Portrait of a Martyr : Life of Dr.Shyama Prasad Mookerjee by Prof. Balraj Madhok – Summary Part 3

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Born 7th July 1901. Died 23rd June 1953

The Kashmir Imbroglio and Mysterious Death of Dr.Mookerjee

After the accession of Jammu & Kashmir on 26th October 1947, it was Shyama Prasad who rescued it. Nehru had taken sole charge of Kashmir and he consulted nobody regarding policies especially internal matters. Justice Kunwar Dilip Singh, Agent-General of Govt of India to Jammu & Kashmir found that  Sheik Abdulla was implementing his own policies and resigned the post. Justice Mehar Chand Mahajan, prime minister of the state was driven out of the state by sheik Abdulla. Sheik Abdulla was suppressing  Hindus of Jammu. Pandit Prem Nath Dogra the undisputed leader of the people Jammu was arrested, detained without trial without framing any charges. Many Praja Parishad party members were also arrested. Nehru was deaf to the pleadings of Jammu people. After some months Peaceful Satyagraha was launched by JAMMU people for the release of pandit Prem Nath Dogra and step-motherly treatment of Jammu. women and some Muslim Dogras also courted arrest.

A delegation of women came to Delhi to appraise the situation to the political leaders of India and by end of 1948, Pandit Prem Nath  Dogra was released from jail. After some months it was decided to elect a constituent assembly of Kashmir to ratify the access of the state to India. The Praja Parishad decided to contest elections but out of 59 nominations 42 was rejected arbitrarily and whimsically by the returning officers. Pandit Prem Nath Dogra visited Delhi and met political leaders. Govt was on the side of sheik Abdulla and most of the leaders and also some top Congress leaders advised him to boycott elections. Unfortunately, Shyama Prasad  Mookerjee was not there in  Delhi at that time. He wanted  Praja Parishad to contest elections at any cost. This boycott of election by Praja Parishad helped Abdulla to handpick his nominees who were known communists and Pakistani men.

Article 370 was incorporated in the constitution of India by specific request of  Abdulla which was temporary in nature which was objected by  Dr. Ambedkar and many other members. Sheik Abdulla began to consider Kashmir as an independent state acceded to India for the limited purpose of  Defence, foreign affairs, and communication. He did not transfer the State telegraph and telephone department and also strategic high ways to the Central Ministry Of Communication. He wanted to raise a few thousand strong militia to be equipped by India but controlled by him. He kept his trade agents at Delhi and Bombay as his diplomatic missions for developing close contact with foreign missions in India. He eliminated Hindi from education curricular and also in-office use. He started to talk Kashmir as a separate nation, distinct from the Indian nation. He transferred all state valuables from Jammu To Kashmir, Rare Manuscripts And Institutions. He made new Muslim majority districts, by joining some parts of Jammu to Kashmir valley. Some high and trusted officers of Sheik  Abdulla started open Propaganda in favor of Pakistan. In February 1952 students of government Gandhi memorial college, Jammu protested against compulsion to salute the National conference flag at an official function. They were dealt harshly and the student’s agitation became a massive movement. The government exploited the situation to arrest Pandit Premnath Dogra, his workers, and supporters without trial and clamped 82-hour curfew in Jammu city.

Dr Mookerjee with his mother son and grandson

On 24th March 1952, Mirza Afzal Beg, Revenue minister declared that J&K will be a Republic with its own president, separate National Assembly, and judicial set up. On 29th March 1952 Sheik himself declared that J&K is a sovereign nation with no jurisdiction of Indian parliament over it. Prior to some days before this Nehru has sent Sheik to Paris as the government of India delegate to the U.N.O. Nehru tried to minimize the gravity of the situation by making Praja Parishad as the scapegoat. Sheik pressurized Pandit Dogra to join the National Conference as a pre-requisite to join his cabinet, but he refused the same. Abdulla had launched a campaign for the Muslimisation of the state. And wanted to establish a totalitarian one-party regime. Pandit Dogra wanted to meet Nehru but was refused even to see him even after repeated requests.

On 24th July 1952 Nehru tabled before the parliament the demands of Sheik Abdulla for separate citizenship, separate flag, elected head of the State in place of the hereditary Maharaja, and a separate constitution. This is known as the July agreement which was a victory for Sheik’s policy of separation. The Praja Parishad decided to hold a convention of its workers at Jammu on 9th and 10th August 1952. Dr.Mookerjee was invited for the same along with other Indian political leaders. U.M.Trivedi, Babu Ram Narain Singh both MPs. Prof.Balraj Madhok and a good number of press representatives were to accompany Mookerjee on his journey on the 8th by Kashmir Mail. But the defense ministry did not give permits necessary for entry to the state. After contacting the home minister and the defense minister it was made available at the last minute.

Pandit Premnath Dogra had come all the way from Jammu to Pathankot to receive and welcome Mookerjee to J&K. Outside Pathankot railway station at 9 am he addressed a huge crowd. The gateway to Jammu and the first town of the state was Kathua. It is four miles away from the Ravi Bridge (Madhopur). The population was about 3000 but about 10000 people were there to welcome Mookerjee. The seventy miles Journey from Kathua to Jammu was a continuous procession. After every mile or two he had to stop and say a few words. At Hira Nagar And Samba, he had to address mammoth meetings. He was to reach Jammu by 6 pm but could not leave Samaba before 7.15 pm which was 25 miles from Jammu. At Tawi Bridge, the outpost for the city of Jammu, there was a surging sea of humanity to welcome him. He has given more than 20 speeches on his way.

Sheik Abdulla sent the Deputy commissioner of Jammu to invite Mookerjee for his visit to Srinagar and he visited him on 10th August and had talks for six hours with Sheik and his deputy Bakshi Gulam Mohammed. He had also talk with Yuvaraja Karan Singh who against his wish was to be president of the state. Mookerjee told Abdullah that he was talking like Jinnah and not to have a separate flag for Kashmir which Jammu people did not want. Dr. Mookerjee knew that Nehru will not heed democratic pressure, arguments logic, and public opinion. Only agitation can make him understand that the cause of Praja Parishad was the cause of the whole of India. National Conference Party Flag, with minor alteration, was declared state flag and wanted to hoist the same on 17th November 1952 at Jammu secretariat. They were not able to hoist the flag because of the opposition of Praja Parishad.Nehru provided battalions of central armed reserve police and also tear gas squads to Sheik Abdullah to repress Hindus of Jammu. Pandit Prem Nath Dogra And Shri Shyam Lal Sharma were arrested on 26th November 1952 for hoisting Indian Tricolor in the main square of Jammu city. The people of Jammu were not prepared to sever their connection with India under any circumstances. There was no plebiscite on partition or universal suffrage in the election of legislatures in India. Jammu people wanted that they should be governed by the same constitution applicable to the rest of India. Nehru’s failure to stand against Muslim communalism in India has resulted in disastrous consequences. The demand was not communal, reactionary, or anti-national. Nehru praised the separatism of Sheik Abdulla as nationalism and patriotism. There were many grievances regarding the internal administration of Jammu. In the early years of his political career, Sheik Abdulla was having secret correspondence with Khalifa Of Ahamediya Sect and some officers of the political department. He was a British stooge. He was an Aligarh product also. He was developing the three-nation Theory, the Third Being Kashmir nation. Nehru was not prepared to meet Praja Parishad leaders across the table nor had the courage to displease Sheik Abdulla or go against his wishes. Nehru was a victim of sycophancy. He had given veto to Sheik Abdulla and there was no escape from that.

The Punjab government detained most of the Bharatiya Jansangh leaders under the preventive detention act. Meetings and processions were banned in Delhi. All these restrictions were applicable to Bharatiya Jansangh and Praja Parishad only. Dr. Mookerjee has fought for civil liberties when he himself was a member of the Bengal Government. Democracy cannot function without civil liberties. On 5th March 1953 Jammu And Kashmir Day was observed. Dr. Mookerjee implored not to treat the patriots as untouchables. In Jammu, people started a No Tax Campaign. Sheik Abdulla replaced The Dogra Police Of Jammu By Kashmiri Police And Militia who were Muslims.
Dr.Mookerjee wanted to prevent violence and he decided to send two of his colleagues U.M.Trivedi, Bar At Law And M.P And V.H.Deshpande M.P. But they were denied permission to enter Kashmir by the defense ministry which refused to issue permits. They proceeded without permit and was taken into custody in Jallandhar. Nehru Wanted To Crush Praja Parishad and the Jansangh as they dared to challenge his authority as no one else had done. The Permit System introduced to prevent Pakistani agents and spies from entering Kashmir was used against responsible Indian MPs. Mookerjee wrote to the Defence minister asking him the legal position of the permit system, but he got no reply.

On 8th may 1953 Dr. Mookerjee started from Delhi to Jammu by train. The satyagraha movement was nearing completion of six months in Jammu. 2500 persons were arrested and 30 were killed by police firing. In Delhi And Punjab, the movement was going for more than two months and 1700 persons were arrested. Mookerjee did not apply for a permit to enter Kashmir. Permits were even granted to communists who were making trouble. India had taken the issue of J&K to U.N.O. for stopping Pakistan aggression and not to settle how and where the plebiscite was to be held.

Nehru wanted to arrest Mookerjee before his reaching Pathankot. Then he changed his mind and allowed Mookerjee to enter Kashmir. A conspiracy was hatched between Nehru and Abdulla to arrest him in J&K where Indian supreme court law is not applicable. Dr.Mookerjee and his companions reached Madhopur Check Post on the Ravi Bridge. as he reached the middle of the bridge, he found the road blocked by Kashmir Police. A police officer handed over him an order of the chief secretary of J&K banning his entry into the state. When Dr.Mookerjee told him about Govt of India’s permission to enter the state whereupon he produced an order of arrest under the public safety act by the inspector general of police J&K.
He was charged that he has acted prejudicial to public safety and peace, is acting, and also about to act likewise. They took him to Srinagar along with his companions Vaidya Guru Datt and Tek Chand. They took him to a small cottage near Nishat Garden where he spent the last forty days of life as a prisoner. His arrest created a stir all over the country. Protest demonstrations and hartals were held at Delhi and other places. On 13th May N.C.Chatterji raised the question of Mr.Mookerjee’s arrest after allowing him to proceed to Jammu without permit by the Govt of India as per information given by the deputy commissioner of Gurdaspur. Nehru flatly denied the meeting of Deputy commissioner with Mookerjee. It was a flagrant lie and a Hindi Daily of the capital raised the question of whether Mookerjee will return alive from Kashmir.

The small cottage which was converted into sub-jail had rooms only to accommodate three people. When Pandit Prem Nath Dogra visited him on June 19th he was put up in a pitched tent. There was only a small lawn to move about. There was no arrangement for adequate medical Aid and only one newspaper was supplied to him. He got a newspaper after three-four days. Some letters were not delivered to him at all. Many letters to and from him were suppressed. His relatives and friends who were in Kashmir were not allowed to visit him. He was not supplied with books and other necessaries of life. He was not able to exercise and he lost appetite soon after arriving at the place. He was a high BP patient and the changed atmosphere at high altitude was harmful to him. It was medically ill-advised to keep him in Kashmir. It was later known that Abdulla had given orders to give no additional facilities to Mookerjee.

Dr Mookerjee’s funeral procession in calcutta / kolkata


On 18th May Mookerjee developed acute pain in his right leg accompanied by temperature. On 24th May Nehru And Dr.Katju were in Srinagar for rest but they did not visit Mookerjee. The pain and temperature increased and he was having a burning sensation in his eyes and face. Dr.Ali Mohamed diagnosed the trouble as dry Pleurisy and prescribed Streptomycin Injections. Dr. Mookerjee protested that his family doctor has advised him not to take the injunction because it does not suit his system. But no heed was paid to it. On 19th June night, Mookerjee had chest pain and high temperature. On 21st June except the jail doctor, no other doctor visited him. About 4 A.M. on the 22nd he had a severe heart attack. He was removed to the state Nursing Home at 7.30 A.M. His co-detainees were not allowed to go with him. The state hospital was 10 miles away. This itself was wrong. What took place in the nursing home is still shrouded in mystery. He breathed his last at 3.40 Am on 23rd June. The criminal negligence meted out to Dr.Mookerjee who was detained without Trial and circumstantial evidence shows some foul play. The time of his death given in the official communique is not correct. A hospital official and some patients have given the time at 2.30 am. Oxygen was not given to him at all as mentioned in the communique. Dr. Parihar had never examined Dr. Mookerjee since his arrival in Srinagar. As per the official version, Dr. Mookerjee’s condition became worse at 11 pm. But it is known that his condition worsened after a particular doctor given him an injection at 1 A.M. The same doctor refused to come and attend upon him after that.

There was universal demand for an open and impartial inquiry on Mookerjee’s death. All political parties and even some congressmen demanded this to the Govt of India, but the govt turned down the demand. Mukerjee wanted to write a biography of his father. He used to write his diary. The diary was not returned to his relatives after his death. The revelations about Nehru Made By N.V.Gadgil And K.M.Munshi
In their latest writings is worth reading in this connection.

Read Part 1 Here

Read Part 2 Here


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Vathukkat Krishnan KuttyAn Avid reader and knowledge seeker with a curious mind and descriptive skills.

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