Wednesday, August 2, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Uttaranchal Bill passed in LS
Tribune News Service and UNI

NEW DELHI, Aug 1 — A Bill seeking to create Uttaranchal as a separate state comprising 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh, including Udham Singh Nagar and Hardwar, was carried by vote in the Lok Sabha today.

The Uttar Pradesh reorganisation Bill, 2000, was moved for consideration and passed in the House by Home Minister L.K. Advani.

Congress members from Punjab Jagmeet Singh Brar and Balbir Singh walked out. Earlier, they along with members belonging to the Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Mr Simranjit Singh Mann (Ind) vociferously protested against the inclusion of Udham Singh Nagar in the proposed state and delayed discussion on the Bill.

They demanded a statement from Mr Fernandes. Mr Zora Singh Mann (SAD) and other members of his party also protested against inclusion of Udham Singh Nagar in the proposed Uttaranchal state.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, called on the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, before he introduced the Uttar Pradesh State Reorganisation Bill and took strong exception to the Union Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, ignoring the predominant view of the people of Udham Singh Nagar.

Mr Badal is believed to have made it clear to Mr Advani that he as a member of the unofficial three-member committee headed by Mr Fernandes was not a party to the report that Udham Singh Nagar should be part of Uttaranchal.

In his now familiar style of going it alone and catching his colleagues off guard, Mr Fernandes stunned Mr Badal by submitting the report purportedly on behalf of the committee to Mr Advani last evening. Thereafter, he faxed the report to Mr Badal and the third member of the committee, Mr Ram Prakash Gupta, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.

In a brief interaction with mediapersons, Mr Badal maintained that the report submitted by Mr Fernandes to the Union Home Ministry “is not that of the three-member committee.” He was categoric that it was a report authored solely by Mr Fernandes and not by him or Mr Gupta.

Mr Fernandes, however, queered the pitch for Mr Badal by stating in the Lok Sabha that the Chief Ministers of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh had given their consent to the report.


Hardwar divided on merger
From K. G. Dutt
Tribune News Service

HARDWAR, Aug 1 — A complete bandh was observed today in this holy city as a protest against the proposed merger of Hardwar into Uttaranchal state. The bandh call was jointly given by the Samajwadi Party led by Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, the Lok Tantrik Congress Party led by Mr Naresh Aggarwal, the Congress, akharas of saints and sadhus as well as other leading trade and social organisations of the city. The organisers also held a chakka jam in Hardwar and adjoining areas.

As per telephonic reports available to TNS, the anti-merger forces also held a big rally. Similarly, a rally was also held by the pro-merger elements who were opposing today’s bandh call.

The Hardwar police had a trying time as it was involved in clearing yesterday’s rush of pilgrims who had converged on the city for a holy dip on the occasion of Somvati Amavasya. Over 40 lakh pilgrims had come to take the holy bath. The police could pay little attention towards making arrangements for the bandh call. In view of the bandh pilgrims who had to stay overnight in the holy town because of large crowds had to face a lot of difficulties. Traffic jams for long duration were reported from areas between Roorkee and Rishikesh, a distance of over 60 km.

Meanwhile, clear battle lines have been drawn between the pro-merger and anti-merger forces in Hardwar. The pro-merger group basically comprise those elements who have settled here from the Uttaranchal areas. Otherwise, all three MLAs from the Assembly constituencies of Hardwar district — Lushkar, Roorkee and Hardwar — are fiercely opposed to the merger of Hardwar in Uttaranchal. The Lok Tantrik Congress Party had also made its intentions very clear as far as the merger of Hardwar in Uttaranchal is concerned.

Senior leaders of both the Samajwadi Party and the Lok Tantrik Congress Party had addressed meetings here to oppose the proposed merger.

The Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad, the Khat Darshan Sadhu Samaj and other organisations of saints have also opposed the merger of Hardwar into Uttaranchal. The Akhara Parishad at a meeting held here two days back passed a resolution opposing the merger. The meeting of the parishad was presided over by Mahant Shankar Bharti.

The parishad had sent copies of the resolution to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee. The resolution said the Government of India would be playing with the sentiments of residents of Hardwar provided it stuck to its decision of merging the holy city into Uttaranchal. The resolution further said Hardwar epitomised the religious sentiments of the people of the plains of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, and Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.

Millions of pilgrims from these states visit Hardwar on different auspicious days and during melas. The Centre will be playing with the sentiments of all these people if it merges Hardwar with Uttaranchal. Besides, all major akharas, mutths and religious organisations get monetary sustenance from their followers in the above said states. If Hardwar is taken out of Uttar Pradesh the mutths and religious organisations will suffer financial losses.

The three legislators from Hardwar district had urged the Centre that before the merger the government should elicit public opinion of the residents of Hardwar. Interestingly, the local MLA, Mr Ambrish Kumar of the Samajwadi Party, and some organisations have threatened that the agitation opposing the merger would be taken to its logical end. However, the BJP seems to be united on the issue of merger of the holy city into Uttaranchal.

A meeting of the BJP office-bearers held at Roorkee two days back decided to support the government move. The BJP workers have launched a propaganda campaign that the merger of Hardwar with Uttaranchal is essential for "strengthening the hands of the Prime Minister". The BJP leadership is of the view that if Hardwar is not merged in Uttaranchal the party stands to lose a fair chunk of its popular vote bank in the hills.

The Congress on the other hand has taken a divergent stand. While the Central leadership is maintaining a neutral posture and only demands that Uttaranchal should be soon carved out the Hardwar unit of the Congress is opposing the merger.

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