The wedding took place. The bride and groom picked up their respective bags.
The long walk began. Yes, this is the story of Dulari Devi, who left us on the morning of June 14th 2022 at 9 AM.
She was born in 1944 in Thamana village Pauri Garhwal of Kot Block, Sitonsun Patti. Having completed her studies in Sunargaon and Tehri town of Athur Patti of Tehri, at the age of 14-15, she came to her maternal house, Sunargaon. Her mother was from the prestigious Aswal family of Athur. Her maternal uncle’s name was Chiranjilal Aswal. Aswal was also the Principal of Pratap Inter College and BTC College, the teacher of Sunder Lal Bahuguna.
During her stay in the hostel of Rajmata College in Tehri town near the village, she also did the BTC course from Tehri itself. In 1970, she joined the government service and became a teacher. Even after this her life was very simple.
Their marriage in 1977 then became a topic of discussion in the whole of Uttarakhand. The news was made in the newspapers. Her marriage was fixed with Pratap Shikhar, a young hiker of the first Askot-Arakot padyatra of 1974. Pratap Shikhar was active in Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Vahini. Then his companions were on a long walk to advocate rights. On October 20, Pratap Shikhar along with his companions reached Sunargaon in Tehri while walking on foot. His marriage to Dulari Devi was fixed the next day.
There was no preparation or decoration for the wedding. Neither band-baaja nor procession. No new clothes, no shopping. They wore the same clothes they would wear daily. In the morning, the nearby craftsman basti was cleaned and some programs were held with the girls. The rounds did happen, but before the rounds, Prabhat went to the ferry. On the occasion of marriage, they took a pledge to do social service together.
The walk did not stop. They planted two guava saplings. After the wedding, both the bride and groom picked up their respective bags and walked from Athur to Ranichauri on foot. where the meeting was already scheduled. From Tehri to Chamba, Ranichauri and then to Koti village of Kunjani Patti. Buses were available on the road but there was no change in the padyatra program despite the marriage.
Both the bride and groom belonged to prestigious and affluent homes but reached home about 25 km away on foot. Pratap Shikhar was a completely dedicated soldier in the Sarvodaya movement. With great silence, the dear sister joined his campaign. Apart from government service, he was involved in social service programs on all holidays including Sundays. Adopted government service to earn a living and made social service the goal of life. Was involved in the anti-drug and Chipko movement.
When Jan Jagriti Sansthan was established in 1983, her contribution was silently involved in laying its foundation. Being in government service, she did not appear on big platforms, but her work on the grassroots continued day and night. Like Pratap Shikhar ji, she never put a caste noun with her name.
In 1992- 93, when the Lok Sevak Mandal camp was held in Hyderabad, she went as a representative from the mountainous region. She traveled on foot as a peacekeeper and was still working as the Vice President of the Himalaya Seva Sangh. When Pratap Shikhar ji passed away a few years ago, additional responsibility had come onto her. Even on this, the resolve of social service was never shaken.
She supported dedicated Sarvodaya soldiers like Sunderlal Bahuguna, Dhoom Singh Negi, Ghanshyam Sailani, Kunwar Prasoon, Vijay Jaddhari, Vimala Bahuguna, Sudesha Behen on every front and occasion of the struggle. Few people of that generation are left now, who will never be deterred once they have taken a resolve. However, the families have also suffered due to this deprivation.
We can expect that his children Aranya Ranjan, Dr. Srajna and Sameera, daughter-in-law Kavita will carry forward their mission.
By: Mahipal Negi Bhai ji
Translation: Janaki Pande, Puducherry