Mandi Conspiracy and Bilaspur Struggle

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Mandi Conspiracy and Bilaspur Struggle

Mandi Conspiracy (1914-15)

  • First signs of the people’s latent resentment coming to surface were discernible in 1909.
  • The chief cause of the agrarian disturbance was the acute discontentment with the administration of ‘Wazir Upadhya Jiwa Nand‘. His atrocious attitude towards the ‘Kisans’ at the face of bad crops and scarcity and system of ‘Begar’ which he forced inhumanly, developed strong ill will towards the state administration.
  • The smouldering fire first burst into a flame when a suitable leader was found in the person of ‘Sobha Ram’ of Sarkaghat.
  • The Mandi conspiracy in 1914-15 was influenced by some members of Ghadar Party carrying a revolutionary work in Punjab.
  • They had spread themselves out in Mandi and Suket mobilizing more and more people. Mandi Conspiracy
  • To influence the people they read ‘Ghadar-Ki-Gunj’, ‘Ghadar Sandesh’, ‘Ailan-e-jung’, etc. ‘Mian Jawahar Singh’ and “Rani of Khairgarhi“, Mandi came under their influence and helped them financially.
  • In December 1914 and January 1915 various meetings were held. From these meetings it was decided to murder the ‘Wazir of Mandi State‘, looting the treasury, blowing up the Beas bridge, seizing the states of Mandi and Suket.
  • But except for the Nagchala dacoity, the revolutionaries could not succeed in any of their objectives. Soon the conspiracy was unearthed.
  • Five men-Jawahar Naryal, Mian Jawahar Singh, Badri Sidhu and Kharara were arrested, tried and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. The ex-Rani of Khairgarhi, Mandi was exiled.
  • In the Mandi conspiracy, Bhai Hirda Ram played an important role. He did commendable work for Ghadar Party in close association with Ras Bihari Bose, Dr. Manthra Singh, Kartar Singh, Bhai Parmanand etc. at Amritsar and Lahore.
  • In 1933, a nominated council was instituted, which was expanded in 1944-45 and was given an elected majority. The franchise, however, was based on high property qualifications and was not fair.
  • The leaders of the Praja Mandal Movement, Krishnanand, Purnanand, Shri Gauri Shankar, Shri Krishna Chand. Shri Sadhu Ram and Tej “Nidharak‘ were not satisfied. The leaders of the Praja Mandal were arrrested in August 1947 but released soon after five months. Mandi Conspiracy
  • The Raja of Mandi agreed to the establishment of a responsible government and leaders of Praja Mandal were invited to form the ministry. The invitation was accepted and ministry functioned till the formation of Himachal Pradesh in 1948.

Bilaspur Struggle

  • The first land revenue settlement of 1905 had already doubled the incidence of land revenue as compared to that obtained in adjoining British territories of ‘Kangra’ and ‘Hoshiarpur’ districts.
  • In 1930, (Bhoomi Bandobast Abhiyan) a year in which economic slump had suddenly hit India, some Kisans of ‘Bhadarpur Pargana‘ refused to supply free fire wood to the newly set up settlement staff working in their villages.
  • The authorities failed to satisfy people and so agitation continued unabated. The small police force of the state was found inadequate to cope with the situation and then armed police was called from Punjab.
  • The police arrested some ring leaders and brought them to Bilaspur town. The crowd demanding the release of their leaders were mercilessly beaten up by the Punjab police.
  • In order to control situation, the companies of troops were sent on flag march for three months in different parts of the state. Meanwhile, 19 more leaders were arrested.
  • Villagers who participated in movement were imposed with a fine of Rs. 25,000.
  • On 9th January 1933, when Raja Anand Chand was invested with full powers, he followed a twin policy of repression and reform.
  • Meanwhile, a secret organisation continued its work secretly. Some educated persons, however, organized themselves into a ‘Sewa Samiti‘ and a ‘Sanatana Dharam Sabha‘, with apparent objective of social and religious reforms, but used these meeting for political messages.
  • Raja Anand Chand fixed very stern punishment for participation in any movement against state and its administration. Confiscation of property and exile were common punishments.
  • Post Second World War developments in India and the return of Indian National Army (INA) personnel to their homes in the state had its own repercussion.
  • A few young men from the state (Shri Daulat Ram khyan, Narottam Datt Shastri and Devi Ram Upadhyay) secretly attended daipur session (1945) of AISPC and on their return, they laid the foundation of ‘Bilaspur Rajaya Praja Mandal (BRPM)‘.
  • The demands puts-forward by this organisation before the Raja were not accepted and so, on 21st December 1946, ‘Satyagraha‘ was launched, which was suppressed with a heavy hand.
  • The Standing Committee of AISPC in a resolution passed on 27th December 1946 criticised the attitude of the Raja with regard to civil liberties and fundamental rights of the people and his policy of repression and active hostility towards the popular movements and organisation.
  • In support of Bilaspur Satyagraha, demonstrations were organized in Shimla. It was the result of the efforts of Sarvshri Daulat Ram Sankhyan, Sadanand Chandel, Sant Ram Kanga, Sant Ram Sant etc. and setting up of National Interim government, that certain reforms and teachings of Gandhiji were given practical shape by Raja Anand Chand.
  • He introduced basic education through Hindi medium right upto Matriculation standard, complete prohibition, Panchayati Raj, Harijan Upliftment programme, rigid enforcement of Child Marriage Act etc. He was the only prince to give up his title of His Highness, K.C.I.E. and the salute of guns.
  • However, all such activities of the Raja were devices to deceive the outsiders. The Bilaspur Rajya Praja Mandal was forced to remain in exile. “Hands off Bilaspur” was his open challenge to the Indian National Congress and AISPC.
  • The Raja of Bilaspur had raised an army called the ‘Swadheen Kahloor Daľ to suppress all liberation activities, associated with INC, AISPC and BRPM.
  • After several rounds of discussion, the Raja was persuaded to merge his state with India. The merger agreement was signed on 15th April, 1948. Bilaspur was merged with Himachal Pradesh on Ist July, 1954. The credit for integration of states goes to Sardar Patel, otherwise Congress party had so many sympathiser of princely rulers in its garb.

Read Also: Rampur Bushahr and Sirmaur Praja Mandal movements

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