‘Kharakhet salt’ satyagraha remembered

DEHRADUN: On the 85th anniversary of the “salt satyagrah” at Kharakhet (Dehradun), the Uttarakhand State Archives organised an event in memory of the salt satyagrahis at the memorial site on the banks of the saline river Noon, near Vikasnagar, today.

‘Kharakhet salt’ satyagraha remembered

Biju Negi, a Gandhian, delivers a lecture at a function held to commemorate the 85th anniversary of ‘salt satyagraha’ at Kharakhet near Vikasnagar, Dehradun, on Monday. A Tribune photo

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Tribune News Service

Dehradun, April 20

On the 85th anniversary of the “salt satyagrah” at Kharakhet (Dehradun), the Uttarakhand State Archives organised an event in memory of the salt satyagrahis at the memorial site on the banks of the saline river Noon, near Vikasnagar, today. The archives also mounted up an exhibition highlighting the various events and correspondence and legal rulings relating to that movement in April-May 1930. The last time an event was held to remember this historic day was in 1983, when the then central minister from the region, Brahmdutt, had organised a mela.

The main speaker at the event, Biju Negi of Sarvodaya Dehradun, recounted the events of Kharakhet salt satyagrah to underline their national significance in the country’s freedom struggle. Responding to Gandhiji’s call, satyagrahis from Dehradun marched here in 10 batches between April 20 and May 7, manufactured salt and sold it at the municipal grounds in the town. For breaking the existing British Salt Law 1882, the satyagrahis were arrested and imprisoned up to 6 months. Negi lamented that even though the Kharakhet was possibly the biggest andolan in the country’s freedom struggle in Uttarakhand, it has not received its rightful recognition by both successive state governments and the Dehradun’s intelligentsia and public. Indeed, the memorial site is in a state of utter disrepair, with overgrown lantana hedges, which the state archives team worked hard to clear the previous day.

Kalyan Singh Rawat of Maiti Andolan congratulated the state archives for reviving the memory of this very important satyagrah, which otherwise is fast disappearing into oblivion. The state government, particularly after the formation of Uttarakhand, has failed the people of this village and the history of the region. Kharakhet should have been at the head of locations that the general public, the students, the tourists to the region should have been visiting through the year and particularly on this day, but there is not even a proper road to the location, which otherwise boasts of a host of higher education facilities in the vicinity. Zila panchayat member Megh Singh hoped that with this event, the attention of the government and its related departments will be drawn to this location and event. The pradhan of Kharakhet, Bhagwan Singh, voiced the concern of the people who were hosts to this important event but have been totally neglected by the administration and are devoid of citizen facilities. He said that today’s event had generated interest among the local people and they are willing to take this forward.

Dr Lalta Prasad, Director, State Archives, who had taken a personal and independent initiative to organise the event to remember the historic day, hoped that this will now become an annual event. He added that he will seek to draw the attention of the cultural and tourism departments to this and hoped they will take steps to make this a proper memorial site with relevant infrastructure, which will also bring about development initiatives for the local people. It was generally agreed to take this message and hold an awareness event in Dehradun in the near future.

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