The Martyr Laureate
By: RK Raina

They year 1967 marked the beginning of a period of social and political discrimination which the Hindus of the valley have passed through and has now culminated into present day turmoil and their exile. It was not only the event of abduction in the year of minor Hindu girl by her fellow employee, who was not handed over by the police authorities to her widowed mother on her repeated implorements and even on the request or respected persons of the vicinity to which the girl belonged to, but the hidden fear of becoming a pray of Muslim fundamentalists overtones had gradually surfaced in the state. Realizing the gravity of the developments having taken place in the valley, the Hindus demonstrated against the callous attitude of the police and administrative authorities, not in rage or with disruptive plans but with the program which did not ever during its course disturb the traffic on roads, educational, commercial or any other type of establishments nor was any kind of routine was disrupted.

The regular voluntary courting of arrest by five youths everyday for over a month, would be followed by public gathering each day attended by remarkable numbers, at Sharika Bhawan, Sheetal Nath, a place of historical importance in Srinagar.

Among many prominent persons like Late Pt Gopi Krishen Jee, Shrei Prem Nath Gasi, Shri Amar Nath Ganjoo, the gathering would be addressed by young man some time clad in Kurta Pajama and at times in Pant and Shirt. From the audience whose vision would not be able to mark his arrival on the dias he could be recognized on his voicing the slogans ‘Bharta Mata Ki Jai’ ‘Satyam Aiv Jayatei’ and ‘Vande Mataram’. Once, on my enquiring his name the other listeners sitting by my side said, ‘Tika Lal Taploo, a lawyer by profession.’
Apart form condemning in strong words the brutalities perpetuated by police on demonstrators, Satyagrahees, he would stress upon the people not to take away by rumors of mischievous but the unity displaced by the community by added force/ strength of mutual trust and solidarity. His speech would be sermons for the youth, truth for the elders and hope for the women listeners. His excellence in speech attracted many young and old all alike, who all plunged into the field of action and contributed according to their capacity. The state authorities were desperate with the everyday heightening number of participants in the demonstrations. The police made random arrests of over two thousand people from office premises, shops, house, educational institutions and the same number of people were injured and about dozen killed in the cane charge, tear gas bursting, firings, but did not succeed in taking into custody, the most wanted by them, Shri Tika Lal Jee who was always suddenly appearing in demonstrations and at stage in Sheetalnath. His sudden appearance would delight the listeners but worry the police officials. A deep sense of affection for him grew elders. Men of his age got deeply impressed and their esteem increased and youngster of my age inspired by his fearlessness, developed unflinching faith in him.

Over a month long agitation culminated into a dialogue on the intervention of Union Home Minister then Shri Y.B. Chavan. Ot of the several agreements arrived at the only one. Of instituting a commission of Enquiry head by Justice Kholi, was partially published. Justice Kholi’s report on police excesses and other recommendations ha yet to see the broad day light even after the lapse of about three decades. The report is still confined to the file of Home Ministry. The indifferent attitude of Center Government towards Hindus the nationalist element in the valley, gave impetus to the building of an atmosphere for holding the Hindus out of the valley, for which the fundamentalist bureaucrats were already at work.

Subsequently Shri Taploo who evaded his arrest for the long time was arrested in the court premises and his brother Shri RL Taploo placed under suspension.

Shri Tikalal Jee could not remain silent spectator or observer of these developments but increased his devotion to politics to raise time to time alarms for the center to protect the national interests and the people those loyal to the cause. Among other, joined by Principal TN Mattoo, Late Shri TN Dhar, Sh Soom Nath Suri, Shri Taploo excelled his activities under the banner of Bharti Jan Sangh. The party which had made its debut by contesting 1967 parliament and Assembly elections, in Habba Khadal, Amira Kadal, Rainawari, Sopore, Baramulla, rendered a foot hold to the party for future.

In 1972 Shri Taploo jee lost the Habba Kadal assembly seat by a margin of few hundred votes, to an independent Shri Gh. Modh. Bhat who was supported by Pelbiscite Front. There was complete polarization of votes in the constituency and all other in the Frey including Congress lost their deposits.

It was not only the impact of party to which Shri Taploo belonged, but his popularity in the electorate because of his dedication and honesty. Although the opponents including the Congress Govt, had attributed to his party many disruptive adventures of the terrorist outfits, ‘ALFATA’ the active in the valley and had also concocted false tales to make ghost of it for a particular section of people, Shri Taploo Jee met people of every community and creed in his election campaign. During electioneering one day in the dead of night at about 11 pm he took me along to a locality predominantly of those opposed to his creed but because of his popularity and personal influence upon the inhabitants there, we faced no opposition even on our face to face communication. The people for the area were surprised over his visit, his courage and his blind faith in man and god.

I recall an event in itself reminiscent of his discipline in the party rank and file by his instinctively obeying the instructions of one who was younger in age and far less experienced in life and work.

There will hardly be an issue pertaining to the political, social and economical discrimination against any of people, over which Shri Taploo may not have raised his voice to reach the high echelons of authority and administration.

Allurements of positions and power did not ever attract him. Thus he kept on with his simple living and high thinking of adoring ‘Ma Baharati’ by remaining in constant service of her people.

Uncertainties, failures in life did not ever deter him from the path of relentless fight against the autocratic and authoritative attitude of state. He always kept on augmenting a healthy criticism to the failures and favors provided to a particular section by the government.

Unlike his temperament his dress would be simple and so was his heart. Tears of a women or an oppressed, irrespective of their caste, would move him. As a lawyer he used to plead the cases not for his pleasure but to please the oppressed, he down trodden, the needy. He was very popular among the classes of society who are economically backward. Material gains had very scant influence on his temperament. People especially students facing any problems having legal implications would without any formal obligations first rush to seek legal counsel from Tika Lal Jee and if they thought advisable to rush to seek council of other lawyers it would not grudge him. This fetched him only laurels and blessings but not material gains. In Aligarh University while graduating in law and post graduating in Humanities, and at Bar the ideals of simple living and high thinking, dedication in the services of nation and fearlessness imbedded by him in R.S.S. Shakha remained with him all through his life.

A few days before 13th September 1989 the day of his martyrdom, he had received some threatening of assignation from the secessionists and anti national elements. He did conveyed the same to the concerned authorities and one of his closest friend. His roaring voice against terrorism and secessionism worried his friends who say that they had many a time requested him to keep silence over the developments taking place in the valley. In reply he repeated by told them- ‘Voh Koi goli Abhi Nahi Bani Hai Jo Tika Lal Ke Chchati Ko Cheer Sakti Hai’ (No bullet has yet been made which can pierce into the chest of Tika Lal). On 13th September 1989 the men who silenced him in the street near his house, first greeted him and then fired eight rounds of shot at him, on the following day declared the victory by saying ‘Humnay ek Zor Dar Avaz ko Hamaisha ke liye band kiya’ (We have silenced a forceful for ever) (Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front).

Thus, an ardent political leader, a selfless social worker and a dynamic man always with profound regards for the order he had himself accepted, was lost for ever. He had nourished a dream of honorable, dignified and rightful living of the nationalist elements in the valley where fret and fury of secessionism and fundamentalism always persisted. His loss was not felt only by those who were near him but by even his political opponents and men who differed with his view points. Before his mortal remains were consigned to the holy fire, a large number of young and old present there were seen weeping and wailing. They had lost their guide, their friend and savior in adversity.

The luminaries from Bar and Bench, intelligentsia from rank and file and side by side commoners- men, women and children gave a befitting farewell to the valiant son of Kum Kum Bhoomi (land of Kashmir).