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A zamindar, zomindar, zomidar, or jomidar, in the Indian subcontinent was an aristocrat. The term means land owner in Persian. Typically hereditary, zamindars held enormous tracts of land and control over their peasants, from whom they reserved the right to collect tax on behalf of imperial courts or for military purposes. Their families carried titular suffixes of lordship.


  • Little did he know that it was easier to get freedom from colonial slavery than from the Zamindar. Before independence, most of the country lived in villages, inhabited by poor, landless farmers who were ruled by the exploitative Zamindars or Jagirdars. The Zamindars gave these landless farmers ploughs and seeds, made them till the land like bulls, and in return gave them a pittance of the crop. This was also the time when there were famines, droughts and India was starving due to food shortage. In this background, these Zamindars were central to the exploitative enterprise. The village was his universe. He would charge lagaan as per his whims and fancies. He raped women at will. His kothi represented the exploitation of the farmer. The mystery around him, his moustache, his pagdi, his servants and his lathi made him an icon of terror. He was evil. He loved to see a hungry farmer. His heart would fill with joy when a farmer put his izzat– pagdi– at his feet. He loved the sound of the whip slashing the skin off a starving farmer’s back. He could do all this because he was the owner of the land. And that’s the only commodity that God doesn’t make anymore. He owned God’s most in-demand and rare creation – land. Thus, he was God.
    • Vivek Agnihotri - Urban Naxals The Making of Buddha in a Traffic Jam (2018, Garuda Prakashan)
  • The might and influence of these Zamindars, in independent India’s socio-economic fabric, was unchallenged as they were infusing their illegal money into the coffers of politics. No wonder then that most of the cultivable land at that time was owned by just five percent of the people – the Zamindars.
    • Vivek Agnihotri - Urban Naxals The Making of Buddha in a Traffic Jam (2018, Garuda Prakashan)
  • Every young boy and girl detested the Zamindar for exploiting his father, uncles, and brothers. For molesting or raping his sister, mother or neighbour’s daughter. This young boy grew up with angst. And it was this angst that became the fodder for the Naxal movement.
    • Vivek Agnihotri - Urban Naxals The Making of Buddha in a Traffic Jam (2018, Garuda Prakashan)

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