Petition of 1946 by the peasants of Rhenock to the Maharaj Kumar Sahib of Sikkim

The Document is preserved at Ram Gauri Sangrahalaya Rhenock by its curator Mr. Ganesh Kumar Pradhan.

Jharlangi was a force labour imposed by the Kazis and Thikadars of erstwhile Sikkim to the Sikkimese peasantry. It was a colonial gift to the Sikkimese aristocrats, by which they had achieved a license to exploit the peasants till the last breath of their lives. It is a well known fact that the real interest of the British Government did not lay on Sikkim. They wanted to utilize the kingdom for their Tibetan trade. Keeping this view in mind, the British Government had to construct roads and trade routes. While doing so, they had to depend on the Kazi-Thikadars to get the labour supply from the villages. The British Imperialists paid those Kazis- Thikadars but, the latter used their peasants to work for them without paying their wages. In such a system, the peasant had to remain absent at least a week from home, “besides having provided himself with warm clothing at prohibitive cost. What he would earn as wages under the prescribed rates for forced labour would barely suffice to buy his meager meal for the journey to and fro. A greedy land lord often seized upon his chance of making further easy money and called for doubled the number of men actually required. For instance, when only 20 men are requisitioned by the state, he would call for 40 men, thus doubling his own extortionate demand from the ignorant and unsuspecting ryots (Basnet, L.B. Sikkim- A short political History)

For the abolition of such corrupt practice from the soil of Sikkim, pre-Congress Associations of Sikkim like Praja Sudhar Samaj party of Tashi Tshering, Rajya Praja Mandal of Kazi Lhendup Dorjee Khangsarpa and Praja Sammelan Party of Dhan Bahadur Tiwari had played a major role. This petition also belongs to this era which was made by the peasants of Rhenock East Sikkim to the Maharaja Kumar Palden Thondup Namgyal to eradicate such an evil from the kingdom. The petition was made by late Durga Samsher Pradhan in which he has stated to His Highness Maharaj Kumar of Sikkim about the misappropriation of the Jharlangi labour by the Kazis and Thikadars for their private works. The petition was made on 24th November 1946, exactly a year before the foundation of Sikkim State Congress, the first political party of Sikkim. This document also gives authentic information about the taxation system prevalent in then Sikkim. A peasant had to pay Dhurikhazana (House Tax) @ Rs. 6 per annum and Bethi Tax Rs.12 per annum.
It is interesting that within a month of this petition the Royal Government of Sikkim issued a notification bearing No. 3590-4089/G on 31st December 1946 which finally eradicated Jharlangi from Sikkim. The said Notification has clearly mentioned “whosoever unlawfully compels any person to labour against the will of that person shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with a fine or with both”. But, we cannot ascertain that the Jharlangi labour was abolished from Sikkim due to the petition made by the peasants of Rhenock. It was in fact a demand of every Sikkimese peasant and a cry of every entity.