Integration of Praja Mandals (1945-48)
Shimla Hill States Conference (1939)
- On the suggestions made by Lord Linlithgow to the rulers of Shimla Hill States to ensure active cooperation and participation of their subjects in the state administration, took place from 5th to 7th June 1939.
- It was attended by the rulers of Bilaspur, Jubbal, Baghal, Kuthar, Baghat, Dhami, Bushahr, Keonthal, Kunihar, Mahlog etc.
Himalayan Hill States Regional Council Session (1946)
- This session of HHSRC took place at Mandi from 8th to 10th March 1946 and was attended by 48 princely states from Tehri Garhwal to Shimla.
- The trio of INA, Dhillon, Sehgal and Shahnawaj were present along with Deshbandhu and Pattabhi Sitaramaya. It was presided by Col. J.S. Dhillon. There a number of resolution were passed for achieving a responsible government in Himalayan states. (Integration of Praja Mandals (1945-48))
Integration of Praja Mandals (1945-48)
- The political developments taking place in British India, inspired the hill people to organize themselves into a single political organisation, to better protect their rights and co-ordinate their activities for the democratisation of the princely orders.
- In Hill States of Himachal Pradesh a network of Praja Mandals had been set up by 1945. The Praja Mandal volunteers since long had been meeting at the session of All India States Peoples Conference (AISPC), reviewing the progress of their movements and exchanging ideas on various issues.
- In 1946, at Udaipur session of AISPC, Himalayan Hill States Regional Council (HHSRC) was created by integrating these Praja Mandals. The office of the President of HHSRC was at MANDI and that of the General Secretary at Shimla.
- The Executive Committee was formed at Udaipur itself with Shri Swami Purnanand of Mandi (President), Pt. Padam Dev of Bushahr (General Secretary), Shyam Chand Negi of Tehri Garhwal (Vice-President) and Pt. Shiva Nand Ramaul of Sirmaur (Joint Secretary). (Integration of Praja Mandals (1945-48))
- Under the auspices of HHSRC, a conference took place at Mandi from 8th March to 10th March, 1946. There a number of resolutions were passed for the realization of responsible government and removal of various social, economic and political hindrences.
- The conference proved a miles stone in the growth of political awakening among masses and self-realization and introspection among princely rulers too.
- On 31st August to 1st September 1946, a Conference of HHSRC took place at Nahan, where the issue of the fresh election of the office bearers was raised. Dr. Pattabhi Sittaramaya and Shri Jai Narain Vyas, the President and General Secretary, AISPC also supported the demand.
- On 1st March 1947, under the supervision of Shri H.L. Masurkar, Office Secretary of AISPC, election of the new office-bearers for HHSRC took place. The delegate elected were Shri Paripurna Nand, Ram Swaroop, Guna Nand, Dr. Gaureela and Pt. Daulat Ram of Tehri, Padam Dev, Bhaskara Nand and Surat Ram Prakash from small states of Shimla, Y.S. Parmar and N.D. Rattra from Sirmaur and Satya Dev from Bushahr. (Integration of Praja Mandals (1945-48))
- Dr. Y.S. Parmar was elected the President of the HHRC at this meeting with Pt. Padam Dev as the General Secretary. Somehow, after some time mutual dissent developed among the members of HHSRC on the issue of election, which jeopardized its meeting and programmes for the time being.
- To this, the six members of the Shimla and Punjab Hill States decided to organize themselves into a Himalayan Hill States Sub-Regional Conference (HHSSRC), to fill the vacuum created on account of the failure of the Regional Council to function.
- An ad hoc committee was formed with Dr. Y.S, Parmar, the President and Shri Padam Dev, the General Secretary. However, HHSSRC was not a parallel body to HHSRC, but a subordinate one.
- It approved of the merging of all states in one union of the Himalayan Hill States on lines similar to ‘Deccan States Union‘ to which all powers would vest in the People’s Assembly and the rulers Boards would act only as Advisory Board to lead and guide the people.
- The HHSSRC criticized the scheme of confederation as being proposed by the princes, for it did not take people into their confidence. The idea of grouping the states was wholesome but since power was not to be transferred to the people, it failed to elicit any response. (Integration of Praja Mandals (1945-48))
- Soon the leadership of the HHSSRC and the Praja Mandal workers in the Hill States split into two groups, one in favour of total elimination of the princes and the other desiring their association with the administration in an advisory capacity.
- Pro-merger group was led by Dr. Y.S. Parmar. Some old Praja Mandalists like Pt. Padam Dev (Bushahr), Pt. Shiva Nand Ramaul (Sirmaur), Daulat Ram Sankhyan and S.R. Chandel (Bilaspur), Sant Ram (Kangra), Swami Purna Nand (Mandi) and Daulat Ram Gupta (Chamba) supported this view.
- Pro-confederation and conservative group was led by Pt. Satya Dev Bushahri (Bushahr). The other members were Surat Ram Parkash (Theog), Tej Singh Nidhark (Mandi), N.D. Rattra (Sirmaur), Bhaskara Nand Sharma (Bhajji), Bhag Mal Sautha (Jubbal) and Kashmir Singh (Mandi).
- The Praja Mandals in the states of Bushahr, Baghat, Baghal, Beja, Bhajji, Bilaspur, Mahlog, Sangri, Sirmaur, Tehri Garhwal, Suket, Kalsia, Mandi, Chamba, Kunihar, Keonthal, Kumharsain, Kuthar, Koti and Theog exerted great pressure on the princes for the setting up of responsible government.
- Deprived of the support of the British and sympathetic attitude of the States Department Government of India, towards the people’s movement, made the princes realize and to read writings on the walls.
- Jubbal State set up an Enquiry Commission of eight members, five elected and three nominated to study people’s problems. Later on, a representative government was also set up with Bhag Mal Sautha as Chief Minister and Jai Lal Shakhoti, Kanwar Raghubir Singh, Baser Chand Negi and B. Dula Ram Gejta as ministers.
- The Thakur of Kunihar supported this movement and associated people with his administration.
- At Koti, the Rana announced the setting up of a ‘Vidhan Parishad‘ on 25th November 1947. The ‘THAKUR‘ of Theog conceded to form a responsible government on 15th August 1947 and constituted a 13- member Mantri Parishad with Surat Ram Prakash as a ‘Pradhan Mantri’. The Raja of ‘Beja‘ set up a responsible government in January 1948. A number of other rulers also followed the suit.
- After India became independent, there was a demand in some quarters for the merger of the hill states with East Punjab; but it met with strong opposition from the rulers as well as the people.
- In view of the fast-changing situation, the princes of Shimla Hill States began to plan the setting up of a ‘Confederation’ of Hill States and met in Delhi in the first week of January 1948.
- In the meeting, they passed a resolution stating that after detailed consideration and prolonged deliberation, the rulers unanimously decided to constitute a ‘Shimla Hill States Union’ for the greater good of the Himalayan States People’.
- Instructions were issued to all the states to conduct elections on the basis of the adult franchise (one representative for every 1,000 population) within a specified time limit and representatives were to reach at Solan on 26th January 1948 for the inaugural session of the constitution-making body.
- In the meantime, Raja Durga Singh of Baghal and the Raja of Mandi met Mahatma Gandhi in Birla House, Delhi who also appreciated their idea.
Theog, Madhan Movement
- The first sign of revolt became visible in the erstwhile princely states of Theog and Madhan in 1926-28. Here also, Baluchi and Jehlemi’s police were deployed to suppress the movement. They perpetuated large scale atrocities against the people, to kill their spirit of the freedom movement.
- Mian Kharak Singh provided good leadership to the people in Theog. He was also assisted in this mission by his wife Devwati. Similar movements continued in other areas such as Madhan, Kumharsain, Ghanahatti, Ghund, etc., which provided a new zeal and inspiration to the people in Theog.
- With the coming of freedom on 15th August 1947, Praja Mandal captured the state Theog and set up an independent government, in which Surat Parkash was Chief Minister and Dr. Y.S. Parmar, his advisor. Shri Devi Dass was made Secretary.
- It was incredible at that time, when other erstwhile princely states were opposing their merger with India, that Theog was merged with independent Himachal. However, after five to six months, the Rana made an armed attack and looted the treasury and ancient records of the state. This news was conveyed to Sardar V.B. Patel by Dr. Y.S. Parmar, who sent the police force and the Rana was arrested and exiled from the state.
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