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A father figure RL Bhatia Born at Amritsar on July 3, 1920, 101 Old passed away on May 15, 2020, after a brief illness. Spanning over a century of political career, he won Amritsar parliamentary lok sabha Seat from constituency six times.

As a senior most member of the All India Congress Party, he served the party at various top positions including Punjab President, General Secretary of All India Congress, Chairman Shipping Corporation of India etc.

He was invited by Late Prime Minister Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao to join as Minister of External Affairs in 1992 and four years he served the nation with great distinction.

Mr. Bhatia born in a Business Family of Amritsar did his schooling in PBN School and Later joined Hindu College to complete his Graduation. After securing his B.A. Degree he went to due his Law Course in Govt. College, Lahore in 1942. While still pursuing his Study he was married on March 3, 1943, opted to join commodity Business at Amritsar.

The Bhatia family all Congressmen and were Politically active in the City, his elder Brother Mr. Durga Das Bhatia was president of the Municipal Committee, Amritsar and was chosen to fight Lok Sabha Election in the early Seventies but due to unfortunate his demise, Mr. R.L. Bhatia was requested to contest from Amritsar Parliamentary Seat and continue to remain M.P. till 2004.

Mr. Bhatia survived Two Major Terrorist Attacks, the First One to Place on April 19, 1985 when a group of Armed Gunmen carrying Assault Rifle showered 14 Bullets while he was meeting party workers outside his residence on Mall Road, Amritsar. Showing great sense of instinct he ran off to his office oozing blood from his face unmindful of one of the worker Mr. Marwaha from Majitha who succumbed to his injuries.

He shouted at his staff and called his Younger Brother Dr. J.L. Bhatia who was about to leave for his Clinic. Immediately thereafter he was rushed to the Emergency Ward of the Medical College, where the Doctor removed Two Bullets from his Body while his Jaw was completely smashed by the burst.

He miraculously survived the audacious attack and after fully recovering from the injurious and resumed his political activities. This attack sent shocked waves in the city, as it was a big attack on a Senior Congress Leader during a peak of Terrorism in the State.

In the Second Attack on Mr. Bhatia, 1990 the Terrorist fired at him while he was going to Batala for a Public Meeting, however he manage to flee the spot while is car was damage.

In a another big blow to the Bhatia Family during an incident in the 1991, a close relative of Mr. Bhatia, an 11 years old Deven Munjal was kidnap was terrorist and after remaining in the custody of the kidnapers, young Munjal was released after 35 days in captivity.

Undeterred by the series of attack, Mr. Bhatia remained unfazed and continued to oppose the Militants who were bent upon to disturb the peace in the State. He played pivotal role in shaping India’s foreign policy With regards to the neighbours including China, where he lead a big delegation of eminent persons group and visited the country twice. 

Mr Bhatia headed a delegation and   visited a number of countries including Russia, Cuba, Vietnam, Combodia, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

According to his Daughter Saroj Munjal a Former Principal Govt. College for Women said that Mr. Bhatia was a man of few words and enjoyed Urdu Poetry and Gazals. An avid reader of Books on Foreign Policy and literature, he enjoyed company of his old friends during his morning routine.

Later he served as Governor for Kerala and Bihar. Several Political leaders cutting across political spectrum mourned the passing of a Stalwart.

He is survived by Son Ramesh Bhatia and Daughter Saroj Munjal he younger brothers Dr. J.L. Bhatia and jkklMr. Sham Sunder Bhatia besides grandchildren and great Grandchildren. He was cremated as per his last wish at an electrical crematorium with full state honours.

About the author:
Ashok Sethi

Ashok Sethi Ashok Sethi, comes from a family of journalists and he himself worked with The Tribune, region’s popular English daily, for two decades. He has many stories of national and international relevance to his credit. He is currently a director with the rice exporters association and is also involved in philanthropy. Sethi is president of Amritsar blind institute, one of the oldest in the country and also associated with the Chinmaya mission.

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