By Arushi Jain
For many years, people living in the hilly regions of Uttar Pradesh struggled for the provision of basic amenities and their development, and realized that their needs can only be identified and fulfilled with the formation of a separate statehood as they were being ignored and no balanced regional development was taking place. The objective of the proposal of the formation of a separate state was to induce economic prosperity and development to the hilly regions. However, this was not the only objective. The identity of the people, natives, culture, and roles of the people of the area was of a greater importance. The existing system of a single state created much inconvenience for its people and thus demand of a separate administrative setup for the hill districts of the Western Uttar Pradesh was created. Resultant, Uttarakhand was formed on 9 November 2000.
The Uttarakhand movement was initially classified into four phases, starting from the 1950’s. However, the movement actually became volatile and aggressive 1990 onwards.
The creation of Uttarakhand was a real necessity at that point in time due to many factors. Firstly, the Kumaon and Garhwal region could not identify itself with rest of the region of Uttar Pradesh. The people of the hilly region never found peace while being a part of Uttar Pradesh. People wanted identification of their culture and needs and also required an appropriate amount of development in terms of employment and education of their people. They felt lost and their needs were ignored particularly by the politicians as they focused on wider regional issues. This was the time when the governing bodies of the people were actually supposed to come together and promote the society. But a consecutive series of events displayed the disastrous failure of Samajwad during the movement. The sole authorities of the state completely ignored the problems of the people and induced their struggle even more, which led to their further suppression and demoralization. Until the movement became violent, no one really understood the urgency of the help that was required by the citizenry of the place.
Initially in the 1990s, when the resolutions for the creation of a separate state were constantly being rejected on various grounds, mass participation started taking place in favor of the movement for separate statehood and against reservations. This further intensified when Mulayam Singh Yadav, the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, made a statement that he wasn’t dependent on the Uttarakhandis for the operations of his government which hurt the people of Uttarakhand. Thus protests started taking place all over the region. At Ukimath, police restored to indiscriminate firing without even warning the activists, which resulted in the death of seven activists. The dilemma was created mainly because of the misinterpretation of the situation and the mishandling by the authorities. When people would have come together for their mutual benefit, unity and mutual compassion were destroyed and self-individual goals were deemed to be fulfilled. This portrayed a clear picture of how socialism failed, not because people wouldn’t understand the scenario, but because they weren’t ready to even listen to each other’s grievances in the very first place.
The political and cultural bridges were broken down and inadequacy of leadership and motivation prevailed.
Further, on 2nd September 1994, police fired at demonstrators in Mussoorie, when some people tried to force their way to the police station. Four people died and many were injured. The implication of this event was also similar to the previous one. The authorities were so hyped that they failed to perceive the real cause of violence. Instead of equality and prosperity, misery and tyranny were delivered. The movement displayed how the societal objectives failed to nurture the potential of their people and insisted on capturing their freedom, instead.
Going on the night of 2 October 1994, the outrage that took place that day in Muzzafarnagar was never really witnessed by many people of a democratic country. The activists were held by the police on the pretext of checking their arms, on their way to the rally that was to be conducted in Delhi. The agitationists were unnecessarily harassed by the police in addition to the dragging out of the women analysts out of buses and even raping several women. Such autocracy signified the existence of the dictatorship in those times, which in my opinion also formed a base for today’s living nature. What was the significance of such events? How would such ruthlessness have helped in achieving any conclusion? Such questions are still left unanswered.
On the very next day, on 3 October, people went out to protest against the Muzzafarnagar firing incident as they were bound to be fierce. Democracy and welfarism failed indeed when the police again resorted to firing leading to several people being injured and killing of three of them. In Dehradun, demonstrations continued even after.
Obviously, the lack of coordination leads to violence and even more, violence, so much so, that it overshadowed the instability and death of the political, and more importantly, the social mechanisms. This was proved when on Dusshera, instead of Ravana’s, effigies of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Narasimha Rao, were burnt.
The processions continued over the next years as well, and rallies and protests continued with more and more people participating in them, each one having their own and more firm objects for the fulfillment of their motives. This also proved to be a boon for the people somehow as a feeling of unity and initiative was instilled in them. The statehood of Uttarakhand became the primary concern leaving the secondary objectives behind, and so did the removal of the prevailing social evils started.
As stated earlier, these events formed the base of the present generation of the state and somehow these things still prevail in the states of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. The unnecessary autocracy and bureaucracy still exist. The consecutive failure of the Samajwadi party since the formation of Uttarakhand, in the last 18 years, is a direct implication of the fact that the roots of the establishment of the political system of governance in the state were so fragile. Socialism, proved to be dead as it could not be initiated in a proper manner.
In the current scenario itself, the politicians and the governing authorities have made the state a point of immoral social practices. With the formation of the state, the media is another factor which has led to a double standard policy framework.
Since the base is so weakly structured, even in the near future socialism will fail to prevail. And even if socialism tends to exist, a contradictory scenario will be created in the political environment. The reason being, the prospective nominations will be the same bodies who initially opposed the statehood of Uttarakhand and had a big hand in hindering the growth and development of the region because of which, even today, number of areas remain underdeveloped and thousands of people remain uneducated and underprivileged. The paradox of the situation is that, with the overgrowing economic development, will social development ever incline towards prosperity? Will the current political framework transform in such a way, that instead of individual aims, societal obligations be fulfilled as well?