The persistent Akali demand for the creation of a Punjabi Suba on linguistic lines resulted in the setting up of a 22 member Parliamentary Committee of both Houses of Parliament in 1965 for finding a satisfactory settlement of the demand for the Punjabi Suba. The Committee was presided over by Sardar Hukam Singh, the Speaker of Lok Sabha.
Himachal Pradesh had been created as the Chief Commissioner’s province in 1948 by the merger of 28 petty princely states. Himachal became a part C state in 1950 with a Lieutenant Governor and an elected Legislative Assembly. The Princely State of Bilaspur was merged into Himachal in 1954. Himachal Pradesh was made a Union Territory in 1956.
When the Hukam Singh Committee was formed the people of Himachal urged the integration of the hilly areas of districts of Kangra, Kullu, Shimla and Lahaul-Spiti as well as the Una tehsil of Hoshiarpur district; Pathankot tehsil of Gurdaspur district; Kalka tehsil, Nalagarh tehsil & Morni Hills of Naraingarh tehsil of Ambala district and Kalesar area of sub-tehsil (and former princely State) Kalsia, with Himachal Pradesh. It was contended that these areas were not only geographically contiguous to the hill state but also shared a common history, cultural and social affinities. The people of Punjab hill areas spoke ‘Pahari’ like their Himachali brethren and not Punjabi or Hindi like the people of the plains. The hill people claimed political and economic discrimination by the people of the plains.
Hukam Singh Committee recommended the linguistic re-organisation of the State of Punjab. It was also recommended that the hill areas of Punjab included in the Hindi region which were contiguous to Himachal Pradesh and had a cultural and linguistic affinity to the hill state should be merged with it for better administration and economic development of these areas.
The Central Government announced its decision to reorganize Punjab on linguistic lines and set up the Punjab Boundary Commission under the chairmanship of Justice J. C. Shah in April, 1966. The Commission was to demarcate the areas of Punjabi speaking Punjab and Hindi speaking Haryana and was also to recommend demarcation of the hilly areas of Punjab that were contiguous to the Union Territory Of Himachal Pradesh and had a cultural and linguistic affinity to it.
The Commission recommended the merger of hill districts of Shimla, Lahaul-Spiti, Kullu and Kangra with Himachal. Dalhousie area of Pathankot tehsil, most of Una tehsil and the Nalagarh tehsil of Ambala district were likewise recommended to be merged with Himachal.
Now it was to settle the claim over Morni. Himachal had made a strong bid the 93 square mile area of Morni Hills, that comprised 20% of the total area of the Naraingarh tehsil. Historically, Morni had been once a part of the Sirmaur State that was one of the 28 princely States that were merged in 1948 to form Himachal. Geographically, Morni was bounded on three sides by Himachal. The people of Morni shared linguistic, cultural, historical and traditional links with the Himachalis. Despite the strong case for merger with Himachal,the Boundary Commission recommended the continuation of Morni hills with Naraingarh tehsil of Haryana as it did not want to split the tehsil! Thus, Haryana got its only hill station by a virtual quirk of fate by which the Shah Commission chose to ignore the overwhelming grounds for Himachal’s claim over the hills in order to maintain the territorial integrity of the Naraingarh tehsil.
Curiously enough, the final report did not make even a mention of the Kalesar forest that had been claimed by Himachal!! The forest also came Haryana’s way by luck.
The recommendations of the Shah Commission were formalized by the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966 that led to the creation of Haryana and the merger of hill areas with Union Territory of Himachal Pradesh.
- The Emergence of Himachal Pradesh: A Survey of Constitutional Developments, V. Verma (1995)