By Arun Kumar
“THE ISSUE OF J&K HAS ENTERED THE PHASE WHERE THE TRUTH HAS TO BE ESTABLISHED BASED ON FACTS AND LOGIC. THE RSS HAS ACCEPTED EVEN THIS CHALLENGE OF THE INTELLECTUAL STRUGGLE AND A CONTINUOUS EFFORT IS ON TO BRING OUT THE TRUTH BEFORE THE PEOPLE THROUGH RESEARCH-BASED STUDIES.”
August 15, 1947.. The whole of Bharat was beaming with the joy of the Independence. The people in Jammu & Kashmir were also breathing in free air after the slavery of centuries. Even this Independence did not appear palatable to the people from a particular class who were inebriated in the communal frenzy. They thought that Kashmir was a Muslim majority state that had to be in Pakistan. They hoisted the Pakistani flags on the government buildings in Srinagar before the sunrise. The people’s reactions arose in hushed tones; but who would come forward? The RSS swayamsevaks came out for the Shakha with the sunrise and they heard this talk. There was a meeting after the Shakha and the swayamsevaks decided that the strong reply would be given. They came together near Amirakdal exactly at 10 am. Patriot citizens also joined them. Thousands of people ferried the roads of Srinagar chanting ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’. Within no time, the Pakistani flags were taken down from the government buildings. The Kashmir Valley had then and even now has a Muslim majority. Like today, a gang of nuisance makers existed at that time also who were few in number but had the capability to take the valley hostage. In spite of this, the courage that the citizens showed on August 15, 1947 along with the RSS swayamsevaks by resisting those nuisance makers had the background of a grand programme of the RSS that had started just a few months earlier. The people of Kashmir valley experienced the capability and the discipline of the RSS for the first time in that programme. The programme had taken place at DAV College, Srinagar in which more than one thousand swayamsevaks in their uniforms took part. In his address, the then RSS Sarsanghachalak Poojya Shri Madhavrao Golwalkarji aka Shri Guruji explained the necessity of the unity of the Hindus and appealed to be alert towards the anti-national activities and foil their ploys with the help of united force. This initiative by the swayamsevaks filled the minority but nationalist community, which was affected by an inferiority complex, with enthusiasm. The confidence that arose through it played an important role to face off the Pakistani aggression in coming days.
Those were stormy days. The prominent RSS workers in Jammu & Kashmir could hear the sound of coming tragedy and were working on a war footing, with their all might, to avoid it. In this regard, some prominent swayamsevaks had even penetrated among the pro-Pakistani conspirators in the areas that are today in the Pak-occupied area as well as in Srinagar because of which they received confirmed reports of the conspiracies being hatched in Karachi and Rawalpindi. On the one hand, the swayamsevaks were gathering information by staking their lives and on the other hand, the work of uniting the youths was on constantly through the Shakhas. The reports coming from the border areas was worrisome and the swayamsevaks were determined that they would try everything to save Jammu & Kashmir from the Pakistani conspiracy. When the plan of attack on October 22 was prepared on October 13, 1947, in the presence of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, a swayamsevak was present there in disguise. The RSS headquarters at Srinagar had received this information by night which was conveyed in time to Brigadier Rajendra Singh and Brigadier Fakir Singh. Likewise, the swayamsevaks were the first to receive the information of the Pakistani conspiracy to abduct Maharaja Hari Singh during his tour of Bhimber. The then Sanghachalak of Jammu Pt. Premanth Dogra alerted Maharaja in time because of which the latter changed his programme. The attack on Bhimber failed and Maharaja’s life could be saved.
On the Path of Duty
Brig. Rajendra Singh was martyred while combating the Pakistani attackers in Uri. In that difficult situation, Maharaja Hari Singh himself called Shri Balraj Madhok, who handled the entire expedition on RSS behalf, to his Palace. Prime Minister Mehar Chand Mahajan said clearly, “We want youths from you who can go to Baramulla tomorrow itself and help the military in stopping the enemy from entering Kashmir valley.” Shri Madhok said, “The hearts of our youths are full of spirit, enthusiasm, they are ready to shed their lives for the nation, but they are not soldiers. They have neither arms nor the training to use them. In such a situation, how helpful can they be?” Brig. Fakir Singh said instantly, “The RSS swayamsevaks are patriots and educated. We will train them and make them soldiers within a day.” “So, how many swayamsevaks do you want?” “150, tomorrow at 7 am.” It was 12 am. The Mukhya Shikshaks of Rainawadi, Parana City and Amirakdal were awakened from the sleep and given the responsibility of informing their swayamsevaks by 3 am to gather in the RSS office at 6 am with the preparedness of going to the war zone. The smaller groups of swayamsevaks started coming to the RSS office from the 5 am itself. By 7 am, more than 200 swayamsevaks had gathered of which 150 swayamsevaks were selected. Those who were rejected had tearful eyes. After an inspiring address by Shri Madhok, there was Sangh prayer and the swayamsevak left in the trucks towards the camp at Badami Bagh.
Ready for your cause…
The whole of Kashmir was expecting the Bharatiya army to reach any moment. However, wider airstrips were needed for the landing of the military planes and they were not there. The swayamsevaks finished the challenging task of constructing airstrips at three places – Srinagar, Jammu and Poonch by toiling day and night.
On the Path of Sacrifice
The first aeroplane of the Indian Air Force landed in Srinagar on October 27, 1947. Within next ten days, the Bharatiya Army captured all the area up to Uri. When the Pakistanis had to retreat from Kashmir, they increased their pressure on Jammu. Both Bhimber and Meerpur had fallen into Pakistan’s hands. More than 50,000 citizens were killed mercilessly. It is impossible to describe what happened to thousands of mothers and sisters. The grip was tightening around Kotli. The possibility of getting military help was dim. An IAF aeroplane threw eight boxes of ammunition but it also fell into the enemy-controlled territory. It was neither possible to bring it back from among the enemy nor fighting without it. The RSS swayamsevaks came forward to turn the impossible to possible. Kotli’s Nagar Karyavah Chandra Prakash took seven swayamsevaks beside him and reached to the box of ammunition scrawling. A nullah in the way was to be crossed swimming. The sounds emanating from the water alerted the enemy. They were inching forward and pushing the box amidst the showering of bullets. All of a sudden, bullets hit Chandra Prakashji and Ved Prakashji, but they had no time to look after them. The other swayamsevaks took their boxes and went ahead. They returned after successfully handing over the ammunition to the soldiers. Both the swayamsevaks passed away. They had to carry their dead bodies on their back and scrawl upwards on the hill. The showering of the bullets was becoming intense. Two more swayamsevaks were hit by the bullets and remaining two colleagues lifted them on their back. All four swayamsevaks were cremated on the same pyre on the outskirts of the Kotli town. They lived up to their vow. The soldiers had enough ammunition now that they took with them and started marching ahead on the same road from where it was brought. The Pakistani guns were rendered silent with the sunrise. The tricolour was flying high on the hill ahead. This Body fells for You, Salute Salute! Kotli was now in full control of the Bharatiya Army. A report came abruptly that the aggressors had surrounded 1200 Hindus in Palandhari, 20 kms away from there. Kotli could not be left unsecured, hence soldiers in large number could not be sent there. It was determined that three soldiers, 15 jawans of Jammu & Kashmir Police and 100 swayamsevaks would go to Palandhari for this mission. The enemy got the information of this mission in advance because of a traitor officer and they were all prepared for this. The entire unit fought till their last breath; none of them returned alive.
The second stage of the RSS work started after creating a successful history of sacrifices. The challenge lay ahead after the ceasefire came into being of looking after those who had come as the migrants and displaced, after losing everything and near and dear ones, in Jammu and its vicinity. Sheikh Abdullah did not allow even the state’s own people to stay in Kashmir and pushed them towards Jammu. It is a travesty that Jammu has remained a land of these displaced people even today. RSS asked help from the society for the urgent necessities of these people and started working on priority issues like their food, shelter, security and medical help. The swayamsevaks yoked themselves to the service of these migrants and displaced, without thinking about themselves, as they stood firm like a wall before the enemy during the time of Pakistan’s aggression.
Praja Parishad and its Agitation
Disturbed by the Pakistani atrocities against his subjects, Maharaja Hari Singh even accepted the illogical demand of handing over the power to Sheikh Abdullah and signed on the letter of annexation. Immediately after assuming charge, Sheikh started dealing with a stern hand with his political opponents. People of Jammu were considered to be the supporters of Maharaja and they were attacked as well. This situation forced the people of Jammu to form their own political party. Jammu Praja Parishad was formed by projecting Shri Premnath Dogra, a consensus personality who was once the Deputy Commissioner of Muzaffarabad. Its president and minister, Hari Wazir and Hansraj Sharma respectively, were young but its functioning and organisation were backed by the belligerent leadership of Shri Balraj Madhok. The Praja Parishad spread its wing all over the state in no time. Praja Parishad took many efforts to resolve the problem. Its leadership put forward the actual position before Sheikh Abdullah in the state and Sardar Patel and Prime Minister Pt. Nehru in Delhi. Infuriated with this, Sheikh expelled Shri Madhok, his parents and his family from Jammu and put Pt. Premanth Dogra in jail. The opposition was growing and Sheikh’s brutality also. On his instance, the administration was inflicting free-willed atrocities against Praja Parishad workers and supporters. The developments like Delhi Accord happening under Sheikh Abdullah’s pressure, announcement of the Sadr-i-Riyasat after changing the President-approved head of the state etc. created an atmosphere of uncertainty and distrust in the state. As a result, the Praja Parishad was forced to move towards a decisive agitation.
Heat of the Agitation in Delhi
The agitation was at its peak in Jammu. The agitators were facing canes and bullets every day. Processions supporting the agitation started in Delhi too and a series of protests went on. The police caned the agitators brutally in Hauz Qazi in which 60 persons were injured. The teargas shells were also thrown. This instigated the protests even more. The annual meeting of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh was on at the time in Kanpur. The Jana Sangh announced an eight-member fact-finding team to be sent to Jammu but the Bharatiya government did not allow it to go there. Jana Sangh, Hindu Mahasabha and Ramrajya Parishad announced their decision to observe March 5 jointly as the Jammu Day. Section 144 was imposed at all major places in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. A big rally was organised in the ground in front of Delhi Station that was presided by Karpatri Maharaj. Jana Sangh’s president Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee addressed the rally. The police arrested Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee, Barrister Nirmalchandra Chaterjee, Nandlal Sharma and Vaidya Gurudutt in the midst of the crowd. A satyagrah was announced in Delhi and Pathankot against the arrest of Dr. Mookerjee and police atrocities. Praja Parishad is credited with providing a platform for the citizens in Jammu & Kashmir, who wanted to associate their identity with Bharat. The agitation of the nationalist forces under its leadership foiled the British conspiracy to break Kashmir away from Bharat and the ploys of Sheikh Abdullah to become Kashmir’s sultan. It was also successful in attracting the nation’s attention on this point and create a strong public opinion.
Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee’s Martyrdom
When the people of Jammu were struggling for their survival under the leadership of Praja Parishad, the national leader and Jana Sangh president Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee, who was former Industries Minister in Nehru cabinet, went to Jammu with three other MPs namely Shri V.G. Deshpande, Shri Ram Narayan Singh and Barrister Uma Shankar Trivedi in August 1952. Dr. Mookerjee gave a strong boost to the agitation, which was on with the slogan ‘one law, one ruler and one flag’. Addressing a rally during this time, he announced, “Either I will obtain the law or sacrifice myself.” A unanimous resolution in this regard was passed in the first session of Jana Sangh at Kanpur in December 1952 under which it was decided to extend full support to the Praja Parishad’s agitation and make it nationwide. It was also proposed to get cooperation from other nationalist organisations. There was no restraint to Sheikh’s tyranny in Jammu while Pt. Nehru was adamant in Delhi that he would trample the agitation with canes and bullets. Not only the opposition leaders and parties, even ruling party members could do little more than watching on helplessly. Satyagrah in March and April rocked Delhi. The satyagrahis were coming from all over the country and getting arrested themselves. They were mistreated not only on the road but in jail also. The trampling by the government was in full swing. On this background, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee announced as the last measure on May 7, “I will go to Jammu tomorrow”. It is notable here that when the agitation in Delhi was in full swing, two other members of Lok Sabha Barrister U.M. Trivedi and Hindu Mahasabha’s general secretary Vishnu Ghanshyam Deshpande had announced their visit to Jammu. They were arrested in Jalandhar on April 17. However, the Supreme Court acquitted and released them. The Bharatiya government learned from this that if he were arrested within the SC’s jurisdiction, he would also be released. Thus, Nehru and Sheikh’s plans would not bear fruit. Until then, Jammu and Kashmir was not in the jurisdiction of the SC of Bharat. Hence, he was arrested in Jammu & Kashmir’s borders. According to former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who accompanied Dr. Mookrjee then as a journalist, the Deputy Commissioner of Gurudaspur himself came to him and said they would arrange everything for his visit. He said they did not want to stop him. There would be no hurdle in his travel because of him. They were ready to make his travel comfortable. However, as they reached halfway on the Madhopur Bridge, the Jammu & Kashmir police arrested him. The government did not allow Barrister Uma Shankar Trivedi, who had gone to file a petition in the Jammu & Kashmir High Court against the arrest, to meet him. He could meet Dr. Mookerjee only when the Jammu & Kashmir HC allowed him to do so. The verdict on Barrister Trivedi’s petition was scheduled on June 23. Everyone expected that Dr. Mookerjee would be released on this day. However, he died in suspicious conditions just on the eve of that day. His colleagues arrested with him were released. Dr. Mookerjee’s sacrifice bore fruit and the permit system was abolished. Many provisions of the Bharat’s constitution were enforced in the state.
A Silent Penance
For the next three decades, the central government carried out political experiments in Jammu & Kashmir. Through these experiments, Congress maintained its place in the state’s politics by overlooking the anti-Bharat activities and sometimes even by protecting them. As Pakistan changed its strategy after the defeat in Bangladesh, the separatists also changed their tunes. Sheikh Abdullah even started saying that Jammu & Kashmir’s annexation to Bharat was final. Impressed by this, Sheikh was again made the Chief Minister. For RSS, this was the period of silent penance. It knew that the direction in which the political ambitions were taking the state were not in people’s interests. Hence, a new age of struggle was inevitable to come and all nationalist forces had to unite in it. The RSS’ doubts proved true soon and the role of ever-ready force of RSS proved effective.
Against the Terrorism
Pakistan indulged in its strategy of inflicting thousand cuts on Bharat. The separatists living in the valley became its agents. The mainstream political parties closed their eyes towards them. The Ram Janmabhoomi agitation was instrumental in flaring up the communal sentiments in Kashmir. Rumour was spread in Kashmir that homicide of Muslims was going on while Jammu was all-calm. The naked dance of violence was started in Kashmir on this pretence. By 1989, the administration became totally helpless before the terrorists. Announcements of Nizam-e-Mustafa were being made from the mosques. Hindus were told to leave the valley. The terrorists killed prominent personalities like BJP vice president Shri Tikalal Tapalu, RSS senior member Shri Premnath Bhatt, Justice Neelkanth Ganju who pronounced the death sentence on Makbul Bhatt, Doordarshan’s director Lasa Kaul, etc. In this background, all religious and social organisations in Jammu & Kashmir were called together on the instance of RSS and Jammu Kashmir Sahayata Samiti was formed. The Samiti worked for the registration and rehabilitating the displaced on safer places. The swayamsevaks all over the country went from home to home, collected food, money, clothes and medicines on the appeal of the Samiti, and distributed them to the displaced.
Giving the first-hand experience to the people of the country was necessary so that they get an idea of the severity of the situation. More than 11 thousand boy and girl students from the country reached Jammu on the appeal of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and witnessed the reality. The ABVP had announced hoisting of tricolour in the Lal Chowk of Srinagar but the administration, which failed to stop the insult to the tricolour, stopped these nationalist youths from marching ahead. These youths, arrested with the tricolour, were placed in the jail at Udhampur for one day and released. From there, these students went to Delhi, sat before the residence of the then Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh, and handed over the tricolour with a challenge to hoist it in Lal Chowk.
Jammu-Kashmir Bachao Abhiyan
The women’s nationalist organisation Rashtra Sevika Samiti organised nationwide Jammu-Kashmir Bachao Abhiyan from March 29 to 31, 1991 for creating awareness. An attempt was made to draw the nation’s attention towards the situation in J&K through a grand awareness yatra and a public rally in Jammu on March 31. Thereafter, these sisters went to the displaced camps and witnessed the ground situation.
The Bharatiya Janata Party announced the Ekata Yatra to convey the state’s situation to every citizen. This Rathyatra started from Kanyakumari under the leadership of BJP’s then national president Dr. Murali Manohar Joshi on December 11, 1991. Resonating the chants of Bharat Mata Ki Jai in every village and town, this Yatra reached Srinagar on January 26, 1992 after crossing all hurdles where the tricolour was hoisted as announced in advance. More than 50,000 patriotic people reached Jammu to witness this moment but they could not reach Srinagar because of the road blockage. Finally, about 40 persons were taken to Srinagar by aeroplane. The terrorists’ threats proved useless and the nation’s pride emerged victoriously.
Towards Total Integration
This phase of terror was testing for the nationalist forces. Today, terrorism and separatism are fighting the last battle for its survival. The nationalist forces have emerged triumphant through this. There was a time when most of the people and even government thought that the Kashmir was slipping out of hand. Some opined that the state should be trifurcated and at least Jammu and Ladakh should be secured. Many advocated making the Line of Control the international border. The nationalist forces in Jammu & Kashmir have rejected all this negativity and proved their strength by their perseverance. The question today is how to regain the Bharatiya territory across the LoC. How to allay the confusion on the issue of Jammu & Kashmir that was created due to international diplomacy? How to end the falsehood that was established through the silence of the central government for six decades and bring the truth before the people? The issue of Jammu Kashmir has entered a new phase where the truth has to be established based on facts and logic. The RSS has accepted even this challenge of the intellectual struggle and a continuous effort is on to bring out the truth before the people through research-based studies in a phased and scientific manner. The way the issue of Jammu Kashmir has assumed centrality during last few years itself proves the relevance of these efforts.
(Sri Arun Kumar ji is Former Prant Pracharak of Jammu & Kashmir and presently Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh of RSS )