Hari Singh’s birthday: Clamor for declaring Sep 23 as holiday grows

The Bar Association of Jammu and a sitting legislator of the ruling PDP has asked the state government to declare September 23, the birth anniversary of last Dogra king Maharaja Hari Singh, as a state holiday.

The association said that it failed to understand what was stopping the government from taking a decision on its long-standing demand which involves “regional aspirations”.

 “From political parties to civil society and social organisations, everyone wants holiday on September 23 as a mark of respect for the great Maharaja,” said President of the association B S Slathia.

 “We failed to understand what is compelling the government from taking a positive decision on the issue despite the passage of a resolution?” he told reports here.

 On January 24, the legislative council had passed a resolution for the holiday to commemorate the birth anniversary of the last Dogra king.

 BJP member Ajatshatru Singh moved the resolution in the the Upper House, which was backed by all BJP members and the PDP’s Vikramaditya Singh.

 Ajatshatru and Vikramaditya are the grandsons of Hari Singh and sons of veteran Congress leader Karan Singh.

“The demand is linked to the regional aspirations of the people which is evident from the one voice raised on the issue by National Conference provincial president Devender Rana, Congress’s Sham Lal Sharma, other political groups and every member of civil society and social organisations,” Slathia said.

 “If the demand is not met, the people will be forced to come out on the roads and start agitation which will create law and order problem and the consequences will be on the state government,” he said.

 Meanwhile, member of the Legislative Council (MLC) and senior leader of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Vikramaditya Singh also wrote an open letter to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti demanding declaring of September 23 as state holiday.

Vikramaditya Singh also sought attention of the Chief Minister towards the historic resolution passed, unanimously, in the J&K Legislative Council in the month of January this year in this regard.

“I feel compelled to write to you on an important issue that is touching the core of the heart of the people of Jammu. As you are aware, Jammu has had a long standing demand that the J&K Government should declare Maharaja Hari Singh Ji’s anniversary on September 23rd as State holiday. This is being supported by all sections of society, communities and the public at large”, Vikramaditya Singh stated in the letter, written to the Chief Minister.

“As a representative of the people and your MLC, it is my duty to bring to your attention that even today there are very strong sentiments attached with Maharaja Hari Singhji, especially when it comes to the foresighted and progressive social reforms and developmental works that were undertaken during his rule as Maharaja”, he mentioned.

“His reforms cut across social, religious, caste and gender barriers to impart justice to all, be it, healthcare, education, forests, environment, irrigation, canals, flood projection channels, wildlife, fisheries, horticulture, sericulture etc. He set up important and premier institutions for smoother delivery of justice like the J&K High Court, had introduced modern day banking system in the State by bringing highly qualified people from Mumbai to set up the J&K Bank,” he said.

He further added that for the Dalits, Maharaja had opened doors of Jammu’s holiest city temples and allowed them to worship Gods. Maharaja had encouraged young girls to get education by giving them grants, banned child marriage, abolished the practice of ‘Sati’ and encouraged widow remarriage. And finally, he signed the ‘Instrument of Accession’ on October 26th, 1947, making Jammu and Kashmir part of India.

He reminded that in January this year, the Legislative Council had passed a resolution in the House that supported the declaration of state holiday on the day of his birth anniversary. More recently, all political parties in J&K have publicly spoken in favour of Maharaja Hari Singh’s contribution to our State and supported the call for state holiday.

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