New Delhi: Founder of Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party Professor Bhim Singh passed away in Jammu on Tuesday, May 31, after being unwell for about a month. He was 81.
The former legislator hailed from Udhampur district’s Bhugterian village. He has left behind his wife Jai Mala and son Ankit Love, who lives in London.
Singh breathed his last at GMC Hospital here.
Expressing his condolences, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Prof Bhim Singh Ji will be remembered as a grassroots leader who devoted his life for the welfare of Jammu and Kashmir. He was very well-read and scholarly. I will always recall my interactions with him. Saddened by his demise. Condolences to his family and supporters. Om Shanti.”
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said he was deeply saddened to learn about the passing away of Singh.
“My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family & friends in this hour of grief. Om Shanti”, he said in a tweet.
According to The Hindu, Peoples Conference chief Sajad Lone said, “A man of many parts. Timeless, selfless and a crusader. He was my father’s colleague and friend. From riding across Sahara on a motorcycle to Palestine to Iraq — Bhim Singh Ji had friends all across. A born adventurer. May he rest in peace.”
Reacting to Singh’s demise, CPI(M) leader M.Y. Tarigami said, according to The Hindu, “Prof. Singh was a leader committed to secular values who fought relentlessly for the rights of downtrodden and marginalised sections of society in and outside the State legislature. At a time when polarisation and divisiveness has dominated the political arena, he stood for communal harmony and fought tooth and nail against the forces, who are hell-bent upon dividing the people and regions on the communal lines.”
As a lawyer, human rights’ activist and author, Singh moved courts to secure the release of nearly 300 nationals of Pakistan, Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir and Afghanistan, who were lodged in various jails across the country for decades, according to Indian Express.
Singh was widely hailed for his instrumental role in the conduct of the 1996 Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir after a period of nine years. In 1985, he was paid Rs 50,000 in compensation on orders of the Supreme Court for his illegal imprisonment by the then state government after he was suspended as a member of the state legislative assembly.
Singh was also credited for bringing an elected bar council for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir in 2017 after he approached the apex court for the same.
He was known for his vociferous support of the Palestinian cause and met its leader Yasser Arafat in 1968. He also met Fidel Castro in Cuba in 1971. He is said to have travelled to 150 countries around the world on a motorcycle.
Before returning to Kashmir to take part in its politics, Singh worked as a professor of international law at Cambridge University, and received his education from the University of London.
In November 2o20, he was expelled from Panther Party by his nephew Harsh Dev, who was the party’s chairman, for meeting the leaders of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration. However, a fact-finding committee, headed by party president Balwant Singh Mankotia, later revoked his expulsion.
In 2021, he was elected unopposed as the president of the party after Mankotia resigned citing family reasons. He later joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Hi nephew, Harsh Dev Singh, too joined AAP, according to the Indian Express.
(With PTI inputs)