by Narender Sehgal
- The contribution of the RSS in the field of Kashmir’s accession to India and in its one Head, one symbol and one constitution is now an honourable page of history.
- The courtiers of the Maharaja, his associates and members of the council of ministers exerted their full pressure for Kashmir’s accession to India. Sardar Patel and Mahatama Gandhi too tried but the Maharaja was not prepared. He was not ready to accept the domination of Nehru. On the other side Pakistani troops had reached the borders of Kashmir.Meeting between the Maharaja and Sh. GurujiThe efforts of political leaders had failed. Time was getting delicate. In these conditions Sardar Patel sent a message to the RSS Chief, Sh. M. S. Golewalker, through Mehar Chand Mahajan, requesting him to use his influence to prevail upon the Maharaja to accede to India. Sh. Guruji cancelled all his engagements and rushed to Srinagar from Nagpur by air via Delhi to resolve the ticklish and delicate question. Through the efforts of Mehar Chand Mahajan and Pt. Premnath Dogra a meeting between Sh. Guruji and Maharaja Hari Singh was arranged.
It was not a personal meeting. It was not a discussion on house, land, property or on the politics of votes. It was a historical meeting on the question of integrity of the nation. The Maharaja who remained unmoved by many national leaders bowed his head in front of a simple-clad staunch nationalist. He understood the importance of protection of his religion and nation. The Maharaja sent the accession proposal to Delhi and Sh. Guruji directed the RSS workers in Jammu and Kashmir to shed last drop of their blood for the security of Jammu and Kashmir. After issuing these directions he returned to Delhi.
It may be recalled that prior to it, the Punjab provincial chief of RSS, Rai Bahadur Badri Das, had also met the Maharaja in July 1947 but his efforts to prevail upon Hari Singh to accede to India had failed.
Sh. Madhav Rao Mulle, has given information about this historical fact in the book “Shri Guruji Samagra Darshan”. Sh. Madhav Rao was Praant Pracharak of RSS in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.
According to Madhav Rao, “the union Home Minister, Sardar Patel, had told Mehar Chand Mahajan, Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, to prepare Maharaja Hari Singh for accession of the state to India. Mehar Chand Mahajan conveyed the message to Sh. Guruji requesting him to meet the Maharaja and prepare him for the accession. Mr. Mahajan had arranged the meeting between Guruji and the Maharaja”.
“Guruji reached Srinagar by air from Delhi on October 17, 1947. The meeting took place on the morning of October 18. During the meeting prince Karan Singh, with his plastered fractured leg, was present while lying on the bed. Maharaja’s contentian was that ‘my state is fully dependent on Pakistan. All routes passed through Sialkot and Rawalpindi. Lahore is my airport. How can I have relations with India ?’ Sh Guruji made him to understand saying ‘you are a Hindu king’. By acceding to Pakistan your Hindu people will have to struggle against grave difficulties. It is correct that there is no road, rail or air link with India but it can be set right quickly. In your interest and in the interest of Jammu and Kashmir state it is better for you to accede to India.”
“Sh. Mehar Chand Mahajan told the Maharaja ‘Guruji is saying the right thing. You should accede to India’. In the end the Maharaja presented a “Tosa” (superfine pashmina) shawl to Guruji. In the accession of Jammu and Kashmir with India Guruji has made an important contribution.”
There is no mention of this important event in any recognised book of history. Nobody knows about it, none has turned the page of history, nobody reads the event regarding the State’s accession to India. There are three reasons for it.
First, the men of the RSS know how to serve the country. The RSS activists are away from propagating it and they have no interest in publicising it through their writings. Guruji hated self-praise and self-publicity. Therefore, there is very scanty material written on the nationalist activities of the RSS. It is natural for the Sangh to remain aloof from the pages of history. Like many political leaders, Guruji did not write his autobiography.
Secondly, it was the nature of the Congress to get history written. Afer achieving independence whatever books of history have been written on the freedom struggle, place has been given only to the Congress revolution. Subash Chander Bose, Savarkar, Bhagat Singh, Dr. Hedgewar and others have been sidelined. Under this trend the above mentioned national contribution of Guruji has not found any mention in the books of history. The above historical event has been lost in the self-praise of the ruling congress leaders and in their political intrigues of undermining the nationalism of others.
Thirdly, the installation of Sheikh Abdullah as Prime Minister soon after the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India. In order to take the credit for the State’s accession to India the Sheikh lied, changed his stance many times and got many historical documents and files destroyed. It is said that the Sheikh even got destroyed Maharaja Hari Singh’s historical documents and his memoirs.
Initial security of Kashmir by RSS activists
By the middle of 1946 the RSS Shakhas had flourished in the Kashmir valley. Educated youths came in contact with the Shakhas. And the majority of the Sangh activists in the Shakhas used to be Kashmiri Hindus. Guruji was on tour of north India and a plan had been prepared for organising a massive public meeting in Srinagar.
All activists and workers of the RSS felt happy. It was natural. It was a great event to have a top leader of a top Hindu organisation in Kashmir where 90 per cent population was that of the Muslims, where the Hindu society has remained supportless for centuries, where the sanctity of religious places had been destroyed and where the Hindu society was existing without any respect. The meeting was organised in the premises of D.A.V. College, Srinagar. Over 1,000 RSS activists were present in the meeting. Prominent citizens of the city too were invited. they attended the meeting with faith. While emphasising the need for unity in the Hindu society, respected Guruji called for vigilance against the activities of the antinational elements and urged people to defeat these elements unitedly. This function brought about encouragement in the Valley which was evident during the Pakistani aggression on Kashmir.
The sacrifices rendered by the RSS activists for protecting Kashmir at the time of the Partition deserve a special treatment and mention in the history of India. Right on the morning August 15, 1947 pro-pak elements had started creating disturbances in Srinagar. Pakistani green flags were hoisted on all Government buildings. The RSS activists accepted the challenge and finalised a scheme in the headquarters of RSS. By 10 o’clock thousands of RSS workers and Hindus assembled near Amirakadal bridge. Their patriotism was worth seeing. Even those who dubbed Kashmiri Pandits as cowards had to keep their fingers crossed when within a short time Pakistani flags were removed and a big procession was taken out in major streets of Srinagar. Pro-Pak elements were challenged. The entire atmosphere reverberated with the slogan of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”. The Hindu society felt encouraged and the Maharaja too realised the strength and devotion of the Sangh.
Two prominent Sangh Pracharaks, Mr. Harish Bhanot and Mr. Mangal Sen, established contact with Pakistani officers and, in the disguise of Muslims, collected all the information about the military activities of Pakistan and of the possible invasion, for one month, which was given to Prof. Balraj Madhok. They even gave the information about the date of the aggression and the routes the invaders were to follow. The Maharaja summoned Mr. Madhok. The meeting took place in the Palace in Srinagar. After getting all the information the Maharaja demanded 200 RSS workers so that they could be given arms for protecting the city. Realising the gravity of the situation, Mr. Madhok promised to bring 200 RSS activists the next morning.
The RSS workers were given information at midnight directing them to report at Arya Samaj temple at six in the morning. In the morning 200 RSS workers were present and everyone of them was a student and had come out of their houses to render sacrifices for the country. A prayer meeting was held and later were carried to Badami Bagh cantonment in an Army truck where some soldiers were ready. They quickly taught the young students how to handle the gun. By the evening these youths had reached the battle front. For two days these RSS soldiers stopped the Pakistani troops till the arrival of the Indian Army. Everybody knows about this historical sacrifice but none speaks about it. The Sheikh too knew about it. The same Sheikh who had left behind the people on hearing the news about the Pakistani invasion and fled, alongwith his family members, to Bombay. The Valley was saved first by the RSS workers and then by the Indian Army, not by the fugitive Sheikh.
Martyrs of Kotli
By a mistake on the part of the Indian Airforce, boxes of ammunition were dropped on the other side of the Nallah which was within the firing range of Pakistani troops. How to evacuate those boxes ? Who will get them ? If the troops were asked to do it, it would have meant death for them. Who would then fight later ? If the ammunition boxes were not evacuated, the Indian troops could be killed. What to do ?
There was need for a great sacrifice for evacuating these boxes. The Army commander hit on a plan. He thought that only the RSS youths could do it and accordingly he reached the RSS headquarters at Kotli. Mr. Chander Prakash, Manager of Punjab National Bank, Kotli branch, was the organiser of the Sangh at that time. He listened attentively to the Army commander and told hilm “How many youths are needed” ?
The Army officer said “eight will do”. Chander Prakash had become emotional out of his eagerness to render sacrifice and told the Army officer that he should wait in the office without any worry because he would bring seven youths, eighth being himself, within half an hour.
Chander Prakashji immediately rushed to the town and Sought names of those who were ready to render sacrifice. More than 30 youths came forward. It was a problem for Mr. Chander Prakash to make a selection out of the 30 youths. He lined all of them and picked up seven youths. It was difficult to make others agree to stay back and ultimately he had to issue his command. For an RSS activist command from his leader is like the command from God. The rest stopped. They bid tearful farewell to their eight comrades. They knew the meaning of this farewell and as such it was a mute farewell.
Mr. Chander Prakash reached the Army officer with the seven youths within less than half an hour. The eight youths reached the battlefront with the commander. They were informed about the work they had to carry out in evacuating the ammunition boxes without allowing the Pakistani troops to have any idea of it and in bringing those boxes upto the Indian troops. After understanding their job, the eight youths marched forward to their destination.
While crawling, slipping and stumbling, the eight youths reached the Nallah on whose other bank lay the boxes. The Nallah was full of water with sharp flow. These youths swam fast across the Nallah to reach the goal.
Each youth picked up one box. One carrying it on the head and the other on his back. Gradually they re-entered the Nallah but could not maintain silence in the water. The sound of their movement reached the Pakistani troops. The result was indiscriminate firing from the machine-guns on them. They were not scared of death because they had come out of their houses in the guise of martyrs. But they had one worry: they wanted to see the boxes reach the hands of the Indian soldiers before the youths were killed. Under the rain of fire, the youths crossed the Nallah and were marching towards the Army camp.
The rain of bullets turned into torrents. Chander Prakash and Ved Prakash, the two youths, were hit by bullets. Both of them were injured and fell down but there was no time for others to take care of the two. After leaving the two wounded youths there, the six youths marched ahead with boxes on their backs. These youths succeeded in their mission and handed over the ammunition boxes to the Army. They were worried about their two colleagues whom they had left behind. These six youths left for the spot for carrying back the wounded comrades and followed the same route under the rain of bullets. How hazardous it was ? But they were determined as they had great affection for their comrades. They had fulfilled their mission and now their task was to evacuate their two injured comrades. Where shall such an example of mutual love be found ?
When the six youths left for evacuating their two comrades, the rain of bullets further intensified. They crawled to the place where the two wounded comrades had been left. But they got the bodies of the two comrades. They had achieved martyrdom in the service of their motherland. There was no time to wail and weep. They carried the two bodies on their back and started their trek on the rockey and bushy paths to reach the Army camp.
But it had become difficult to escape easily from the continuous firing from behind. They had travelled a small distance when one more comrade received two bullets in his ear and became a martyr there and then. His body too was carried by them and marched forward. It was a terrible test for these nationalists: they had to crawl with dead bodies on their back on difficult path and that too under the heavy rain of bullets. They kept on moving and the Army camp was nearby. But nature needed more blood. One more comrade was silenced with a bullet that hit him. His body too was carried by the surviving youths with courage and fortitude.
It was heart rending scene. The youths returned to their camp. Four returned out of the eight. Each carried a body of the martyrs. All the RSS workers, citizens, mothers and sisters of the Kotli town had waited in tension for the full day. Slogans of “Shaheedoon ki Jai” (respects to Martyrs) and “Bharat Mata ki Jai” (respects to Mother India) rent the sky. People decorated the four bodies with flowers and arrangements for their cremation were made by people weeping and wailing over the loss.
A big pyre was built outside the town. The four bodies were placed on the pyre with the Army salute and amid the wails, tears and sobs of the people. Women showered flowers on the pyre. The flames of the pyre started kissing the sky. The four, who had carried the bodies to the town, burst into tears. They cried, they wept. The Army authorities directed all to return to their houses immediately. It was getting dark. The Pakistani troops continued firing from the mountain in front.
The ammunition boxes were opened. The soldier was equipped with ammunition and now our troops too had the ammunition. The Indian troops launched a fierce attack on the Pakistani soldiers like a hungry lion. The heavy attack shook the Pakistani troops. Our soldiers fought chivalrously throughout the night. With the advent of the pink dawn the Indian troops had captured the hillock. Here the pyre of the martyrs was silent and tLere on the hillock the tricolour fluttered.
Repairs of airfields
There were no airfields for facilitating the landing of Indian Airforce men. Wherever they existed, they were in a pitiable condition. Not to speak of the planes even people could not walk on those runways. There was need for their quick repair and renovation. But it was not possible to arrange a big force of labourers. Even if thousands of labourers could be arranged it was not possible to pay them their wages in those conditions. There was need for such devoted labourers who would work free of cost for repairing the airfields. Therefore, the eyes of the Army officers and citizens fell on the RSS activists. They knew that the RSS activists were dedicated and sacrificing.
The matter was discussed with Sangh leaders. Everyone was ready. On receiving the directions, thousands of RSS workers jumped into the field. The repair and the renovation of the airstrips in Srinagar, at Poonch and in Jammu were taken in hand. The work on these airfields was carried out round the clock. Everyday the RSS activists would come out in their shorts to work on the airfields for which the Sangh made arrangement for the tools. The workers would carry food from their houses. After working continuously for several hours these RSS workers would sit together to partake their food and it was lovely sight of love and affection.
Under their principle of “we shall donate everything to the country and in return we shall not accept anything”, these RSS workers gave up their trade. went on leave from the Government services and abandoned their domeotic happiness to work round the clock for making these three airstrips worthy for landing within the stipulated time.
Remained steadfast against bullets
In the meantime there was a report indicating that 1200 Hindus and Sikhs had been surrounded by the enemy at Palandhari, 20 kms north-west of Kotli, and.their lives were in danger. The Sangh people, under the leadership of Mr. Kedar Nath Sahni, met the Army authorities requesting them to evacuate 1200 Hindus and Sikhs who were counting the time of death at Palandhari. The Army authorities realised the gravity of the situation but refused to provide any help on the plea that the number of troops they had was even insufficient to protect the town and as such how could they send the soldiers out of the town. And when the Sangh workers insisted by informing the Army officers that a big number of Hindus were counting days of their life, the ‘authorities were moved. They agreed to send 31 soldiers under the leadership of one Lieutenant Ishwari Singh and with them went one police inspector, Mr. Hari Singh, and about 100 RSS activists.
The report about the plan of evacuating people from Palandhari by the Army and the Sangh workers was sent by a Muslim Tehsildar to Zaildar and Nambardar of Sarsave who were Muslims. The twa passed the report to the tribals.
Next morning 30 Army jawans, 12-15 poiicemen and about 100 RSS activists left for Palandhari under the leadership of Lt. Ishwari Singh. The moment the caravan started climbing the ascent, it came under indiscriminate heavy fire. The enemy had fortified itself on the higher elevations. Since the enemy was equipped with machineguns, mortars and bombs, its attack became fierce.
Despite being surrounded unexpectedly from all the four sides, the battle lasted for several hours. Not a single Hindu soldier and RSS activists turned back even being in a smaller number than the enemy and despite having meagre weapons and ammunition. Their steps were not shaken despite the roar of the rain of bullets. While killing the enemy troops, they also met death one by one.
One feels a wave of sacrifice in one’s mind while wishing to touch the blood-red soil of Palandhari where the soldiers and the RSS workers shed their blood. Repeated salutes to such brave sacrifices.
Sheikh’s dictatorship and Praja Parishad’s agitation
The pro-Pak and anti-India sentiments of the Sheikh had been exposed in front of the entire world. In the Congress, too, the mistrust against him was increasing. The people of India had become aware of his anti-national and treacherous attempts. But by accepting a plebiscite, Nehru had forged a dangerous agreement with Sheikh Abdullah which was dangerous not only for the integrity of India but had put a question mark on the future of 20 lakh people in Jammu and Ladakh. In comparison to the rest of the country, Kashmir was given a special status. The flag, the constitution etc were made separate for Kashmir. Dr. Shyamaprasad Mookherjee apprised the Parliament of the dangers of this agreement but Nehru did not agree. He even did not think it proper to talk to the peoples’ representatives of Jammu and Ladakh.
When people of Jammu started feeling the impact of this agreement, it gave birth to the embers of a revolt. The RSS workers decided to oppose the Sheikh stoutly after visualising the anti-Hindu stance of the Sheikh. With the slogan of one constitution, one symbol and one leader a new party, named Praja Parished, was formed under the leadership of Pt. Prernnath Dogra to start a powerful but peaceful agitation. Thousands of Sangh activists took to the streets for a sacrifice for the country’s integrity and unity. Many leaders and workers of Praja Parishad went to Delhi to apprise the Government of India, members of Parliament and leaders of different political parties of the separatist activities of Sheikh Abdullah. They met also Nehru. But it seemed that he was not prepared to listen to even a word against Sheikh Abdullah. Therefore, Dr. Shyama Prasad took the historical decision of supporting this struggle.
A powerful Satyagrah was launched in Delhi and Pathankot. RSS workers left their demostic worries and courted arrest. Dr. Shyamaprasad tried to mediate between the Government and leaders of Praja Parishad but failed. According to the words of Mr. A.B. Vajpaye, “Nehru’s obduracy made all his (Dr. S. Prasad’s) efforts completely unsuccessful. The man who prided in announcing that he would not give a needle-tip land without a fight reminded one of the story of Daryodhana and Nehru refused even to talk to Praja Parishad”. And there was no other alternative left for Dr. Mookherjee except for blowing the conch of agitation. In the absence of any agreemnt taking shape he was committed to launch a peaceful satyagrah and agitation in support of the people of Jammu.
Martyrdom of Dr. Shyamaprasad
After ensuring peoples’ support for the agitation, Dr. Prasad decided to test on the touchstone of Nehru’s statement that Kashmir was 100 per cent part of India. In this context he decided to come to Jammu without a permit. While leaving Delhi for a two-day tour of Punjab on May 9, he issued a statement that his purpose of visiting Jammu was not to foment tension and trouble but his aim was to make another bid to resolve the discord through peaceful and honourable means. While commenting on his decision to enter Jammu without a permit he said that as a citizen of India he had the full right to visit any part of the country and since Nehru would say everyday that Kashmir was 100 per cent part of India he had decided to go there without any permit.
This step of Dr. Mookherjee received powerful appreciation in the entire country. Between Deihi and Pathanot thousands of men and women greeted him at many stations with the slogan “abolish permit system” and he was assured of their support. It was expected that Dr. Prasad would be arrested before reaching Pathankot. But out of the scare of the Supreme Court, the Government allowed him not only to reach Pathankot but also assured that it would not take any step aganist him when he would enter Jammu.
The Deputy Commissioner of Gurdaspur District, Mr. Vashisht, informed Dr. Prasad at Pathankot that he could visit Jammu without any permit and the Government of India will not create any hurdle in his way. He also informed him that in Jammu Bakshi Ghulam Mohd. would meet him. But when he entered into the Jammu border alongwith his associates, the Kashmir militiamen stopped him on the Ravi bridge. There, the Superintendent of Police, Kathua, directed him not to enter into the state border. Dr. Prasad refused to accept the order and was arrested under the Kashmir Security Act.
Prior to his arrest he told people, in a message, that “I have entered into Jammu and Kashmir, but in the capacity of a prisoner”. His message spread like lightning in the entire country. Satyagrahis, from various corners, started entering into Jammu and Kashmir without permits. With one stroke of Dr. Prasad the artificial wall of permit system between Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of India crumbled and with it Nehru ‘s lie that Kashmir was 100 per cent part of India stood exposed.
After his arrest Dr. Mookherjee was taken to Srinagar where on the 43rd day of his detention he was declared dead in mysterious circumstances on June 23.
Letter of Dr. Shyama Prasad’s mother to Nehru
“…. I know he cannot be brought back to life. But I want to know what role your Government has played in this shocking event 60 that people can know the reasons behind this tragedy in this independent country. Allow justice to take its course while dealing with any crime of an individual, even if he is occupying a high post, so that people are allowed to remain alert against such criminals and there was no scope for any other mother like me to wail and weep over such a type of tragedy.”
“… I have enquired from those people who know the reality. I can say only this much that I stand by truth and there is no mystery around this incident ..”
Yogmaya Devi’s reply
“… I do not want any clarification from you, I want an inquiry. Your arguments are hollow and you are afraid of facing the truth. Remember, you are answerable to the People and God. I treat the Kashmir Government guilty of the murder of my son and I charge it with having killed my son. I hold your Government guilty of concealing the matter and of attempts at manoeuvring …”
As a result of the rejection of the demand for an enquiry, people of India raised one voice saying that Dr. Mookherjee was killed. The life of a national leader was finished for achieving hateful political goal.
Success of Satyagrah
The Satyagrah was suspended for 13 days after the death of Dr. Mookherjee. In the meantime, Nehru issued a direct appeal requesting people to call offthe Satyagrah. It was for the first time in the history that a direct appeal for calling off the Satyagrah was issued by a ruler. The result of the confabulations was that a decision was taken to end the Satyagrah. On July 7, the agitation was called off on the appeal of Sh. Premnath Dogra and the Government was given an opportunity for changing its policies in arder to ensure integration of Kashmir with India, for which assurance had been given by Nehru, Dr Katju and the Bakshi.
Whatever Dr. Prasad had said was achieved. The Sheikh was dismissed and arrested. Nehru, by accepting his mistake, expressed his regrets over the evil deeds of Sheikh Abdullah and held talks with the leaders of Praja Parishad. The Kashmir Constituent Assembly adopted a resolution announcing merger of Kashmir with India and the President of India issued a special notification on May 14, 1954 for the implementation of all the clauses of the Delhi Agreement.
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