What is our vision of India and what is Kashmir’s place in that vision? This is the fundamental question – Jagmohan
Jagmohan’s passing away has ended an era in India’s public life that is marked with courage, commitment to nationalism, constitution, philosophical understanding of our past, and an uncompromising mindset to achieve goals for the unity of the nation.
He was colossal, with multifaceted qualities. An author, administrator, thinker, and civilizational scholar, a visionary and a sharp-minded statesman. His contribution to saving Kashmir from jihadists is a most remarkable part of his life. But equally important have been his initiatives to unshackle Mata Vaishno Devi management from an archaic rotten system, which is no less than a renaissance as it affected millions of Hindu devotees. Today every devotee going to Mata Vaishno Devi thanks one person- and that is Jagmohan.
When we conceived the idea of Sindhu Darshan at Leh, Ladakh, we approached him after a few years to have it adopted as a Ministry of Tourism programme. He understood the seriousness of the festival, its grave implications to strengthen the morale of Buddhists and how it may result in creating a positive echo system for the armed forces. He immediately agreed and had the festival institutionalized. The MD of the India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) Ashwini Lohani’s creativity helped us a lot.
Jagmohan rattled the terrorists and the coward supporters of terrorism in the valley. Benazir Bhutto’s outburst against him in her speeches is a testimony to the power and influence Jagmohan wielded to protect the people in the valley. He didn’t fear the highest authority in implementing his constitutional duties similar to how Syama Prasad Mookerjee never wanted to cling to the power by shamelessly compromising on principles.
Like Syama Prasad Mookerjee, is remembered for his great contribution to have J&K’s full and final merger with the rest of India, Jagmohan will be remembered for saving the helpless Hindus of the valley from the brutal repression and assaults of the Jihadis and awakening India on the grave dangers national unity was facing in the valley.
His participation in the BJP campaign to abolish 370 and article 35A, even at the ripe age of 92, signals his life-long commitment to saving Kashmir from the clutches of coward separatists who were active on foreign money and support.
The Kashmiri Hindus were daily facing Wandhama kind of barbarism and their women were attacked, dishonored. If Jagmohan had not come forward to help them, the tale of Kashmiri Hindus would have been different.
He stood firmly against the Abdullahs’ pusillanimous attitude and confronted Congress policies to appease Islamists at the cost of the national interest and the lives of the Hindus.
His famous open letter to Rajiv Gandhi ( April 1989) is a must-read for every Indian who is interested to save the honor of the nation. He wrote- “The situation is fast deteriorating. It has almost reached a point of no return. For the last five days, there have been large-scale violence, arson, firing, hartals, casualties and what not. Things have truly fallen apart. Talking of the Irish crisis, Disraeli had said: ‘It is potatoes one day and the Pope next.’ This is the position in Kashmir. Yesterday, it was Maqbool Butt; today it is Satanic Verses; tomorrow it will be ‘repression day’; and day after, it will be something else….The chief minister stands isolated. He has already fallen – politically and administratively; only constitutional rites remain to be performed. The situation calls for effective intervention. Today may be timely; tomorrow may be too late.”
We often met at IIC over lunch and he would candidly give his opinion on the national happenings. He was a very compassionate person. All his royalties earned from the celebrated book- My Frozen Turbulence were spent on charities, funding poor students to pursue studies.
A manor of extraordinary abilities and virtues, he received Padma Sri, Padma Bushan, and Padma Vibhushan. He won Lok Sabha elections three times, became a cabinet minister in the Vajpayee government, changed the face of Delhi for good, and earned respect and love from common Indians.
He was a cut above the normal, ordinary politician for whom winning an election is all that means in his life. He would raise fundamental questions and try to engage people to find answers to them. He asked, “The great question that should have been faced by us was one our civilisational and cultural identity and its rejuvenation and regeneration to enable us to provide an inspirational and ideological base for building a strong and well-knit India with fundamental values and a design and lifestyle of its own. But we ignored this great question.”
His prose read like poetry and his narrative was like a seer sitting on a rock engaged in a dialogue with his people. Just see his lines about the importance of Kashmir in Indian philosophy and how our seers and emperors created a fabric of unity through culture. He writes, ‘What were the forces that brought into existence, about 4,000 years ago, a quiet little temple on what is now known as the Sankaracharya Hill? What made the great Kashmiri King Lalitaditya (721-761) build the glorious temple in honour of Surya, the Sun God, at Martanda, and Avanti Verman (855-883) to construct equally splendid temples at Avantipura? What inner urges did these constructions symbolize?
….How is it that for thousands of years, the learned Brahmins of South India have been, on getting up from bed, folded their hands, looked northward and prayed: Namaste; Saradadevi: Kashmira Mandala Vasini (I salute the Goddess of Sarada who resides in Kashmir). Why is it that even now parents tell their children to seek the blessings of this Goddess of Learning who has her abode in North Kashmir in the valley of Kishanganga?”
How many of our politicians today would even make efforts to answers these basic questions that bound India for the last many millenniums?
He was as glad that a strong leader like Narendra Modi has come to change the situation and got the obnoxious 370 dumped into the dustbin. That’s the best gift this government has given to him during this lifetime.
Jagmohan was a visionary who awakened Indian. On issues of national unity and especially opened eyes of all on Kashmir. He was like my friend, philosopher and guide. The nation pays homage to him with folded hands.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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