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Syama Prasad Mookerjee was detained for 44 days by Sheikh Abdullah

By Anuj Cariappa

New Delhi, June 24: Union minister Jitendra Singh alleged that former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Sheikh Abdullah had illegally detained Jan Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee for 44 days in a jail in his state in 1953.

Delivering a talk here to commemorate the death anniversary of Mookerjee, the BJP MP narrated the sequence of events that ended in alleged illegally detention of Mookerjee.

Syama Prasad Mookerjee was detained for 44 days by Sheikh Abdullah

He said Mookerjee, a member of parliament at that time, had sent a telegram to Sheikh Abdullah informing him about his desire and plan to visit the state.

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Singh said, if Mookerjee's only guilt was that he was trying to enter Jammu and Kashmir without a proper permit, the natural course of justice would have been to repatriate him to Punjab, from where he had started his journey, or prevent him from entering into the territory of J-K.

The Sheikh government, on the contrary, he said, acted in haste as if it was waiting to arrest Mookerjee and put him behind the bars.

Meanwhile, the then Chief Secretary of State M K Kidwai sent a telegram followed by a letter to the Speaker of Lok Sabha to inform that Mookerjee had been arrested under Section 3 of Public Security Act, he said.

Since Mookerjee was an elected member of Lok Sabha, from the South Kolkata constituency, the Sheikh government apparently tried to follow the convention of informing the Speaker about his arrest but no convention or procedure was followed while carrying out the arrest, nor was a proper trial carried out for the charges, if any, levelled against him, Singh said.

Mookerjee was mercilessly thrown behind the bars in a Srinagar jail, as if he was a criminal and during the 44 days of his stay in the jail, not a single representative of the state government showed the courtesy to visit him or inquire about him, he claimed.

Not only this, on the May 24, 1953, then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and home minister K N Katju arrived at Srinagar as Sheikh Abdullah's guests but none of the three bothered to inquire about Mookerjee who was lodged in a jail just a few kilometers away, said Singh, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office.

Even when Mookerjee breathed his last under mysterious circumstances at 3.40 AM on June 23, 1953, the news of his death was held back for several hours, he said, adding it was broadcast on All India Radio at 12.50 PM.

This is on record of the parliament proceedings when the Member of Parliament S P Gidwani put this question to the then Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting B V Keskar, but the minister had no answer for this, Singh said.

When Mookerjee's body was airlifted from Srinagar without any formal respect or courtesy, the state government headed by Sheikh Abdullah refused to pay even the Indian Airlines fare of Rs 7,548, he said.

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Singh recalled that when the body was brought to Kolkata on June 24, a huge sea of humanity gathered and raised the slogan "Zahar Diya, Kisne Diya? Sheikh ne diya Sheikh ne diya", essentially meaning he was poisoned by Sheikh Abdullah.

No wonder, he said, there was no proper inquiry instituted to go into the reasons behind Mookerjee's mysterious death in spite of repeated requests from all quarters including the departed leader's aging mother.

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