Like every true Indian nationalist of last 64 years of Indian history, late Indian nationalist leader Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, too, was a friend of Tibet and the Tibetan people.
I express my gratitude to Shri Claude Arpi, for I will quote extensively from his book ‘Tibet: The Lost Frontier’. Similarly, I express my gratitude to Shri Arun Shourie, for I will also quote extensively from his book ‘Self-deception: India’s China Policies – Origins, Premises, Lessons’.
Indian people are aware of late Shri Dr. SP Mookerjee’s contribution to Indian nationalism. After he had resigned from the government of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (due to disagreement over Delhi Pact that Pandit Nehru had with Pakistan prime minister Liaqat Ali Khan), he, after consulting Guru Golwalkar of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), founded Bharatiya Jana Sangh. This party was opposed to the politics of minority appeasement in India, and is widely considered to the first Hindu nationalist party, with an Indian nationalist outlook, of independent India. Late Dr. Mookerjee’s strident opposition to Article 370 and special status for Kashmir was prophetic – successive generations of Indians view with immense pain the lack of integration of Kashmir that these poor policies have spawned. His mysterious death in Kashmir, after being arrested by Sheikh Abdullah’s government, in 1953, remains shrouded in mystery, especially because Pandit Nehru never allowed setting up an enquiry commission.
Indian people may be less aware of his deep and abiding friendship towards the Tibetan people. At the time of Chinese PLA’s invasion of Tibet in 1950, and the consolidation of this invasion in the subsequent years, Pandit Nehru had a towering presence in India, and he had conducted the foreign policy of the Indian government entirely based on his own judgement. Very few Indian political leaders had the ability to criticize Pandit Nehru’s inaction when Tibet was ‘eaten up’ by communist China. Late Dr. Mookerjee had, and he protested against the short-sighted Indian policy on Tibet vehemently, on the floor of Indian parliament (Lok Shabha).
Dr. Mookerjee, during debate in Lok Shabha, had recalled the doggedness with which Pandit Nehru as the prime minister had been advocating China’s case in the United Nations. He cited the government of India had been ‘shocked and surprised’ with the reply that the Chinese government had sent India, in response to the messages that Indian government had sent to China. He then asked the most important question – ‘What is our definite policy regarding Tibet?’. He expressed his concern that the ‘Prime Minister just glossed over’ this important matter. He criticized Indian government’s inadequate response to the crisis unfolding in Tibet – ‘We have sent another request asking them to be peaceful, but has that made any difference?..We sent frantic appeals to China asking her not to be violent but did China listen?’ Dr. Mookerjee had also prophetically pointed out the imminent danger to India, because, while Indian prime minister kept saying that Indian government stands by McMahon line as boundary between India and Tibet, China continues to publish maps that show significant Indian territory as part of China (Ignoring such sage warning caused India humiliation in 1962 over the heights of Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh, and India continues to pay the price till today). Dr. Mookerjee charged Pandit Nehru with following ‘a surrendering policy’ in regard to Tibet (Tibetan people know the effect of this surrender, with 1.2 million Tibetans killed, thousands of monasteries razed flat and severely degraded environment potentially impacting much of Asia, because Tibet has the headwaters of many major Asian rivers).
People of India and Tibet continue to suffer, because incompetent Nehru-government had ignored well-founded critique and sane advise. It is hoped India’s governments formulate appropriate policy to help the sorely tried Tibetan people. There is not another choice – Tibet is India’s civilizational sister.