By: Prof. Pradeep Mathur
NEW DELHI: It was the fateful year of 1975 and the country was living under the shock of the Emergency rule imposed by Mrs Indira Gandhi.The Congress decided to hold its annual session at Chandigarh and the venue was named Komagata Maru Nagar after the ill-fated ship that took migrating seeking people from Punjab to their unsuccessful attempt to enter Canada in the year 1914. Komagata Maru incident became a symbol of fight against the racist character of the then British Raj and is still itiched in the memory of old people of Punjab.
The Congress was perhaps the only political party visible in the Emergency rule and the Komagata Maru session was a grand affair. I was a junior member of the six-reporter team of The Tribune to cover the session.A special train carrying Congress party delegates from various states was coming and I was asked to report on its arrival scene at Chandigarh railway station.
The next morning I was at the single-platform small Chandigarh railway station in time for the delegates’ train to arrive. As the train stopped I found myself standing before the coach of the Sikkim delegates. Sikkim had been merged into India only a few months ago and the Sikkim leader Kazi Landup Dorji who had reportedly fought against the feudal rule of Chogyal to seek merger with democratic India was the Chief Minister.
I did some quick thinking and told myself that the interview of Kazi would be a great story. As people started alighting from the coach I went forward introduced myself and told a man who looked like the Chief Minister’s secretary that I would like to interview Kazi for The Tribune, the biggest English daily of northern region.
The man went inside the coach talked to Kazi and told me that I should come in the evening to the Punjab University Guest House were the Chief Minister was to stay. I quickly moved away to talk to other leaders coming out of their coaches.
Back in office I did the delegates’ train arrival story and announced that I was going to do a big story — the interview of the great fighter against feudalism Kazi Landup Dorji.
I prepared myself for the interview and reached the university guest house in the evening. I found Kazi in bed and was told that he had developed mild fever. Anyway I started talking to him. To my utter surprise it was like talking to a wall. He was quite a dumb and could not answer any of my questions In no time I discovered that he was neither a mass leader nor a fighter for democratic rights of the people . He was only a businessman and a small time politician who was used by our government against the Chyogal . The talk of he being a fighter for feudally oppressed people was government propaganda which we had swallowed hook line and sinker.
Kazani, the Belgian wife of Kazi read my disappointment. She told me that in Sikkim they make a variety of good liquor and asked for my preference. As I was also desperate to get some inputs to do the story we started a conversation.
During our talks Kazani asked me if I knew B.B. Lal who was Governor of Sikkim. I said yes Mr Lal is from my State and he is an efficient and honest officer of high integrity. Kazani said it is all right but he interferes too much I came home worrying what I would write on the interview that was a flop. Fortunately for me in the rush of big stories filed by my seniors nobody bothered for a one-page excuse of an interview I filed.
However, I thought Kazani’s complaint against the Governor was important. There were foreign journalists around and if she shared it with them our country will get a bad press internationally.
I thought I must do something about it. All the big and powerful people of the country were around and I must convey it to some highup who can tell the Home Mininter or the Prime Minister about it.
As I was thinking it I spotted Yashpal Kapoor, the powerful political secretary of Mrs Indira Gandhi.
I told my entire conversation with Kazani to Mr Kapoor. He listened to me patiently and then said : Governor theek kar raha hai. Yeh log badmash hein. Inke danda karna padta hai. Esi se kaam chalta hai.Our conversation ended on this note.
This happened 45 years ago. I feel in all these years since then we have not changed our attitude towards people in border states. We continue to distrust them and impose ourselves on them. Worst we try to quell their dissent by giving money that only promotes corruption whether it is Jammu and Kashmir or the North Eastern states .
Unless we are sensitive to the feelings and sentiments of the people in border states and listen to them and act accordingly we will never be able to end disaffection, dissatisfaction and dissent there.
But will our political leaders and bureaucrats ever understand this ?
Prof. Pradeep Mathur, a veteran journalist and a former Professor at IIMC, New Delhi, is Editor of Media map, a monthly thought journal on current affairs & Advisor cum Sr. Consulting Editor-ICN Group.