Pt Deendayal Upadhyaya played a key role in generating public opinion against Article 370 and exposing the evil designs of both Pt Jahwahar Lal Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah
Now, after the amendment in Article 370, the local people of J&K will no longer have to fight for their constitutional rights, because the Constitution of India will provide them full protection. This Article was tolerated since 1949 not as a law but as a punishment. Most people do not know that Bharatiya Jana Sangh has been a big contributor in getting both the Union Territories their real rights. After Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee, Deendayal Upadhyaya played an important role in this process.
ICS officer V. Shankar had a long experience of working with Sardar Patel. The day Article 370 was passed in the Constituent Assembly he was present at the residence of Sardar Patel. The reply given by Sardar on his question of passing Article 370 is worth mentioning. Sardar said: “Ultimately, neither Sheikh Abdullah is permanent nor Gopalaswamy. The future will depend on the strength and courage of the Government of India. If we cannot trust in our own strength, we are not fit to exist as a nation” (‘My Reminiscences of Sardar Patel’, V. Shankar, p. 63, Vol. 2)
Unfortunately, Sardar Patel died in December 1950. As expected, Sheikh started dreaming of an autonomous J&K under Article 370. Bharatiya Jana Sangh owned the responsibility of living up to the expectations of Sardar Patel. Jana Sangh was formed on October 21, 1951 under the chairmanship of Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee. The Jana Sangh included issues like protecting fundamental rights, nurturing social interests, establishing an integrated Bharat with unhindered access to Jammu & Kashmir.
The situation in the state was detoriorating after Sheikh Abdullah took over. By then, the state unit of Bharatiya Jana Sangh in Uttar Pradesh had been formed on September 2, 1951 in Lucknow. Deendayal Upadhyaya, who came from an ordinary family, was appointed as general secretary of Uttar Pradesh unit. Prior to that he was serving as Sah Prant Pracharak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
The citizens of Jammu & Kashmir demanded that they should also enjoy the fundamental and civil rights provided by the Constitution of India. Their rights were taken away under the garb of Article 370. Taking it seriously, the three-day National Executive meeting of the Jana Sangh was held in Delhi from February 10 to 12, 1952. The Executive passed a resolution on Jammu & Kashmir. The resolution said: “The state of Jammu & Kashmir should also be integrated into the Indian Union as other states have been integrated.”
As per his agenda, Sheikh was leading the state towards communal division. On April 17, 1952 he delivered a speech at Ranvir Singhpura on the state’s limited accession, sovereignty and his plan for a separate flag. In response to this, Deendayalji criticised the policies of Prime Minister Pt Nehru in a public meeting at Agra and said weakness grows till we bow before it. “Sheikh Abdullah has betrayed India by declaring to keep Kashmir independent. Today, the people of J&K do not even have the fundamental rights granted in the Constitution. In view of all these, J&K has to be made an integral part of Bharat by fully implementing the Constitution of India throughout Kashmir. Since Sheikh Abdullah is opposed to it, his opposition has to be suppressed. For right solution to the problem if we need a movement against the government, we will do it also.”
Deendayalji kept a close watch on every development in J&K. The second National Executive Committee meeting of Bharatiya Jana Sangh was held in Delhi from June 14 to 15, 1952. The meeting resolved to observe ‘Jammu-Kashmir Day’ on June 29, 1952. Addressing a gathering on 'Jammu Kashmir Day' in Kanpur Deendayalji said: “The problem of Kashmir is not the problem of any party, class or sect. It is a problem related to the life and death of the entire nation. Therefore, it is necessary that all the countrymen demand in one voice that Kashmir be fully integrated with India and the state gets equal status like other states. Also, the matter of Kashmir should be withdrawn from the United Nations and active steps should be taken to take back the part of Kashmir from the illegal possession of Pakistan.
Sheikh Abdullah came to Delhi on July 16, 1952 and met Prime Minister Pt Nehru. The meeting resulted in an agreement between Nehru-Sheikh on July 24, which is known as ‘Delhi Accord’ or ‘July Agreement’. Four days after the agreement, Deendayalji addressed a public meeting in Meerut, where he described the Agreement’ as the victory of communalism at the hands of Nehru.
Praja Parishad president Premnath Dogra was also invited at Prant convention of Jana Sangh held at Chandausi (Uttar Pradesh) from October 11 to 12. In that convention, Deendayalji informed that the first programme of ‘Jammu Kashmir Day’ held on 29 June was a big hit. The Praja Parishad started a peaceful satyagraha in Jammu & Kashmir against the policies of Prime Minister Pt Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah on November 23, 1952. The Jana Sangh and its allies again celebrated ‘Jammu Kashmir Day’ across the country in support of Praja Parishad on December 14, 1952. Dr. Mookerjee addressed a meeting in Delhi, which was attended by thousands of people. The same day, a public meeting was organised by Jana Sangh at Aminuddaula Park of Lucknow. The meeting was presided over by Mahant Digvijaynath and Deendayalji prepared public opinion in favour of the people of J&K.
The first national convention of the Jana Sangh was organised in Kanpur from December 29 to 31, 1952. In that session Deendayalji was entrusted with the responsibility of national general secretary. At a press conference in Jaipur, he described Jammu satyagraha as the fight for integrity of the country. He said the Jammu Praja Parishad is fighting against the disruptive trends and the governments of J&K and India have tried not only to suppress the satyagraha of Praja Parishad inhumanly but also to create confusion about its real objectives.”
Jammu Kashmir Satyagraha started in Delhi on March 6, 1953 in support of the demands of the people of J&K. Delhi was the centre of the satyagraha, but most of the satyagrahis had come from Uttar Pradesh, where Deendayalji had addressed dozens of public meetings. He criticised Abdullah’s separatist mentality, saying, “The truth is that Sheikh Abdullah is trying to create a third nation by taking undue advantage of the situation arose out of the demise of Sardar Patel, Pt Nehru's policy of appeasement and the presence of J&K case in UN. Truth has been revealed; now it is for the people of India to decide whether they counter it or refuses to look at the truth with eyes closed.”
Along with Dr. SP Mookerjee, Deendayalji, Atal Behari Vajpayee, Rambhau Mhalgi, Vijay Kumar Malhotra, Kushabhau Thackeray, Premnath Dogra, U.M. Trivedi, Kidar Nath Sahni, Balraj Madhok, Sundar Singh Bhandari and Bhairon Singh Shekhawat were also working hard to awaken the people in other states during this Satyagraha. In the annual report of the Jana Sangh, Deendayalji said a total of 10,751 satyagrahis participated in the Satyagraha from various states.
Deendayalji wrote Foreword of a book ‘Kashmir ke Morche Par’ in 1954. In that Foreword, he while expressing inner anguish over the happenings of J&K wrote: “The Front of Kashmir is the National Front of India. In the year 1947, the soldiers of Indian Army defeated the enemy. The dream of Jinnah, who considered Kashmir in his pocket, was foiled. On the same front, once in 1953, the brave sons of Bharat had to sacrifice themselves. The Government of India may turn a blind eye to reality, but the nationalist forces of Bharat are constantly aware. Continuous awareness is the value of freedom.”
This Satyagraha was getting full support of the people of the country. Dr. Mookerjee decided to go to J&K on May 11 where he was arrested and put under house arrest. He died there under mysterious circumstances on June 23, 1953. After the martyrdom of Dr Mookerjee, Pt Nehru arrested Abdullah in August 1953. With it, the Jan Sangh also withdrew the Satyagraha. With this, Sheikh’s dream of autonomous Kashmir also came to an end. The command of the state came into the hands of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad. Deendayalji was continuously writing articles for removal of Article 370. He also raised the issue of discrimination against more than one lakh refugees from West Pakistan due to Article 35A. Deendayalji had the same opinion regarding Article 370 which its proponent Gopalaswami Ayyangar had while moving it to the Constituent Assembly. At that time, Ayyangar had said that soon the Constitution of India will be fully implemented in J&K and the accession of J&K with India will be complete. The framers of the Constitution had expected that the day would come when Article 370 would be abrogated.
The Jana Sangh achieved the greatest success in ensuring unity of the country in 1959. That year two important Acts regarding the state were passed. First, there was a permit system to go there; and the state was outside the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India. It was decided at the Bangalore convention of the Jana Sangh that the people should be educated in this regard. It was decided to celebrate Kashmir Day on February 8, 1959 across the country. As a result, the permit system was abolished on April 1, 1959. The jurisdiction of Supreme Court was also approved by state legislature on April 1, which came into force on January 26, 1960.
In February 1964, MP from Mandsaur, U.M. Trivedi was speaking on a motion in the Lok Sabha. Though Jammu & Kashmir was not the subject of discussion that day, he raised the issue of abolishing Article 370. He asked the government, “What is the obstacle in abolishing Article 370?” That year the opposition was united over the removal of Article 370. The Jana Sangh supported the move. In the third Lok Sabha, Prakashvir Shastri was representing Bijnor parliamentary constituency. On September 11, 1964 he introduced a private Bill on Article 370. Jana Sangh MP Hukam Chand Kachhvay from Dewas had supported that.
The central government was not in favour of removing Article 370. Hence, the whip was issued against the bill. On it, Prakashvir Shastri pleaded before the House, “I want to tell my friends in the House that if they vote against the bill, it may fall, but they should remember that the history of Bharat will never excuse them for it. Hence, they should vote on the voice of their soul and not on the basis of the whip. The parties are small and the country is Supreme.” The morale of the Jana Sangh never diminished. Resolutions were passed on Article 370 in each of its national executive meetings. On January 15, 1966, the national executive meeting was held in Kanpur. Deendayalji was also present. The meeting decided that the integration of the parts of J&K which are not with us is an internal matter of Bharat. Article 370 of the Constitution is creating a psychological barrier between the people of J&K and the rest of Bharat. Anti-national elements and Pakistani agents always take advantage of it and harm India’s interests. Therefore, the national executive called upon the Government of India to abolish this article and take steps to implement complete Constitution of India in J&K.
Prime Minister Nehru died on May 27 1964. Sheikh sought permission from the Government of India to go on Haj. The government allowed him to leave the country for seven months. Sheikh started his foreign trips from Jeddah. The local Pakistan Embassy mobilised people for his meetings. Not only this, pamphlets on the life of Sheikh were distributed. Generally, there was no restriction from the Government of India on such activities. After that Sheikh’s press conference was organised in London. The organiser of that press conference was Pakistan Embassy. The effect of it was that the Kashmiri Muslims of Britain gifted Sheikh 32,000 sterling pounds. In return, Sheikh assured them that soon he would declare an independent Kashmir.
The Government of India maintained silence on it and took no action. But Sheikh was arrested when he returned to India. Deendayalji was in Bangalore in those days. He demanded sedition case against Sheikh and Mirza Afzal Baig. He said the government is working half-heartedly against Sheikh and his associates. Deendayalji was elected national president of Jana Sangh at Calicut session in 1967. In his presidential speech, he spoke about removing of Article 370. He was assassinated on February 11, 1968 near Mughalsarai Railway Station.
The Bharatiya Janata Party was formed in 1980 on the same ideological establishment of Deendayalji and Dr Mookerjee. In 1952, the demand for the abolition of Article 370 was raised by Dr. Mookerjee and later Deendayalji made it a point of discussion in public. The BJP resolved to remove Article 370 in its first session in Mumbai. Thus, on August 5, 2019, the President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind made this article inoperative, which was announced by Home Minister Amit Shah through Rajya Sabha.
(Associated with Jammu Kashmir Study Centre, New Delhi)