Chipko phase of Uttarakhand andolan

By Nitin Chandola

Uttarakhand Andolan was not only the demand of the separate state of Uttarakhand but was also a big war against the ignorance of Uttar Pradesh and Delhi governments. Though, the demand at first was to separate the Himalayan range dominated provinces, later with change in objectives of the natives of the region, the Uttarakhand Andolan changed its course. In the late 1800s, the name Uttarakhand was derived for Himalayan regions. Being in continuous phase of change by attack of Gurkhas and Early English armies, the dream of uniting the Kedarkhanda and Manaskhanda to a single province remained an impossible task. The sources available in mass media don’t show any prior trace of Uttarakhand in history but the ancient Vedas and Upanishads reveal the location of Kedarkhanda and Manaskhanda as “Uttaranchal”.

The story of formation of Uttarakhand not only contains a lot of adrenaline rush, but also sentimental twists of the suffering of “Pahad”. Uttarakhand Andolan was initially, not a fight to create a separate state, but in early 1930’s it was headed by Tamta Sudharni Samiti and was  all about creating opportunities and providing equal status to the people living in remote regions of the Himalayas. Problems like alcoholism and migration were the main objectives on which the whole Uttarakhand Andolan setup was established. Regional parties like Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) had ceased to exist just after the achievement of the failed state of Uttarakhand. At present, there is no trace of any major regional party on which Uttarakhand can rely on.

Chipko phase of Uttarakhand andolan
Uttarakhand Andolan got pace in Chipko andolan era

Uttarakhand was not only the outcome of Uttarakhand Andolan’s struggles but also the will of the local journalists. People like Badri Dutt Pandey, a senior journalist of Almora Akhbaar actively participated in early Kumaon Parishad meetings with Indian national Congress. Jawahar Lal Nehru and Gobind Ballabh Pant showed assertive signs to separate Himalayan regions. These regular meetings and blending of earlier Kumaon Parishad to Indian national Congress created a massive support of the local people of Kumaon and Garhwal for Quit India Movement.  Badri Dutt Pandey was the most experienced revolutionist of the pre-independence era. His successful movement against “Coolie Begaar” and “Coolie Utaar” system imposed on the society of Kumaon and Garhwal made him to get awarded by the title of “Kumaon kesari”. The era of Badri Dutt Pandey, Hargobind Pant and Gobind Ballabh Pant is called the pre-chipko movement phase of Uttarakhand movement. This phase was mostly the non-aggressive phase of the movement. Meets were organized with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru by Kumaon parishad to make the country realize the problems prevailing in Himalayas.  Badri Dutt Pandey was elected as member of parliament seat from Almora. Hence, the thread of the movement continued for generation to come. Till mid 1970’s the movement stayed a non-aggressive one. At this time, Justice Fazal Ali’s recommendation to form a new state became a silver lining for new hill oriented state.

Uttarakhand Andolan Rally in delhi
Utarakhand Andolan procession in Delhi

Till 70s there was a lack of leadership and participation of minor villages of remote Uttarakhand. The starting of the Chipko Movement in Gopeshwar block of district Chamoli in 1972 integrated an idea of aggressiveness in the whole clan of Uttarakhand visionaries. The rebellion against the private cooperation company by non- violent method of hugging the trees revived the deep rooted Gandhian principles.  Women’s participation and a widespread of Gaura Devi and SundarLal Bahuguna’s ideologies constructed the foundation of post Chipko Phase of Uttarakhand Andolan. Chipko integrated the groups of Uttarakhand Andolan available in every part of the remote Uttarakhand. Kumaon and Garhwal were neglected to such an extent that the 50 youth leaders from Uttarakhand youth congress protested on site in New Delhi to be heard. The literature provides evidences that regional group leaders like Rishi Ballabh Sundariyal of Uttarakhand Vidhan Parishad were arrested at Delhi boat club. In most of the Uttarakhand Andolan’s lifeline, Delhi Boat club played an important role for meeting and discussions. Hence in 1973, the first “Dilli Chalo” march was announced. In 1978, the “Parliament gherao” was executed from 1st to 8th of December. The seventy-one members inclusive of nineteen women, were arrested and sent to the Delhi central jail. This was the first time when the movement saw such drastic pace of change. Post chipko phase of Uttarakhand Andolan was the outcome of the efforts made by natives of Kumaon and Garhwal. Journalists like Dwarika Prasad Uniyal and Girish Tewari (Girda) made Almora and Mussoorie headquarters for controlling the procession of Uttarakhand Andolan. Post Chipko phase was driven by regular gatherings of Andolankaries, Journalists, Lawyers, academicians and writers. After dozens of meetings and brainstorming sessions on the objective of demanding the separate state, Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) was founded. Former Vice- Chancellor of Kumaon University, Devi Dutt Pant was selected as the first president of the group. Devi Dutt Pant was the most influential character available during the formation of Uttarakhand Kranti Dal. Pant left his research work with Dr. C.V Raman to establish an optics based laboratory in Himalayas. He took the candidature of Lok Sabha from UKD, but his career failed in the political section due to his more influence of science and technology.

Muzaffarnagar Firing in uttarakhand andolan
Dozens were dead in Muzzafarnagar firing led under Uttar Pradesh Police.

In 20th century, Himalayan regions were totally dependent on forest sources, like wood and fodder for pets and animals. Therefore, the Forest Conservation Act gave an outrage to the people of Himalayan region as this act restricted people’s rights to use forest resources; separation of the state started to look like the best option to make the region prosperous. Regular “Dharna” and processions became the life of Kumaon and Garhwal. In the late 1980s, Indramani Badoni, also known as “Pahad ka Gandhi”, began to rise. Born in Jakohli block of princely state of Tehri, Indramani Badoni was the most educated person in his village. Being bold and a strict follower of Gandhian non-violence principles, his first ever experiment with Gandhian principles was when he refused to pay the toll tax in Tilwada. He was then sent to the jail for the first time and was later released on bail of 25 paisa.

Badri Dutt Pandey initiated the motion to form Uttarakhand

Indramani Badoni was amongst the clan who drafted the key objective for which the new hill state of Uttarakhand will stand for. According to the literature available, liquor remained the key concern of the movement. Indramani Badoni was focused to revive the sanctity of the hills and its social vitality. UKD stood emotionally against the capitalist development. Influenced by Chandi Prasad Bhatt and Sunder Lal Bahuguna, Uttarakhand Andolan made sustainable development of human environment its primal concern. Rage rolled amongst the protestors in 90’s due to the inclusion of Haridwar in the Uttarakhand state and declaration of Gairsain as the capital of new hill state. Narayan Dutt Tewari, protested the Uttarakhand Andolan, in words of “Girda”, “N.D Tewari surely was “Nauchami- Nairaina”, he protested the Statehood movement, however, he later on accepted the chair of Chief Minister of the Uttarakhand. In 1992 and 1993, boycott against all the elections was declared by Uttarakhand Kranti Dal. Hence, in effect of UKD, the BJP parliamentary party introduced the motion to discuss on separate statehood of Uttarakhand. The discussion was an effect of the Uttaranchal Pradesh sangharsh samiti’s protest in Jantar Mantar.

The outrageous year of 1994 began with “dilli chalo andolan” by Bahadur Ram Tamta. This phase is also called as the last phase of the “Uttarakhand Andolan” as UKD dissolved after declaration of Uttaranchal bill by government of Atal Bihari Vajapayee. The agreement to form a new state of Uttarakhand was opposed by Mulayam Singh Yadav, who was then the chief minister of the Uttar Pradesh. Mulayam Singh Yadav’s insensitive rage resulted in open gunfire in peaceful protest of Khatima, Ukhimath, Mussoorie, Muzzafarnagar and Dehradun. Among these incidents, Muzaffarnagar open fire was the turning point for whole Uttarakhand Movement.  Papers like Amar Ujala, Nainital Samachar and Almora Akhbaar covered the barbaric deeds executed by Uttar Pradesh police on Andolankaries in a descriptive manner. Women were raped, dead bodies were buried in farmlands of Muzaffarnagar village by the regional police to hide their deeds. Most of the gun fires incidents were executed on non- violent protestors. Indramani Badoni quoted “Mulayam Singh Yadav was so much radicalized against us that he was willing to burn this region to the fullest”.

People hated Socialism (Samajwad) to such a level that, Khatadwa ( a regional festive of Kumaon) was celebrated by burning the Mulayam Singh Yadav’s aggies. Girish Tewadi compared Yadav as a traitor who was using the resources of the Himalayan region but hated the natives of Uttarakhand. Muzzafarnagar open gunfire lead to the curfew in whole Uttarakhand. Till the first quarter of 1995, Chakkajams and violence was a common scene in Uttarakhand. Even though Kumaon went calm in the end of 1994, Garhwal faced open gunfires.

Girish Tewari girda
Girish Tewari (GIrda)

In June 1995, Indramani Badoni met with Prime Minister, P.V Narsimha Rao to discuss on introducing a bill on formation of Uttaranchal. Later, PM Atal Bihari Vajayee introduced the bill to form a state by name of “Uttaranchal Bill”. Hence on 9th November 2000, the state came to existence.

In Words of Chandi Prasad Bhatt, “only genuine mass movements have this tenacity and strength. Movements having their source in deep suffering and sense of powerlessness experienced by the people over a long time. Thawed hopes and aspirations cherished for a long time, deep disillusionment and disappointment arising from shattered dreams and betrayal of trust and faith, deeply injured sense of dignity and self-respect and serious dislocation of very basis of secured livelihood and prosperous future – these lie at the very root if this social upheaval”.

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