Shyama Prasad Mukherjee

Updated on Sep 09, 2002 05:02 PM IST

According to Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, the founder of Jan Sangh, the Indian government's policy in Jammu and Kashmir would end in creating a state within a state.

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HT Image

According to Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, the founder of Jan Sangh, the Indian governments policy in Jammu and Kashmir would end up creating a state within a state.

Under Sheikh Abdullah, it was mandatory for an Indian to furnish a permit to enter Kashmir. In protest against the permit policy, Shyama Prasad entered Kashmir without a permit and was arrested. He was kept in detention, his illness and failing health reported to none, and he passed away in detention on Jun 23, 1953 after a massive heart attack. Jammu rose in revolt against this as Mookherjee had passed away fighting for the Praja Parishad cause.

The Bharatiya Jana Sangh came into existence on October 21, 1951, under Dr Mookherjee's leadership. Sheikh Abdullah's separatist policies had fostered resentment among the people of Jammu and Ladakh in particular. The Praja Parishad movement arose as a revolt against Sheikh Abdullah's policies.
The agitators of the movement directly attacked the Delhi Agreement, which reiterated the provisions of the Article 370 as enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

This movement found the support of Dr Mookherjee who set up the Jan Sangh to provide an alternative government against the Congress Government which he felt was causing a split in Jammu and Kashmir by granting it autonomy.

In 1953, Dr Mookherjee decided to visit Jammu to demonstrate his solidarity with the Praja Parishad movement. He left Delhi for Jammu without a permit in May 1953, soon after the budget session of Parliament was over.

Predictably, the Kashmir police in Jammu kept him out of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India. A habeas corpus petition was moved in the High Court at Srinagar pending a judgment on June 24. By that time, Dr Mookerjee had been shifted to the state hospital in Srinagar, and he died at 11 pm on June 23, 1953.
Dr Mookherjee had made a powerful plea for rethinking on Kashmir in his speech in the Lok Sabha on June 26, 1952.

In one of his speeches, he questioned:  'How is Kashmir going to be integrated with India?' Is Kashmir going to be a republic within a republic?' And he also warned: 'If you just want to play with the winds and say we are helpless and let Sheikh Abdullah do what he likes then Kashmir would be lost. I say this with great deliberation that Kashmir would be lost.'

The crux of the stand taken by Dr Mookerjee is to be found in his letter to Pandit Nehru on February 3, 1953. He wrote that the issue of accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India should not be allowed to hang fire. In his reply, Pandit Nehru condemned the Praja Parishad and its approach as communal and destructive. He referred to the international complications it might create.

This impelled Dr Mookerjee to write to him another letter on February 8 in which he touched upon the demand of Praja Parishad that the entire state should be governed by the same Constitution that applies to the rest of India and asked: 'Is there anything communal or reactionary or anti-national about it'. If India's Constitution is good enough for the rest of India, why should it not be acceptable to the state of Jammu and Kashmir...'


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