A 17.5-metre high statue of BJP ideologue Syama Prasad Mookerjee, his first in Jammu and Kashmir, was unveiled in Kathua district Saturday, coinciding with his 118th birth anniversary.
Union minister Jitendra Singh unveiled the statue at a ceremony, attended by senior BJP leaders National vice-president Avinash Rai Khanna, National Secretary and former lawmaker Maheish Girri, state president Ravinder Raina and assembly speaker Nirmal Singh, a party spokesman said.
"Although Mookerjee was not born in Jammu and Kashmir, his sacrifice in the state gave a message that the nation and its interests were paramount for an Indian and that there should be no barrier in relations between the Union of India and this border state," Dr Singh, who is Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, told a gathering after unveiling the statue.
Syama Prasad Mookerjee, who was strongly opposed to Article 370, which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir, died under mysterious circumstances after his arrest in Jammu and Kashmir in 1953.
Mr Khanna said that installing the statue is a real tribute to Syama Prasad Mookerjee's supreme sacrifice which culminated into the permit system being abolished, facilitating people's entry into the state without prior permission.
"Mookerjee's contribution in uniting the nationalist people of the state under the umbrella of ''Ek Vidhan Ek Nishan Ek Pradhan'' (one constitution, one flag, and one sovereign head) agitation would always be remembered.
"The unveiling of the statue is not only a tribute to the great leader but a pledge as well to carry forward and complete the unfinished agenda," the state BJP president said.
Nirmal Singh, the Assembly speaker and former deputy chief minister, said Syama Prasad Mookerjee left a luxurious life to lead a movement for the cause of nation.
Mr Girri said the nation always remembers the leaders who contribute to nation-building or sacrifice their life for a national cause.
Former deputy chief minister Kavinder Gupta said although belated but it has fulfilled the long cherished dream of millions of BJP workers.
State General Secretary (Organisation) Ashok Kaul, described Syama Prasad Mookerjee as a "man of principles" who worked on the philosophy of ''nation first, party second and self last'', and said the present day cadre of party should take inspiration from his life.
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