The deadliest pandemic in the history of mankind has snatched away the son of the soil – Sunderlal Bahuguna yesterday. He was admitted in AIIMS Rishikesh after getting infected from Covid-19.
Hundreds of thousands of people round the globe have been inspired by Sunderlalji for the need to protect the Himalayan forests.
“Kya hai jangal ke upkar
Mitti, paani aur bayar
Mitti, paani aur bayar
Yeh hain jindagi ke aadhar”
This slogan became an important part of the famous Chipko Movement laid by Sunderlalji. It was his extraordinary ability to communicate as a journalist and activist, and as a Gandhian who could be gentle and firm, that made him the iconic figure he became.
With roots in India’s freedom struggle against British colonial rule, Sunderlalji was drawn to social work early on. Gandhi and Gandhians like Miraben, Thakkar Bapa, and Vinoba Bhave, as also his wife Vimlaji, inspired him to dive headlong into issues of justice.
Sunderlal jumped into the freedom movement at an early age when the country was falling under slavery of the British. In the Tehri principality, he actively participated in the mass revolt against the monarchy, due to the oppression of the evils and the voice of the subjects like Jar-Begar.
After the merger of Tehri State with the United Provinces of independent India on 1 August 1949, Sundarlal Bahuguna joined the Sarvodaya movement of Binova Bhave to fight against the evils of society and give new direction to the society instead of indulging in active politics Pioneered
He remained associated with the Congress till 1952. Since the entire Tehri Praja Mandal also became the Tehri district unit of the Congress after the independence of Tehri, it was only natural for Bahuguna to be a Congressman.
Like all the country, untouchability was prevalent in Uttarakhand for centuries. Despite Bahuguna being born into a highly aristocratic Brahmin family, he played the trumpet against untouchability and fought the evils of Brahminical society for Harijanothan.
He along with Ghanshyam Sailani etc. entered the temple of Harijans at Budhakedar. Chandra Singh, a senior IAS officer who is a Scheduled Caste, still gives all the credit to Bahuguna ji for his progress.
Another famous action was his 56-day fast against the Tehri Dam, one of those monstrosities that only a hubris-filled, greedy, insane government could dream up. He was weak, but the voice and will were strong. Unfortunately, the combined might of the state and central government and construction company defeated the anti-Tehri Dam movement. Dozens of wonderfully productive and beautiful valleys and hills and settlements and agricultural lands and forests are now drowned out forever.
Bahuguna was not among those who gained fame by flowing along the stream. From the very beginning, there was the ability to walk opposite the stream.
Sunderlal Bahuguna’s demise is indeed the end of an era. It was an inspiration for not only India but a whole world as a living history.