June 23, every year, is observed as the Balidan Divas of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee, that son of mother India who though born a Bengali embodied nationalism to an extent that he sacrificed his life for a cause dear to the nationalist people of Jammu & Kashmir who were struggling against the design of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah to wean the state away from the national mainstream and promote a “State within a State”, writes BRIG. ANIL GUPTA
Sheikh’s cadre arrogantly announced, “Ek Rahnuma-Sher-e-Kashmir, Ek Jammat-National Conference,Ek Jhanda-Hal” (One Leader Sheikh Abdullah, One Party National Conference, One Flag Plough-NC’s flag), thereby undermining the authority of theGovernment of India and the National Flag. NC was against the full integration of the State with Republic of India. Sheikh had his way all through with signing of Delhi Declaration and inclusion of Articles 370 and later inclusion of Article 35A in the Constitution of India. These provisions sounded the death knell of inclusivity and promoted exclusivity which were strongly opposed by the people of rest of the state.
The opposition to Sheikh was spearheaded in Ladakhby Kushak Bakula and in Jammu by Pt Prem NathDogra’s Praja Parishad. Parishad launched an agitation in1949 which was brutally supressed by Sheikh Abdullah with the support of Nehru by dubbing it “communal.” Howevern the Movement received the support of newly formed nationalist party Bharatiya Jana Sangh that was opposed to the appeasement policies of Nehru. The whole nation began to support the demand of “Ek Pradhan, EkVidhan and Ek Nishan.“
Mookerjee was strongly opposed to Article 370, seeing it as a threat to national unity. He fought against it inside and outside the parliament with one of the goals of Jana Sangh being its abrogation. He termed the arrangements under the article as ‘Balkanization of India’ and the ‘three-nation theory’of Sheikh Abdullah. The state was granted its own flag along with a prime minister whose permission was required for anyone to enter the state. In opposition to this, Mukherjee once said “Ek deshmein do Vidhan, do Pradhan aur Do Nishan nahichalenge” (A single country can’t have two constitutions, two prime ministers, and two national emblems).
Dr Mookerjee dared Sheikh’s authority by entering the state on 11 May 1953 at Lakhanpur, he was arrested and moved to Srinagar and kept under solitary confinement. He had multiple ailments but was denied proper medical treatment. He died as a detainee on 23 June 1953 under mysterious circumstances. Late PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had claimed that he was murdered in a “Nehru conspiracy”.
Dr Mookerjeeattained martyrdom fighting against Article 370. His mission for ending exclusive status of J&K was continued by Jana Sangh and BJP later and many karyakarta also sacrificed their lives for achievement of the same.
The dream was finally realised on August 5, 2019 when the NDA government led by PM Modi abrogated 370 and 35A. Today is the first BalidanDivas of Dr Mookerjee after the state got rid of separate flag and a separate constitution fulfilling the dream of those who had sacrificed their lives to see this Day? This day is different today and needs to be celebrated with gusto keeping the restrictions of Covid in mind.
An Army veteran, Brig Gupta is BJP spokesman in Jammu & Kashmir