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Shyama Prasad Mukherjee’s Balidaan: Heart Failure or Murder?


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“Ek desh mein do Vidhan, do Pradhan aur Do Nishan nahi chalenge” were the impassionate words of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee who lived in the hope of a unified India.

Image Source: Organiser.org

The saddest irony of India is, every leader who advocated for a country for the Muslims were hailed for their humanity and every leader who considered the Hindu plight was either made into a villain, like Savarkar or Nathuram or erased from the collective memory of our country, as happened in the case of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee.

S P Mukherjee entered the Bengal Legislative Council representing the Indian National Congress but resigned soon after to contest as an independent candidate. He had served as the Finance Minister of the A. K. Fazlul Huq government fleetingly as well. His statements criticizing the government were censored, his movements were limited, and he was prevented from visiting the Midnapore in 1942 when severe floods had impaired life there. He then mobilized relief items with the support of Ramakrishna Mission and the Marwari Relief Society.


He was also a dominant force behind retaining a part of Bengal with India. Bengal was once divided in 1905 with several Hindu dominated districts like Goalpara and Cachar being assimilated to the Muslim majority ‘Eastern Bengal and Assam’ formed by the British. After unrelenting protests, the British had to annul the division in six years.

But when they arrived at the decision of partitioning India, and possibilities of Bengal to be assimilated with Pakistan grew clearer, S P Mukherjee stood up for the Bengali Hindus.

After the Great Calcutta Killings and the Noakhali riots of 1946, it was apparent that the Hindus would not be safe in a Pakistan dominated by Muslims, ruled by Muslim leaders. The Congress through the two genocidal attacks on the Hindus orchestrated Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and Jinnah, had spared no support for the Hindus. Deliberating over all these points, a nationalist to the core who was opposed to the idea of partition initially, concluded that bifurcation of Bengal was imperative for the Hindu Bengalis.

“In provinces where constitutional powers have passed to the hands of Moslem ministers, reports of oppression and injustices daily pour in. I myself can bear testimony to a systemic policy being pursued by the Ministry now in power in Bengal which is aimed at crippling the Hindus in every sphere of life–economic, political and cultural”.

He engendered prominent media houses, Amrita Bazar Patrika, The Statesmen, Dainik Basumati for instance, to campaign for Bangal partition, and roped in stellar Hindu leaders like Jadunath Sarkar, Meghnad Saha, Ramesh Chandra Majumdar, Suniti Kumar Chatterji to further empowering the cause. Finally, on June 20th, 1947, the legislators of the Bengal Legislative Assembly held a meeting to decide on the fate of the Bengal presidency. After rounds of debates and votes, the presidency was decided to be divided and the foundation of West Bengal was laid.

“I personally think that the greatest achievement of Dr Mukherjee was the creation of West Bengal. He practically snatched the state out of the jaws of Jinnah.” said Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy at the launch of “The Life and Times of Dr Syama Prasad Mukherjee” he has authored.


A man of ethics, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee never supported article 370 for Jammu Kashmir. He deemed it a threat to the India union, the genesis of Sheikh Abdullah’s three-nation theory. This disagreement had created a massive rift between him and the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

Article 370 granted the state of Jammu and Kashmir a separate flag and a Prime Minister which was unconstitutional and against the idea of sovereign India. One had to gain special permission from the government of J&K to enter the state.

To oppose this injustice, in May 1953, Mukherjee decided to enter Kashmir without taking any permission. That his determination resonated with the people and his movement had started gaining momentum had left Nehru fuming. It was being speculated that the Punjab government would stop Mukherjee’s journey in Jammu and Kashmir in Punjab itself.


Shockingly, he was allowed a smooth entry in the state only to be arrested and thrown in the Central Jail. He was later moved to a cottage on the outskirts of the city where his health started to deteriorate. He was diagnosed with Pleurisy.

Dr. Ali Mohammad, who was attending him, prescribed a streptomycin injection and powders. Mukherjee protested stating streptomycin did not suit him. Dr. Mohammad cited some developments about the drug assuring it would do him no harm.

On June 22nd, he felt a severe heart pain and was rushed to a local hospital. He had suffered a heart attack. The following day, he was pronounced dead by the government. His death is believed to be a well-conceived murder. His mother Jogamaya Devi made an earnest request to Nehru to have his death investigated, but she was turned down by the Prime Minister. Nehru affirmed that after discussing with many who were privy to the truth, he sees no conspiracies in her son’s death. Jogamaya Devi rejected Nehru’s empty claims and asked for an impartial inquiry; her letter was ignored. No commission was set to inquire about the sudden death of a perfectly healthy man of 52.  


Accusing Jawaharlal Nehru as an accomplice, former Prime Minister, late Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee revealed in 2004,  ‘When Mukherjee decided to violate the permit rule by entering J&K without a permit, we thought the Punjab government would arrest him and prevent him from proceeding further. However, that did not happen. Later we came to know that the J&K government and the Nehru government had entered into a conspiracy as per which it was decided that Mukherjee would be allowed to enter J&K, but not allowed to leave. The J&K government was told that he should not be allowed to come back.”


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