Remembering Uttarakhand martyrs reduced to a ritual

Dehra Dun : Came Sept 2 and the political line-up of Uttarakhand underwent the ritual that has been an annual affair since this small mountain state came into being about 15 years ago. For it was on this day in 1994 that six agitationists of the Uttarakhand movement were gunned down in police firing in Mussoorie. Chief minister Harish Rawat dutifully garlanded the busts of the martyrs at the Martyrs Memorial located at the Queen of Hills, even as he and his predecessors have been making a mockery of those killed at various places during the agitation.

These sentiments have been echoed not only by the Uttarakhand agitationists and their bodies from various platforms, but even the Uttarakhand Shiksha Jan Sangharsh Abhiyan who have not minced words to allege that all the governments since Uttarakhand came into being, including the present Congress government led by Harish Rawat had rather than implementing and fulfilling the desires of the masses, been only befooling them and implementing laws that were anti the wishes of the people of the state.

UK CMThey claimed that though the statehood agitationists had the unique credit of getting Uttarakhand carved out of Uttar Pradesh, but rather than living up to the aspirations of the people in general and the agitationists in particular, the state governments only adopted the policy of divide and rule, by giving small benefits to sections on a pick and choose bases..

Whereas a true salute to the martyrs would have been fulfilling the demands of the masses that they stood for and providing the people with the much promised jobs and basic amenities even in the far flung interiors, remembering them has been reduced to a ritual where power hungry politicians make big talk and promise the moon, but nothing becomes a reality and percolates down to the grass root level.

Those who had braved the lathis and bullets of the police and notorious PAC of Uttar Pradesh and roughed it out in the rough weather of the hills and mountains on the call of the agitation leaders had hoped that once Uttarakhand was carbed out their dreams would be fulfilled. There would be jobs for the youth, potable water and electricity in the villages, irrigation schemes for their fields and the adverse conditions that theyb were living in would change for the better were demoralized to find that nothing of the sort was happening, even as politicians touted pipe dreams in their speeches on martyrs’ day.

While basic health and education facilities, have yet to climb up the hills to the villages in the middle and higher reaches even basic sanitation facilities have not gone a step beyond to where they were 15 years ago. It is not without reason that the villages that were inhabited and the agriculture fields green with standing crops are now barren as migration in search of better hopes and greened pastures has become the order of the day.

While the Congress is hijacking the populist demands of the Uttarakhand agitationists like making Gairsain the state capital, in reality it is just hoodwinking the people into making believe that these issues will become a reality. All that the Congress has to show for making Gairsain the state capital is the construction of a Vidhan Sabha building and other offices, while there is a vidhan sabha building also proposed to be constructed at Dehra Dun, indicating that at best Gairsain may be made the summer capital of this small mountain state. Can a financially starved Uttarakhand afford to have a winter and a summer capital is anybody’s guess, but then politics is all about playing with the sentiments of the people.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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