I am elated at the news of renaming of Mughalsarai as Deendayal Nagar junction. I grew up not far from this place. Not many people know that Deen Dayal Upadhyay died under mysterious circumstances here and his body was found in the railway yard. It is unthinkable in the 24 hour TV news cycle today that the President of a national political party would travel in such obscurity but that was the case just 50 years ago. The story goes that when people gathered around the dead body, nobody could recognize it. Because of the dress that was on Deen Dayal ji, he was thought of someone from RSS. Then an old RSS hand Kapahi ji was called to recognize his dead body.
Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, a local hero who also belonged to this area had died just a few years ago under similar mysterious circumstances in Tashkent in present day Uzbekistan. Both of these leaders were a challenge to Indira Gandhi and their untimely demise led to Indira’s and communists’ domination of the country that were to follow. Conspiracy theories abounded and knowing how political assassinations were used and are continued to be used by leftists to further their political goals, it is no surprise that people still distrust the conclusions of the inquiry that followed in the wake of both these deaths. This was similar to the death of JFK and MLK in the sixties in USA where conspiracy theories have not subsided and people draw their own conclusions based on their personal predilections.
The demand for renaming the town and the railway junction was made by Jan Sangh and later by BJP but was never taken seriously because of the choke hold of Congress and Socialist parties and their blatant Islamist appeasement policies. Local RSS functionaries including Gurubaksh Kapahi, Jai Prakash Arya and several other people would gather every year on punyatithi to offer floral tribute at the place where Deen Dayal ji’s body was found. There was no monument or even a marker to locate the sacred ground.
Mughalsarai had a reputation as a frontier town because it bordered Bihar. Railway tracks there and the adjoining GT Road were the main transshipment point for cattle smugglers. The train wagons and trucks have to pass through Mughalsarai on their way to abattoirs in West Bengal. Cow slaughter was banned in UP and most of north India but smuggling continued unabated and Mughalsarai was the front line in that fight. It may seem even bizarre to think that socialists today would be for cow protection but the socialists then were different. Prominent socialists like Vinoba Bhave and Jai Prakash Narayan were at the forefront of demanding ban on cow slaughter. BJP/RSS had negligible presence in this area so the agitation and fight was led by peasant castes that form the backbone of Samajwadi Party today. It is ironic that these Samajwadi’s claim to be the inheritors of the legacy of those socialist stalwarts and claim to represent the farmers. These farmers are most affected by cattle smuggling and many treat their livestock as members of their family.
I was part of several picketing activities around those areas in locating bovine shipments in wagons and trucks. We would alert the police and a lot of time police would also be in cahoots with the smugglers. My views on cow slaughter or for that matter any animal slaughter has evolved and I believe that livestock and their life cycle should be managed in a humane but also economically mature way. I feel the wheels of justice has come a full circle. By naming the station in honor of such a worthy individual as Deen Dayal ji, BJP has honored the memory of all those workers who toiled in those depressing times. As I sit here on the other side of the world tens of thousands of miles away and reflect on one of those days in the early eighties, I reminisce about my first visit to the jail cell where my late grandmother was arrested for leading one these agitations on the rail tracks of Mughalsarai, now Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Junction.