Kuka Revolt- It all started with cows
In 1871, the some Kukas chose violence to vent their anger against British government. They killed butchers over the issue of Cow slaughter. The incident was not secluded to Amritsar and it led to gruesome suppression of the uprising by the British police. Several Kukas were arrested though certain Sikh factions still believe that these Kukas surrendered on the request of Baba Ram Singh. To nip this in bud, British police also arrested all Subedars so that the uprising becomes leaderless. Several Kuka leaders were punished to be hanged till death.
Kuka revolt which involved its followers known as Kookas, Kukas, kooke, kooka or kookeh ‘criers’, for their shrieks (kuks) given in ecstatic meditative trance was one such movement. The revolution was started off as unrest in Punjab but turned out to be a full-fledged movement. In fact, a plaque at Ludhiana station describes its leader as as “Sri Satguru Ram Singh Ji – The Pioneer of Non-Cooperation, Satyagraha and Swadeshi Movements”. He actually declared freedom against britain and furled white flag of freedom in 1857.The revolution was mercilessly suppressed and several Kukas (“Namdharis”) were executed. Here are the events that unfolded and made it one of the most remarkable movements in history:A movement far ahead of its time in terms of its social values
Naamdhari or Kukas were not mainstream followers of Sikhism. They followed the teachings of Baba Ram Singh which were to abolish caste, permission to inter caste marriages, abstinence from Liquor, Beef and drug consumption
Kuka Revolt established an independent government system
Kuka Revolt boycotted the british regime and everything connected with it was shunned. English education, law courts, mill made cloth and other imported goods were boycotted.The Kukas also avoided the use of Post Offices and depended upon their own postal system. They adopted their own legal system and rejected the British system as it did not suit the Indian way of living.
The first non-cooperation movement of Indian freedom struggle
Long before Mahatma Gandhi came to India and started the freedom struggle with his tools of Satyagrah and non-violence or Swadeshi was used as a war cry by Bal Ganga Dhar Tilak, Baba Ram Singh established the Naamdhari sect in various parts of India and appointed Subedars (Governors) to mobilize Kukas all over the country. Kuka Revolt did a boycott of all English products and hence the movement could be regarded as first “Non-Cooperation” or “Civil disobedience” that the country witnessed.
To establish an example for other rebels, the British government decided to kill Kukas by tying them in front of the Cannons. 65 Kuka revolutionists were executed in this manner. They also captured Baba Ram Singh and deported him to Rangoon where he died living in exile in 1885.