Six events that changed history and geography of Madhya Pradesh
It is not easy to characterize a state like Madhya Pradesh. Called the heart of India, it has been a melting pot of cultures and outside influences for centuries. After a lot of discussions, arguments and research, HT finally put six biggest moments in its history since 1947.
June 1, 1949-Merger of Bhopal into Union of India
For two years after the departure of the British from India in 1947, Bhopal had survived as a princely state ruled by the erstwhile nawab Hamidullah Khan. Bhopal was one of the last states to merge into the Indian union. Agitations against the Nawab broke out in December 1948, leading to the arrest of prominent leaders. Finally, the Nawab signed an agreement for merger on 30 April, 1949 and Bhopal princely state was taken over by the Union Government of India on June 1,1949.
November 1, 1956-MP comes into existence
MP was earlier divided into several small kingdoms which were captured by the British and incorporated into Central provinces and Berar and the Central India Agency by early 18th century. After independence, MP state was created with Nagpur as its capital: this state included the southern parts of the present-day Madhya Pradesh and north-eastern portion of today’s Maharashtra. In 1956, the state was reorganised and its parts were combined with the states of Madhya Bharat, Vindhya Pradesh and Bhopal to form the new MP state with Bhopal as its capital. With the state’s formation, the first Governor BP Sitaramaiya and the first chief minister Ravi Shankar Shukla were administered oath at the Vidhan Sabha.
July 30, 1967-first non-Cong government
The first non-Congress government in MP took over the reins of the state on July 30, 1967 with Govind Narayan Singh as the chief minister of the state under the political alliance that was called Sanyukt Vidhayak Dal, with the help of breakaway Congress legislators. However, this regime didn’t continue for long. The period between 1977 to 1980 saw three chief ministers under Janta Party regime. After 1980, the state was ruled by Congress till March 1990, when Sunderlal Patwa took over the reins of the state as the first BJP government.
December 2, 1982-Discovery of Narmada man
On this cold December day, geologist Arun Sonakia would never have imagined what he was going to find would change the history of human evolution in Asia forever. Sonakia had stumbled upon the greatest fossil find from this part of the world on the banks of the Narmada at Hathnora village in Sehore district. It was India’s first human fossil—a partial human skull cap—which put India on the world fossil map and proved the presence of early humans in the subcontinent. Prior to this, prehistoric stone tools were found across India but no human fossils had ever been found. Narmada man, which belongs to Homo erectus, is around 5 to 6 lakh years old.
2–3 December 1984-Bhopal gas tragedy
Bhopal gas tragedy, the world’s worst industrial disaster, remains etched in the memory of people. It occurred at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant here. As a result of exposure to methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas, over 5 lakh people were maimed in varying degrees and around 15,000 people have been killed so far. One account gives a vivid image of the disaster. It says, “There were mass funerals and mass cremations. Bodies were dumped into the Narmada river, less than 100km from Bhopal. Within a few days, trees in the vicinity became barren and 2,000 bloated animal carcasses had to be disposed of.”
November 1, 2000-Division of MP
In 2000, around 1.35 lakh square kilometres of south eastern part of MP was carved out into Chhattisgarh, leading to the division of the state. The division happened on November 1, 2000 by partitioning 16 Chhattisgarhi-speaking southeastern districts of the state. The demand for a separate state was first raised in the 1920s. When the State Reorganisation Commission was set up in 1954, the demand for Chhattisgarh was put forward but it was not accepted. The 1990s saw the formation of political forums like Chhattisgarh Rajya Nirman Manch that kept pushing the demand. Finally, the bill for a separate Chhattisgarh was passed in Parliament, paving way for division of the state.