October 2, 2004
Fast unto Death in Gairsen by Dr. Uma Bhatt and Srimati Bhooma Devi is a drastic decision by Uttarakhand Mahila Manch. The move comes close on the heels of the sad demise of Baba Mohan Uttarakhandi, who sacrificed his life on 9th August 2004.
It is shameful that Uttaranchal Government is not paying heed to the basic demands of Uttarakhand movement. Four years have elapsed since the state came into existence, but culprits of the horrendous Muzaffarnagar incident are still roaming free. The question of the permanent capital of Uttaranchal has not yet been resolved subsequent upon which the activists are impatient to redeem their fetters of patience.
The Cabinet Committee which was constituted before the Uttarakhand Movement in 1994 gave its verdict in favour of Gairsain after wide consultations with different segments of society. The tilt was towards Gairsen because of its central location in Uttaranchal. It is intriguing and a matter of surprise for the people that B.J.P. led government at the centre did not put the provision of a capital in U.P Reorganisation Act 2000. This issue of permanent importance was left to the wisdom of the new state to decide. The caretaker B.J.P. Govt. of Uttaranchal and then the elected govt. under the leadership of Mr. Narayan Dutt Tewari, instead of declaring Gairsen as the capital, constituted another commitee to settle this problem under the presidentship of retired justice Virendra Dixit. Justice Dixit has not yet given his final report to the govt., but has confirmed that the peoples’ first choice is Gairsain and this site is geologically safe.
Activists right through the state are agitating on this issue. On 9th August 2004, on the 38th day of his hunger strike Baba Mohan Uttarakhandi demanding Gairsain as the capital, died in Karnprayag in police custody, after he was forcibly removed from Benital, where he was fasting. His untimely death added fuel to fire and the two ladies, Dr. Uma Bhatt, who is a Reader in Hindi Deptt. in Kumaun University and is editor of women’s magazine ‘Uttara’ and Srimati Bhooma Devi, who is a social worker in Gairsen, have started fast unto death from 2nd October, which incidently happens to be the 10th anniversary of infamous Muzaffarnagar incident.
We appeal to you that if you support this cause of Uttarakhand activists, please send letters/fax of support to the C.M. of Uttaranchal and ask him to accept the demands of these women activists. You can hold meetings, circulate letters and mobilise the people for this noble cause. If you do not support Gairsain as the capital of Uttarakhand, still you can appeal to Mr. Narayan Dutt Tewari to resolve this matter immediately and save the lives of the activists. Hope you will not muffle your voice at this moment of crisis.
— Girish Tewari ‘Girda’, Poet and cultural activist
— Rajiv Lochan Sah, Editor, Naini Tal Samachar