The Shyama Prasad Mukherhjee Death : History Recorded Or Crafted?
It is said that you can’t change your past. The Past can only be brooded over. It remains a thing to be recorded in history books. But what if this recorded history is crafted history? What do you do when you find out that the history of your country’s glorious past and its martyrs has been manipulated to hide the truth about the authorities? What if, while revisiting history you stumble upon its versions that not only shock you, but also put to question the faith you’ve put in the long standing leaders? What do you do when you realize that the history you believed to be true, was nothing but a falsity created just to cover up the ugly faces of the governing bodies that you worshiped?
Similar questions arose just a few weeks back, when the country celebrated Shyama Prasad Mukherjee’s birthday. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee (1901- 1953) was the founder and the president of the Bhartiya Jan Sang, present day BJP (Bhartiya Janta Party). He was appointed the first minister for industry and supply, of independent India, by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. His working for the Nehru government, didn’t stop him from voicing his views against the Delhi pact of 1949, signed by Nehru and Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Liaqat Ali Khan. Similar concerns against the decisions of the Nehru government made Mukherjee part ways with Nehru.
He founded BJS in 1951. Through his own party, he opposed Nehru’s policies of Muslim appeasement. He demanded a free market economy as against the Nehruvian socialist economy. He pushed for a uniform civil code, irrespective of religion. His biggest battle was against the conferring of a special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. This special status allowed the state to have its own constitution, a prime minister separate from the whole country and its own national emblem. This law prohibited Indian citizens from settling in the state and mandated that they carry ID cards. Under the mismanagement of Nehru,a law was passed according to which the prime minister of the state, Sheikh Abdullah, could refuse the entry of any Indian into the state. Even the president of the country wasn’t exempt from this law and required a permit from Abdullah. This law was termed article 370. It was this battle against the government that took Mukherjee’s life.
In May 1953, Mukherjee entered Jammu and Kashmir against the wishes of Abdullah. He observed a hunger strike to protest the law that prohibited Indian citizens from settling into a state within their own country and the prevailing requirement of permission to enter the state. He was arrested on 11 Kay 1953 while crossing the Kashmir border at Lakhanpur in violation of article 370. After his arrest, he was lodged in a dilapidated building without a trial. In the poor living conditions, he suffered from dry pleurisy and coronary troubles, but his health was neglected. He was taken to a hospital only after a month and a half and died on June 23, 1953. This was the version of the story that was propagated by Nehru, sans any mysteries.
In the year 2004, another version of Mukherjee’s death was brought out when former prime minister and a comrade of Mukherjee, Atal Bihari Vajpayee spoke on the matter. Vajpayee had accompanied Mukherjee to Sringar but was asked to move back into safety by Mukherjee when he was arrested. Vajpayee termed his death in these mysterious circumstances a “murder conspiracy hatched by Abdullah and Nehru”. A journalist who had accompanied Mukherjee on his mission recalled that after the decision to violate the permit rule, they had hoped for the Punjab government to arrest Mukherjee and prevent him from proceeding further. However, they later found out that the Jammu and Kashmir government and Nehru government had entered into a conspiracy as per which it was decided to allow Mukherjee into Jammu and Kashmir but not allow him to leave the state. After these revelations, Vajpayee also made statements to support them and alleged that the Nehru government feared if he was not allowed to enter the state it would raise questions on the integration of the state with the country which had several drawbacks. And therefore, he was “deliberately arrested” only when he entered Jammu and Kashmir and not anywhere else.
Mukherjee remained a strong opponent of the Muslim practices like cow slaughter and founded the Hindutva agenda. His efforts led to the revoking of the ID card rule in Jammu and Kashmir. He was the reason behind the formation of west Bengal. But whether his death was actually a severe case of pleurisy or was in reality a conspired murder remains a matter of controversy. After being neglected for a month and a half when he was taken to the hospital, he was treated with penicillin even after the doctor in charge had been informed of his allergy to the drug. This death in custody raised wide suspicions and demands for inquiry. Even his mother, Jogmaya Devi, requested Nehru to look into the matter, but Nehru declared that there was no mystery in the death. No inquiry commission was ever set up. And thus, the death of one of the greatest heroes of the country remains shrouded in mystery and falsities. Since no one was ever able to prove anyone’s involvement the matter was closed by the government and to date the death is considered to be purely health related.
Who is to blame when such world class leaders try to cover the truth? No one. Since no one is ever able to prove what the truth is. And so the history of the world’s largest democracy is still in question even after 7 decades of independence.
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