Pandit Ram Chand Kak: Person to Non-Person

A man smallish in height with face longish alike muskmelon, pride in manner Kak Sahib would emit a feeling of dignity.

Srinagar, Publish Date: Sep 12 2018 11:28PM | Updated Date: Sep 12 2018 11:28PM
Pandit Ram Chand Kak: Person to Non-PersonRepresentational Pic

In this column series Muhammad Shafi Khan translates a detailed essay in Urdu by Muhammad Yousuf Taing. It gives a peek into how our history guides us on the present political crisis

Kak Sahib was awarded the title of Roy Bahadur in the year 1938 by the British India government Within a year of that event in his life he became the Maharaja's minister-in waiting, becoming his confider and aid-de-camp. Maharaja Hari Singh was convinced of the wisdom and loyalty of Kak Sahib to the extent that Minister Kak became quite informal with the Maharaja. Those who knew of this bonding between the Maharaja and RC Kak at that time, they say that whenever Kak Sahib would get displeased with the Maharaja he would walk away to his summer resort at Chak Dara near Harwan. Would not leave the resort until the Maharaja himself would visit him there to persuade him to come along with His Highness back to the desk. 

A man smallish in height with face longish alike muskmelon, pride in manner Kak Sahib would emit a feeling of dignity. At first he used to wear a turban, in between a hat, and lastly the traditional cap of Kashmiri pandits whose outside borders used to be embroidered like how the borders of Kashmiri shawls, with beautiful needlework. It was made of different cloth very often of fine woollen stole, pashmina or velvet. Kak Sahib said that of its slight resemblance with the Gandhi cap, it wasn't just that. A peculiarity of Kashmiri pandits, generally it used to be of warm cloth (safah )worn by the Kashmiri pandits in winter and in early cold spring season. In chilling cold of winter they would have their heads covered with Kantop also-- a warm wool headgear. Kak Sahib had married an English lady Margaret Mary in London. It was the magical effectiveness of his personality that this English lady had totally been cast in the local custom. I have seen her dressed in the attire of a Kashmiri Panditani. Kak Sahab and his guest would sit in easy chairs inside his house at Kaksaraai and she under the Chinar, Still gracing the compound of this house, cleaning the rice. In a Kashmiri wicker-spread(shup) she would be seen winnowing rice of its chaff like an adept Kashmiri household woman. It wouldn't appear at all that she was an English lady fate had transposed to Kashmir. Her servant would give a call to her in a Kashmiri term (of bended) and she would answer the call in Kashmiri. Though in her adopted Kashmiri accent one could detect a little of foreign element. As for Kak Saheb he used to talk spontaneously in pure and chaste Kashmiri interspersing his talk with Kashmiri proverbs and sayings. If ever a man like me would use an English word while speaking in Kashmiri whose synonym would be available in Kashmiri, like how in today's parlance, he would outpour a check forthwith. Once talking about the dilapidated condition of the SPS museum I said that its roof had gone awry. Kak Sahib instantly checked me --Talow kinei pash-- such good words are not available in English. I was really put to shame.

Of Kak Sahib's brilliant career the peak was touched on 1st July 1945. The 2 year term of Sir BN Rao as Prime Minister of J&K had come to an end. The Maharaja choose RC  Kak as his Prime Minister to replace Rao. Rao was an efficient advisor and an able administrator. Afterwards in Nehru's administration he came to hold important postings including that of an ambassador from India to the United Nations. Actually the Maharaja had thrown Kak Sahib into the huge vortex of political crosscurrents rising in their ferocity in the subcontinent at that time. The Maharaja knew that the sun of the British rule in India was going to set. In this destiny-carving moment of the turbulent political field of India, two teams were facing each other Congress and the Muslim League. Maharaja Hari Singh was wary of Congress because its leaders, particularly Jawahar Lal Nehru, were hand in glove with the leader of National Conference, Sheikh Muhammed Abdullah. Nehru was praising actions of SM Abdullah. Besides Sheikh Sahib had played a role as vice president of the State Peoples Conference of which Nehru was the president. Under all circumstances Sheikh was the biggest challenge for Maharaja Hari Singh. He enjoyed the support of the Muslims of Kashmir and of the Muslims of Jammu. On the other side the Maharaja was beginning to have a feeling of the fact that almost all the borders of his state were going to be along the borders of the newly created Muslim dominion of Pakistan which was still passing through the phase of its birth. And to come into conflict with its flag bearer the Muslim League might become the cause of big trouble for him in the days to come. To walk on this delicate diplomatic causeway the Maharaja wanted such an intellect at the helm who could maintain balance. He doubted that at this critical juncture if he brought one, a Hindu, from India he might show a tilt towards India and if a Muslim from the other side, he might do the opposite. He wanted to chalk out his course independent of these emerging poles of the subcontinent. As if to walk on the edge of the sword the Maharaja chose a local worthy whose loyalty and honesty were above board. Whose consciousness of history was cogent and solid. Who taking pride in the intelligence of a Kashmiri was himself proud of being a Kashmiri. He was an authority on the history and geography of Kashmir. Kak Sahib took a leap into the fateful game like a veteran player. But the fast moving events and preposterous circumstances did not let Kak Sahib have time to stabilize. In the functioning of the government the dual policy based action the Maharaja had initiated, it broke with the impact of the circumstances. The National Conference representative in the government-Mirza Muhammed Afzal Beg- resigned from the cabinet of the Maharaja. Playing his trump card Kak Sahib brought to his side Mian Ahmad Yar Khan. Ahmad Yar Khan at that time was the leader of the parliamentary party of the National Conference, Beg Sahib his deputy. Ahmad Yar Khan became the member of the Maharaja's cabinet. The National Conference was alarmed. There were demonstrations against Ahmed Yar Khan. People whipping him with slogans-Ahmad Yar bada Gadar - Ahmad Yar a big traitor. Deep inside a fire of warring stands was stoking which later on brought Kak Sahib along with the Maharaja and the role of many other biggies to their logical end. Ending April 1946 Sheikh Sahib raised the attractive slogan of "Quit Kashmir". In 1946 that sale deed of Kashmir which later became known as the "sale deed of Amritsar" was going to complete a 100 year stay in history. Foreboding ominously it was for this sale that the valley of Kashmir was sold for a sum of rupees 75 lac of Nanak Stamping along with her exquisite beauty, with all people. Iqbal said of this humiliating deed-a whole nation was sold and how cheaply.

At this time Sheikh Sahib emerged as the herald of the soul of Kashmir. He raised the slogan "Bainama Amritsar Ko toud Do Kashmir ko chaud do". It was an uprising in Kashmir. Kak sahib too was not a man of weak resolve. He resolved to silence this agitation with an iron hand. Putting the valley in the throes of a revolution, Sheikh Sahib was going to Delhi via Lahore. On 19 May 1946 his car was stopped at Gardi Dupata. He was arrested. What followed was a vigorous movement in the valley. Maharaja's army had already been gathered in Kashmir. There were incidents of firing at Srinagar, Pattan, Anantnag, Pampore, Hindwara in which dozones of Kashmiris filled with spirit of sacrifice were martyred raising the slogan of "Quit Kashmir". Among them was the first woman martyr of Kashmir who died receiving a bullet on her chest at Anantnag. Some close comrades of Sheikh Sahib including Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad and Ghulam Muhammed Sadiq succeeded in making good their escape to Lahore but Maulana Muhammad Syed Massodi, Mirza Afzal Beig, Sofi Muhammed Akbar, many other personalities and workers of National Conference were arrested. For some days the whole of Kashmir was transformed into a trouble spot. But it cannot be denied that after a month the uproar had subsided. Though Bulbul-i-Kashmir Ghulam Mohi-Ud-Din Qarra strove hard for a while to keep the flame up. Kak Shahi subsequently did not consider it undesirable to twirl its moustaches. After this Kak Sahib moved forward at two three fronts. Sheikh Sahib was charged with a case of sedition. Jawahar Lal Nehru rushed to Kashmir to plead the case of Sheikh Sahib in the Court, more to show off his finesse in political game plan than his skill in the law book. At Palandari (a station on the Rawalpindi-Srinagar road) on 19 June 1946 the government of RC Kak arrested Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru putting him in custody for the whole night there. It was the most courageous and bold step on part of a kKashmiri Prime Minister. For which a bed of thorns was laid on every pathway both for the Maharaja and Kak Sahib as the events unfolded. It was a daring and an audacious feat to arrest the first would be prime minister of free India. The developments following this event are witness to the fact that Jawahar Lal in whose veins Kashmiri blood flowed never forgave this audacity against him.



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