In ancient times the region covered by the present District of Ballia, lay in the kingdom of Kosala. It is probable that the river Ganga, in its sweep towards the north-east of present town of Ballia, formed the boundary of Kosala which included the whole of the present Ballia district as far as the junction of the Sadanira and the Great Gandakil. The back-strewn mounds and fragmentary remains of structural character, which evoke memories not only of mythology but also of history, are found at a number of places in the district. The ruins in the neighborhood of Barhmain and Hanumanganj, consisting of a large mound called Mira Dih, covered with broken bricks and pottery of a dark hue, are probably the remains of an ancient city.
Khaira Dih, near turtipar in tahsil Rasra. which is also a ruined site of a very ancient city named Bhargavapur. is presumed to have been the place where the rishi a Jamadagni lived. The excavations carried out under the auspices of the Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, have brought to light relics of the black and red ware civilization (1450-1200 B.C.) at various sites such as Bhumapardih, Bijulipur, Godabirgarh, Lovika-katopa, Maira Dih, Pakka Kot and Vainagadho, indicating that the tract enjoyed settled life and civilization from this early time.
Popular legends also bear witness to the antiquity of these sites, one such being that of the village of Karon, (in tahsil Ballia), its name being considered to be a corruption of the word Kam-anaunya. The legend is that Siva, being enraged at the attempts of Kamdeo (the god of love) to beguile him from his meditations, burnt him to ashes at this spot. Ballia itself is supposed to have derived its name by the eruption of the name Valmiki, that of the great sage who is said to have had his hermitage or to have dwelt here for some time. It is also associated with Bhrigu, another renowned sage who, according to a local legend, came and dwelt here because of the sacredness of the place Other rishis Like Garga Parasar, Vashishta and Atri are traditionally believed to have visited the neighborhood of Ballia attesting to the sacredness of its environs extending to a circuit of about 16 km.
According to tradition, Hansnagar (town of swans) a village 9.6 km. east of Ballia. is said to take its name from the legend that a swan turned into a man and a crow into a swan by drinking the water of the holy river Ganga at this place. At a distance of about 137 km. from Ballia there is an ancient tank named Dharmaranva Pokhara where an excavation is said to have revealed that thousands of rishis practiced austerities there and that to the north and east it there were traces of the previous existence of and ancient forest probably a remnant of the ancient Aranya. Some other places of this district are also associated the Vedic sages: Bhalsand (in tahsil Ballia) is said to have derived its name from Bhardwaja who resided there for sometime and Dhuband (also in tahsil Ballia) to be a corruption of Durvasa-ashrama, signifying the abode of Durvasa, a celebrated rishi.
The early political history of this region is complex. According to the Puranic tradition the solar dynasty of Kshatriyas, founded by one Manu, was the earliest known dynasty which gave Kosala (to which the tract forming the district became subject) a systematic form of government and of which Ikshvaku, the eldest son of Manu, famed in Vedic tradition, was the first ruler. The line that descended from produced a number of illustrious kings till the accession of Rama who was the greatest ruler of this dynasty. Lakhnesar Dih, in tahsil Rasra, is named after Lakhsmana, the brother of Ram, who is said to have visited this place and built a temple at this spot in honour of Mahadev.
The remains of an ancient town are still to be seen on the high band of the river in the form of immense piles of ruins, from which numerous pieces of sculpture have been obtained from time to time which bear testimony to the fact that even in those early times it was a settled abode with a flourishing population Lakhshmana’s son. Chandraketu, entitled Malla (valiant) in the Ramayana, established a kingdom known as the Malla state, of which some portion of this district formed a part, It is probable that the territories of the Mallas touched those of Kasi in the south, Magadha in the south-east and Kosala in the south-west, of which an area of the present day Ballia district, then formed a part. It came to be the biggest and the most important of the autonomous states of Kosala in respect of territorial extent and political influence.
In the sixth century B.C., Kosala came to be known as one of the sixteen Mahajanapadas (great kingdoms). At the time it was ruled by the powerful king. Mahakosala His son, Prasenjit the last great monarch of the solar dynasty of Kosala, was an important figure of his time. During his reign the kingdom attained great glory and prosperity. The Malla kingdom also figured as one of the sixteen Mahajanapadas with an independent entity and status equal to that of Koala itself. its chief, Bandhula, was a close ally of Prasenjit as well as of Mahali, the Linchchhave prince of Vaisalf. They were deeply influenced by the teachings of two great religious exponents-Mahavira and Buddha and Jainism and Buddhism found many followers among the Mallas.
The period gave rise to a different culture-that of the northern black polished ware, as has been revealed by the excavations conducted at Ajaneraghar, Bhimapurdih, Bijulipur, Gidabirghar and Masumpur. After Prasenjit, the kingdom of Kosala began to decline rapidly and the history of this area is shrouded in obscurity. The existence of numerous ruined forts and other remains in the district connected with the Bhars and the Cherus in legend and folklore point to the fact that they might have held domination over the major part of the district at that time. The Vhars were the occupants of the western part of the district. According to local legend, the heaps of broken earthen bricks in the parganas of Lakhnesar, Bhadaon and Sikandrapur, belong to the time of the Bhars. The Cherus probably ruled over the eastern half of the district. Kopachit in tahsil Rasra is believed to have been the western limit of the Cheru dominion. Tradition states that Bansdih lay in the heart of the Cheru country. Through no remains attributable to the group are found in Bansdih itself, the remnants of a fort are pointed out in the neighboring and the now almost deserted village of Deorhi.
A number of places in the Ballia tahsil are also associated with this group: Karnai is believed to have been originally owned by the Cherus. Garwar is alleged to have been founded by them and a small mound near the village and a large brick mound at Zirabasti are presumed to be the debris of Cheru strongholds. Extensive ruins at Pakka Kot are also said to be the debris of a fort and other buildings dating back to the time when the Cherus ruled the district. Tradition has it that the large inland lake, the Suhara Tal at Basantpur, was constructed by the Cherus but no traces are found of any artificial construction. The significance of the tradition implies how completely the power of the Cherus has been impressed upon the imagination of the people. About the middle of the 4th century B.C. the realm of Kosala was brought to an end by Mahapadma Nanda, who has been described in the Puranas as the exterminator of the Kshatriya race and who, by uprooting the Kosalans, extended his empire over the major part of this region. He was the first great historical emperor of northern India. But a part of the district under the Mallas did not come under the domination of this emperor as they saved their authority and existence by merely accepting the supremacy of the Nandas.
The Nandas were supplanted by the Mauryas under Chandragupta (324-300 B.C.) who ruled over a vast empire and the district became a part of the Maurya dominion except for the portion under the Mallas, which remained independent. Kautilya, who took a leading part in this revolution, mentions in his Arthsastra that this republic was a Samgha, or a state in a federation. He enjoins upon Chandragupua Maurya to cultivate friendship with the Mallas: “It is better to have a Samgha on your side than to acquire an army or to secure an ally.” The most illustrious king of this dynasty was Asoka (273-236 B.C.), Chandragupta’s grandson who became a Buddhist and combined in himself the zeal of a monk with the wisdom of a king. The excavations have laid bare the remains of a stupa at Ballia and the ruins of Buddhist monasteries here and at Barhmaian. The latter has remains of old walls and very large bricks measuring about 45 cm. long, 23 cm. broad and 11 cm. in height and many carved and ornamental specimens.
With the fall of the Mauryas a new dynasty, that of the Sungas, came to power under Pushyamitra (187-151 B.C.) whose dominion covered only the central portion of the Maurya empire. The fact is confirmed by an inscription found at Ayodhua, describing him as the lord of Kosala. As he uprooted the Malla republic, the whole of the area covered by the district came under his sway. During his reign, the Greeks of Bactria invaded India and it is likely the district also suffered the effects of the invasion of Menander, who carried his arms as for as Madhyamika, Saketa and Pataliputra. The history of the district in the era immediately following the fall of the Sungas is shrouded in obscurity till the advent of the Kushanas. That Ballia became a part of the Kushana dominion is undoubted as evinced by the finding of a large number of coins mostly of this periods in the ruins of Khaira Dih. The large bricks (measuring 60 cm. by 45 13 cm.) found in the ruins are a witness to the antiquity and the prosperity of the place.
After the dismemberment of the Kushana empire, the history of Ballia is mostly enveloped in darkness, But a glimpse of the history of the district is provided by a number of inscribed coins, found at the ancient city of Ayodhya, of certain rulers such as Satyamitrta, Ayumitra (or Aryamitra) Sanghamitra, Vijayamitra, Devamitra, Ajavarman and Kumudasena, who appear to have flourished, after the end of Kushana rule, in what is now eastern Uttar Pradesh, including the area then covered by district Ballia. Of these Kumudasena alone was called a raja. It is surmised that the Guptas, probably Samudragupta, conquered this region and annexed it to the empire, in the fourth century A.D.
During the reign of his son, Chandragupta II (380-413) the celebrated Chinese (Buddhist) pilgrim, Fa-hien (400-411) came to India to pay homage to the holy places of Buddhism. He mentions that on his way from Kasi to Patliputra, he came across a Buddhist monastery and a Buddhist temple (in Ballia) which bore the name of ‘the vast solitude’. The Indian name is not given but the literal translation of the term used is Vrihadaranya or Bidaran. The decline of the Gupta empire was precipitated by the assumption of independence by its feudatories.
About the beginning of the second quarter of the sixth century, Yashodharman of Malwa overran the whole of northern India and Ballia seems to have come under his meteoric sovereignty after which it passed under the rule of the Maukharis of Kannauj. They established an empire comprising the whole of modern Uttar Pradesh in addition to a large part of Magadha. Thus the glory of Magadha was eclipsed with the rising power of Kannauj.
The Maukharis were subdued by Harsha Varhsana (606-647) who established an extensive empire, the district continuing to form part of the Varshana empire During his reign Hiuen Tsang (629-644) another famous Chinese pilgrim and a Buddhist monk, came from China and passed through this district on his way from Varanasi to Nepal, He describes the Buddhist monastery of Aviddhakarba which he calls A-pi-te-ka-la-na Sangharama (the monastery of the brethren with unpierced ears) situated close to the town of Ballia. According to him this monastery had been built for the use of Buddhist pilgrims, From there he went to the temple of narayana, which he describes as being of two storeys with halls and terraces beautifully adorned with the most marvelous sculptures in stone with stone images in the highest style of art.
Carlleyle identifies the ruins of an ancient temple at Narainpur (in thisil Ballia) with the remains of the temple mentioned above. After the death of Harsha his empire broke up and anarchy and confusion prevailed for about half a century. The history of Ballia during the interval between Harsha’s death and the rise of Yashovarman nearly three-quarters of a century later, is again obscure. He must have reigned in the latter part of the seventh and the first part of the eighth century A.D. and the district Ballia is likely to have formed an integral part of his dominion. After Yashovarman the kingdom of Kannauj (which included modern utter Pradesh ) was a dependency of the empire of Dharampala of Bengal, who nominated Chakrayudha as the ruler of Kannauj but who was to be directly subordinate to him In the first of the ninth century, probably soon after the capture of Kannauj by Naghbhatta II, it came under the sway of the rising power of the Gujrat Pratiharas of whom Bhoja was the strongest ruler in northern India. He maintained peace in his kingdom and defended it against external dangers but the power of the Gurjara Pratiharas began to decline in the latter half of the tenth century and was brought to an end by Mahmud of Ghani’s invasion in 1018 A.D.The downfall of the Gurjara Pratiharas was followed by a period of chaos which came to an end only in the last decade of the 11th century by the establishment of the Gahadvala dynasty at Kannauj under Chandradeva.
The only reference of this suzerainty is that he was the protector of the holy places of Kasi (varanasi), Kusika (Kannauj), Uttarakosala(Ayadhya) and the city of Indra (Ancient Delhi). It will thus be seen that Chandradeva’s jurisdiction comprised almost the whole of what is now Uttar Pradesh Therefore, it may be presumed that the district of Ballia was also under his control . Reference to a Rajpu raja of Haldi, Ramdeo, who was installed in the 11th and 12th centuries A.D. show that some parts of the district were subjugated by local chiefs
The second battle of Tarain in 1192 A.D. dies not appear to have brought the region comprising the present district of Ballia under the immediate sovereignty of the Muslims. With the defeat and death of Jaichandra in the battle of Chandawar in 11.93, at the hands of Shihab-ud-din Ghuri, almost all of northern India lay at his feet but the effect of his conquest in the early years of his reign over this region appears to have been insignificant. This is evidenced by the comparative absence of Muslim remains in the district and also by the manner in which the Rajputs were left in apparently undisturbed possession.
The Muslim forces seldom appeared beyond the Saryu river and the tract on the east of that river remained practically in the hands of the Rajputs. the earliest being the Sengars. Dikhits, Kinwars. Nikumbhas. Naraunis, Barwars, Karchokias and Lohatameas, all are of the same period. Later they were driven eastwards, apparently owing to the Muslim pressure on the west. That the tract remained unconquered may by ascribed to its geographical position and remoteness.
Muslim names of places are rare in this district and references to it in the histories of Muslim historians less common. This was probably the result of the absence of Muslim proprietors at that time, those that remained being in most cases the dependents of local qazis and kanungos whose offices were hereditary during Muslim rule and who resided in the towns.According to tradition, pargana Sikandarpur was colonized by Muslims. It is believed that Qutib-ud-din Aibak, Muhammad capture of Varanasi on his way to Bihar and that he erected a fort on the place now known as Qutbganj on the banks of the Ghaghra.
The village of Kathaura or Kathanda, in pargana Sikandarpur east of the Bansdih tahsil, was divided into two parts, one being called Kathaura and the other Qutbganj. A mound is still visible there of which it is believed that it constitutes the ruins of a fort built in the time of Qutb-ud-din Shah. The name of this sultan is preserved in that of the hamlet of Qutbganj which stands on the banks of the Ghaghra a short distance north of the main site.Meanwhile, Ikhtiyar-ud-din Muhammad, son of Bakhtyar of the Turkish tribe of Khalj, had received some fiefs between the Ganga and the son, then took Tirhut and invaded Bihar capturing its capital. In his march he must have penetrated the district of Ballia and is certain that it was included in the territory of Bengal and Bihar in 1202 and hat the town of Kathaura (on the banks of the Ghaghra) had been in communication with he Muslim principalities of Bengal. Thus the district of Ballia passed under the sway of the Muslim.
The tract occupied by the present district of Ballia finds no mention in the history of mediaeval India written by Muslim historians probably because the surrounding areas of Ghazipur. Jaunpur and Saran (in Bihar) remained in the possession of Hindu proprietors till the beginning of the reign of Muhammad Taughlak (1325). At certain periods the district was actually subjected to the Muslim rulers of Bengal. In 1377. when Firoz Shah returned from eastern Bengal, he placed Jaunpur under Malik Bahroz Sultana and Bihar under Malik Bir Afghan, who reduced the Hindus to complete subjection. The district of Ballia was also placed in the charge of these two persons till the death of Firuz Shah after which they increased their own power at the expense of the central authority till 1394, when Khwaja-i-jahan, the vizier of the kingdom, was deputed to the charge of Jaunpur with full control over the territory extending from Kannauj to Bihar, including the district of Ballia. He made Jaunpur an independent Muslim kingdom and it remained as such from 1394 to 1479 during which time at least a part of the tract included in the present district of Ballia came within its sway which, according to an inscription on a black marble slab fixed in wall of a tomb at Kharid, extended eastwards as far as Bihar.
The tract covering the present district of Ballia appears to have remained under the undisputed control of the Jaunpur kingdom till 1479 when Buhlul Lodi defeated Sultan Husain, its last ruler, and obliged him to flee to Bihar.According to a legend, Kharid (a small village in pargana Sikandarpur) was given its name by the king of Bengal (Abu Muzaffar Sultan Husain). It was he who ruled over Bengal in 1495. An inscription on a stone slab found near Kharid mentions the king’s name and the name of Kharid was under the Muslim ruler of Bengal.
Sikandarpur, in the pargana of the same name in tahsil Bansdih, was founded by Sikandar Lodi and named after him, towards the end of the 15th century, though it is also said that it was founded by one of his officers. He is also said to have erected a fortress at this place. From the time of Qutb-ud-din Aibak (or about the beginning of the 13th century) Muslim immigrants began to arrive in the district, probably from the Muslim principalities of lower Bengal and gradually established their ascendancy throughout the northern part of pargana Sikandarpur having ousted the Hindu proprietors of the place.After the defeat of Husain Shah, Buhlul pursued him as far as the confines of Bihar. When Bauhlu reached the town of Haldi (in this district) he heard the news of the death of Qutb Khan Lodi, his cousin. After observing the days of customary mourning, he returned to Haunpur which he left in the possession of Barbak. After Buhlul’s death, Barbak became an independent king and a potential danger to his brother, Sikandar, Lodi, who succeeded Buhlul in 1488 as the sultan of Delhi.
In 1493 the district of Ballia was affected by an extensive Hindu rebellion in the wake of which Barbak was driven out of Jaunpur but was reinstate when Sikandar Lodi returned. Sikandarpur was garrisoned but whatever importance it attained during the days of the Lodis appears to have waned under the Mughals, when no imperial were maintained or deemed to be necessary in these parts.When Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodi at Paniput in 1526 and became the ruler of Delhi, the Afghan nobles of the east strengthen their power within a short time. From an inscription on a black marble slab found near the Ghaghra and later fixed in the wall of the tomb of Rukn-ud-dib at Kharid, it appears that a mosque was built at Kharid in 1527 during the days of Nusrat Shah, an independent king of Bengal. This inscription, which is in Tughra characters, confirms that Nusrat Shah had extended his authority over the whole of northern Bihar and as Karid lies on the right bank on the Ghaghra, Nusrat Shah must have held sway temporarily in Azamgarh in which part of the present district of Ballia lay.
The name of the sovereign of Vengal would not have occurred had Muhammad Shah exercised real authority over this region and at this time Kharid seems to have been in the possession of the sultan of Bengal According to tradition, the town of Kharid was then known as Ghazanfarabad, a magnificent city extending for a considerable distance between Sikandarpur and Turtipar.In 1528 Babur marched eastwards knowing that Nusrat Shah had encroached on Bihar. The Afghans under Mahmud (Sikandar Lodi’s son) reached the north bank of the Ghaghra while Babur reached Ghazipur by the Ganga and then went on to Chaunsa, touching the border of the district as well. He sent his artillery into Doaba to contain the enemy by bombardment and dispatched Mirza Askari through Ballia with instruction to cross the Ghaghra at Haldi and to threaten the Afghans on their right flank, he himself crossing over just below the confluence.
Nusrat Shah. who had joined Mahmud, separated from his forces and withdrew the army of Kharid, as it was called. Babur attacked and defeated the Afghans, driving them across the Ghaghra in the direction of Luck-now and, keeping to the north bank of the Ghaghra, he went on pursuing them. After Babur’s death the Afghans set up Jalal-ud-din Lahani, Mahmud’s son, as their sovereign and all the defeated Afghans allied themselves with him, chief among them being Farid Khan Suri, better known as Sher Khan and afterwards as Sher Shah. The district continued to remain under to control of Delhi during the reigns of Sher Shah and of his successor, Islam Shah. When Akbar came to the throne (in 1556) the east, in which was included the district of Ballia, was conquered in 1559.
About 1565, Ballia was affected by the rebellion of Khan Zaman against Akbar. The records of Akbor’s reign in the Ain-i-Akbari furnish a certain amount of information regarding the condition of Ballia in respect of cultivation, the revenue and the principal landholders of each pargana. The district lay party in the sirkar of Ghazipur and the remainder, with the exception of Doaba, in the sirkar of Jaunpur, Both these sirkars were included in the subah of Allahabad, Doaba was not a separate pargana but formed a portion of sirkar Rohtas in the Subah of Bihar.
It is not possible to determine the revenue then paid in Doaba. The district paid a revenue of Rs.1,55,000 on a cultivated area of 80,200 acres. The revenue demand was extremely high. At a conservative estimate, the purchasing power of the rupee in Akbar’s days was probably at least eight times as great as what obtained of the 20th century.The name of the parganas (with the exception of Doaba) remained unchanged. There were three mahals (revenue paying units) of the present district of Ballia in the sirkar of Jaunpur, namely Kharid.
Sikandarpur and Bhadaon. Kharid, a prosperous pargana, was then held by Kausik Rajputs, It had a cultivated area of 30,914 bighas and paid a revenue of 14,45,743 dams (absolute Indian copper coin, one fortieth of a rupee) and contributed a contingent of 50 horsemen and 5,000 foot.Sikandarpur, a pargana which lay in the sirkar of Jaunpur, was somewhat larger than at present, as four tappas (tracts of land) were afterwards transferred to Azamgarh, though, the loss was compensated for to some extent by the addition of tappa. Dhaka from Zahurabad and Shah Salempur from Kopachit.
The leading zamindars were Brahmansa, as the Baid had not yet asserted their supremacy, the date of their advent being 1628. The military contingent was 10 mounted men and 3,000 infantry and the revenue 17,06,417 dams on about 32,514 bighas of cultivation.The mahal of Bhadaon had 43,000 bighas under cultivation the revenue being 2,29,315 dams and the zamindars Siddiqi Sheikhs, who provided 10 horse and 100 foot.There were four mahals in the Ghazipur sirkar, namely Ballia, Kopachit, Lakhnesar and Garha. In all these parganas, except Garha, t he zamindara were Rajpurs. Garha was the property of Brahmanas or of Rajputs. Ballia had about 28,344 bighas under tillage, paid a revenue of 12,50,000 dams and contributed 200 cavalry and 2,000 foot.
In Kopachit there were about 19,266 bighas under cultivation and the revenue was 9,42,190 dams, the local contingent being 20 horse and 2,000 foot. The Akbari gives the details about pargana Lakhnesar which had approximately 2,883 bighas under cultivation, the revenue being 1,26,636 dams. Garha, which furnished 200 foot, had 10,049 bighas under cultivation and paid a revenue of 5,00,000 dams
The administrative divisions of Akbar’s days remained practically unchanged for 15 years or so after Aurangzeb’s in 1707. Soon after this the grip of the central and provincial governments in this part of the empire gradually leading to the local Rajput zamindars becoming practically independent. Taking advantage of the chaos, Kunwar Dhir Singh, turbulent Rajput chief of Shahabad (in the State of Bihar) set out with a small force and took possession of a large tract along the banks of the Ghaghra and extended his conquests as far west as Sagri (in Azamgarh). His activities soon attracted the attention of Sarbuland Khan, the governor of Allahabad, who in 1715, aided by he raja of Azamgarh, drove Dhir Singh out almost to Padrauna (in district Deoria where he was killed).
When Muhammad Shah became emperor in 1719, he gave Muriaza Khan (one of his courtiers) the bulk if the tract covering the present district of Ballia in jagir together with the rest of the sirkars of Jaunpur and Ghazipur as well as those of Varanasi (Banaras) and Chunar. Murtaza Khan entrusted the management of these territories to Rustam Ali Khan (a relative) for consideration of five lakhs of rupees annually, the latter having the right to retain the surplus for himself. As he could not realize the revenue from most of the zamindars, about 1728 Murtaza Khan leased the jagir to Saadat Khan (the nawab of Avadh) for an annual sum of seven lakhs of rupees, who allowed Rustam Ali Khan to continue to manage the estate for eight lakhs of rupees annually. From that time Ballia ceased to be subject directly to the imperial administration and its virtual ruler became the nawab of Avadh. Rustam Ali Khan experienced considerable difficulty in reducing the turbulent Rajputs of the Ballia region to order and in realizing revenue from them. He, therefore, set up a large entrenched camp on the banks of the Saryu in pargana Kopachit East, close to the village of Dumre from where he marched against the Rajput chieftains of Sukhpura in pargana Kharid, who were killed in a pitched battle in village Garwar (in tahsil Ballia). From their skulls, Rustam Ali khan constructed a pyramid which, it is said, now forms an elevated mound in Garwar. He continued in charge till 1738, when he was replaced by Mansa Ram, one of his deputies, a Gautam Bhuinhar zamindar of Gangapur in Varanasi.
Mansa Ram secured for himself but in the name of his son, Balwant Singh, the office of nazim of the sirkars of Jaunpur, Varanasi and Chunar. Mansa Ram died within a year and was succeeded by his son Balwant Singh who made over the remaining sirkar of Ghazipur to Sheikh Abdullah (a zamindar of Ghazipur who earned the favour of Saadat Khan, the nawab of Avadh) on an annual rent of three lacks of rupees. Sheikh Abdullah died in 1744 leaving four sons, of whom the eldest, Fazl Ali, and youngest, Karam Ullah, had a tussle over the sirkar of Ghazipur and sometimes the former gained charge of it and sometimes the latter. The tussle continued till the death of Karam Ullah in 1748.
The sirkar of Ghazipur remained under the charge of Fazl Ali until his expulsion in 1757 for oppression and misconduct and the sirkar of Ghazipur was re-annexed to the other three sirkars and placed under Balwant Singh’s management. From this time Ballia formed part of the territories held by Balwant Singh (who became raja of Varanasi) as a feudatory of Shuja-uddaula, the nawab vizier of Avadh. Balwant Singh adopted the policy of destroying the power of the local chieftains. His chief victim in this district was Bhuabal Deo of Haldi, who lost the whole of pargana Ballia. The entire Ballia region (with the exception of pargana Doaba) was placed in the charge of amils, Mir Sharif Ali obtaining Ballia and Kharid; Lakhnesar and Kopachit being given to Balam Das; Shikandarpur to Mudaffar Khan; and Garha and several of the Ghazipur parganas to Bhaiya Ram.
On several occasions the local chieftains offered resistance to Baiwant Singh but in only one instance were their efforts successful. This exception was provided by the Sengars of pargana Lakhnesar, who not only treated his demands with contempt but adopted an attitude of open hostility. Not content with the refusal to pay revenue, they attacked and pillaged his treasuries so that eventually, in 1764, he was compelled to proceed against them in person with a large force. Rasra (in pargana Lakhnesar) was then most inaccessible by reason of the jungle which surrounded it and because the houses the Sengar chieftains were all built with a view to defence. After two day’s conflict in which hundreds of lives were lost, Balwant Singh’s troops managed to set Rasra on fire, forcing the Sengars to withdraw; but so obstinate was their resistance that Balwant Singh had to enter a compromise, the Sengars being left in possession of their estates at a low but fixed revenue. Balwant Singh was the best administrator that the people of the region had known although his administration was constantly hampered by the strained relations existing between him and Shuja-ud-daula. In spite of his unwillingness, Balwant Singh was compelled to Join Shuja-ud-daula, the emperor, shah Alam, and Mir Kasim in the battle of Buxar which was fought in 1764 against the British. After the defeat of the combined armies, Shah Alam entered into a treaty with the victorious British at Varanasi on 29 December 1764, whereby the province of Varanasi, including Ballia, was transferred to the East India Company.
On 12 August 1765, pargana Doaba (which was then included in the sirkar of Rohtas in the subah of Bihar) came into the possession of the British when the East India Company obtained the grant of the diwani of the provinces of Bihar, Bengal and Orissa. In 1765, the court of directors in England refused to ratify the treaty on 29 December 1764, and it was replaced by the treaty of Allahabad (signed on 16 August 1765) by which Shuja-ud-daula agreed to restore to Balwant Singh the province of Varanasi so long as he continued to pay the revenue. In spite of the repeated efforts of Shuja-ud-daula to break this engagement, Balwant Singh retained his estate till his death on 23 August 1770. He was succeeded by his son, Chait Singh, who continued to govern this tract on the lines laid down by his father. The parganas were leased to amils (petty revenue officials) who were the actual administrators and were responsible only to Chait Singh for the revenue. The parganas of Ballia, Kharid, Sikandarpur, Kopachit and Lakhnesar were then held by Mir Sharif Ali and pargana Garha by Bakht Singh (a relative of Chait Singh).
On 26 January 1775, Shuja-ud-daula died and was succeeded by his son, Asaf-ud-daula, who was transferred to the East India Company the sovereignty of the district (including Ballia) dependent on Chait Singh under the treaty Signed at Lucknow on 21 May 1775. The administrative powers of Chait Singh remained more or less unchanged. In the beginning warren hastings (the governor-general) took keen interest in the affairs of Chait Singh but subsequently strained relations arose between them Hastings asked Chait Singh to pay five lakhs of rupees as an extraordinary subsidy to meet the expenses of the East India Company’s army. Chait Singh paid the sum, though with great reluctance, when the demand was repeated and he tried to avoid paying it, Hastings realized the money with the help of the army. Chait Singh now tried to exterminate the power of the British who, when they came to know of this, called in the army from Patna to chastise Chait Singh. He was ultimately deposed in 1781 and was succeeded by Balwant Singh’s young grandson, Mahip Narain Singh, a nonentity, the police and judicial administration for all practical purposes passing into the hands of the East India Company though the revenue was still nominally under his supervision. The old system of amils continued to be maintained in its entreaty and the amils were allowed to exact from the cultivators whatever they could collect or extort. Hastings failed to set the affairs of Ballia on a firm basis. He gave jagirs in Ballia to his favorites and to subordinate officials. Thus his private secretary, Kishan Kanth Nandi (popularly known as Kantu Babu) was granted an estate in 1785 comprising the talukas of Hathaunj and Mundiari in pargana Kharid and of Duha Behra in pargana Sikandarpur. Another rent-free estate, known as the Sonwani jagir which comprised 14 villages in pargana Ballia, was conferred by Hastings on his munshi, Shariat Ullah Khan. The maladministration was aggravated by the conduct of the earlier Residents who were political agents appointed by the East India Company for governing their jurisdictions, particularly the notorious Francis Fowke, who imposed several new and illegal cusses for his own benefit. Such was the state of this region when Jonathan Duncan was appointed Resident at Varanasi by (Lord) Cornwallis in July, 1787.
In spite of the reformation introduced by Duncan with regard to the settlement of the land revenue and in many other directions, he soon realized that the raja was unfit for the administration of the area. Therefore, in 1794 an agreement was made separating the territories immediately under the British from the raja’s family domains. This step was adopted owing to the disorganized state of the region. Continued famines had caused great distress and thrown wide areas out of cultivation and lawlessness was rife in every direction. Of this Ballia afforded several striking examples. In 1789 about 200 Dusadhs from Ballia had attacked and looted the town of Gaya (in Bihar). These Dusadhs were protected by the zamindars because they received a yearly tribute from them for providing them with a refuge in their villages. Occasionally the zamindars themselves followed in the water of these looters and during Duncan’s time some traveling merchants were murdered at Maniar (in tahsil Bansdih) and their money divided among the village owners. About this time Jagannath Sing, the chief of the Bais of Sikandarpur (in tahsil) was wandering about the country with a band of armed followers and levying exactions on the villagers. He had been deprived of his estate by the raja of varanasi . Jagnnath Sing was arrested under Ducan’s orders and sent to varanasi but was released at the instance of the Sengars of Lakhnesar (in tahsil Rasra ).the Sengars were considered to be the most independent and turbulent of all the subjects of the East India Company and in 1793 they attacked Duncan’s bodyguard when he visited pargana Lakhnesar but Duncan condoned the offence.
Duncan endeavored to induce Jagnnath Singh to adopt a peaceful way of living and the eventually demanded the restoration of the entire Sikandarpur pargana. this proved too much for the Sengars who arrested him to Varanasi . there he was again released, this time on the security of the Kausiks (a Rajput clan) of Cithara gagon (in tahsil Ballia); but he became hostile. defied the authority of the British and committed robberies, arson and murder in every direction. Troops were, therefore, sent against him on several occasions but on their approach he invariably retired across the Ghaghra so that in 1795 it became necessary to keep a military force permanently stationed in Ballia . A reward of Rs. 10,000 was offered for his arrest but it was not till 1800 that he was surprised by a party of cavalry when hiding in a jungle some distance from his fort . he was then sentenced to a long term of imprisonment and obtained his release only in 1816 . he was given a pension of Rs. 60 per month and in 1822 (Lord ) Amherst generously restored to him the taluka of parsia . In 1818 the present pargana of Doaba, which had been a part of Bihia in Shahabad (in Bihar ) was transferred to the revenue subdivision of Ghazipur, which shortly afterwards was separated from Varanasi and became an independent district comprising not only the district of Ghazipur but also the whole of Ballia.
In 1832 a redistribution of territory was effected and parganas Sikandarpur and Bhadaon were assigned to Azamgarh . In 1837 pargana Kopachit was also added to Azamgarh . the tahsil of Ballia comprising the parganas of Ballia, Doaba and Kharid, formed a subdivision of the Ghazipur district. In May, 1857 the news of the out break of the freedom struggle at Meerut did not perturb the ghazipur authorities. On 3 June, the struggle broke out at Azamgarh and on the same day Ballia rapidly fell into a disorganized state and general anarchy prevailed there for as time. the landholders whose rights had passed in to the hands of auction purchasers, every where, every where attempted to regain their ancestral holdings. The same day some spays rioted at the time of the dispatch of the treasury to Varanasi and killed an Englishman. The freedom fighters broke open the jail at Sikandarpur (in tahsil Bansdih) and set the prisoners free. They also looted and destroyed the bungalows of the officials and the courts and government offices. The police were helpless and though martial law was proclaimed, it could not be enforced till the arrival of a hundred soldiers from Varanasi. Their presence restored some order but the roads were no longer safe and the turbulent Rajputs of Pargana Ballia could not be controlled.
On 18 July, the British regained Azamgarh but they soon found their position untenable and were compelled to retire with the result that the entire district of Azamgarh was abandoned except for tahsil Nagra (now included in Ballia district). For several months Ballia remained comparatively quiet but the condition of affairs underwent a complete change in March, 1858. The bulk of the British army was then concentrated at Lucknow and all the eastern districts of the State were almost denuded of troops. The opportunity was at once taken advantage of by Kunwar Singh (the famous freedom fighter of Ballia), who crossed the Ganga and marched through Ballia into Azamgarh where he was joined by a large number of freedom fighters. On 15 April 1858, he besieged the British troops in Aamgarh but, realizing that he had no hope against the British forces, he left Azamgarh. Though he retreated, he was not defeated his troops retired in good order to Natthupur near the western boundary of Ballia district. He was followed by (Brigadier) who reached Natthupur on 16 April and the next day came up with the retiring force at Naghai. At Naghai, Kunwar Singh displayed tactical ability, for while he kept Douglas at bay he secured two lines of retreat for his main column. Naghai seems to have been a place very near Nagra, as the pursuit was taken up again on the following day (18 April) as far as Nagra (in tahsil Bansdih). From Nagra, Kunwar Singh marched to Sikandarpur and from there pushed on to Maniar (in tahsil Bansdih) on 20 April.
Robert Davies, the officiating magistrate of Azamgarh, wrote to Gubbins, the commissioner of the 5th Division, Varansi, that at Maniar, Kunwar Singh “four himself amongst friends, and the wants of his troops were voluntarily supplied by the villagers who were almost universally in his favour. Through their collusion, our spies were seized and detained and our information delayed.” On the morning of 21 April, Douglas, who was encamped at Bansdih, made a surprise attack on Kunwar Singh’s troops at Mamiar. The latter dispersed in different direction but re-assembled by evening at Santiwar, as place surrounded by a very thick wood and proceeded during the night to the river at Sheopur Gha, about 16 km. below Ballia. In spite of sustaining personal physical injuries, Kunwar Singh, with a large body of sepoys, crossed the Ganga at Sheopur Ghat that night baffling Douglas, outwitting Cumberlege, the colonel, who with two regiments of Madras cavalry had been dispatched to intercept Kunwar Singh’s movements and notwithstanding the various precautionary steps taken by the Company’s officers. Thus this gallant fighter retreated through Ballia to Bihar. Referring to his retreat Hall, (a contemporary English writer) observers, “Even his opponents speak of his masterly retreat across the Ganges, when closely pursued by the force under Sir E. Lugard, with respect.”
By 22 April 1858, Kunwar Singh came back to Jagdishpur (in Bihar) with about 1,000 followers, strongly determined to continue fighting the British though he had lost one arm and was wounded in his thigh. His retreat from the Ballia region did not break the will of the freedom fighters, most of whom had their homes in Ballia. As Douglas was away from Ballia in pursuit, there were no troops available to maintain order, with the exception of the somewhat inactive column under Cumberlege, who was not able to hold Ballia. The result was that Ballia passed into the hands of the freedom fighters. In the middle of May, 1858, Probyn (who was in charge of Ballia) succeeded in persuading in persuading Cumberlege to attack the Kausiks of Baragaon without waiting for a siege train. When at length the force arrived, Baragaon was found empty and after destroying the more prominent freedom fighters, the British troops returned to Ghazipur. Matters continued in the same state till July, 1858, when British forces again marched out to Ballia. The freedom fighters had destroyed a bridge on the road but the British managed to reach Ballia which was occupied by occupied by Sikh troops under them. The remainder of the British troops marched to Bairia (a town in tahsil Ballia) where they were besieged for several days by a large number of freedom fighters. When the Baritish forces reached Bairia, the Indian sepoys moved towards Ballia with the intention of capturing the town but their attack was unsuccessful and they were defeated. From that tie Ballia gradually settled down though it continued to remain hostile to the British till the advent of winter, when Douglas finally defeated the freedom fighters.
In the later half of the 19th century, men like Dadabhai Naoroji, S.N.Banerji, G.K.Tilak and Madan Mohan Malaviya made a deep impression not only on all classes of Indians but even on Englishmen and foreigners as visible embodiments of the intellectual and cultural glory of India. Ballia could not remain untouched by these national leaders. In 1908, the district came into prominence as a center of nationalist activities. In that year government prosecuted B.G.Tilak for his patriotic and nationalists writings which were pronounced to be seditious and he was sentenced to six years’ transportation and a fine of Rs.1,000. The news led to the closing of shops and to strikes by students is Ballia. When it was rumored that Tilak was released by the government, the students of the government school, took out a large procession celebration the release. When the precisionists reached the kutchery, the police made a brutal lathi charge, maiming many students. About 25 were expelled from school and many willingly gave up their studies and continued their political activities with vigour.
An Besant’s Home Rule movements of 1916 was also supported by the people of the district . In 1917, when the government of Madras issued orders for the internment of Annie Besant (the organizer of the movement), a storm of indignation swept over Ballia. Protest meetings were held all over the district and many persons joined the movement and at least five persons were arrested in this connection. The infamous Rowlatt Act of 1919, which aimed at drastically curtailing the liberties of the people by giving government unlimited powers to arrest them without a warrant and to detain them without trial, gave vent to feelings of beep resentment and raised a storm of protest all over the district. Mahatma Gandhi’s appeal for a complete nationwide hartal in protest against this enactment met with instant response from the people of Ballia who observed a national week from 6 April to 13 April by holding meeting at which resolutions were adopted condemning the Act. At many place business remained suspended for some days. This agitation led to the realization that people had to be properly organized and, as a result, a district Indian National Congress Committee was formed.
In 1921, Mahatma Gandhi launched his famous non-co-operation movement and it received enthusiastic response from all sections of the people in the district where a special force of 2,6000 volunteers was also raised for implementing this programme. Ballia subscribed a sum of Rs.13,000 to the Tilak Memorial Swaraj Fund. Night patrolling by volunteers was introduced to win over the sympathy of the people to the movement, Meetings were organized in every corner of the district and large processions were taken out in Ballia, Sahatwar, Rasra, Dumria and Nagra Liquor shops were picketed and tar (palm) trees (from the juice of which arrack in made) were cut down by the score. British goods were boycotted and foreign goods burnt in public. Khadi and the Gandhi cap became the fashion of the day. Law courts and government offices were also boycotted and normal studies in educational institutions were seriously disrupted left their classes to take part in meetings and processional. Such was the enthusiasm of the people for the movement that many foreign cloth merchants in Ballia and a ganja seller in Rasra willingly burnt their stocks publicly. Alarmed at the mass enthusiasm for the movement, the government reported to ruthless measures to curb it. Meetings and processions were broken up by force and defenseless and unarmed demonstrators were subjected to brutal lathi charges and wholesale arrests not only of Congress volunteers but of even those remotely suspected of national sympathy, were made. Mahatma Gandhi suspended the movement in 1922 as the result of the Chauri Chaura (in district Gorakhpur) incident. But the movement roused the consciousness of the people against alien rule and gave them new confidence and courage to fight the battle for freedom.
On 4 April 1922, Janwaharlal Nahru visited Ballia and addressed a meeting of about 3,000 persons. On 21 and 22 June, Motilal Nehru and Madan Mohan Malaviya arrived and addressed meetings at Rasra and Ballia. At both the places they were given rousing receptions. They appealed for the promotion of swadeshi particularly the revival of hand spinning and hand weaving and hand weaving, removal of untouchability among the Hindus, promotion of Hindu-Muslim unity and prohibition of the use of alcoholic drinks. Their appeals were crowned with signal success and also led to the establishment of the national school at Bansdih where the pattern of studies followed Mahatma Gandhi’s curriculum for national schools. The use of khadi was popularized by distributing spinning wheels in the rural areas of the district. In 1923, Jawaharlal Nehru came to the district again and addressed a large gathering in Ballia. He condemned Mahatms Gandhi’s arrest and imprisonment (he was tried at Ahamedabad on 18 March 1922, and sentenced to six years’ imprisonment) and the district on 18 March 1923. That same year some volunteers of the district participated in the Nagpur Jhandha Satyagraha which was directed against the promulgation of Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure against a procession carrying the national flag which was taken out at Nagpur on 1 May, the participants in which were arrested and prosecuted. In 1925 the national leaders, Purushottam Das Tandon and Jawaharlal Nehru, visited the district and attended the inauguration of the Gandhi Ashram at Milki.
The year 1925 was marked by the visit of Mahatma Gandhi to Ballia. He given a rousing reception by all sections of the people. On 16 October, he also addressed a largely attended meeting at the Mahant school grounds. He recalled the district’s enthusiastic participation during the non-co-operation movement and applauded its people. In 1928, when the Simon Commission visited India, it was subjected to boycott all over the country. In Ballia all the schools run by the district board (Zila Parishad) were closed and a complete hartal was observed. Protest and demonstrations were also organized. Placards and banners with the words, “Simon, go back,” were displayed and black flags were waved. 26 January 1930, was declared to be Independence Day and thousand in Ballia, as every where else in India. repeated the solemn and inspiring pledge, “We believe that it is the inalienable right of the Indian people to have freedom … We believe, therefore, that Indian must sever the British connection and attain purna (complete) swaraj “. A procession carrying the tricolour paraded the streets of Ballia. The civil disobedience movement was launched in 1930 and Ballia played an important role in the movement. Large numbers of volunteers were enlisted not only from the town of Ballia but also from the remotest villages to organize the movement of which the salt satyagraha was an integral part.
On 12 April 1930 the salt law was broken and salt law was broken and salt was manufactured publicly at Ballia, the salt so manufactured being auctioned and the highest bid of Rs.20 being made by a government pleader. This was followed by the manufacture of salt at Reoti, Rasra and Bansdih. In its endeavour to suppress the movement, the government adopted repressive measures, Numerous arrests were made, lathi charges were resorted to and indignities were heaped on the freedom fighters. The Indian National Congress was banned. its offices were sealed and the tricolour torn and dishonoured. But the people kept up their non-violent struggle and the picketing of liquor, foreign cloth shops and schools and government offices continued.
O n 1 July 1930, a batch volunteers went the court at Ballia. The police was called in and 19 Augusts were made. In 1931, the civil disobedience movement was temporarily suspended in view of the sitting of the round table conference (in London) but on its failure a hartal was observed in Ballia. The government promulgated Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. What unnerved the government most was the fact that after their release the political prisoners courted arrest repeatedly and defied the law in Ballia, Rasra, Bansdih, Sikandarpur and Sahatwar. Nearly all the prominent local leaders were put behind the bars. The governor of U.P. was shown the tricolour on his arrival in Ballia and was greeted with shouts of ” Governor, go back”. The four leaders who shouted this slogan were taken into custody and dragged to the jail where they were beaten mercilessly. The police combed the district to hunt out political persons and arrested any it pleased on mere suspicion or whim or even to pay off old scores. But the movement continued till 1934. Under the Government of India Act of 1935, the Indian National Congress decided to contest the elections for the Provincial Assembly and both the seats allotted to the district were assembled, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai and Sampurnanand urged the support of the Congress. In the individual satyagraha movement of 1940-41, scores of persons in the district courted arrest. The people of Ballia successfully carried into effect the Quit India movement of 9 August 1942. The news of the arrest of the Congress leaders at Bombay reached Ballia the same day. The next day all the schools in Ballia were closed and the students went round in batches shouting patriotic slogans. On 11 August, the people and the students took out a procession which ended in a meeting at which the leader called upon the people to accept the challenge of the government and the leader was arrested.
On 12 August, a students’ procession was taken out to demand the closure of the courts. This was stopped by 100 armed constables and in the ensuing lathi charge many were badly wounded. The same day, in a speech in the British Parliament, the Secretary of state for India alleged that the Congress programmes included action like a general strike in industry and trade, the paralysing of the administration and the courts, cutting of telegraph and telephone wires and boycotting army recruitment centres. This speech triggered off further anti-British action and on 13 August, the Bilthara Road railway station was attacked and the building was burnt. The currency notes found in the safes were not looted but were burnt. The water pump and the water tank were also smashed. A goods train was looted and the engine was smashed and seed stores, police-stations and post-offices were attacked.
On 16 August, the Rasra treasury was attacked and two days later the police-station at Bairia was reattacked as the station officer had removed the tricolour which the freedom fighters planted there on 15 August, after gaining control of the place. The infuriated mob, numbering about 25,000, raided the police-station and numerous attempts were made to rehoist the flag. Men and women of all ages as well as children took active part in the raid, as in other parts of the district, without fearing reprisal by bullets. The police responded with a volley of shots resulting in the death of at least 20 and injuring about a hundred. A young man of 20 reaching his goal to plant the tricolour, was hit by four bullets and died on the spot. Dharam Das Misra (a local leader) and a boy of 12 years also dropped dead instantaneously while trying to hoist the flag on the police-station. The police kept up the firing for about six hours from about 14 hours. Undeterred by the firing, the deaths and the injuries, people maintained pressure to gain control of the police-station as they were determined to capture the police officer and others responsible for the firing but at dead of night, when it was raining, the police staff slipped away, and the thana was captured the next morning.By this time the freedom fighters had gained control of many other places in the district including the tahsil headquarters of Bansdih, the police-station and the seed store. The indiscriminate firing at the Bairia police-station and at other places compelled the people to take up arms, ignoring altogether the spirit of non-violence which had been their guiding principle till then. The district administrators had become nervous as the district was fast going out of their control and as al their talks of arriving at a compromise with the leaders of the freedom fighters in jail had failed as the latter wanted that the officers of the district administration serve faithfully under local Panchayati government after handing over the charge of the district administration to them. To this the district magistrate is reported to have said that in that event they would be hanged and he would be sacked.
On 19 August, about 50,000 persons armed with guns, lathies, spears, etc., proceeded towards the jail to free their leaders and other participants. When the (Indian) district magistrate learnt that the people were approaching in thousands to free their comrades in order to attack the government offices and to loot the treasury, he went to the leaders in jail and met Chittu Pandey, a local leader, and others and offered to release them provided they pacified the crowd. But as the leaders did not agree. he suggested that they should at least take the responsibility of seeing that no harm reached the treasury, the prison and government property. As no guarantee was given to him, he had no option but to release the freedom fighters in the faint hope of saving the treasury and other government property. Before their release they assured him that efforts would be made to maintain peace as far as possible. This not only marked the first victory of the freedom struggle but was a symbol in this small and economically backward district of Ballia of the downfall of the British raj. After their release, the leaders addressed a mammoth meeting at the town hal when Chittu Pandey exhorted the people not to indulge in sabotage or similar activities. But there was a difference of opinion and many opposed this point of view as they had witnessed the brutal killing of their companions and their feelings had been roused vehemently, so sabotage activities continued. A police officer who had the students beaten was caught and belaboured. The residences of government officers and non-officials who had given support to the government were sacked. Shops selling foreign cloth and liquor were attacked. The district magistrate, who was by now certain that the treasury would be looted, directed a deputy collector to burn the currency notes after noting down their numbers. These instructions were carried out but lakhs of rupees were pocketed by the police in the process.
On 20 August, a police van went round the town firing at passers by indiscriminately contrary to the assurance given to the leaders. In the absence of any planned program, many administrative centres remained to be captured, but they had already ceased to function properly. The freedom fighters constituted separate panchayats for different localities for carrying on the civil administration and Congress volunteers were appointed for the defence of the city, By now the people had acquired complete control of the city so much so much so that they declared ‘Independence’ for Ballia on 20 August 1942, and a popular government was formed with Chittu Pandey as its first head. According to a government report, seven out of ten police-stations of the district were in the hands of the freedom fighters and Congress raj had been proclaimed.On 22 August 1942, Chittu Pandey called a meeting to which he invited the district magistrate who did not appear but sent a notice to be read out at the meeting to the effect that anybody who spread terrorism in the district would be arrested. During the night of 22–23 August, military forces entered Ballia and popular government was overthrown. Then the horrors of the British police and military were let loose upon the people of Ballia, signalized by and orgy of loot and plunder, rape and ravage, beating and shooting, firing and burning.
All leaders of the revolution, young and old, were arrested, beaten and tortured. The houses of all those who had helped or were supposed to have helped the fighters, were burnt down. The leaders were made to climb trees and were bayoneted. People arbitrarily imposed and fantastically large amounts were collected. People arrested were first mercilessly beaten, then kept in the lockup and starved. Those prisoners who refused to answer questions were suspended by their legs. More painful and inhuman tortures were inflicted on ‘dangerous’ prisoners which have few parallels in modern history. The prisons were so crowded with political prisoners that there was not even any space for sitting nor were they provided with any bedding or given other facilities. Instead of the usual jail utensils they were given earthen bowls and once a day were given chapattis made from chaff which caused dysentery. Many contracted diseases by the time they were released but when the Congress was in power in Ballia, government officers were well treated.Between August 1942 and 1944, no one in Ballia dared to were the Gandhi cap as those found wearing it even as a matter of habit, were shot dead. So great was the terror that no lawyer dared to come forward to defend the arrested victims, many of whom were awarded 25 to 30 years’ imprisonment. The few who did were arrested on some charge or other.
In March, 1944, Feroze Gandhi with his lawyer companion of Allahabad came to Ballia to assess the situation. They proceeded from the railway station to the Chowk. As usual, they were wearing their Gandhi caps which had not been seen for some time and which infused a new wave of confidence, self-respect and enthusiasm in the people. All along the way they were surrounded by a growing crowd which became a procession. Many other lawyers came from allahabad to render legal assistance to the freedom fighters of Ballia. This virtually ended the reign of terror let loose by the British administration since the arrival of the British army in Ballia on 22/23 August 1942.The sacrifices of the people earned for Ballia the reputation of ‘Revolutionary Ballia’ during the Quit India movement of 1942. The conquest of Ballia by the freedom fighters attracted the attention of the British Parliament also. After the suppression of the freedom struggle in Ballia, to allay the nervousness of his superiors, the British officer in charge is reported to have sent a telegram ‘Ballia reconquered’ to the governor of U.P. (Maurice Hallett). In 1944, the district was also visited by Purushotam Das Tandon and Sampurnanand, two national leaders but as no body was prepared to act as host, the former returned the same evening only after assessing the situation, the latter staying for a night only. His host was subjected to torture and his house looted by the police. In October, 1945, Jawaharlal Nehru visited Ballia again by when the situation had returned to normal and about 50,000 persons heard his address and were greatly relieved to find that their sacrifice had not been in vain and that they were now under the protection of their national leaders.
The Quit India movement showed that there was universal discontent with British rule, an indication that the British could not hold India for any length of time. By 1945, when the Second World War ended, British public opinion had veered round to the granting of complete independence to India.At last on 15 August 1947, the Country, and with it the district, was liberated from alien rule and declared to be independent. The Country became free but before the people could fully realise that liberation and victory had become a fact, They woke to find that it had been partitioned. About 333 displaced persons from Pakistan came to settle in the district and were rehabilitated. This day had since been declared to be one of the three national days of India. The district celebrates Independence Day in a befitting manner. The national flag is unfurled on governmental and other buildings, processions are taken out and other types of celebrations and festivities are held.On hearing the news of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi (on 30 January 1948), the whole district went into mourning, educational institutions, markets, offices, etc., were closed and several processions were taken out and meetings held to mourn the tragic and irreparable loss of the father of the nation. Though he died, he still lives in the memory of the people and is remembered on 2 October, which is celebrated as Gandhi Jayanti, in the district as in other parts of the State. On this occasion meetings, discussions and discourses are organised all over the district to eulogies his great deeds and ideas. The people also take a pledge to serve the nation and follow his way of life. With the enactment and adoption of the Constitution of India on 26 January 1950,
India become a sovereign democratic republic. The day was celebrated in the district by taking out processions, holding meetings and illuminating houses, shops and government and other buildings. This day is solemnly observed with enthusiasm every year all over the district as Republic Day. The nation has always venerated those who participated in the freedom struggle. On the occasion of the celebration of the silver jubilee year (1972) of Independence. 616 persons of the district, who had taken part in India’s freedom struggle or their dependents, were resented with tamra patra as copper plate inscriptions placing on record the services rendered by them or their forebears.