Retired Justice Chittatosh Mookerjee, the nephew of Bharatiya Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee, is certain that his uncle would have felt a great sense of satisfaction over the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 being repealed. He had strongly opposed the move to enact the legislation, fearing that it would Balkanise India.
But what Justice Mookerjee is less certain about is what his uncle would have felt about the means used to achieve this end. "It's not for me to guess what he would have thought. He believed in democracy, in the parliamentary mode of democracy. But how to achieve that end? The end does not always justify the means, I know. But was there any other way out? I doubt it," he said.
The former Chief Justice of the Calcutta and Mumbai High Courts pointed out that the repeal may have been possible because of President's Rule in Jammu and Kashmir and the Governor's concurrence through a legislative process. "I think that if a popular government was in office, they may not have conceded or agreed to such a proposition," the retired judge said.
"My uncle had espoused the cause, and he died in an attempt to achieve it. Therefore, I believe he would have been happy. He wanted one vidhan, one pradhan, one nishan," he added.
Personally, Justice Mookerjee welcomed the fact that a decision has been taken on Article 370. It was supposed to be a temporary measure, he believes, to coax Sheikh Abdullah -- the Frontier Gandhi leading Kashmir at that time -- to stay with India.
"This government, whether right or wrong, made it a part of their political programme to repeal the provisions related to Kashmir and they have fulfilled their vow. I may not congratulate them, but I admire the man who could take this step knowing all the difficulties that will now arise," he said.
While Justice Mookerjee's views on the scrapping the special status may be mixed, the tragic circumstances of his uncle's death as well as the manner in which the then government handled it are still fresh in his mind. "We got a call from someone suddenly saying that SP Mookerjee was dead with almost no answers about how, why," Justice Mookerjee recalled. "It was a shock to the family. After all, my uncle was just 53 years old when he died."
The Bharatiya Jana Sangh founder's mother had demanded a probe into his death, but it remained unfulfilled. The family is still in the dark about a diary that Syama Prasad Mookerjee kept while he was in a jail in Srinagar.
"In his letters to the family that kept arriving after he died, my uncle said he was maintaining a diary because he had nothing to do in jail. We never got that diary," Justice Mookerjee said. "Who knows what he may have written in it."
The Bharatiya Jana Sangh was the predecessor to the ruling BJP.
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