Dr Shyama Prasad Mookherji’s Martyrdom: Justice to J&K

Dr Ganesh Malhotra
23rd June 2020 became a glorious day after 67 years when Dr Shyama Prasad Mookherji attained martyrdom in 1953 for complete integration of J&K into Indian Union. Mookherji, who was part of the Nehru Cabinet till his protest resignation over the Nehru-Liaqat Ali Pact in 1952 and he decided to enter Jammu and Kashmir in defiance of the restrictive laws of J&K which gave perception of J&K being a separate entity and finally strengthening feeling of separatism through Constitutional and legal framework. He gave his famous slogan ‘Ek Desh Mein do vidhan/Ek Desh Mein do Nishan/Ek Desh Mein do Pradhan/Nahin Chalenge, Nahin Chalenge’
He was arrested on 11 May 1953 while crossing the border and jailed 400 Kms away from place of arrest for reasons better known to Sheikh Abdullah or Nehru in very harsh conditions without proper medical treatment for his ailments. During his stay at Srinagar jail Nehru visited Srinagar but he didn’t bother to meet his former cabinet colleague. He died under mysterious circumstances on 23 June 1953 and was widely suspected to have been killed. He was a former cabinet minister in Central Govt but no official arrangements were made to send his dead body to his native place. All arrangements were made by his supporters at their personal level. His mother Smt.Jogmaya wrote a letter to Nehru to order investigation into death of Dr Shyama Prasad Mookherji’s death. But no reply was given.
The death of Dr Mookherji was a big blow to such voices who were protesting against handling of J&K affairs in a very irresponsible manner by Nehru Govt and giving absolute powers to Sheikh Abdullah. There were protests all over the country in a very forceful manner. Nehru realised his mistake and ordered the arrest of Sheikh Abdullah on sedition charges on 9th August 1953. But this arrest was just symbolic because the process of giving more free hands to Kashmiri leadership for handling J&K affairs and giving more constitutional and legal protections to feeling of separatism continued. In 1954 Presidential order was promulgated by which Article 35A was enacted in an extra constitutional manner. This Article gave more powers to State Govt to create shell around J&K which resulted in strengthening of feeling of separatism. This gave a perception to the outside world that J&K is someway different and separate from India and this perception was used by separatist activists and intellectuals to create public opinion in their favour outside India using anti India forces.
In 1975 Indira Gandhi released Sheikh Abdullah from jail and signed Indira-Sheikh accord. In a bizarre arrangement Sheikh was made CM of state without election which was unique in itself. After his release he continued to pursue his ideological agendas and tried his best to further strengthen perceptions which led to feeling of separatism.
Abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A was recognition of concerns raised by Dr Shyama Prasad Mookherji and lakhs of people during enactment of these provisions. Right from beginning there were concerns that such free hand by the centre to Kashmiri leadership and giving them more constitutional and legal would lead to separatism in J&K and more power to anti India forces but no one listened. This became clear with reactions from Pakistan, China and separatists after these 5th August developments. Pakistan and china has no locus standi in J&k and infact Pakistan and China themselves are illegally occupying territories of J&K but Pakistan’s reaction to India’s moves was bitter. Islamabad has little credibility on Kashmir, given its long history of covertly supporting terrorist groups there. Pakistan’s leadership has limited options, and renewed Pakistani support for terrorism would be costly internationally. Pakistan tried its best to internationalise these developments but got setback at all international forums due to India’s strong postures which were missing in past. Even china couldn’t help Pakistan due to strong support of western countries mainly USA and Russia. One thing is very clear from these developments is India’s assertion that J&K is internal matter of India. External aspect in this is regarding the territories of J&K illegally occupied by Pakistan and China. This type of assertion was required quite long ago. Parliamentary resolution of 1994 on J&K got true spirit with these developments.
J&K constitution, separate flag and different laws of J&K which were used as tools of separatism by separatists and others within India as well as outside India got abrogated leading to accomplishment of mission ” Ek Vidhan and Ek Nishan”
These developments are recognition of the concerns of unrepresented regions of J&K. There were demands of delimitation but no heed was paid to those demands. The beginning of process of delimitation would be a tribute to all those struggled and laid their lives in Praja Parishad Andolan against undemocratic election of Constituent Assembly and arbitrary allocation of seats by Sheikh Abdullah without any delimitation process.
Similarly all those Indian citizens like West Pakistan refugees, Valmikis, Gorkhas and women residents of J&K who were made to live the life of second class citizens for seven decades got all rights. Delhi which is constitutionally mandated to protect its citizens remained mute spectator to atrocities committed on its citizens by draconian laws of J&K. No heed was paid to such voices.
The incorporation of Domicile laws in J&K as integral part of India by giving residency rights to people from rest of India. Lakhs of soldiers and personals of various other departments and Govt institutions served J&K for seven decades and many lost their lives while serving and protecting the lives of people of J&K. They got recognition by these domicile laws. Their children and family members have safe future here in J&K after living for so many years in J&K.
Thus the movement which Dr Shyama Prasad Mookherji started with anticipation of future problems and with his slogan “Ek Desh Mein do vidhan/Ek Desh Mein do Nishan/Ek Desh Mein do Pradhan/Nahin Chalenge, Nahin Chalenge” and infact those problems had turned into multi dimensional and more serious of nature got treatment on 5th August 2019. 23rd June 2020 is the occasion to remember Dr Shyama Prasad Mookherji and his martyrdom for raising the alarm bell which took 67 years for its accomplishment.
The author is (J&K based Strategic and Political analyst)