Maharaja Hari Singh"s birth anniversary

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[ September 24, 2017 ] Criminal silence of BJP ministers on issue exposed ruling alliance Jammu: Jammu and Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh was on Saturday heckled by Dogra community members over the state government"s "failure" to declare Maharaja Hari Singh"s birth anniversary as a state holiday.The deputy chief minister was speaking at a function after paying floral tributes to Maharaja, the last Hindu ruler of the state, on his birth anniversary today.Scores of people, including youth wearing black T-shirts and carrying saffron flags, raised slogans against Singh and the PDP-BJP coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir. The protesters also demanded the minister"s resignation and accused the BJP of doing "dis-service" to the Jammu region."BJP has done dis-service to Jammu, which gave them 25 seats. They have failed to address one of the major aspirations of the Dogras. Despite passage of a resolution, the BJP could not facilitate a holiday on Maharaja"s birthday. It is a shame.The Dogra community members also blocked the deputy CM"s cavalcade. If there could be a holiday to pay respects to Shiekh Mohammad Abdullah, why can"t there be a holiday on the birth anniversary of Hari Singh? We don"t believe that the last Dogra ruler was an autocrat. Hari Singh was a democratic leader and even the NC recognised it when it said that he brought state subject laws to protect the rights of people to the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir.Maharaja was the "embodiment of justice and pluralism". "Maharaja"s services for the society had endeared him with the masses not only within the state but across the country as well. As an enlightened secular ruler, Hari Singh had said after ascending to the throne in 1925 that: "I have no religion, my religion is justice","Several programmes, including armed rallies, were today organised in Jammu region to mark the 122nd birth anniversary of the state"s last Hindu ruler Maharaja Hari Singh, amid demands that the day be declared a public holiday.Participants criticised the PDP-BJP government for failing to declare September 23 as a public holiday in the state. At an event to pay homage to the state"s last Dogra ruler, Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh was forced to cut short his speech.The issue has been gaining traction in the state for some time. A resolution was adopted in the state legislative council in January to declare the day a public holiday.But there apparently is no agreement between the two ruling parties.Lawyers affiliated to the Jammu Bar Association stayed away from work and instead organised a programme within the Association"s premises to celebrate the contribution of the Maharaja, under whom the historic instrument of accession of the state with the Indian Union was signed in 1947.Maharaja"s grandson and PDP lawmaker Vikramaditya Singh said the demand for public holiday will continue as the issue is linked to the "sentiment" of people in the Jammu region."Maharaja was a great leader and the entire Jammu region is united in its demand for a holiday to mark the birth anniversary of their beloved king," Singh told reporters.Singh said it was time the sentiment of the people of the Jammu region was recognised.The BJP had backed the January resolution, but opposition National Conference had walked out from the Council then. Independent MLA Engineer Rashid had claimed that the passage of the resolution was a disrespect to the people "who gave their life fighting against the autocratic rule."Several groups of youth, some armed with swords and licensed guns, rallied through the city on motorcycles and four wheelers, raising slogans against the state government.Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party chief and former minister Harsh Dev Singh asked his grandsons Ajatshatru and Vikramaditya - to resign from their respective political parties in protest against the state government"s "contemptuous denial" to declare the day as a public holiday.