Rampur Bushahr and Sirmaur Praja Mandal movements

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Rampur Bushahr and Sirmaur Praja Mandal movements of HP

Rampur Bushahr Movement

  • In 1906, the people of Rampur Bushahr had already started ‘DUJAM’, a form of non-cooperation movement to register their protest against some state officials and exploitation of state forests by British.
  • In 1920s, Pt. Padam Dev (a brahmin), waged a struggle on behalf of low castes against social practices such as ‘Reet’ (a custom involving sale and purchase of women for matrimonial purposes), untouchability and child marriage.
  • When Samuel Evans Stokes was adopted to Hinduism, Padam Dev has important role in it. He brought upon himself the wrath of the Raja and the higher castes, but continued with his work without fear.
  • In Kotgarh, Satyanand Stokes (S.E. Stokes) launched struggle against ‘Begar’ (a system of forceful labour, without giving just wages).
  • In December 1938, the “Himalayan Riyasti Praja Mandal” (HRPM) was organized. The HRPM was made answerable for coordinating the exercises of political and social workers.
  • The founder members of HRPM were Sarvshri Chiranji Lal Verma, Bhag Mal Sautha, Pt. Padam Dev, Govind Singh, Gian Chand Totu, Surat Parkash (Theog), Devi Dass Musafir (Madhan), Bhaskra Nand (Bhajji), Mansha Ram Chauhan, Hira Singh Pal, Sita Ram etc.
  • To arouse people, it undertook the programme of organizing public meetings at different places in a number of Shimla Hill States.
  • Pt. Padam Dev, Secretary HRPM, was a great force to launch a number of social and political activities.
  • The small hill states like ‘Ghund’, Theog’, ‘Balsan’, Baghal, ‘Bhajji’, ‘Beja’, ‘Darkoti’ and ‘Keonthal’ banned the entry of Prajamandlist as no outsider were allowed to enter their state.
  • The British authorities arrested the local HPRM. The British authorities also warned the Ranas of various states against the HRPM.
  • All these led to the famous ‘BHAI DO, NA PAI MOVEMENT’ (no recruits for the British army and no money for war funds). Many Praja Mandal workers were also imprisoned in this movement.
  • The activities of Praja Mandal, which were suppressed under severe repressions, were re-activised in 1945.
  • During this period, other organizations like ‘Sudhar Sammelan’, ‘Sewak Mandal Delhi’ and ‘Bushahr Prem Sabha’ were also organized by the people of Rampur Bushahr. At a number of places ‘Begar’ was refused.
  • Pt. Padam Dev was working from Shimla but Pandit Ghanshyam, Satya Dev Bushahri and many other continued working from within the state.
  • “The Bushahr Praja Mandal’ (Satya Dev Group) launched a Satyagraha in March 1947, followed by large scale arrests and at places firing by state police. In the later years, Thakur Sen Negi also took active part in the Praja Mandal Movement.
  • The low paid employees of the state also established a “Bushahr Rajya Karamchari Sangh”.
  • Finally, the Raja conceded the demand for setting up a representative assembly on 18th April 1947. but his sudden death did not allow this to take a concrete shape.
  • On 18th May, 1947, the Political Agent in consultation with the Council of Regency and Council of Administration, nominated an interim council without taking Praia Mandals into confidence. On this Praja Mandal (PM) agitation continued.
  • However, when the interim council decided to hold elections for Vidhan Parishad in October 1947, the PM group led by Satya Dev Bushahri decided to cooperate and contested the elections. The Fraja Mandal won all the seats. On “15 April 1948“, the state became part of Himachal Pradesh and merged with India.

Sirmaur Satyagraha

  • The first signs of political awakening in Sirmaur was discerned in 1920, when a Secret Society was formed by those who derived inspiration from the revolutionary activities of the terrorists in Punjab.
  • Leader of this Society was ‘Chaudhary Sherjang’, who was involved in a train dacoity, later apprehended and imprisoned by the British Government.
    Although in Sirmaur state, administrative reforms were introduced, yet they were well below the expectation of people. To carry on struggle in an organized manner, ‘Sirmaur Praja Mandal’ (SPM) was set up in 1939.
  • The leading lights of Sirmaur Praja Mandal (SPM) were Shri Chadudhary Sherjang, Shivanand Ramaul, Devinder Singh, Nahar Singh, Naginder Singh, Harish Chander etc.
  • However, its popularity soon became eyesore to the state authorities. Two cases, that is, conspiracy to murder the Raja and throwing stones on him with intent to killing him, were concocted against the workers of the Praja Mandal. The workers implicated were Sarvshri Devinder Singh, Harish Chander, Nahar Singh, and Jagbandan Singh.
  • The Session Judge (former Chief Minister, Dr. Y.S. Parmar) discharged the accused in the conspiracy case. This naturally annoyed the authorities and case was transferred to a special tribunal, which convicted the accused.
  • To suppress the Satyagraha ‘Jehlami Police’ was deployed. The Sirmaur agitation reached a high pitch when the war efforts of the state authorities began with the object of collecting money and foodstuffs for aiding the British war efforts in 1942.
  • ‘Pajotha movement’ which was an extension of ‘Quit India movement 1942’, has been discussed in a chapter on sirmaur district. It started in October 1942.
  • Its main leaders were Shri Surat Singh Vaid, his wife Sunahari Devi, Matha Ram and his wife Atma Devi, Deep Ram, Daya Ram, Sita Ram Sharma, Shiva Nand Ramaul etc. Vaid Sural Singh’s other associates were—Gulab Singh, Mian Chu-Chu, Mehar singh, Attar Singh, Jalim Singh and Madan Singh.
  • A ‘SIRMAURI ASSOCIATION’ and ‘SIRMAUR RIYASTI PRAJA MANDAL’ was established in 1944. Its office along with the General Secretary Shri Shiva Nand Ramaul shifted to Nahan as early in 1946.
  • To accommodate the demands of the Praja Mandalists, certain steps were taken, but it largely remained partial and limited in scope. Ultimately the problem was settled in 1948 with the merger of state with Himachal Pradesh.

Read Also: Sirmaur History Notes, Shimla History Notes

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