Saturday, November 14, 1998
By Vimal Sumbly
HISAR is situated about 150 km north-west of Delhi. It is believed that the town was founded in 1354 by Firoz Shah Tughlaq. In the 14th century, Hisar is said to have been a jungle which, rulers in general and sultans of Delhi in particular, visited for hunting. Besides, it had become an important site where travellers on way to Delhi from Multan could halt.
According to a legend, Firoz Shah Tughlaq, during one of his hunting trips, came across a Gujjar girl. The Sultan, enthralled by her beauty, offered to marry her.
Although they got married, the girl refused to accompany the Sultan to Delhi, fearing that she may not be treated on a par with his other wives. As she preferred to stay back, the Sultan constructed a palace for her. This palace is now known as Gujari Mahal.
The Sultan visited Hisar frequently. He also got a fort constructed there. Earlier the area was known as Hisar-e-Firoza (the fort of Firoz). Hisar in Persian means fort. At present, there are no traces of any monuments of that period, except for the ruins of Gujari Mahal near the General Bus Stand.
According to Prof M.M. Juneja, who teaches history in the local Jat College, "The Gujari Mahal is a living monument. This is a complex palace comprising numerous buildings, including the royal residence of the Gujjar girl and the Sultan, Shahi Darwaza, Diwan-e-Aam, the Baradari with three tehkhanas (underground apartments), a hammam, a mosque and a pillar."
According to the district gazetteer of Hisar, the material used in the palace is similar to the material used in the construction of old Hindu temples. "A large quantity of the building material, in all probability, was brought from the town of Agroha, 22 km from Hisar."
Within the complex, there is a mosque called Lat Ki Masjid. It is one of the most beautiful mosques built by Firoz Shah. It has a distinguishing pillar and a square chamber. Unlike the usual mosques, it is L-shaped. It also has a pillar that bears the genealogy of the Tughlaq kings.
Like other parts of Haryana, Hisar too could not escape the attacks by marauding kings like Timur. Prof Juneja in his book, History of Hisar, writes: "Hisar had a good number of imperial garrisons and the army quartered there was in a position to operate effectively on the flank of Baburs line of march from Sirhind southwards to Delhi". Before the battle of Panipat, Babur learnt that the troops from Hisar, led by Hamid Khan, were advancing towards him. He dispatched an army under the leadership of the young prince, Humayun, who defeated the enemy.
Hisar also played an important role in the social and political awakening of India. The people of Hisar actively fought against the British. They played a prominent role during the First War of Independence,1857. All British officials, including the District Collector, were killed during this uprising.
The great freedom fighter, Lala Lajpat Rai, spent his formative years in Hisar. He practised law for several years. From here, he, along with three other delegates, went to attend the 1888 session of the Indian National Congress held at Allahabad. The other three delegates were Vakil Chura Mani, Lala Chhabil Das and Seth Gauri Shankar. The four delegates had been formally elected at a public meeting held at Hisar on October 23, 1888, under the auspices of the Indian National Congress.
The town became an important centre of the Arya Samaj under the leadership of Lala Lajpat Rai. Pandit Lakhpat Rai, Babu Chura Mani and Tayal Brothers (Chandu Lal, Hari Lal and Balmokan) also played an active role in building up the Arya Samaj, which proved to be the most powerful social movement in the northern part of the country.
THE town may rightly be called the academic capital of Haryana. There are two famous universities here, besides four degree colleges and several other educational institutions.
Hisar is mainly known for Chaudhary Charan Singh Agricultural University. It is among the top agricultural universities in the country.
Besides imparting education to students, it conducts research, which is of tremendous help to farmers in the state.
Prof JB Chaudhary, Vice-Chancellor of the university, who has been associated with it for the last 30 years, says: "HAU deserves credit for making Haryana the second largest state in the procurement of foodgrains".
The university has been providing aid and assistance to farmers.
Recently, the Haryana Government provided 4,000 acres to the university for the production of seeds of good quality. The university has established extension centres called Krishi Gyan Kendras at each district headquarters. This has been done to provide counselling to farmers.
Guru Jambeshwar University is the only technical university of the state and North India.
Set up in 1995, the university has come up extremely well in a brief period of three years. This year, the University Grants Commission declared it the role model university.
According to the Pro-Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof KK Aggarwal, the university is running only technical and vocational courses.
There are four degree colleges in Hisar, besides one government polytechnic and a B.Ed college. Dayanand College and Jat College, established years ago, have had a bearing on the socio-cultural development of the town. V.S.
THE town is one of the important centres of steel industry in the country. The credit for this growth goes to OP Jindal, one of the doyens of the steel industry in India. Starting as a small manufacturer of steel tubes in 1970 with a mini mill at Hisar, the Jindal group has grown into a Rs 2,500-crore empire.
In fact, the Jindal group has given an industrial identity to Hisar. The group has grown at an average rate of 48 per cent between 1989 and 1996. The same, however, cannot be said for other industries that are facing a crisis. Besides steel, Hisar can boast of the cotton and oil industry. According to Kuldeep Bharghava, president of the Hisar Industrial Association, the industry in Hisar is facing a crisis of existence. He claims that about 50 per cent of the industries, including those of steel, oil and cotton, have closed in the last five years.
Bharghava blames the government for the present state of affairs. "The Haryana Government has no industrial policy", he contends.
Besides a worldwide recession, he points out, the industry has been hit by the policies of the government as well. High power and tax rates, and lack of infrastructure have added to the woes of industry. Besides, natural calamities have also contributed to the crisis. For the last few years, due to unseasonal rains and the problem of water-logging, there has been a massive decline in the cotton and oilseed production.
Natural calamities have also adversely affected agricultural production, another contributor to the economic growth.
The Hisar area mainly produces paddy, cotton, wheat and oilseeds. Due to unseasonal rains during the last three years, the production of all these crops has come down. This year, paddy and cotton crops grown in about 50,000 acres were damaged by floods.
Unemployment is one of the major problems in Hisar. According to official estimates, 80,000 unemployed people are registered with the district employment exchange. Due to the industrial recession and the decline in agricultural production, the unemployment problem has become more serious. This has led to a sharp rise in the crime rate. However, according to Manjit Singh Ahalawat, Senior Superintendent of Police, Hisar, the situation is perfectly under control. Compared to other places in Haryana, the crime rate is relatively low, he claims.
Hisar is a fast developing town. According to municipal officials, about 20 new colonies were registered in the town recently.
But there is hardly any locality in Hisar which can be described as clean. The lanes and bylanes inside the localities are broken. For the last one year no repair work has been carried out. The roads to different localities present a dismal picture too. One senior official of the Hisar municipality himself admitted that the civic amenities were at their worst in the town.
Municipal officials claim that incessant rains in the months of September and October have caused major damage to the roads. However, the residents refute this claim. According to Deepak Bhandari, a resident of the Agrasen Colony, the road to their locality has been lying in a dilapidated condition for the last one year.
Similarly there is no proper arrangement for drainage and sewerage. Even the colonies that have a drainage system receive complaints about its functioning. Whenever there is rain, the drains get choked even the newly developed localities like Urban Estate, D C Colony, Sector 13, Patel Nagar and Defence Colony face similar problems. During rains, people have to literally walk through the water. Most of the areas get submerged under water. The markets and mandis are the worst affected.
The town has one of the biggest auto markets in the country. There are about 1,000 shops dealing with automobiles. But again, the market is poorly maintained. It remains congested with a heavy flow of vehicular traffic. The road that leads to the auto-market is completely damaged. The repair work was taken up recently after a lot of pressure by the shopkeepers.
Besides ditches, holes and speedbreakers, cattle on the roads add to the woes of the people. The administration does little to regulate the traffic. Most of the traffic signals remain out of order. The crossings too are usually unmanned.
According to Rajinder Singh Nain, a social worker, the municipal authorities seem to be least concerned about the maintenance of the city. The roads, lanes and bylanes are in a state of neglect and garbage dumps are a common sight. There is no regular clearance of the garbage. Denying these charges, the executive officer of the Hisar municipality, Nek Chand Bishnoi, said residents of the town had not been cooperating. Particularly after the festival season, huge quantities of garbage was thrown on the roadside, instead of the places marked for the same.
But then all localities do not have bins or a marked area for the disposal of garbage.
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