“He who tills has the foremost right to eat”

(Shah Inayat’s slogan)

 

Born around 1655 in Miranpur, Shah Inayat was not only a spiritual saint of Sindh but also a firm proponent of social, economic justice. He believed in the collective farming of lands and distribution of products according to the needs as opposed to the exploitative feudal system of its time in which the landless peasants worked on a land owned by a feudal lord, who would then own major part of the product without working. The alternative agriculture commune of Shah Inayat earned much popularity among the landless peasants of Sindh and posed a threat to the economic authority of the feudal lords. His popularity also challenged the political authority of such local rulers as Nawab Azam Khan and Mian Yar Kalhoro. The landlords and rulers joined together and persuaded the Mughal ruler, Farrukh Siyar, to act against the “rebelliousness” of Shah Inayat. In 1718, Mughal and local forces joined together to besiege the town of Jhok, the agriculture commune of Shah Inayat defended by faqirs and landless peasants. When they failed to capture Jhok after months of siege, the enemies resorted to deceit. Shah Inayat was called for negotiations but it was a trap set to arrest him. Such was the fear of repercussions that Shah Inayat was instantly beheaded in Thatta in 1718.

Today, it is the peasants of Okara Farms who are fighting against exploitative system of tenancy and demanding the ownership of lands they have been tilling for generations. Their Shah Inayat (Mehar Abdul Sattar) is also in Jail.