According to the state government of Jammu and Kashmir, Dr Syama Prasad Mookherjee died from a heart attack while in custody on June 23, 1953. Nobody knows what really happened, but this is the official version endorsed at the time by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
We will never know if Nehru was telling the truth. But what we know for sure is that Dr S P Mookherjee’s dream did not die with him. It lived in the hearts of people for over sixty years. And then, on Aug 5 last year, Article 370 ceased to exist. It was obliterated by an act of Indian Parliament and Jammu and Kashmir was fully integrated into India. For ever and ever.
Today is July 6, the birth anniversary of Dr S P Mookherjee, the first one sine this dream was fulfilled. And it is extremely special.
“Ek desh mein do Vidhan, do Pradhan aur Do Nishan nahi chalenge”
This was Mookherjee’s slogan. At the time, organizations such as the Jana Sangh or the Hindu Mahasabha had almost nothing in the way of political power. But they did have a dream. This was a time when there was no glory and no money in dissent. No media cheerleaders to carry “dissenters” on their shoulders, no five star receptions and no international prizes. There was no career in dissent. They were in it to make sacrifices and they did.
And Mookherjee followed his dream straight into the jaws of the hostile government in Srinagar. He died there. But there was born the new slogan : “Jahaan hue balidaan Mookherjee, wo Kashmir hamara hai.”
This became one of the rallying cries of the Sangh, one of the slogans they internalized over the years. Here is Amit Shah raising the slogan at a rally in Raipur last year.
And here is the Late Sushma Swaraj remembering this slogan in the Lok Sabha.
And here is Sushma ji’s final tweet, before leaving us all.
My aim is not to make you emotional. My aim is to remind you that we – each one of us – holds the land of Bharat in trust. Each one of us will be gone one day. But this land is not ours to give away. Our ancestors gave us this land. We hold it in trust for future generations.
Underneath the republic is a nation that is as old as time itself. The Republic of India is only the latest expression of it. When you understand this point, you have learned that which those who set out to “discover” India never understood. It does not matter whether a blade of grass grows somewhere or not; it is just not ours to give away.
And while we hold this nation in trust, it is our duty to do right by our people. The removal of Article 370 brought an end to many injustices. Here is just one.
In the last one year, thousands of retired soldiers of the Indian Army have received domicile certificates of Jammu and Kashmir. They are finally entitled to buy land and get government jobs in the (now) Union Territory. Imagine fighting for your country and then finding out that you are a second class citizen where you live.
All these decades, they bore the humiliation silently. Our media never flashed their faces across newspapers and TV channels. Theirs were not the shiny faces of celebrity dissenters who chant Bharat ke tukde from five star luxury. Theirs were the faces of honorable men and women who served the nation with their lives but had to live as second class citizens.
We are fortunate to belong to a generation that saw this important step towards the unification of India. The petty politics of 2019 or 2020 will be forgotten some day. Only this big step shall be remembered.