119 Years of Trust Regional vignettes THE TRIBUNE
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Saturday, March 27, 1999





A town steeped deep in history
By Sushil Manav

THE historical monuments of a town are a reflection of the centuries-old art, culture and civilisation. Situated at National Highway number 10, between Hisar and Sirsa, the town of Fatehabad is of a great historical importance. The historians trace its origin to more than 2,000 years back. The town, according to them, came in existence during the time of Ashoka the Great. The area, they say, was inhabited by the "Bheels" during the ancient times and the town was known as Udia Nagri at that time. But the claim is contested by some other historians, who say that the town was known as lkdar during that period.

An inscription on the Idgah Historians say that the town was surrounded by thick jungles in the ancient times. It was a good hunting place for the emperors of the northern India. According to the district gazetteer, after the death of Muhammad-Bin-Tughlaq and the coronation of Firoz Shah Tughlaq, the royal entourage of the emperor crossed through this place during its journey from Multan to Delhi. Attracted by the picturesque beauty of this place, the emperor made a halt here for hunting. The emperor was blessed with a son here. His forces also achieved victory over the army of Vazir-Khwaja-e-Jahan on the same day. To celebrate the victory and the birth of his son, Firoz Shah Tughlaq named the town Fatehabad and named his son Fateh Khan. The emperor constructed a big fort for the purpose of security of the town. The remnants of the fort can still be seen here.

On a close look at the structure of the fort, it seems that the emperor got it constructed after a lot of consultations with architects and building experts. Constructed on a mound, the fort was protected from floods, wild animals and foreign invaders. The thick walls of the fort and a big lake surrounding it from north-west direction safeguarded it from the invaders. The emperor had also got some tunnels constructed in this fort which opened in the thick forests. The royal family, it is believed, used these tunnels at times of emergencies. The secret paths of these tunnels took them to some unknown places providing them refuge. The tunnels are now lying buried somewhere. A part of the fort, that earlier housed certain offices, has now been converted into police lines.

A mosque and a pillar believed to be the Kirti Stambha of Ashoka the Great on the fortOn the uppermost part of the fort, there is an Idgah. In the precinct of this Idgah, there is a thick lofty pillar in the centre. Constructed with the mixture of Balua soil, red marble, white marble and iron, the pillar is 15.6 feet in height, and six feet in circumference. Verses from the Koran and some brief information about the Tughlaq dynasty have been carved out on 36 slabs of the pillar. Some historians claim this pillar to be the "Kirti Stambha" of Ashoka the Great. The Hisar gazetteer also mentions that the pillar seemed to have been constructed by some Hindu king as words from Sanskrit language have also been found on the slabs. Besides this, the artistic work on the two mosques in this fort also resemble the work on the ancient Hindu temples. These historians believe that the pillar was constructed during the Ashoka period and was given touches of Muslim art by Firoz Shah Tughlaq during 14th century. In the same Idgah, on the west side of the pillar, there is an inscription. On this has been engraved in Arabian language that the Mughal emperor Humanyun came here and constructed a mosque at this place.

According to the historians, when Humanyun was running towards Amarkot after his defeat from the forces of Sher Shah Suri, he offered his Friday prayers at Fatehabad and announced that he would construct a mosque there. He kept his promise and after regaining his control over Delhi, he got a mosque constructed at Fatehabad. Despite a concrete proof of the fact that a mosque was constructed by Humanyu at Fatehabad, the Archaeological Department has not been able to say with certainty, which one of the mosques have been constructed by Humanyun. By the side of The Idgah, there is a grave of Guru Shahmir Pir, who was the religious guru of Firoz Shah Tughlaq.

Notorious aggressor, Tai-murlung invaded Fatehabad on November 17, 1397, according to a book Jafarnama written by famous writer Sharafdin Ali Yezdi. According to the book, the residents of this town fled away without facing the forces of Taimurlung. Taimur followed them and killed many of them after capturing them. Taimur’s forces shed so much blood at Fatehabad that those who managed to escape his wrath deserted the town and fled somewhere else out of fear. The town wore a deserted look for years after that.back


Where garbage, stagnant water & stink abound

HEAPS of garbage, stagnant water, stray cattle, squalor and all-pervading stink. This precisely is the story of most of the old localities of this town, which was elevated to the status of a district headquarter on july 15, 1997. Most of the old localities of the town like Basti Bhiwan, Ashok Nagar, Lajpat Nagar, Guru Nanakpura, Inderpura and Indira Nagar are in a state of neglect stinking filth lying here and there in the streets is a common sight. A not so effective sewerage system has made life all the more difficult for the local residents, filthy water can be seen overflowing from the drains in streets. Pigs, dogs and stray cattle find these conditions perfectly ideal for them,further adding to the woes of the residents.

Garbage strewn behind the bus standThe sewer system of the town, too, is faulty. Sewer contents can be seen oozing out from the manholes at many places. The condition of some of the streets in the town is so bad that the mere idea of passing through these streets sends shivers down the spine. Uncovered manholes and uneven lids of manholes are two other problems which are causing a lot of hardships for the local people. At many places manholes are lying uncovered,causing big traffic hazards. At others the lids covering the holes are lying in an uneven position. In some of the streets, the lids are lying in an elevated position, thus becoming `Stumbling blocks`for the vehicles, particularly two wheelers, while at some other places,the lids are placed at a level lower than that of the road, again causing a lot of problems for the safe driving of vehicles. Even at some places on the main national highway, where the road has been raised considerably,the level of manholes covers has become lower than the level of the road itself. Repeated representations by the local residents by the local residents have failed to move the administration in this regard.

There is an acute crisis of potable water in the town. The crisis becomes grave during the summer. The crisis is not only with regard to the quantity of potable water, but also regarding its quality. Taps in many localities of the town go dry with the advent of the summer. People have to fetch water from far off places. The problem becomes particularly grave in the Ashok Nagar, Inderpura, Tehsil Chowk,and Jagjeewanpura areas. The quality of potable water, too,is not upto the mark. The complaints of supply of contaminated water is very common here. Samples of potable water taken last year from the residence of senior officers like senior Medical officer and Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate were found to be highly contaminated. Repeated complaints have fallen on deaf ears of the authorities concerned. The officials of the Public Health Department claim, that they supply the piped water after proper treatment to make it free from impurities. But the problem persists.

Though the town has been elevated to the status of a district headquarter not much development has been witnessed. Though,the Chief Minister had laid the foundation stone of a Mini Secretariat on September 7,1997, and construction on the four-storeyed project started in January, 1998, the work is still going on at a snail’s pace. According to the initial plans, the work was to be completed within two years, but going by the progress of the work, it is very unlikely that it would be completed by December,1999. Out of the four storeys of the building, the slab for even the first floor has not yet been laid.

The vegetable market of the town is in a very bad shape. Situated on the busy Thana Road bazar of the town, the market is congested and full of filth, dirt and squalor.Though a new vegetable market has already been constructed on the Hisar Road,and work on the market was completed in June, 1995, the administration has failed to take effective steps to shift the vegetable market to its new place.

The problems of Fatehabad do not end here. The 60-bedded hospital of the town lacks proper facilities. The bus stand, too, lacks some basic facilities. There is no park where the local children could go to play. All old parks have become dumping grounds for garbage. There is no library in the town where one can go and read books and journals.




A political stronghold of Haryana

FATEHABAD has always played an important role in the politics of the state as well as the country. The Members of Parliament from Fatehabad, which forms a part of the Sirsa parliamentry constituency, have remained on ministerial posts at the Centre. The ancestral village of Bhajan Lal, a former Chief Minister of the state, is situated at a distance of 10 km from Fatehabad. The in-laws of the present CM reside at Bhothan Kalan in this district. A former Deputy Prime Minister, Devi Lal, was elected as an independent legislator from Fatehabad in 1962. Gobind Ram Batra, another legislator from Fatehabad, was elevated to the post of Chief Parliamentry Secretary. Leela Krishan Choudhary was a minister of state, while Harminder Singh was a full-fledged minister in the state Cabinet till he died in harness.

Mr Dwarka Prasad Choudhary was elected the first municipal president after Independence. From 1952 till 1955, Fatehabad used to send its two representatives for the state legislative assembly. Ganga Ram and Dalbir Singh, both from the Congress, were declared elected in the first elections held in 1952. While Ganga Ram represented Fatehabad, Dalbir Singh represented Fatehabad (reserve). Fatehabad was first declared as a notified area in the year 1899. Gulam Mohammad Rai, Lakhmi Mal Joravarkar, Mansha Ram Choudhary and Shadi Ram Choudhary were nominated its first members. Till then Fatehabad was a gram panchayat. Basti Bhiwan, now situated in the heart of the town, was a separate panchayat.

Fatehabad was first accorded the status of a district in 1961. Laxmi Narayan was its first SDM. The town was elevated to the status of a district on July 15, 1997. P.C. Bidhan was appointed as the first Deputy Commissioner of Fatehabad while Manoj Yadav was the first Superintendent of Police.

Lala Shyam Lal, who was a member of the Central assembly before Independence, belonged to Fatehabad. Lala Atma Ram and Choudhary Sahib Ram represented the area in the Punjab Provincial Assembly in 1937 and 1938, respectively.

Achint Ram (Congress) was elected to the Lok Sabha from this area in 1952, Ram Kishan Gupta (Congress) in 1957, Mani Ram Bagri (Socialist) in 1962, Dalbir Singh (Congress) in 1967 and 1971, Chand Ram (Janata Party) in 1977, Dalbir Singh again in 1980 and 1984, Het Ram in 1988 (byelection) and 1989, Ms Selja in 1991 and 1996 and Sushil Indora was elected in 1998.

Ganga Ram and Dalbir Singh were elected to the state assembly in 1952 elections. Mani Ram Bagri and Balu Ram of the Socialist Party were elected in 1953 byelection. Mani Ram Godara of the Congress and Balu Ram of the Socialist Party were elected in 1955. Mani Ram Godara of the Congress in 1957, Devi Lal an Independent in 1962, Gobind Rai Batra of the Congress in 1967, Pokar Ram Godara of the Congress in 1969 and 1972, Harphool Singh of the Janata Party in 1977, Gobind Rai Batra in 1982, Leela Krishan Choudhary in 1983 (byelection), Balbir Singh of the BJP in 1987, Leela Krishan of the Congress in 1991, Haminder Singh in 1996 and Sampat Singh in 1998 (byelections).

— S.M.



Educationally backward

THOUGH elevated to the status of a district headquarter, Fatehabad is still very backward in the field of education. In the absence of proper educational facilities, residents have to send their children to Hisar or other cities for their higher education.

Rajiv Gandhi Library in M.M. College, FatehabadTill last year, there was only one institution in the town to impart higher education. The institution named Manohar Memorial College was founded in May,1970. The late Khem Raj Batra, a local philanthropist, donated a sum of Rs 2 lakh to establish this college in memory of his son Manohar Lal Batra, who died young in a tragic accident. Spread over a sprawling area of 22 acres, it was initially started as an arts college but later a commerce faculty was added to it. But even till now there is no educational institution in the town where one could send one’s children to study science subjects after passing matriculation. The demand for starting postgraduate classes in the college has been raised on several occasions but the government has still not paid heed to these demands. The college, however, plans degree courses in bachelor of business administration and bachelor in computer application from the next session.

The government started a college for girls at Fatehabad from this session. But the college is still in the stage of its infancy. The college started only two classes of 10+1 and 10+2 this season. In the absence of its own building, it functioned in half a dozen rooms borrowed from Government Senior Secondary School.

The town has virtually no institution to impart vocational education to the children. Almost every district of the state has its own District Institute of Educational Training (DIET) for imparting JBT course, but there is no such institute at Fatehabad. There is no polytechnic institute, what to speak of an engineering college. The government had announced plans to start an ITI at Bhodia Khera village in this district, and the building of the institute has already been erected, but no classes have yet been started.

The local people have a long-standing demand that the government should take steps to start science classes, postgraduate classes and vocational courses at Fatehabad.




Brave revolutionaries

ACCORDING to ‘Swadheenata Sangram aur Haryana’ written by famous historian Devi Sankar Prabhakar, Fatehabad was under the rule of Bhatti sardars before the English took over in 1801. During the revolt of 1857, Mohammad Azam fought a fierce battle against the English near Hansi. But he was defeated by the English forces on September 6. The Shahzada reorganised his forces and continued his struggle against the English regime. The Shahzada took on the English forces led by Courtland at Mangali, but he too, was defeated. He again led an armed battle against the English forces near Jamalpur, but this time again he failed. The area came completely under the English regime.

The Bhatti sardars of Fatehabad, who had revolted against the English regime, were gunned down by the English.Hundreds of revolutionaries were crushed under road-rollers. Many of the local residents joined the Azad Hind Force under Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

Badri Parsad Nirmal was the first revolutionary from Fatehabad who was arrested for giving inflammatory speeches against the English regime. He was arrested in 1921 and after the orders of the court, he had to remain in a jail at Mianwali, now in Pakistan.Besides Nirmal, Lekh Ram from Dhingsaran village, Pandit Chiranji Lal from Banawali village,Pat Ram from Kirdan village, Shankar Lal from Pilimandori village and Pandit Sooraj Bhan were some other revolutionaries from Fatehabad, who took active part in the freedom struggle.

— S.M.

This feature was published on March 20, 1999

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