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History of Haryana - History from 1885 to 1947

After the formation of Congress in 1885, the political activities in Haryana accelerated. In 1905, the British partitioned Bengal and this directly challenged the Congress program, which responded by the 'Swadeshi Andolan'. Sh. Murlidhar from Ambala and Lala Lajpat Rai in Hissar actively participated in this agitation. In October, 1907 in Ambala, a state level conference was held by the Congress. A large number of people from every corner of Punjab and Haryana participated in this conference. Under the leadership of Lala Lajpat Rai, the conference decided to form branches in every district. Till this time the Congress's Swadeshi Andolan did not have much effect outside the urban middle class of the region. As a result of the Ambala conference decision, district level branches were formed in all the districts of Haryana and Punjab.

On 9 May 1907, the British exiled Lala Lajpat Rai to Burma causing a major setback to the activities of the Congress party. Due to increasing criticism, the British were forced to bring Lalaji back on 14 November 1907. But the bitter fight between the Garam Dal and Naram Dal factions of the Congress resulted in its activities coming to a standstill. Due to this and various other reasons the agitation for independence ran out of steam and it remained so till the end of the first world war.

After the start of the first world war, the congress held a conference in Madras where it passed a resolution to support the British in its war effort. Four annual conferences were held by the Congress during the period of the war, and in each of them, similar resolutions for helping the British were passed. As a result congress workers from Haryana also started helping the British in their war effort. The main reason was that the leadership was in the hands of middle class urban people and they thought that by doing this they would be able to get some personal benefit.

During the war a very large number of Haryanavi youth got themselves enlisted in the army. In Rohtak district alone more that 20,000 young men were recruited in the army by the British. Businessmen and other rich people donated large amounts of money to help the government. While the 'naram dal' faction of the congress was helping the British during the war, the 'garam dal' faction led by Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Ms Annie Besant started the 'Home Rule League' agitation. In Haryana, Pt. Neki Ram Sharma was at the forefront of this agitation. After the Calcutta Adhiveshan in 1917, Tilakji asked Pt. Neki Ram Sharma to lead the Home Rule agitation in the Haryana region.

Pt. Neki Ram Sharma concentrated his activities particularly in the Rohtak region. Perturbed by this the Government threatened him with imprisonment and also tried to buy him out with offers of land and money, but to no avail. Disturbed by the failure of the Home Rule agitation he decided to invite Tilakji to Haryana but the Government reacted by banning Tilakji from coming to Punjab and arrested Pt. Neki Ram Sharma.


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