It was the Punjabi Suba movement that spurred the demand for Haryana, recalls nonagenarian Chaudhary Manphul Singh, who was active during the rallies that demanded a separate state.
“The demand for creation of Punjabi Suba automatically gave basis to the demand for having a separate state of Haryana. The preference being given to Punjabi speaking areas was already a cause of resentment,” he says. Manphul went on to become a member of the first Haryana Vidhan Sabha in 1966, elected from Jhajjar. He was also an acting Speaker of the second Vidhan Sabha from July 20, 1967 to November 21, 1967.
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The state of Haryana was formed on November 1, 1966 on the recommendations of Sardar Hukum Singh Parliamentary Committee that was constituted on September 23, 1965. The Central government then formed the Shah Commission to set the boundaries of Punjab and Haryana. In its report, the Commission recommended that the districts Rohtak, Gurgaon, Karnal, Mahendragarh and Hisar be a part of Haryana. The then tehsils of Narwana, Jind, Ambala, Jagadhari and Naraingarh were also included.
Dr Jaiveer Singh Dhankar, head of the department of history, Maharishi Dayanand University, Rohtak, says that political ambitions and uneven development also led to the demand for Haryana state. “The Hindi- speaking population started demanding a separate region. There was discontent among people who lived in the present-day Haryana. The development was not the same as in Punjabi-speaking areas. Another reason was that people from different regions wanted someone from their own community or region to become CM,” he says.
According to Anil Arya, author of Haryana ki Rajneeti ka Safarnama the demand for Haryana was also raised in 1928 and 1932 but the demand for present day “Hindi speaking” Haryana was raised for the first time in 1960s. Arya says that it was after the Hindi Andolan that the lines dividing the people of the two states emerged. “In schools, while Punjabi was taught in Hindi-speaking areas, in the Punjabi-speaking areas the decision to teach Hindi was not implemented properly. This was a point of discord,” says Arya.
Today’s political leadership in the state is divided on who gets credit for Haryana. Former Chief Minister Devi Lal’s grandson and the Leader of Opposition in Haryana Vidhan Sabha, Abhay Singh Chautala, says, “It was Chaudhary Devi Lal who was instrumental in Haryana’s creation. He met Sant Fateh Singh who had threatened to commit suicide if Punjabi Suba was not made. They decided to get resolutions from people to create public opinion. After that people from both regions started fasting and holding rallies, and the movement picked up.”
However, former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda also stakes his family’s claim. According to him, it was his father Ranbir Singh Hooda who raised the issue for the creation of Haryana in the Constituent Assembly in 1948 with Delhi as its capital.
“A formula was devised for the division as per which Chandigarh was to be the capital of the two states for some time. The demarcating line between the two capitals was to be Madhya Marg. This was agreed to in 1966 by my father and Bhagwat Dayal Sharma, the then Punjab Congress president. Pratap Singh Kairon was a strong leader and he managed to suppress the movement till he was CM. After him, the movement picked up,” says Hooda.
As Punjab celebrates 50 years of Punjabi Suba, Dr Manohar Singh Gill, former Congress Rajya Sabha member, who also once served as Chief Election Commissioner, and Deputy Commissioner in Ambala and Lahaul Spiti in joint Punjab, feels there is not much to rejoice.
Dr Gill points to Punjab’s “sirr de taj” (crowns) — Chandigarh and Bhakra dam — taken over by the Centre after the trifurcation, and the “unfair” division with water-sharing and many Punjabi speaking areas going to Haryana.
“A Station House Officer (SHO) in Chandigarh can charge Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal legally as he is a tenant there. So is Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. If they divided Andhra Pradesh and the capital of Telangana is coming up overnight, why is Punjab kept without a capital? Why is Chandigarh in the hands of a Joint Secretary from other parts of the country? Why a number of bureaucrats serving in city are from other states?” he asks.
He lists Ambala and Sirsa as two towns that should have been given to Punjab. “Over the years the politics has also changed. Now [Chief Minister Parkash Singh] Badal talks about Punjabiat, fields Hindu candidates … BJP fields [Navjot Singh] Sidhu [a Sikh]. Politics mein sab kuch chalta hai. Thank God that quarrel is over. But justice was not meted to Punjab. ”
Listing out what all Punjab lost in the trifurcation, Dr Gill said, “Besides taking away our capital and the Bhakra dam, the trifurcation has meant that our waters are controlled by others despite us being the riparian state. A court is soon going to decide our fate and we do not know what will happen next. ”
Calling himself a man of history, Dr Gill said, “What were Punjab’s assets before 1947? We had the finest alluvial soil in the world, the underground water was sweet and unlimited and after partition, great and hardworking people came as refugees. We lost Lahore to Pakistan. Late Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru gave us the beautiful city. But we lost that to the second division.”