Autocracy revisited

Gulab progeny wages Battle Royal

DR. JAVID IQBAL

The preceding week witnessed high drama in JK legislature. First it was Omar Abdullah expressing helplessness in the face of AFSPA protected security forces running amuck while handling situations that could be handled by calmer approach. And the prevalent political scenario was considered suitable enough by Gulab Singh’s progeny--Ajatshatru to propound replacing J&K power dispensing with the autocratic RAJ of yesteryears.  It implied Jammu RAJ. The Kashmiri leadership in contrast was taken to be weak and vacillating. It is quite healthy that the diatribe was mostly neglected by the mature approach of Jammu people, except the ones prone to stoke the regional and ethnic fires.
To associate pre-1947 autocracy with Jammuites would be fallacious. The plain fact is that the autocratic RAJ cannot be justified, whatever be the regional or ethnic factor involved. On a similar plane Omar Abdullah regime being called the Kashmir RAJ is simply going overboard in pressing a point that has hardly relevance in the prevailing political scenario in the state. The man in focus--Ajatshatru Singh is son of Karan Singh—JK man of many garbs—Yuvraj, Sadr-e-Riyasat, Governor. Yuvraj Karan Singh remained short of becoming Maharaj, however he established ties with Nehru-Gandhi’s—family his father abhorred.  Hari Singh was much more comfortable with Sardar Patel and his line of thinking, so was his consort--Maharani Tara Devi and her brother. Patel had a low level of comfort with secular creed. Nehru considered it a vital national projection, though In practice it wasn’t working. Communal holocaust in subcontinent affected Jammu in a big way. Various narratives relate that ruling regime had a hand in it.
Hari Singh and Karan Singh in different camps was nothing new to Gulab Sigh and his progenies. The tale of brothers, cousins, uncles and nephews working at cross purposes especially during withering days of Khalsa Raj remains historically related and authenticated. Conceit was the family weapon and intrigue, the armour. How did Gulab Singh initially and his brothers—Dhayan Singh and Suchet Singh gain access to Ranjit Singh’s Khalsa Durbar, how did they and their progenies remain central figures in Durbar, how they never allowed Ranjit eyes to waver away from them is abhorring in its immoral details. This may not be a badge of honour on otherwise brave and upright Dogras.
Ajatshatru should have tested his popularity in electoral field, rather than gain an upper house berth. The fact remains that Ajatshatru in not sure that Dogras would vote for him. His father also prefers Rajya Sabha to Lok Sabha, though he carries a philosophical trait, and is restrained in pronouncements. Nevertheless, he was a part of democracy getting sabotaged in 1953. And very much a part of the post 1953 musical chair power dispensing. Omar Abdullah is a part of that power structure, which is being resented and resisted. The security apparatus containing resistance is much bigger, much more diversified, and much stronger than Gulab and his progenies could ever dream of, yet it remains far from being contained by security apparatus or politically contended by the power structure in place. And here you have Ajatshatru claim, what he unabashedly calls the property he owned, and that should be restored to his care. Ajatshatru would do well to re-visit his family history. Few pages need to be recounted.
Gulab Singh unabashedly called himself ‘zar-khareed’ [purchasable commodity] after obtaining Kashmir by stealth. In obtaining it, he worked against the interests of Lahore’s Khalsa Durbar, to which the family owed all that they possessed. Khushwant Singh’s ‘History of Sikhs’ and other authentic accounts of the period stand testimony to the fact.   And the British called him ‘the wily fox’ the scavenger that feeds on other’s hunt. Gulab and his progenies right up to Ajatshatru’s grandpa—Hari Sigh devoured the Poonch Jagir awarded to his brother Dhayan Singh and his progenies. This inspite of the fact that Dhayan waived off the offer by Maharaja Ranjit Singh of taking over as Jammu Raja in 1822 by stating benevolently “In Aiyan-e-Rajghan [Code of Rajas] it does not behove the younger brother to take precedence over the elder one”.  By 1940 A.D Hari Singh by sidelining tender in years Ratan Dev Singh changed suzerainty over Poonch to sovereignty.
Omar’s helplessness has a historical past alluding to Gulab’s progenies. Pratap Singh accused of hobnobbing with Russian Czars was sidelined in closing years of 19th century for number of years and Ajatshatru’s great-grandpa…Amar sigh headed the ruling council, held in tight leash by Delhi’s British Raj. Pratap Singh cried foul, his voice as helpless as Omar’s. Amar Singh and Ajatshatru’s grandpa—Hari Singh were favourites of Delhi Raj given to western tastes. London’s shady life was not beyond Hari Sigh’s relish, which in fact led to a scandal. He was bailed out by the Raj. Pratap Singh in contrast was a devout Hindu, given to religious practices. Hapless and helpless, he was restored to power after being laid for many years. In 1935 Hari Singh—his western tastes withstanding was made to hand over northern territories—Gilgit and Baltistan.
With Omar, history is being repeated though Delhi is wearing a democratic garb. Ajatshatru would do well to re-visit history; it has tales to relate---enough to rein in his inflated ego!
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]

Lastupdate on : Tue, 12 Mar 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 12 Mar 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 13 Mar 2013 00:00:00 IST




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