Vetti system in Telangana

 

Telangana was a stronghold of artisan system people of various traditional caste occupations contributed significantly to the socio-economic and cultural life of the area. But selfish administrative elements of the Nizam rule and the feudal landlords enjoyed “free” (vetti) services of the artisans. Certain families in the village were to serve the landlords for their lifetime. Even, their children and women were obliged to serve the landlords without any remuneration. Most of the people of Telangana were illiterate and ignorant about the administrative system. Consequently these people were not in a position to resist the landlords or revolt against the Nizam. The Telangana peasant movement began during the inter-world war period by 1938, mass protests and agitations against vetti extraction and non-availability of food grains.3 At the same time, the Andhra Maha Sabha started by the liberal nationalist intellectuals was transformed gradually into the leftist (communist) sabha (organisation) and laid emphasis on radical agrarian reforms. Later, the leftists formed themselves into Andhra Mahasabha and vigorously opposed the ‘vetti’ (bonded labour) practice. The activities of the Sangham attracted large sections of the people of Telangana. The sangham pursued the path of protest inspite of police and army raids.

Villagers, especially the poor who had not any other goods to supply were forced to supply fowls to them. The peasants were also not spared of this vetti. Whenever any officer came they had to be given a lift in their carts by the peasants, and reach them to their destinations, even at odd times, whether the animals were fed or not. They had to till the lands of the village officials and landlords before they could take up work on their own fields. And till the landlords’ lands were watered, the peasants would not get water for their fields. Agricultural labourers had to work in the fields of the officials and landlords without any remuneration and then only go to other peasants’ work for their livelihood.

The movement for its abolition became widespread. When these feudal lords of various hues tried to intensify their illegal exactions, to evict the cultivating peasants from their lands and lease them to some others, the peasants had fought many a heroic struggle, even earlier. One such heroic struggle was that of a poor Muslim peasant Bandagi, against Visunuri Deshmukh during the twenties, whose martyrdom was immortalised in the popular drama Ma Bhoomi (My Land), during the Telangana days of 1945-46.

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