Kunihar Praja Mandal and The Legacy of Babu Kanshi Ram


In the beautiful Shimla hill region, there was a small princely state called Kunihar, which covered an area of 7 square miles.In the early 20th century, the people of Kunihar witnessed a significant democratic awakening against the indecent behavior of their ruler, Rana Hardev Singh. The people were fed up with the oppressive and exploitative practices of the Rana, who was known for his tyrannical rule.

The movement gained momentum in the late 1930s, and in 1939, the 'Kunihar Praja Mandal' was established. The Mandal was a democratic organization that aimed to fight for the rights of the people and bring about social and political change in the region. The Mandal was led by Babu Kanshi Ram, a prominent social reformer and political leader who played a crucial role in spearheading the movement.

Under the leadership of Babu Kanshi Ram, the Kunihar Praja Mandal organized several protests and rallies, demanding the end of the Rana's oppressive rule. The Mandal also worked towards improving the living conditions of the people and promoting education and healthcare in the region.

The movement was successful in bringing about significant changes in Kunihar, and the Rana was forced to relinquish his power. The establishment of the Kunihar Praja Mandal marked a significant milestone in the history of the region, and Babu Kanshi Ram's contribution to the movement is still remembered and celebrated by the people of Kunihar.

The Genesis of Resistance: 1920-1928

The First Challenge

In 1920, there was a growing discontent among the people with Rana's oppressive rule, and they started to voice their concerns against his behavior. However, the state, under the leadership of Hardev Singh, responded harshly by arresting key leaders of the movement and suppressing any dissent. This marked the first challenge faced by the movement against Rana's rule.

Resurgence in 1928

After the release of the movement leaders from jail in 1928, the people regrouped and formed the 'Kunihar Praja Mandal' in Shimla. The movement gained momentum, and the main figures, Babu Kanshi Ram and Gauri Shankar, played crucial roles in organizing and revitalizing it. They worked tirelessly to spread awareness about the movement's goals and to garner support from the people. Their efforts paid off, and the movement gained widespread support, marking a resurgence in the fight against Rana's oppressive rule.

The Demands and Negotiations: 1939

On July 8, 1939, 'Kunihar Praja Mandal' presented their demands to Rana Hardev Singh:

  • Release of political workers.
  • 25% reduction in land tax.
  • End to government repression on Praja Mandal.
  • Formation of a reform committee.

Rana's Response

Recognizing the seriousness of the situation, Rana initiated negotiations on July 9, 1939, which marked a significant turning point in the region's history. Notably, not only Kunihar but also neighboring regions Dhami, Bhajji, Nalagarh, Mehlog and Baghal and Himalayan Riyasti Praja Mandal  actively participated in the discussions. The acceptance of these demands was a momentous achievement for the democratic movement, signifying the first step towards a brighter future for the people. This event was a significant milestone in the region's political history, as it demonstrated the power of peaceful negotiations and the potential for democratic movements to bring about positive change.

Babu Kanshi Ram: The Backbone of Kunihar

Kunihar's Proud Legacy

The village of Namhol is located in the peaceful landscapes of Himachal Pradesh. It holds historical significance as the birthplace of a devoted patriot named Babu Kanshi Ram. Kunihar, on the other hand, is a bastion that played a crucial role in shaping and nurturing the resilience of this remarkable figure throughout history.

Early Life and Struggles

Kanshi Ram was born in 1874 to Hajari Lal and was the eldest among his three brothers. He grew up in a world where the rule of royalties was all-encompassing, and the weight of princely authority was felt by all. However, Kanshi Ram was not one to be deterred by the oppressive actions of the Rana of Kunihar. Instead, he was fueled by a fierce determination to challenge and counter the Rana's actions. Despite the era being marked by the imperious rule of royalties, Kanshi Ram's spirit remained unbroken, and he continued to fight for justice and equality.

A Visionary Patriot

Despite facing immense pressure from the ruling class, Kanshi Ram remained undeterred and took it upon himself to initiate a movement that would resonate throughout Kunihar. His actions were not merely a rebellion, but a true manifestation of patriotism and a fervent desire to liberate his people from the clutches of tyranny.

From Storekeeper to Freedom Fighter

Kanshi Ram began his professional career as a storekeeper at the U.S. Club Shimla. However, his true calling was to fight for justice and uplift the voices of the oppressed. He eventually landed a job as a clerk at The Trust of India, where he continued to advocate for his community. For Kanshi Ram, these were not just jobs, but platforms to amplify the aspirations of those who had been silenced.

The Freedom Fighter's Legacy

Kanshi Ram's name echoes through the ages as one of the most prominent freedom fighters of Himachal Pradesh. His legacy is etched in the annals of history, serving as a testament to the power of unwavering determination in the face of adversity. In the heart of Kunihar, he remains an emblem of courage and resilience, a beacon inspiring generations to come.

In conclusion, Babu Kanshi Ram's journey from the tranquil village of Namhol to the forefront of the freedom movement is a saga of courage, conviction, and unwavering commitment. Kunihar, with its rich history, stands as a testament to the strength that emerges from the relentless pursuit of justice. In the following sections, we will delve deeper into Kanshi Ram's pivotal role in the freedom movement and the enduring impact of his actions on the socio-political landscape of Himachal Pradesh.


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