Dr. Shivani Rawat (Assistant Professor, History Department, D.S.B.Campus, K.U. Nainital)
Uttarakhand’s state movement arose with the problems of poverty, backwardness, tough routine of the folks of the hilly areas and the total ignorance by the government. The demand for the state of Uttarakhand was not instantaneous, in fact, it had to pass through a long chain of a struggle for its existence. Although the geographical complexities presented some obstacles in the expansion of various movements, nevertheless it did not affect the political and social awakening among the people. During the British period, a voice was raised against this exploitation from time to time. After the independence, many hardworking and active personalities proved themselves in the field of politics while contributing their leadership but the development of the complex geographical, economical and social circumstances of the region could not be done.
The demand for the separate state of Uttarakhand was important not only for its unique cultural & geographical status but also for the regional development in education, health, agriculture, trade and industry, the areas of which remained untouched by the Lucknow Government. The intellectual class of this region who had struggled their way through these difficulties demanded for the first time, the establishment of a separate state in 1923. A letter addressed to the governor of Joint Province plead that the region of Uttarakhand should be recognized as a separate unit. In 1928 the Nehru committee recommended that the division of the states should be based upon the choice of the public and on the basis of their geographical, economical & financial concepts.
A special political conference of the Congress was held on 5-6 May 1938 in Srinagar Garhwal. In the conference, the demand for a separate political arrangement for this hilly area was raised and it was suggested that the hilly folks should be given the right to flourish their cultural values. In 1948, the Dur Commission presented a report regarding the terms and conditions to be obeyed for the establishment of a new state. The terms included factors such as geographical continuity, financial independence, the possibility of development in the future and the concept of similar language.
In 1952 the minister of the Communist Party P.C. Joshi pleaded the Indian government establishment of a separate state. On the basis of this plead the question for the establishment of a separate state was discussed while also taking into account the Karachi session (1931 AD ), wherein Jawahar Lal Nehru had also given his consent. P.C.Joshi is therefore considered as the first person who took an initiative to demand a separate state.
On 24-25 June, there was a huge public gathering in Ramnagar under the leadership of Lakshman Singh Adhikari. In this session a proposal for the establishment of a separate administrative unit was passed and an organization named as “ Parvatiya Rajya Parishad” was established. Daya Krishna Pandey was elected as the President and Govind Singh Mehra was elected as a Vice-president of this Parishad. On 14-15 October 1967, Uttarakhand development seminar was organized at New Delhi. In this seminar Manvendra Shah projected about the ignorance of this state and raised the demand to confer the state as a union territory. He said that while making plans, the hilly and the plain areas should be seen as a single unit. In 1967 when Chandra Bhanu Gupta became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, he established Parvatiya Parishad and people started believing that the Parvatiya Parishad will lead to the development of the inhabitants of Uttarakhand. However, this was also a false hope.
Through these pleads, the demand for the separate state of Uttarakhand was going at a slow speed. The people of Uttarakhand had no other option other than to follow the policies, planning & administrative arrangement implemented in Lucknow. The plans, lost in corruption, never turned into reality and were limited only to the files only. Water resource projects were initialized in many regions but water supply did not reach their respective destinations. Power transmission systems were established just as a formality. In some cases, only electric poles were set up while in the other cases only the electric lines were laid down. The people, however, were made to pay the bills regularly. It was crystal clear that without proper leadership, the demand of a separate state could not be conveyed to the policymakers.
Finally on 24-25 July, there was a conference organized in Mussorie for (Parvatiya Jan Vikas) Hill Public development. Reporter Dwarika Prasad Uniyal was the convenor of this conference. People like Indra mani Badoni, Nityanand Bhatt, Dr. D.D.Pant, Devendra Sanwal, and Veer Singh Thakur participated in this conference. The conference ended in one single opinion that the people of Uttarakhand had to be united as a single political organization, for the formation of a separate state. The thoughts expressed in this conference resulted in the formation of “ Uttarakhand Kranti Dal” wherein Dr. Devi Dutt Pant was elected as the President. The state movement finally got a direction and conditions under the umbrella of Uttarakhand Kranti Dal. In order to fulfill their objectives, Uttarakhand Kranti Dal organized demonstrations, protests, rallies, adhesion & Road Blockades. Meanwhile, in December 1993 the government of Mulayam Singh Yadav with the support of Bahujan Samaj Party was formed, which implemented a reservation of 27% for the backward classes in government services. On 17th June 1994, an arrangement of 27% reservation of the backward class was implemented in order to give admission in the educational institutions, As a result, a huge Public gathering took place on the roads protesting against the reservation policy.
On 2 August 1994, 8 members of the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal started a hunger strike in Pauri for the demand of a separate state and against the reservation policy of the then government. The administration arrested these people on 7th August 1994 and this lead to an outburst in the entire region of Uttarakhand. A horrifying incident took place in Khatima on 1st September 1994. The Police had started firing on the revolutionaries who were demanding for a separate state and protesting against the reservation policy. Seven people were killed and many others injured. As a reaction of the Khatima incident, the people in Mussorie carried out a procession on 2 September but again the Police used lathi-charge on them, resulting in the martyrdom of many revolutionaries. The brutality crossed the limits when the revolutionaries who were going to attend the rally organized by the Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti on 2nd October 1994, were open fired upon and many women were molested. This incident marks a black day in the history of the state movement.
On 3rd June 1995, the Governor of Uttar Pradesh expelled the Mulayam Singh Yadav Government. After this, Bahujan Samaj Party prominent leader Mayawati with the support of Bhartiya Janta Party became the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. The Cabinet of the then Prime Minister H.D. Devgaura finally accepted the demand of Uttarakhand state on 13th August 1996. The dream of a separate state became reality on 15th August 1996 when the then Prime Minister of India, H.D. Devagaura announced the establishment of Uttarakhand State from the Red fort and certified the decision of the Indian Government. In 1998 a bill related to the state was sent via President in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative assembly. On 11th August, the Lok Sabha passed this bill with a majority, After the consent from the President of India on 28 August 2000, the state of Uttarakhand came to its existence on 9th November 2000. On 3rd June 1995, the Governor of Uttar Pradesh expelled the Mulayam Singh Yadav Government.