Wednesday, January 26, 2011

'BJP's Ekta Yatra revives memories of May 1953 march'

The clamp-down on BJP leaders on Tuesday reminds one of the scenes of May 1953 when the founder of the Jan Sangh, the previous incarnation of the BJP, Dr Shyama Prasad Mookerjee was arrested from the Madhopur-Lakhanpur bridge on May 17, 1953.

This is exactly the spot where the BJP's Ekta Yatra was stopped on Tuesday nearly 48 years later.

One half of the bridge on Ravi is Punjab while the other half is in Jammu and Kashmir. BJP leaders have descended in Jammu to support the Ekta Yatra heading towards Srinagar to unfurl the Tricolour at Lal Chowk.

One of the co-protesters with Dr Mookerjee and former Punjab minister Balramji Dass Tandon recalled as soon as Mookerjee reached the middle part of the bridge, he told Atal Behari Vajpayee to inform the nation that Mookerjee had entered Jammu and Kashmir without a permit.

Mookerjee was taken to Srinagar and kept in Jail where he died of what the government claimed a 'heart attack'.

Tandon says a large number of followers of Mookerjee doubt the theory of heart attack as one of the nurses attending on the Jan Sangh leader had made statements contrary to that of the government. The Jammu and Kashmir government had said as he was a heart patient, he could not handle the 'pressure of height' in Srinagar.

Mookerjee had founded Jan Sangh in 1951 but in the 1952 election in both Lok Sabha and Punjab assembly, results were dismal. There was not a single seat in the Punjab assembly but the party could win three seats in the Lok Sabha, Tandon said.

The octogenarian leader recalls when Mookerjee was arrested, the Central and Punjab governments decided to let him go to Jammu and Kashmir and let the government there arrest the Hindu party's leader.

Then, anybody entering Jammu and Kashmir had to take a permit from the district magistrate. Punjab was the worst affected state as a lot of people could not even go to Vaishno Devi and Amarnath because of this restriction.

Even the Supreme Court writ then did not run in Jammu and Kashmir so it would have been difficult for Mookerjee to come out of jail, Tandon said. Jammu and Kashmir high court had the final say then, he said.

Mookerjee had decided to breach the permit regime in protest against the alleged shooting down of three Praja Parishad activists for trying to unfurl the Tri-Colour at Heeranagar, 15 km from Jammu towards Pathankot.

Mookerjee had also opposed Article 370 giving Jammu and Kashmir special status. This is still an agenda of the BJP.

Tandon said both the Ekta Yatra now and Mookerjee's yatra then were to expose how there could be a state in the country where country's national flag can not be unfurled. He said, "The government dare not touch those who hoist Pakistan's flag in Kashmir."


Post a Comment