, and in Parner, the sub-division next to Sirur in Poona the country was a wilderness.
Elphinstone, then the Commissioner of the Deccan, selected Lieutenant Henry Pottinger for permanent appointment as the Collector of Ahmadnagar. After April 1818 when the Peshwa was defeated at Seoni, Pottinger reported from his head-quarters that great numbers of horse-men from Peshwa’s army were actually settling in his district and that he ensured kindly treatment to those coming home, alarmed and tired, and only anxious to get into their houses to be quiet. Elphinstone urged his collectors to move about the country granting ‘easy access to all comers and ready ear to all complaints’. Pottinger followed his advice and reported to Elphinstone in December 1818, ‘I am getting on very well with the ryots. They seem quite delighted and relieved by my visitation of them.’ [Quoted in Social Policy andSocial Change by Ballhatchet, p. 105.] Elphinstone told his collectors to divide their district into taluks, each yielding Rs. ½ lakh to one lakh revenue and that the pay of each Mamlatdar should vary between Rs. 150 and Rs. 70 a month in proportion to the size of his taluk. [Ibid., pp. 97-98.] In judicial matters Elphinstone wanted to encourage the Panchayat system but Pottinger was not very enthusiastic. He followed the policy of himself or the Mamlatdars dealing with every case unless the parties concerned agreed to accept the decision of the Panchayat. Elphinstone however advised him to give more scope topanchayats, but as it appears from subsequent events Pottinger did not mend his ways. [Quoted in Social Policy and Social Change by Ballhatchet, pp. 110-112, 193.]
In revenue matters Elphinstone left a wide discretion to his collectors after giving a general advice to confine to the old system, adding at the same time, ‘ great care must be taken to avoid over-assessment’. Pottinger thought that the Patils’ authority had already shaken under the old government by the appointment over them of the revenue farmers who cared only for their own profits. He, however, testified in 1819 that ‘Potails, where they are shrewd and well-informed have still great influence amongst their ryots.’ [Ibid., p. 118.] Under the old government, the head-man had been free to dispose of waste lands. The British Collectors, however, required their head-men first to obtain Mamlatdars’ permission. Pottinger followed the same system as he thought that it prevented disputes among the villagers, for ‘ No Potail can now assign to a Koonbee till the possible right of another to it is fully discussed.’.
Each village had its watchmen—low caste men like the Dheds or the Mangs or tribesmen like Ramoshis or the Bhils. They were usually paid in kind or allotted a piece of land to cultivate. Pottinger in Ahmadnagar had little difficulty in maintaining this system and in coming to terms with the Naiks or Chiefs, each of whom had charge of the Ramoshis or Bhils of a number of villages.
Much as Elphinstone desired to maintain the dignity of the old hereditary Deshmukhs, it was not possible to do so. Even under the Maratha rule, they had been deprived of their State functions, although in some places their influence still persisted and were often used as functionaries of State. Pottinger wrote in 1822, ‘I look on them as merely a class of men who add to the burthens of ryots,’ as they are little inclined to help as are the village officers. Pottinger’s policy toward the Bhils was, in his own words, was that of ‘treating the Bheels with kindness’, his ultimate aim being to give them a place in the society like any other caste. He made a point of working through the chiefs and supporting them in their authority over their followers.
The prohibition of sati by a direct order of the Government was generally thought to be inexpedient, on the ground that it would be an interference with the Hindu religion. Pottinger, however, was almost satisfied that the practice could easily be stopped altogether. He understood that Bajirao had often dissuaded widows from becoming satis, and paid for their support thereafter. Pottinger therefore asked Elphinstone to allow him to do likewise. Elphinstone consented. Pottinger could use Brahmans to dissuade widows from becoming satis and grant subsistence allowances to all widows who were in fact dissuaded. The supreme government also approved of his policy. In one case he came across a Brahman woman of considerable sanctity insisting on her becoming sati. Pottinger ‘ tacitly consented’ but he positively refused to help pay for any special clothes for her to wear or for any wood for the pyre or to give any official sanction for the ceremony by attending either in person or by proxy.
Pottinger held his post at Ahmadnagar upto 1825. He was an able administrator and worked hard to follow the instructions of Elphinstone critically and with discretion and cautiously tried to give a new outlook to the system of government without rousing suspicion and inviting reaction from those who had been deprived of their power. It was not, however, to be a smooth sailing.
Jail Outbreak, 1821: On the 19th of August 1821 a desperate fight took place in the Ahmadnagar jail. The convicts over-powered the guards and seized their weapons. Some of the convicts escaped and the rest shut themselves in the jail and held it until troops arrived with a gun. The door was blown open and the military charged the convicts who were not dispersed till twenty-nine were killed and sixty-two wounded.
On the 19th of October 1822, on the confession of Narsingrao, a servant of Chintamanrao Patwardhan of Sangli, a plot was discovered for collecting troops in Shinde’s villages of Belapur, Sonai Bomni, and Jamgaon, and at Nandurbar in Khandesh. They were to meet at Lasur and were to be joined by others from Hindustan when a general attack was to be made on the British posts. [Mr. T. C. Hamilton C. S.]
Koli Risings, 1822: Nearly twenty years of British rule passed before the war-like Kolis of the western hills were brought to order. The beginning of troubles arose out of an unfortunate mistake. Ramji Bhangre who in his youth had been a famous outlaw and during the latter years of Bajirao’s reign had become a most useful police officer, on the establishment of British rule, waited on the Collector and was appointed chief constable orjamadar of one of the hill police posts. According to custom in addition to his pay, Ramji received as a yearly meeting or bhet—present from every village a rupee, a fowl, and some rice, and a sheep from every flock that passed through his charge. Ramji did good service until an order came that no Government servant was to take any present in addition to his pay. This order was applied to Ramji and his chickens; he wrote to ask that an exception might be made in his favour, and as he got no answer to his letter he asked for his discharge. His discharge was refused and he was given six months’ leave. At the end of the six months’ leave as nothing was done to raise his salary or to make up for his loss of perquisites he went into outlawry. Ramji Bhangre’s chief supporter was a Koli named Govindrao Khari. Govindrao had been commandant of the hill-fort of Ratangad about twenty-two miles west of Akola, under the Peshwa. On the Peshwa’s fall he remained staunch to his master, and under the plea of age, refused employment under the British government. In the reductions of hill-fort garrisons which followed the establishment of order, twelve of Govindrao’s kinsmen, who had formed part of the Ratangad garrison, were thrown out of employment and were also deprived of the revenues of a village to which as commandants of the fort they had hereditary claims. Govindrao and his kinsmen and several other discontented people went to the hills and in the latter part of 1828 were joined by Ramji Bhangre from the Konkan. In January 1829, in consequence of news that there were several hundred Kolis in the Akola hills and that the people were in great alarm, Captain Mackintosh went with a detachment of police to the Sahyadris. At first, though almost no village had not its two or three representatives in the gang, no information could be got. The Brahman Kulkarnis, some of whom were abetting the rising, advised that troops should not be sent after the Kolis but that some arrangement should be made to redress their grievances. Captain Mackintosh for a time took little notice of the gang beyond sending them word that no letters or petition could be attended to till they had laid down their arms. He busied himself in accustoming his men to the roughest tracts which the Kolis used, and gathered information regarding the strength of the outlaws, the names of their leaders, the people who were likely to help them, and the places where they were in the habit of meeting. He also took pains to gain the goodwill and co-operation of a number of the people. When his information was completed a detachment from Bhiwandi was stationed at the bottom of the passes leading into the Konkan, and other detachments from Malegaon, Ahmadnagar and Pune were posted in the most suitable places, and lightly-equipped parties kept constantly searching the Kolis’ haunts and lurking places. A few days before the troops came the insurgents had plundered three villages. The insurgents had soon to break into small parties. Many of the insurgents finding how all the ways were blocked and guarded, fled and the rest were greatly perplexed by finding guards posted over their favourite ponds and drinking places. The people gave great help and officers and men worked with unceasing zeal. In two months the two chiefs and over eighty of their followers were marched into Ahmadnagar. Though the chiefs were secured the rising was not at an end. Rama Kirva, one of the leaders in the rising, a stout and powerful man with an extremely fine figure and good features noted for excelling all the Kolis in agility, had escaped south before the final success against the gang. In July 1830 he was joined by Bhils and he and his gang gave great trouble plundering both above and below the Sahyadris. The troops under Captain Luykin of the 17th Regiment N. I., Lieutenant Lloyd of the 11th Regiment, and Lieutenant Forbes of the 13th worked with the greatest energy. The people gave the troops important help and the thorough knowledge of the hills which two years’ experience supplied, enabled the troops to give the insurgents no rest. A number of prisoners were taken to Pune and Thana and Rama Kirva and several other notorious leaders were taken to Ahmadnagar where Kirva was executed. [Capt. J. Mackintosh in Trans: Bom. Geog. Soc, I, 257-63.]
Raghoji Bhangre, 1845-1847 : In 1845 the Kolis were again troublesome. One Koli outlaw whose name is still fresh in the district was Raghoji Bhangre of Nasik. He made a raid on some Marwari Vanis who applied to the police. During the investigation the police asked Raghoji’s mother where her son was hiding; and when she refused to tell she was put to torture. Enraged at this outrage Raghoji gathered a band of Kolis and wandering through the Nasik and Ahmadnagar districts cut the nose off of every Marwari he could lay hands on. Almost all village Marwaris fled in terror to the district towns and the pursuit of the police was so hot that Raghoji had to break, his band and disappear. He avoided capture for many years. At last in 1847 he was caught at Pandharpur by Lieutenant, afterwards General, Gell. As some of his raids had been accompanied with murder, he was hanged and many of the leading men punished.
Bhagoji Naik, 1857-1859: During the 1857 risings Ahmadnagar was the scene of considerable disturbance. The rebels were about 7,000 Bhils of south Nasik and north Ahmadnagar. Detachments of troops were stationed to guard the frontier against raids from the Nizam’s dominions, and to save the large towns from the chance of Bhil-attacks. The work of scattering the Bhil gatherings and hunting the rebels was left almost entirely to the police who were strengthened by the raising of a special Koli corps and by detachments of infantry and cavalry. The first gathering of Bhils was under the leadership of one Bhagoji Naik. This chief, who had been an officer in the Ahmadnagar police, in 1855 was convicted of rioting and obstructing the police and was sentenced to imprisonment. On his release he was required to find security for his good behaviour for a year. Shortly after the year was over, in consequence of the order for a general disarming, Bhagoji left his village of Nandur-Shingote in the Sinnar sub-division of Nasik, about five miles to the north of the Ahmadnagar boundary. Being a man of influence he was soon joined by some fifty of his tribe and took a position about a mile from his village. commanding the Pune-Nasik road. [Bhil women joined the party. The Commissioner of Police later reports to the Secret Department, Bombay, in his despatch of June 1st, 1858, ” Bheel women are just as troublesome and mischievous as the men…… They obtain information and supply it for the males, cook their food, and fight also. They should be retained as hostages and not released till Bhagoji and other Naiks are captured.”. (Source material for the History of Freedom Movement in India, Vol. I, p. 307).] After a few days (4th October 1857) Lieutenant J. W. Henry, the Superintendent of Police, arrived at Nandur-Shingote and was joined by his assistant Lieutenant, afterwards Colonel, T. Thatcher, and Mr. A. L. Taylor, inspecting postmaster. The police force under Lieutenant Henry consisted of thirty constables and twenty revenue messengers armed with swords. Lieutenant Henry told the mamlatdars of Sangamner and Sinnar to send for Bhagoji and induce him to submit. Bhagoji refused unless he received two years’ back-pay and unless some arrangement was made for his maintenance. On receiving this message, the police were ordered to advance against his position. The first shot killed a man immediately behind Lieutenant Henry. The officers dismounted, but before they had advanced many yards were met by a volley, and Lieutenant Henry fell wounded. He regained his feet, and pressing on, received a mortal wound in the chest. The attack was continued under Lieutenant Thatcher and the Bhils retreated. This engagement excited the whole Bhil population. A fresh gang of about 100 Bhils was raised by Patharji Naik in the Rahuri sub-division. Dadoba Pandurang Tarkhadkar who was then the Huzur Deputy Collector of Ahmadnagar proceeded to the place of disturbance and courageously met the Bhils asking them to surrender. The Bhil leaders were so impressed by his confident behaviour that they submitted [A. K. Priolkar Biographyof Dadoba Pandurang, p. 224.] and for a time dispersed only to meet again and follow their routine. Their gang was soon dispersed by Major, later Lieutenant, General Montgomery, the new superintendent of police. On the 18th October, an engagement took place in the hills of Shamsherpur in Akola, between Bhagoji’s men and a detachment of troops and police under Colonel Machan of the 26th Native Infantry in which Lieutenant Graham who was on special police duty and Mr. F. S. Chapman of the civil service who accompanied the force were wounded. As disorder was wide-spread, Captain, later General Nuttall, who succeeded Lieutenant Graham, was ordered to raise a corps of Kolis, the hereditary rivals of the Bhils, who in Maratha times, had been among the bravest of the Mavlis or West Deccan footmen. The corps was recruited chiefly in the hilly parts of Akola, of Junnar in Pune, and of Nasik. In December 1857 a hundred men armed with their own swords and muskets were fit for the field, and so useful did they prove, that in January and February 1858 a second levy of 110 was ordered, and shortly after the strength of the corps was increased to 600 men with a commandant and adjutant.
In raising the corps Captain Nuttall dealt with the heads of the different clans, promising them rank and position corresponding to the number of recruits they brought to the corps. Javji Naik Bomla, the chief of the Bomla clan, was made the head of the corps and a brother of the famous outlaw Raghoji Bhangre and other leading men were chosen as officers. Drill masters were lent by the Ahmadnagar police, and inspite of the want of leisure, the Kolis mastered their drill with the ease of born soldiers, and proved skilful skirmishers among hills and in rough ground. In 1858 the rebels were chiefly engaged in Nasik, Khandesh, and the Nizam’s dominions and gave no trouble in Ahmadnagar. In the hot weather (April-May) of 1859 the Bhils under Bhagoji and Harji Naiks again appeared in the district. On the 5th of July after a forced march, Captain Nuttall came upon the Bhils near Ambhora Dara eight miles south-east of Sangamner. The Bhils took a strong position from which they were driven by twenty-five men of the Koli corps with a loss of ten killed, including Yashvant Bhagoji’s son, several wounded, and three prisoners among whom was Harji Naik, one of the leaders. In October 1859 parties of Bhils were reported to be gathering in the Nizam’s territory with the intention of joining Bhagoji. In the British districts also they were again becoming uneasy and excited. Under these circumstances, a detachment of Native Infantry was kept posted along the frontier which was constantly patrolled by strong parties of the Pune Irregular Horse. On the 26th of October, Bhagoji plundered the village of Korhala in Kopargaon and carried off property worth about Rs. 18,000. He was closely pursued by Captain Nuttall for nearly a fortnight along the rough Sahyadri country, down to the Konkan, and up again into Ahmadnagar, but by very rapid and secret marches always succeeded in baulking his pursuers. At last on the 11th of November, the rebels were pursued by Mr. Sir Frank Souter, the newly-appointed police superintendent of the district, and at Mithsagar, in the Sinnar subdivision of Nasik, in a hand-to-hand fight Bhagoji and most of his followers were killed and the rebellion brought to an end. The Nizam Bhils who were awaiting Bhagoji’s arrival dispersed, and on the 20th in falling back from the British frontier with a loss of forty killed were attacked and routed by a detachment of the Hyderabad contingent under Lieutenant Pedler. On the 12th of November a large party of Bhils, under an influential chief, a relative of Bhagoji’s, left Sonai in Nevasa to join Bhagoji. On hearing of his death they turned towards Khandesh where they were caught. As they had committed no crimes they were pardoned and allowed to return to their homes. Though disturbances were at an end posts of regular troops were maintained till 1860. When the regular troops were withdrawn their places were taken by detachments of the Koli corps. The Koli corps continued to perform this out-post duty till March 1861, when they were disbanded, and all, except a few who entered the police, returned to their former life of tillage and field labour. The strategy of raising the Kolis against Bhils was eminently successful. Instead of heading disturbances, as had often happened since, the disciplined Kolis were a powerful element in repressing disorder. Under Captain Nuttall’s patient and kindly care, and by the example of his dashing bravery and untiring energy, they proved a most orderly, well-disciplined, active, and courageous force. They showed themselves superior to the Bhils in strength and spirit, and in their two and a half years of active service five times earned the special thanks of Government. [Recently in 1962, an autobiographical account (Atmahakikat) of Pandurang Mahipat Belsare of Pathardi has been brought to light by the Archives Department of the Government of Maharashtra wherein, Belsare gives an account as to how he had served in the regiment of Tatya Tope from 8th October to 27th October, 1858, but subsequently escaped and fled to Gwalior.]
In 1873, one Honya Bhagoji Kengle, an influential Koli of Jamburi in Pune, at the head of a well-trained gang, began a series of attacks on the money-lenders who habitually cheat and oppress the hill-tribes and at intervals drive them into crime. Honya’s robberies extended over the western parts of Pune, Ahmadnagar and Nasik and the eastern sub-divisions of Thana. They became so numerous and daring that in 1874 a special police party of 175 armed men under Colonel Scott and Mr. W. F. Sinclair C. S. was detached for his arrest and proclamations were issued offering rewards of Rs. 1,000 for Honya and Rs. 200 to Rs. 600 for any of his followers. Inspite of these measures Honya managed to evade pursuit till July 1876 when he was caught by Major H. Daniell, then superintendent of police. In 1875 the spirit of disorder spread from the Kolis to the peace-loving Kunbis of the plain country and between May and July chiefly in Parner, Shrigonda, Nagar and Karjat. Twenty-two cases of assaults on money-lenders by bands of villagers were committed. Troops were called to the aid of the police and the disturbance was put down. The rising of Kolis in the seventy’s of the 19th century were not so much a revolt against the established British authority as they were the outcome of extreme famine conditions then prevailing in the Deccan, when it is on record that people suffered from deaths due to starvation. While peasants suffered from extreme want and poverty, the money-lenders were keen on demanding their Shylock’s pound of flesh, through the law courts established by the British. That is why they were the victims of the fury of famine-stricken people.
Ahmadnagar in 19th Century: Although Ahmadnagar district was created as early as in 1818, modern history of Ahmadnagar may be said to have commenced from 1869, the year in which parts of Nasik and Sholapur which till then had comprised Nagar were separated and the present Nagar district was formed. A glance at the physical map of Ahmadnagar district would show that a very large part of the eastern and southern sides of the district is on plains and even for its western and central parts except for its extreme north-western Akola side, the district on the whole is not so hilly as not to be easily accessible to those that trecked their way from Burhanpur and Aurangabad to the south in mediaeval times. With the establishment of British rule, there was peace in the country, and the peasant-soldiers who used to start on their seasonal military campaigns in the 18th century were left unemployed. With articles imported from abroad appearing in the markets, local products were displaced and the producers lost their occupation. Money economy came in the place of barter and in the weekly bazar centres of the rural areas appeared bright foreign articles that caught the eye of the average purchaser. With unemployment in other fields, the pressure on agriculture steadily increased. Population showed a steady increase and the man to land ratio was reversed. So far it was the cultivator who had to be persuaded to take land under cultivation; now it was he who asserted his claims to his ancestral piece of land and in case of dispute filed his complaints in the law courts. A new class of middle men consisting of money-lenders, pleaders, dalals and zamindars steadily grew up. The Marwadis who were harassed by the 1857 and post-1857 events in the north thought that they could better pursue their occupations in the south and settled in Maharashtra. In fact some of them had pursued their money lending operations since the days of the Peshwas. A family named Riyawale, originally coming from Riyagaon in Marwar, settled in Pune and others followed largely after 1850. They acted as traders, brokers and money-lenders who advanced money to the needy cultivators, who were usually illiterate and did not know the technique of keeping accounts or writing a mortgage-deed. Marwadis are almost a common feature in almost every district of Maharashtra but Nagar can boast of a comparatively larger percentage of their number and it must be said to their credit that they have so identified themselves with the interests of the locality that they had a lion’s share in the Gandhian struggle for independence since 1920. To turn however to the economic condition of Nagar in mid-19th century, another middle men’s class was that of the pleaders, mostly Brahmans who charged their fees for pleading the cases of both the sowcars and the peasants. Thanks to the elaborate law machinery, the suits usually were left undecided for years together. The small number of educated people who usually came from the middle class did all the clerical work required in the bargain. The Mamlatdar or the Magistrate who might occasionally visit the place for his official duties would usually stay with the people belonging to his class that was certainly not one of the cultivators and generally had little sympathy for them. This gulf between the higher and the lower classes of society might partly explain the circumstances that led to the exploitation of the rayat. Still another class of middle-men was that of the petty zamindars, who, although they owned their pieces of land, usually gave them on lease to the cultivators, chose to stay in nearby towns and thus act as absentee land-lords. There was also a priestly class whose services were required by all for the performance of their countless rituals. The large number of wandering beggars, sanyasis, bairagis and gondhaliswas also a burden upon the cultivators. The sowcars often would aspire to celebrate a ceremonious occasion by giving sahasra bhojans (feeding one thousand Brahmins and giving to each a dakshana, a kind of charity in the form of a silver coin). The exacting operation of the law by which land revenue was collected and the usual unwillingness of the rulers to declare famine even in scarcity-hit areas further added to the miseries of the cultivators. All these factors resulted in rendering Ahmadnagar district, then largely dependent upon irregular rains, a famine-stricken area.
Missions: In this famine-stricken area came the missionaries for pursuing the humanitarian mission of saving the starving people from the worst effects of famines as also to convey the message of Christ to them. They were mostly Protestant missions from America. A few Catholic missions were, however, started for those Christian soldiers in the British regiments residing in the cantonment area. While the sowcars of the town and the district felt themselves satisfied in giving sahasra bhojans to Brahmans, they hardly felt themselves interested or had any imagination to organise famine relief for the poor. It was the missionaries who took the lead in this humanitarian work. They came as early as in 1831, the first to come were Messrs. Allan & Reed, later followed by Rev. Farebank and Rev. Hume.Dnyanodaya, their organ, was started in 1842, first as a magazine, then a fortnightly and subsequently as a weekly. There were women-missionaries who be-friended the depressed, washed their babies and fed them and carried the message of Christ from door to door amongst high and low. They were persecuted once by dirty water being thrown at a woman-missionary. Quietly enough with the spirit of Christ and Ekanath in her she went back, changed her dress and pursued her mission. Dr. Hume was the head of the missionary organisation and Rev. Smith was the head-master of the mission school conducted at Ahmadnagar. Rev. Smith often appeared dressed in dhotis and we are told that after their death, the bodies of both were cremated and not buried, Miss Emil later used to edit BalbodhMeva, a magazine for children. Gradually the message of Christ influenced the minds of some high class Hindus. In 1842 Ramkrishna Modak, a Chitpavan Brahman and ancestor of the famous cine star Shahu Modak, embraced Christianity and became Rev. Modak. Dr. Hivale, Mr. Gadre, Mr. N. V. Tilak and Mr. Khisti followed suit, sometime during that period. Ramji Bhor of Akolner and Shaikh Dadud also became Christians. Acceptance of Christianity by a few upper class Hindus raised a hue and cry in the coterie of Hindus which so long had kept quiet inspite of the hundreds of low caste Hindus abandoning their faith. Some of the curious among the orthodox once approached the late Rev. Tilak and inquired as to why he had changed his faith. Quietly did he reply, ‘ First conviction and then conversion. It was Tukaram who showed me the way to Christ’. It is of course very unlikely that every one of the upper class that embraced Christianity was actuated with such lofty considerations. But it must be said that quite a large percentage of high class persons that changed their faith looked upon themselves as true sons of the soil. It is their lead that set the tone for the rest of the Christians. Although Ahmadnagar district has a fairly large number of Christians they always look upon themselves as Indians first and last and Christians only in their faith. Addressing the aggressive American missionaries Tilak said, ‘ Pack up yea your belongings and be gone, if you do not love this sacred land of Hindus ( बांधारे गाठोडी, व्हारे व्हा चालते ! जया नावडे हिंदभूमी).
Muslims: It is further a matter of relief to note that Nagar had no Hindu-Muslim problem right up to the appearance of the Congress as the most powerful party in the nation and even later. In 1927 election, a Muslim league candidate was defeated by Shri Maddubhai Patel. A well-known Marathi litterateur Shri V. D. Ghate, recalling his early days in Nagar during the first decade of the 20th century, has described Nagar as a city of mosques,masjids and tombs. A walk through the lanes and by-lanes of Nagar used to impress the visitor as a city of the dead, but very unlike Rome where the historical buildings are resplendent with the glory of the past. Nagar was in the 16th and 17th centuries a Nizamshahi capital and one could give a historical explanation of the existence of many a dilapidated Muslim buildings bewailing the story of the past, as also quite a substantial Muslim population of the locality. If the Census of 1961 could be any indication, religious percentage of the population in Nagar district was as follows:—Muslims 5.26, Christians 2.72, Hindus 87.69 and Buddhists 2.87 in the total population of 17,75,969 in the area of 6,471.9 square miles. Most of the Muslims have been busy in their occupational pursuits and uninterested in politics, but in that field they have usually followed the lead given by their business magnets, the traders who were mostly Hindus. This is because the Muslim population of Nagar as also the Hindus have even been influenced by and large by the saints like Shaikh Muhammad of Shrigonda of the 17th century and Sai Baba of the 20th, evincing a fusion of religious out-look and bringing about an integration of the two communities. Another writer has described the society of Nagar as consisting of Marwadis, Missionaries, Muslims and worshippers of Maruti temples that are spread all over the land, each pursuing his religious faith but following an integrated social life.
Signs of new awakening: Advent of the British rule in the early 19th century brought about a dynamic change and influenced different social classes in a different manner. Quite a few but sturdy who were deprived of their fighting profession took to hiding themselves in unknown pockets and tried to raise standards of rebellion. Such were the Bhils. A few details of the Bhil uprising in 1858 are given below: —
Nagar Bhells and British Encounter
(Pages 539-544, Volume 21 of 1858)
Extracts from letter No. 144 of 1858 from S. Mansfield, Esquire, Magistrate ofKhandesh, to H. L. Anderson, Esquire, Secretary to Government, Secret Department, Bombay
Dated 25th January 1858
I have the honour to forward for the information of His Lord-ship-in-Council a copy of a demi-official letter from my first Adjutant Mr. Neave giving an account of the disastrous affairs which occurred on the borders of the Khandesh and Nugar collectorates.”
“In letter dated January 21st, 1858, Nandgaum, Mr. Neave writes in detail about the encounter with Bheels on the 20th January which ended in failing to drive the Bheels out of their position.”
” Lieut. Stuart with 200 foot and 50 sowars and Captain Montgomery and Thatcher with 50 men of the 19th under Lieut. Fair-brother, jointly made an attack on Bheels as they received a report that Bheels had collected in the neighbourhood of Nandgaum.”
” The Bheels who numbered about 400 had taken up a very strong position in the bed of a river under cover of thick bushes, trees and poured in most deadly fire. Captain Montgomery was wounded in the first attack. Great many sepoys were knocked down in the second attack. Lieuts. Chamberlayne and Davidson of the 20th came up with 150 men and some sowars with rifles and third attack was made in which Lieuts. Chamberlayne, Stuart and Davidson were wounded. Therefore they withdrew. Lieut. Stuart died on 21st. Nearly 50 of the men of the 6th Aurangabad, 26th Co. and 19th were killed and wounded. Among Bheels 25 were killed.”
Trials of Bheels —Nagar District
(Pages 57 and 76, P. D. Volume 35 of 1858)
- Jairam Wullud Sheevram.
- Jairam Wullud Rama.
- Tulpea Wullud Bahiroo.
Judgement.—”In passing sentence the Court is thrown back as stated in the Government Resolution recorded above on regulation XIV section XII of 1827 which states that the punishment for treason shall be death and confiscation of property.
“This sentence the court are constrained by law to pass, but they do so in the full confidence that Government will transmute it into transportation for life.”
Mahadeo Dongur Bheels attacked
(P. D. Volume 23 of 1858, pages 181-182)
Extracts from a letter from the Commissioner of Police to the Secretary to Government,S. S., Bombay — regarding Hurgee Naique and Puttojee Naique being attacked by Capt.Nuttall
“On the morning of the 19th the detachment commanded by Captain Pottinger and the Kolee levy by Captain Nuttall attacked the insurgent Bheels under Hurgee Naique and Puttojee Naique in the hills east of Mahadeo Dongur. Killed thirty (30)/number of wounded not specified/took six prisoners and a number of women. The Bund has dispersed and left all their baggage behind. The loss on our side being only one killed and three wounded. It appears probable that Captain Pottinger was able to bring the mountain howitzors into action.”
Bheel Naik Puttogee surrenders
(Pages 459-464, P. D. Volume 25 of 1858)
In letter No. 17 of 1858 from Assistant Magistrate Mr. C. Gonee to the Magistrate of Poona, Mr. Duncan Davidson, dated 8th April 1857, the information regarding the surrender of Bheel Naik Puttogee is given.
In paragraph 4 he writes ” Having promised to be advocate of Puttogee, I feel I may urge considerations which I would otherwise not presume to mention. I am not certain that any overt act of rebellion can be judicially proved against him, though he has undoubtedly displayed an attitude hostile to government. But he is an old man and too old to hand and too old to be an active rebel leader.” He is pleading the case of Puttogee and expresses his view that Puttogee should not be executed and others also might be influenced to surrender.
Bheel ‘Band’ Nugar
(P. D. Volume 21 of 1858, pages 3, 4, 5, 6)
A letter from the Quarter Master General of the Army to
- L.Anderson, Secretary to Government, Secret
Department, Bombay, dated 23rd January 1858
In my letter No. 224, dated 12 instant, I had the honour by desire of His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief to submit to Government what appeared to his Excellency to be the best means of proceeding to suppress the Bheel bunds on the northern border of Khandesh in the Sautpoora range………………………………………………
- It would be superfluous to recapitulate what has taken place in its western districts of Nassik and Sinner where the Bheel bunds recently ravaging them under Bhagojee Naik have been severely handled and checked by combined forces of Regular and Police.
- The eastern portion of the Zilla is especially the subject of present report and for its protection it is necessary to adopt immediate measures.
- Its hills and jungle character enables a small body to elude and if needs be await the attack of weak detachments of Troops with every hope of success.
- Yesterday’s Telegraph brought but an imperfect account of the serious conflict that had taken place on previous day between a small body of native Infantry and Police on one side and 400 Bheels from the Nizam’s country on the other, but considering this with other daring attempts in the same quarter the necessity of adopting strong and immediate measures to punish and check the marauders is evident.
- The officers wounded in that affair have been removed to Malligaum and Lieut. Thatcher with a small force is now posted in the neighbourhood of Munwar holding the Bheels in check as well as he can.
- The Commander-in-Chief considers it best at once to appoint an officer to the special command of the military operations that may be necessary during the next five months to preserve the Naggur Zilla from the inroads of marauders generally, and with the sanction of Government he proposes to appoint Captain Pottinger of the artillery to this duty.
- The eastern border just described being the quarter in most imminent danger at this moment it is proposed to order Captain Pottinger to Munwar at once for the purpose of assuring the direction of operations at that point.”
Attempts were also made to raise troops in the following year information about which is as under:—
Attempts to raise troops in Ahmadnagar District
Translation of deposition of Sheikh Chand W. Sheikh Yessein, caste Mussalman, age 25years, inhabitant of Khurda, now resident of Beer (P. D. Vol. II, 58 of 1859, pages 197 to 220)
Question.—What is the reason for the dispute that took place between yourself and Sheikh Rassul Rohilla ? State the correct cause.
Answer.—I was informed by Shankarbhaoo Brahmin, residing in Dhondipura in town of Bheer, that he was a servant of Peshwa Dhondo Baji Rao, that he had obtained permission to keep a force and on that account he would employ men; that if I took employment under him, Rs. 15 would be paid to each foot soldier and Rs. 30 to each sowar. On this I took employment as a foot soldier. Rusool Khan was there at the time and Shankarbhaoo asked him to employ 100 Rohillas on his part. Russool Khan consented to this. It is now a month since the above occurred. Shankar Punt had fled, and the Rohillas were pressing me to bring him, and having found me they beat me.
Question.—Shanker Pant kept a force; whom did he employ, and who were his advisers?
Answer.—He did not employ men in my presence; but the son Hafizjee named Papa Mean and Russool Khan Rohilla were the advisers. I cannot state what force was employed through their means.
Question.—What time has elapsed since Shanker Punt commenced these proceedings, and did he give Rusool Khan and others any money for expense?
Answer.—I am aware of these proceedings since the last two months. Nothing for expense was given to the Rohillas etc. but Rs. 6 were given for my personal expense.
Question.—You state above that you were on the eve of taking service, but on what date is not stated. You now state that Rs. 6 were given for expense; how was the money given?
Answer.—Shanker Punt told me that the rupees 6 were given as an advance, and that when I took service more money would be granted for my subsistence.
Question.—To what place did Shanker Punt intend taking his force?
Answer.—He said that they were to assemble at Mouza Manjir-soom in Talook Balaghaut and must go anywhere.
Question.—Did the Rohillas employ themselves under Shanker Punt, through your means or were they entertained by him directly?
Answer.—I was not the medium; they were employed by Shanker Punt.
Question.—Being aware for two months that Shanker Punt was collecting a force, why did you not inform the Circar?
Answer.—I am in fault, the Government are my masters. Given and signed truely, 3Shaban, 1275 Hijree. Sign of a Dagger. (Signed) Dustoor Vithul Succaram Deshpandia.
Translation of deposition taken on the 4th Shaban 1275 Hijree
Question.—Where did Shanker Rao purchase ammunition and where did he store it?
Answer.—Shankerbhow gave me a maund of powder and seven seers of lead for Balls; these were delivered by me to Shankersing where the powder was manufactured. I do not know Shankersing was warned to be ready and he replied if Shankerbhow rose, he would accompany him.
Question.—From what place did Shankerbhow procure money for the expense of the troops, to whom did he give money and who were in league with Shankerbhow?
Answer.—Dajee Koolkarnee of Khurda is concerned with Shankerbhow. He brought a gold-chain to the value of about Rs. 300 and stated his intention of selling the chain for the use of the troops but this he did not do; the names of the parties are as follows: — Papa Mean, Rusool Khan Rohilla, Shanker Pant, Dajee Kulkarni of Khurdah and myself.
We were seated in consultation in the house of Baba Pooraneak.
Question.—What is the strength of the force which Dajee and Shankerbhow intended to employ?
Answer.—It was resolved to employ as follows:—100 Rohillas through Papa Mean, Rasool Khan Rohilla; 100 sowars on my part; and as many men as Shankersing could collect.
Question.—What salary was intended to be allowed to the troops?
Answer.—Jamadar Rs. 30, Rs. 15 for Jowan, Rs. 15 for Bhistee, and five cooks, Rs. 16 to a standard-bearer for each division. The above salaries were fixed under the signature of Shankerbhow and Dajeeba, and the list has been presented to the Circar. A hundred men were invited by me through Abdool Chavoos of Pawarah but they did not come.
Question.—Mention the names of such others of Bheer as were entertaining men.
Answer.—One Mirja of Boodulpoor, one Satoon, tom-tom-beater, and one Baloo, these were the men, and besides them, I am not aware who else were employed by Shankersing. The Government should enquire.
Question.—With regard to entertaining a force what assurance did you give to Papa Mean, and what else did you say?
Answer.—Shankerbhow desired me to ask Papa Mean to bring 100 Rohillas with him to Wakee and to assure me, promised to obtain the seal of Madhow Rao Kishen Deshmookh, and to speak personally with the view to assuring me.
Question.—You say that Madhow Rao’s seal, and assurance was promised by Shankerbhow. Was the above individual aware of this?
Answer.—Shanker Rao, and Dajeeba of Khurda were in the habit of visiting Madhow Rao at night and holding consultation with him. He is aware of it.
Question.—Where is Dajeeba now ?
Answer.—He is in Khurda.
Given and signed truly, 4th Shaban 1275 Hijree.
Sign of a Dagger. (Signed) Dustoor Succaram Deshpandya.
How shaby the government had become could be seen from its policy of disarming the local populace. The following extract from a letter from C. Fraser Tytler, reg. Magistrate, Ahmadnagar, to H. L. Anderson, Esquire, Secretary to Government, Bombay, dated 10th August 1858 would be illustrative:—
- “Statement No. I shows that 23,980 arms have been registered while 15,676 arms have been confiscated. It also contains other points of information.”
- ” Statement No. II gives the detail of arms left in possession of their owners:
With Government employees 2,626
With the village police 1,202
With Sirdars 1,058
With sowcars 1,919
Column 7 contains 1,090 cases in which the grant of licences is still an open question. The Assistants proposing the grant, the Magistrate dissenting.”
- ” The results of the above arrangements are that (inclusive of the weapons of government servants) one weapon has on an average been left to every couple of square miles: in other words about one arm to every 200 souls.”
A few letters described here will give some idea about the conditions and temper of the people at that time. Some of the letters do not convey any clear meaning but were probably intended to convey some hidden message. They were not intended to be clear. Such letters which were styled as seditious letters were a headache for the district officers. Some of them appear to be purely personal and harmless. But these officers had to carry on lengthy correspondence in order to understand their real meaning. It appears that among the persons who either carried on the correspondence or were addressed or with whom the correspondence was found, there were a few who were directly connected with the important personalities of the 1857 rebellion. Shewanand Shastri was one of such persons, who was addressed by Rango Bapuji from London.
The rest quietly resorted to other peaceful occupations, largely agriculture. There were not a few who belonged to the former ruling class, such as sardars, diwans and others holding high posts under the old rule, who moaned over their past glory but contented themselves with a feeling that they had not been completely deprived of their jahagirs and were allowed to pursue their dear old religious practices. They were still highly honoured by the masses and they developed a psychology that after all Kali Yuga had set in and resigned themselves to their fate. There were a few others, who had the benefit of association with the English rulers who were shocked by the missionary activities, looked upon them as a menacing danger to their religion and set themselves a thinking as to how to save their religion by bringing about reform in their own religion and social practices. There were also quite a few who were struck by poverty and of visiting famines of the area and be-took themselves to under-ground activities. Such were the revolutionaries. Of these groups it was the English-educated social reformers who showed the way in the latter half of the 19th century. For a time they were opposed by the Sanatanist (orthodox) party who particularly criticised the anglicised behaviour of the reformers and tried to fight as it were a rear-guard action against them; but since Nagar was not a stronghold of the Sanatanist, their voice of protest became weaker and weaker in course of time and when Rao Bahadur Ranade was transferred to Nagar as a district judge he revived the branch of the Prarthana Samaj where the weekly Sunday prayers used to be attended by large numbers. For a time, Lalshankar Umiashankar who in 1885 acted as a first class sub-judge at Nagar took to humanitarian ways and nursed a child found in sands in the famine-stricken area. Shankar Pandurang Pandit was responsible for advocating reform in the ugly ways of the crowd in Holicelebrations. It is this early generation of reformers to whom may be attributed the credit of detracting quite a number of high class Hindus from the Christian faith. It was in the year 1885 that Indian National Congress was established and it had a profound effect on the political life of the people in Ahmadnagar district. The growing political consciousness among the people was to be routed through constitutional agitation but the actions of the Government in suppressing the popular agitation brought about a division in the Congress ranks into moderates and extremists. A group also advocated the overthrow of the British rule in India by following extremism and terrorism. Ahmadnagar district had its own share in the convulsions through which the country was passing. Amongst the local leaders of Nagar, the earliest was Dajisaheb Kukade who laid the foundations of public life in Nagar towards the close of the 19th century. He was followed by Sardar Kakasaheb Mirikar who had a strong pride of the glorious past of the Marathas but who always judiciously associated himself with the European officers of the times and had great influence with them; but it must be said to his credit that he never mis-used it either to his own advantage or to the detriment of the progressive national forces in the country. Public life of Nagar never had any acute sense of party spirit. Moderates and nationalists, although sharply differing from each other in Pune and Satara, behaved as friends in Nagar. There were Dadasaheb Dhaneshwar and Rao Bahadur G. K. Chitale, both moderates, and Balasaheb Deshpande, Bhausaheb Choukar and Nanasaheb Saptarshi all nationalists but all having respect for each other of the opposite camps. In fact Balasaheb was a strong social reformer who advocated widow re-marriage and left a will that his young wife should get herself re-married after his death. One Jankibai Apte started an ashram for girls and opened a grain-shop for women-purchasers. Rao Bahadur Chitale evoked great respect from the nationalists and played a very important role in the famine relief organisation of 1918 and 1920. Lokamanya Tilak addressed a large gathering at Ahmadnagar in 1918 and was very enthusiastically received by all sections of the public. It may be noted that by the end of the 19th century, Tilak, the spokesman of the nationalist or the extremist school, came to be recognised as a dynamic force in the political field and he swayed the minds of people through the columns of Kesari.It was but natural that he should receive a fitting welcome. But on the whole, moderation in politics and a step forward in social and humanitarian services characterised the activities of Nagar, right up to the appearance of Mahatma Gandhi in the field in 1920.
Nagar in Post-1920 Period: The non-co-operation movement of that year galvanised the political life of Nagar. The non-Brahmanic movement which had for a time appeared in Nagar consequent upon the special provisions for them in the Montague-Chelmsford reforms, was led by men like Mukundrao Patil of Tarawdi, Sardar Thorat and Rao Bahadur N. A. Nawale, but it largely lost its glamour soon after 1920. The ranks of those young men who were ready to participate in the non-co-operation movement were closed and their erstwhile difference overcome. Although men like Rao Bahadur Chitale and Saptarshi and their activities still held a position of remote respect, the tide of non-co-operation movement was ever on the rise. In 1921 was started the Rashtriya Pathashala (National School) and students who boycotted the Government-recognised schools joined the new school. The lead in this venture was taken by Bhausaheb Chowkar and Shri Firodia. Rambhau Hire, Bhai Sattha and Kaka Chinchorkar were amongst those who joined the school and they were later on joined by Dada Chaudhari. The Pathashala was followed by the Anath Vidyarthi Griha (a boarding school for the deserving poor). Soon the two institutions were amalgamated in what came to be known as the Hind Seva Mandal. The national school was closed in 1932 because it was declared an illegal body under Government orders. The national school that ran a life of over ten years had its own features. It made some manual training compulsory and for that purpose opened its spinning, weaving, smithy and printing classes. Mohan Mudranalaya (Press) was started. The press was later on managed under the co-operative ownership of workers in the press. Spinning and weaving had more than a manual training value. That work led to concentration of mind and gave a sort of mental discipline. Physical education and sports were made compulsory. By 1935 Bhai Sattha started the Harijan Boarding. The years 1930 and 1932 were characterised by the wave of Civil Disobedience Movement which was marked by the jungle satyagraha— defying forest laws in Nagar district, and 1942 movement by the ” do or die ” movement of a desperate character. It can safely be said that of those that sought arrest and imprisonment in the movement nearly fifty per cent came from those that were once the members of the Pathashala.
The merchants class whole-heartedly supported the movement. On the constructive aspect of the national awakening, especially during the period from 1930-1947, the two Patwardhan brothers P. H. and A. S. alias Raosaheb and Achyut Patwardhan bore the brunt, though they did not lag behind in courting arrests and going to jails. Achyutrao, however, was a mystic and a free lancer but Raosaheb remained in Nagar during the period and was quietly building up the socialistic pattern on humanitarian lines for Ahmadnagar. Mention also must be made of Shri Balasaheb Bharde of Sheogaon who freely participated in the Gandhian movement and later distinguished himself as a member of the Congress cabinet that came to power after the freedom struggle.
Revolutionary movement and the press : A reference must also be made to the revolutionary movement, as also to the press in Ahmadnagar. After the Bhil and Koli risings had been suppressed by 1875, the peasants and the Kunbis who could not stand the ravages of famine raised their heads; and their movement was chiefly directed against thesowcars of the area. Their mortgage-deeds and sale-deeds were seized and destroyed. Government by that time appointed a Royal Commission on Agriculture and after elaborate discussions in the high quarters the famous Deccan Agriculturists Relief Act was passed (1879). The measure was hardly suited to heal the wounds of the farmers, for the operation of the D. A. R. A. largely depended upon evidence as it came from both the parties but was more efficiently presented by the sowcars. Uneducated cultivators, usually under the influence of the upper classes, could hardly be precise in giving answers and professional pleaders exploited the position by cleverly quibbling over them. Akola, the hilly area of the district was a scene of disorder for a succession of years. Political awakening in the last decade of the 19th century led a few hot-headed youths to join the revolutionary activities. Karkare was one of these revolutionaries; Shri P. M., afterwards Senapati, Bapat was another. He came from Parner and was ever since his young days devoted to sanitation work, cleaning the streets and removing the dirt, led a dedicated life with a philosophy of his own, and freely participated in all movements, revolutionary as well as Satyagrahi, all over Maharashtra until recent times.
Turning to the Press, reference has already been made to the missionary paperDnyanodaya. In 1861, there was Vritta Vaibhava, in 1866 Nyaya Sindhu owned by Dajisaheb Kukade, and Nagar Samachar edited by Abanna Linguji, Sudarshan managed by Thanekar and Jagadadarsha of Badebhai. Spirit of social reform actuated the Nagar press on the whole. The guiding verse that appeared on every issue of Vritta Vaibhava was to quote the original “बाणा सोडु नको भिड धरुं नको लालुच पाहुं नको। हांजि, हांजि नको खर्या भिऊं नको मर्मास भेदू नको ॥“.Incidentally we are able to learn from the same journal that in 1862 the prices per rupee were 10½ seers of wheat, 1 seer and 9 chhataks of ghee, 6 seers of rice and 11 seers ofbajra. There are also other papers in Nagar, Sandesh edited by Nisal being one but on the whole it may be said that press in Nagar was backward and had almost little or no circulation beyond the limits of the district and did not materially contribute to the influencing of public opinion in the area.
Economic progress in recent years: Construction of the railway line right through the heart of the district from Dhond in the south to Kopargaon in the north in the latter half of the 19th century did not materially ameliorate the famine conditions of the district. The position, however, was gradually changed by the construction of dams in river-beds and of irrigation canals, directing the waters of the rivers to the arid areas of the district. Pravara canal created by the construction of Bhandardara in Akola, irrigates Shrirampur, Rahuri and Sangamner talukas. The dam to Ghod in the south irrigates Shrigonda somehow. Modest Mula river dam provides water to Newasa taluka and the Godavari river dam with its canals richly irrigates Kopargaon. The economic face of Nagar, however, has undergone a veritable revolution since the coming of motor-bus transport in the late twenties of this century. The district has now a net-work of roads and no place in Ahmadnagar is now far away from the bus transport. Since 1949 the private bus traffic has been organised into State Transport Department and S. T. has now become a by-word in far-off rural areas. A glance at the net-work of S. T. roads alongwith the industrial centres of sugar factories surrounded by sugar-cane crops, oil mills, engines and pumps, ginning factories and textile centres situated far and near from the S. T. and rail centres would give some idea as to how the situation is fast changing. This is not to say that all parts of Nagar have been fairly industrialised. Pathardi, Sheogaon, Karjat, Jamkhed and Parner are still arid areas. Green revolution has come only in Kopargaon, Shrirampur and Rahuri and to a certain extent in Newasa and Sangamner. Bhingar near Ahmadnagar and Sangamner to the north-west are good weaving centres, where Salis and Padma-salis (i.e., Salis who originally came from Andhra) are very expert in their profession, but had no organisation of their own right upto 1930 and even later. A German trading company, Havro & Co., with its office at Bombay used to despatch its agents to Bhingar with a view to see whether their modern mechanical technique could be used in the weavers’ process of production. They worked from 1918 to 1930 but for various reasons could not make any head-way. Besides the Salis, there were metal workers, Tambats andKasars, who used to manufacture brass and copper wares. Their profession at one time must have been far advanced, for be it noted that the Mulukh Maidan gun of Bijapur was originally cast at Nagar and was later captured by the Adil Shahi rulers.
No account of the economic transformation of Nagar could be complete without a reference to a number of sugar production concerns mostly started after 1930. A few years before 1930, i.e., in 1924, Marshall & Co. of Bombay opened a sugar factory at Belapur and was able to produce sugar in such large quantities that its consumption fell far behind production. There was such a slump in the market that shares of the company in the share bazar could be quoted at Rs. 7 per 100-rupee share in 1930 and the company wound up its business. Then stepped in Dahanukar Brothers in 1934 and Karamsee Somayya of Kanegaon, a very poor man in 1932, took to the work of being a roving and selling agent of sugar and sold 1,000 bags of sugar in a fortnight. Soon he got the sole agency of the factory and as factory after factory multiplied, Somayya, with his organising capacity and credit, began to purchase the whole sugar production and held a sort of a monopolistic position. Thanks to the policy of the Government of India to give protection to this newly-rising industry, sugar production in western Maharashtra got a fillip and the industry had its boom period. Sugar-cane crops smiled over hundreds of acres in the Godavari area. At this time the co-operation of savants like the late Vaikunth Mehta and Prof. D. R. Gadgil gave the lead in turning private ownership concerns into co-operative ones and men like Vikhe Patil of the district worked under their guidance. It is unnecessary to refer here as to how in post-Independence period the managers of these private and co-operative concerns turned themselves into sugar-barons, but suffice it to say that the political and economic forces visualised the starting of the Mahatma Phule Agricultural University in the late sixties of this century, which has already started working at Rahuri.
Literary and cultural movements in Nagar: Like all other up-country districts of Maharashtra Nagar has its modest share in the literary and cultural activities. Towards the close of the last century Shivaram Bharde, the father of the present politician, writing under the pen-name Bharadwaj, contributed a series of articles contending that Dnyaneshwar, the author of Bhavarthadipika and the Dnyaneshwar of Alandi must have been two different personalities and for a time created a stir amongst the conventional devotees of Dnyaneshwar. During the first two decades of this century Rev. N. V. Tilak and poet Datta, with their soft and homely compositions, created a new taste amongst the Marathi readers who took delight in reading about domestic sweetness, homely ties and natural scenes. In later twenties Rao Bahadur Deshmukh started a Vangmayopasak Mandal, and theDnyaneshwari Samshodhan Mandal had a brief career of activity in the early thirties. Nagar has a long-standing tradition of educational institutions. The pioneers were the missionaries like Mr. Hivale; but the Ahmadnagar Education Society, started in 1886, has been the first institution in which the local leaders under the early guidance of Justice Ranade took great interest. Its high school is today one of the best-organised institutions in Nagar served by men like Messrs. M. M. Joshi and Navathe in its early years. Reference has already been made to the contribution made by the non-co-operation movement in this field in the twenties and thirties. Today Nagar and its talukas are bristling with schools and colleges carrying the torch of learning far and wide. Unlike Sangli, Nagar is known to have produced no dramatist, no actor nor any actress where music as a science is taught, nor has Nagar any classical tradition of music with men like Pandit Vishnu Digamber or Bhaskar Buva. But this gap in the classical field has as it were been more than compensated by minstrels like Sunderabai and Kausalyabai of Kopargaon whose lavani music once used to attract huge crowds in the up-country areas. Nagar, situated as it was on the borders of Peshwa-Nizam territories, has all along developed a mediaeval pattern of soft devotional music since very ancient times. TheNath Panthis have their centre at Vriddheshwar, Dinkarswami belongs to Tisgaon, Anant Fandi to Sangamner, Niloba to Parner, Shaikh Muhammad to Shrigonda, Mahipatiboa to Taharabad, Dasganu to Nagar and last but not the least, in fact the first,—the Adipeeth of them all—Dnyaneshwar to Nevasa. It is these saints and their compositions that have influenced the psychology of Nagar district and has enabled them to brave all adversities with an attitude of sufferance and resignation.