By: Dr. JagadindraRaychoudhury
Pre-Independence era was completely combating for independence against the colonial British rule under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, Indian National Congress in India but across the territory Ajad Hind Fauj under the leadership of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose fought a forefront war against the British. As a result, India got independence on 15th August, 1947. The congress party ruled independent India for several decades and many prominent leaders served the country with their various capabilities whole heartedly. Pranab Kumar Mukherjee was also one of the congress leaders who started his career as a politician spanning five decades in his entire career. Mukherjee got his break in national arena in 1969 when then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi helped him to get elected to the Rajya Sabha. Though he was the successor to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1984, her son Rajiv Gandhi was declared the Prime Minister of India. During the tenure of premiership of Rajiv Gandhi, Mukherjee was sidelined and as a result he started a new party called ‘Rashtriya Samajwadi Congress’in West Bengal. His party merged with congress party in 1989 after reaching a consensus with Rajiv Gandhi. Mukherjee’s political career saw light when P.V. Narasimha Rao became the Prime Minister after assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.
During the tenure of Premier of P.V. NarasimhaRao, Mukherjee was appointed as the planning commission head in 1991 and subsequently foreign minister in 1995. Mukherjee served the country in various Ministries during Premiership of Dr. Manmohan Singh, Defence (2004) External affairs (2006-09) and Finance (2009-2012).
Pranab Mukherjee was elected as the 13th President of India after an overwhelming victory over former speaker P.A. Sangma and moved to Raisina Hill. It was Pranab Mukherjee, President of India under whose initiative the criminal law ordinance was amended in 2013 and the same was promulgated by him on 3rd February, 2013. Mukherjee came forward to provide the amendment of the Indian penal code, Indian Evidence Act and the code of criminal procedure, 1973 on law related to sexual offences. It was President Pranab Kumar Mukherjee who rejected 24 mercy pleas including those of Yakub Menon, Afzal Guru and Ajmal Kasab.
The populace of any country will never tolerate if outsiders or own people involved in attacking their country with pointless bloodshed flown to make the country in an unrest situation.We, the Indian People very well remember the deadly bomb blasting attack in Mumbai which took place in 1993. The brother of the mastermind of the blast was Yakub Menon, who was an Indian terrorist and after declaration by the Supreme Court the ultimate punishment could not be given due to him serving mercy petition to the President of India in several occasion.After R.K. Narayan, A.P.J. Kalam and Pratibha Patel served as a president of India and the ultimate judgement could not given him during their tenure. It was Pranab Mukherjee who directly rejected the mercy petition and executed by hanging Yakub Menon on 30 July,2015 in the premises of Nagpur jail.
That was followed by another noxious attack on Indian Parliament House by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and both were Pakistani terrorist group. The attack was a mass shooting along with suicide attack when 14 died along with 5 terrorists. Afzal Guru, a separatist of Kashmir was convicted in this Pakistani attack and after declaration of judgement by Honorable Supreme Court he could not punish as mercy petitions were served several occasions. It was Pranab Mukherjee who rejected long lasting plea and hanged Afzal Guru in 2013 to mark the respect to the nation.
Another militant and a member of laskare-e-Taiba, an islamist militant organization, Ajmal Kasab who was involved in the ever remembered Mumbai terrorist attack in 2008 and his case was pending till 2012. Kasab’s death sentence was upheld by the Bombay High court on 21 February, 2011. The verdict was again upheld by the Supreme Court on 29 August,2012. It was again Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India who had given the order of execution of death sentence on 21 November 2012 in Pune.
We, the people of India are proud of our former President , Pranab Kumar Mukherjee for taking a courageous step by amending the Indian Penal code of criminals and emerge to punish those deadly terrorists whose verdict were pending during the tenure of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and PratibhaPatil. No doubt, the two former Presidents had tremendous contributions towards the nation but a true patriot would never compromise with the heinous act of terrorist who had not only hurt our soul but also destroyed our Indian territory. It was Pranab Mukherjee whom we call as a true patriot for his act of nation’s integrity and for which he was honoured with several prestigious awards including the highest civilian award ‘Bharat Ratna’ in 2019 by the NDA government. Keeping aside a good number of criticisms the former President Mukherjee went to address in a historical event of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha (RSS) which had been a great contributions towards nation’s building.
Pranab Mukherjee breathed his last due to old age ailments and infection of covid 19 pandemic on 31st August, 2020 but would be always remembered for his great contributions towards the nation. Indian people will never forget to give him due honour as a great statesman of India in future also.