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First women MP from J&K

Ravi Rohmetra Friday October 20, 2006
Source : Daily Excelsior

Krishna Mehta was born in the illustratious Mehta family of Kishtwar on 4th June1913. Perhaps the quiet rising sun reflected in some secret way the unfolding of Krishna's destiny. She grew up, loved and adorbed by all who come in contact with her. And all who came to her, found sweet charm and playful innocence of Krishna. She married Duni Chand Mehta, himself the son of an illustrious family of Kashmir truly it was a marriage of traditions. On the one side, Krishna, whose great grand father was in the army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh's army that successfully helped annexed Ladakh; on the other side Duni Chand was the descendant distinguished "Vaidyas" who even served the royal court. Duni Chand, himself, went, on to become Wazir Wazarat, in Muzaffarabad, now in PoK. And then 1947. The year of destiny. As India found her freedom, tragedy brooded over young Krishna's destiny. In the said on Kashmir, Duni Chand Mehta was shot dead while on duty. Krishna, alongwith her young children, had to take refuge in a refugee camps.

Krishna, undaunted, unbroken in spirit, rose even to this occasion, and refusing to lose herself in self pity took upon herself the task of rehabilitating the suffering women and children of the camps in PoK. It was at Kurukshetra that Krishna Mehta met Jawahar Lal Nehru, then Prime Minister of India. Seeing Krishna's tremendous power of will, her dedication to the human cause and her personal commitment to her work, Jawahar Lal invited Krishna to join him at Delhi. And so impressed was he with Krishna's sincerity of purposes, that he felt impelled to call Krishna his sister. This was an important relation, as this world directly lead Krishna on to the greater purpose of her life. With Pandit Nehru's help and support, Krishna Mehta established two bodies instrumental in the socio-economic development of the disadvantaged women of State; the Gandhi Seva Sadan and the Khadi Gram Udyog Sangh. Both these institutions prospered rapidly and affected, directly or indirectly, thousand of families. But it was the Gandhi Seva Sadan that was here focal point. Gandhi Seva Sadan was her child, she nurtured it with maternal love and care. Krishna was never motivated by ordinary philanthropic cause. She was not just a social worker. She was a worker with a personal vision and commitment. She had a personal experience of suffering and out of her own suffering was born the zeal to work for the alleviation of poverty. It was a personal need for her to do something positive and concrete about the problems that most of us would face and refuse to confront. She wanted the under privileged to become truly self reliant and independent in spirit- and for this she offered to them a workable alternative, a real plan of action, work through cooperatives for social and causes. No political interests swayed her, and this, inspite of her closeness to the Prime Minister of India.

But this too was not all. She went on to yet another field, realizing that the process of social transformation was an endless one and demanded the coordinated action of several fields, she realized now that unless political will was involved, no sustained development would be possible. And so Krishna Mehta agreed to be nominated to the Lok Sabha, as the first women M.P from the State. This would have been a lifetime's achievement for anybody else, but for Krishna Mehta, this was only a means towards a more practical end. The development of her native place. Krishna Mehta was thus instrumental in bringing the Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, to Kishtwar and directly acquainting her with the day to day problems of the area. Even today, Kishtwar bears testimony to Krishna's singular attainments.

Krishna Mehta always had an innate urge for spiritual life. She wrote one of her autobiogrophical accounts. Soon Krishna met her guru and her spiritual mentor. Magan Baba, a Gujarati Saint, who had renounced a highly successful professional life met Krishna at Kishtwar and immediately perceived her potential. From 1972, for a period of more than ten years, she lived at Dadajis Ashram, undergoing great austerity, living a perfect life of renunciation with utter simplicity and sincerity that were her hallmarks. Krishna Mehta lived and travelled extensively both in India and aboard.She wrote several articles, especially on Pandit Nehru. She even wrote a book on the crisis in Kashmir. She was by no means, a person, limited to her professional work. She worked hard and was sympathetic in her understanding and universal in her love.

Krishna Mehta lived a rich and fuflfilled life, useful and inspiring. She passed away on October 20th, 1993, at the age of eighty. She died without any pain or suffering radiating a deep and lasting peace. Even in death one could feel the warmth of the love that she had so beautifully embodied. As she had herself wished, her ashes were immersed in the Chandrabhaga river. Kishtwar still throbs with her life. And there, in its heartbeat , its life and works, quietly but surely Krishna lives on. For, indeed, can love ever cease to be?

The seedling planted in 1949, in the shape of Gandhi Seva Sadan with meager, resources-nurtured so lovingly and conscientiously, grew into a luxuriant tree, spreading out to over sixty branches in Jammu and Kashmir along and two branches in Delhi, many thousand under privileged families have been made self reliant and socio-economically independent and still continue to be nourished and supported.