Today is 23rd of June. It is a date the nation must not forget. Exactly 59 years back, in 1953, on this very day Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee passed away in Srinagar in mysterious circumstances.
In October 1951, Dr. Mookerjee had founded the Bharatiya Jana Sangh. He had been elected its first National President.
In 1952, the Election Commission had organized the First General elections to the Lok Sabha, and the State Assemblies. Dr. Mookerjee was elected to the first Lok Sabha from a Calcutta constituency.
In December 1952, the first All India Session of the Jana Sangh was held at Kanpur. It was at this conclave that Dr. Mookerjee gave a call to the country for the complete integration of Jammu and Kashmir State into the Indian Union. The call was summed up in a powerful slogan:
Ek desh men Do Vidhan
(Ours is one country; we cannot have
The Kanpur session ended with a resolve: to launch a countrywide movement for the full integration of J&K State into the Union.
The movement was preceded by Dr. Mookerjee’s correspondence with Prime Minister Pandit Nehru on this issue of J&K’s full integration.
This was followed up by Dr. Syama Prasad undertaking a countrywide tour on this issue. In this tour he was accompanied by Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
I was in Kota, Rajasthan, those days.
I can never forget meeting these two great stalwarts at the Kota Railway Station, when the two were passing through Kota Junction.
The J&K Government had decreed that any visitor to the State would be permitted entry only if he secured a permit from the State Government. Dr. Mookerjee felt that this order of the State Government was violative of the Indian Constitution. So he decided that he himself would lead from the front the movement he had given a call for, by defying the entry-permit order.
Dr. Mookerjee left Delhi for his Kashmir destination on May 8, 1953 by a passenger train carrying him and his entourage into Punjab. Throughout Punjab, it was a sea of humanity that accosted him everywhere.
His last stop was at the border check-post at Madhopur on the River Ravi, one of the great five rivers of Punjab, marking the boundary between Punjab and J&K. The day of his entry into this State was May 10, 1953. There was a road bridge across the Ravi. The boundary between the two states was supposed to be at the mid point of this Madhopur bridge.
When the jeep carrying Dr. Mookerjee reached the centre-point of the bridge they found a posse of J&K Police blocking the road. The Superintendent of Police, Kathua (J&K State) handed Dr. Mookerjee an order signed by the Chief Secretary of the State banning Dr. Mookerjee’s entry into the State. “But I am determined to go into the State”, Dr. Mookerjee declared.
Thereupon the police officer took out an order of arrest under the Public Safety Act, and took Dr. Mookerjee into custody. Vaidya Guru Dutt and Tekchand were two colleagues in the group who had been assigned the duty of accompanying Dr. Mookerjee when he was arrested. These two also courted arrest.
Dr. Mookerjee then spoke to Atalji and asked him to go back and convey to the people of the country that Dr. Mookerjee had defied the prohibitory orders, and entered Jammu and Kashmir without a permit, though as a prisoner.
The place at which Dr. Syama Prasad was incarcerated was a small house near Nishat Bag far away from Srinagar City. This house was converted into a sub-jail.
On June 23, 1953, the whole country was shocked to learn that after a brief illness at his place of detention, Dr. Mookerjee was shifted to the State Hospital about ten miles away, where he had breathed his last.
I was at Jaipur that day. I vividly remember how in the early hours of June 24 morning, about 4.30 a.m., I was woken up from sleep by the loud wailing sounds of someone outside our party office at Chaura Rasta (he turned out to be a local newsman), who kept shouting, while weeping: “Advaniji, they have killed Dr. Mookerjee”!
Tathagata Roy is one of our prominent activists of West Bengal. He has been at one point of time the President of our State unit there. He has lately written “a complete biography” of Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee. It is to be released next month. We in the BJP owe our position in India’s politics to the sacrifices and exertions of thousands who have preceded us, and above all to the vision and martyrdom of Dr. Mookerjee.
We had known our great leader closely only during the closing years of his life. Tathagata has done a signal service to history and to the nationalist cause we are pursuing in politics by doing all the research necessary and preparing this volume informing readers about the life of this great patriot right from his birth. All kudos to Tathagata Roy.
TEXT OF LETTER WRITTEN TO
PRIME MINISTER NEHRU BY
SMT. JOGMAYA DEBI,
MOTHER OF DR. S.P. MOOKERJEE
77 Asutosh Mookerjee Road
4th July, 1953
Dear Mr. Nehru,
Your letter dated 30th June was forwarded to me on the 2nd of July by Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy. I thank you for your message of condolence and sympathy.
The nation mourns the passing away of my beloved son. He has died a martyr’s death. To me, his mother, the sorrow is too deep and sacred to be expressed. I am not writing to you to seek my consolation. But what I do demand of you is Justice. My son died in detention – a detention – without trial. In your letter you have tried to impress that Kashmir government had done all that should have been done. You base your impression on the assurances and information you have received. What is the value, I ask, of such information when it comes from persons who themselves should stand a trial? You say, you had visited Kashmir during my son’s detention. You speak of the affection you had for him. But what prevented you, I wonder, from meeting him there personally and satisfying yourself about his health and arrangements?
His death is shrouded in mystery. Is it not most astounding and shocking that ever since his detention there, the first information that I, his mother, received from the Government of Kashmir was that my son was no more and that also at least two hours after the end? And in what a cruel cryptic way the message was conveyed! Even the telegram from my son that he had been removed to the Hospital reached us here after the tragic news of his death. There is definite information that my son had not been keeping well practically from the beginning of his detention. He had been positively ill a number of times and for successive periods. Why did not, I ask, the Government of Kashmir or your Government send any information whatsoever to me and my family?
Even when he was removed to the Hospital they did not think it necessary to immediately intimate us or Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy. It is also evident that the Kashmir Government had never cared to acquaint itself with the previous history of Syamaprasad’s health and provide for nursing arrangements and emergent medical attendance in case of need. Even his repeated attacks of illness were not taken as a warning. The result was disastrous. I have positive evidence to prove that he had, to quote his own words, a “sinking feeling” on the morning of 22nd June. And what did the Government do? The inordinate delay in getting any medical assistance, his removal to the Hospital in most injudicious manner, the refusal to allow even his two co-detenus to be by his side in the Hospital are some glaring instances of the heartless conduct of the authorities concerned.
The responsibility of the government and their own doctors cannot be in any way evaded or lightened by some stray quotations from Syama Prasad’s letters chosen at random, that he was keeping well. What is the value of such quotations? Docs anybody seriously expect that he – of all persons – and that while in detention far away from his dear and near ones – would ventilate his grievances through letters or diagnose his own malady? The responsibility of the Government was immense and serious.
I charge them that they had utterly neglected and failed to discharge this bounden duty. You speak of the comforts and amenities given to dear Syama Prasad in detention. It is a matter to be enquired into. The Kashmir Government had not even the courtesy to allow free flow of family correspondence. Letters were held up, and some mysteriously disappeared. His anxiety for home news, particularly of his ailing daughter-and my poor self, was distressing. Will you be astonished to learn that on the 27th June last, we received here his letters dated 15th June, despatched by the Kashmir Government in a packet on the 24th June, that is, a day after sending his dead body? That packet also brought back to us the letters addressed by myself and others here to Syama Prasad which had reached Srinagar on the 11th and 16th June, but had never been delivered to him. It was a case of mental torture. He had been repeatedly asking for sufficient space for walking. He was feeling ill for want of it. But he was persistently refused Is not this a method of physical torture too? I am filled with surprise and shame to be told by you “that he was being kept not in any prison but in a private villa on the famous Dal Lake in Srinagar.” Strictly confined in a small bungalow with a little compound, guarded day and night by a body of armed guards—such was the life that he was leading. Is it seriously maintained that a golden cage should make a prisoner happy? I shudder to hear such desperate propaganda. I do not know what medical treatment and assistance had been given to him. The official reports, I am told, are self-contradictory. Eminent physicians have expressed their views that it was, in the least, a case of gross negligence. The matter requires a thorough and impartial enquiry.
I do not bewail here the death of my beloved son. A fearless son of Free India has met his death while in detention without trial under most tragic and mysterious circumstances. I, the mother of the great departed, demand that an absolutely impartial and open enquiry by independent and competent persons be held without delay. I know nothing can bring back to us the life that is no more. But what I do want is that the people of India must judge for themselves the real causes of this great tragedy enacted in a free country and the part that was played by your Government.
If a wrong has been done anywhere, by any person—however high he may be—let justice take its course and let the people be cautious so that no mother in Free India has again to shed tears with the same agony and grief that has befallen me.
You are good enough to tell me not to hesitate to inform you about any service that you may render to me. Here is the demand on my own behalf and on behalf of the mothers of India. May God give you courage to allow Truth to see the Light.
Before I close my letter I would refer to one very important fact. Syama Prasad’s personal diary and his other manuscript writings were not returned by the Kashmir Government along with his other belongings. Copies of correspondence between Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed and my eldest son, Ramaprasad, are enclosed herein. I shall be deeply grateful if you could recover the diary and the manuscripts from the Kashmir Government. They must be with them.
With my blessings,
Yours in grief,
June 23, 2012