Ramchandra Kak: Kashmir’ s unsung hero
By M. J. Aslam
While reading through the autobiography of Sheikh Abdullah, I found an interesting paragraph to the effect that Ramchandra Kak, PM of JK from 1945-47, wanted accession of JK with Pakistan because the State was Muslim dominated & he wanted to secure his future in Muslim dominated Pakistan. (SM Abdullah’s Blazing Chinar (2016) page 291). I couldn’t believe it. A Pandit & favouring State’s accession with Pakistan. All historical literature available on the point in hand unambiguously states that Ramchandra Kak was not pro-Congress which is proven by the fact that in June 1946 he had prevented Nehru at Domel Muzaffarabad from entering the State to meet his friend Sheikh Abdullah who was jailed for sedition charges of Quit Kashmir for three years by the Maharajah. Nehru was detained in Dak Bugalaw there & had to return to Delhi. Nehru took it personal insult & never forgave Ramchandra Kak for it. Immediately, after Gandhi’s visit to Kashmir valley , Ramchandra Kak was unceremoniously removed from the Premiership. ( see Gandhi Ji’s Pre-Partition Kashmir Yatra , Kashmir Watch 30-01-2018). Janak Singh , army minister from MP & close relative of Maharaja was appointed as new incumbent in place of Kak. Prem Nath Bazaz, another Kashmiri nationalist Pandit, clearly mentions of the role of National Conference in the whole process of Ramchandra Kak’s removal. He writes : “With appointment of Janak Singh , the uncertainty about the future of the State was removed and it became clear that the Maharaja & his new Government , NO LESS THAN THE NC, had lined up with Congress. This caused grave tension in the State especially Valley . Muslims were greatly enraged at the turn the events had taken. Clashes between followers of Muslim Conference & National Conference started immediately……the State was rapidly heading towards catastrophe..” …(The History of Struggle for Freedom in Kashmir , page 275, emphasis supplied).
Noticing that something quite unexpected was going to be cooked up against poor Kashmiris by the Maharaja, Nehru & Sheikh by Kak’s removal, Muslim Conference workers demonstrated against Kak’s removal & hundreds of workers of MC were put behind bars by Sheikh Abdullah for demonstrating & protesting against Maharaja ‘ s decision of Kak’s removal. In fact removal of moderate Kak was effected immediately after two weeks of departure of Gandhi & three days before birth of new State of Pakistan. NC workers had celebrated on the day of removal of Ramchandra Kak . They had carried a coffin ( taboot) of Kak through the streets of Srinagar. All this was done under a pre-planning by them. Post-dismissal from the post of premiership, Kak wanted to publish his book titled Freedom Struggle in Kashmir which was not published by any publisher in India . His wife who was English lady named Margaret went to England with manuscripts of the book but the book could not be published till date . Had it been published it would have become rich source of information about that time’s developments of Kashmir. There is also a painful incident of 1948 when Sheikh Abdullah as PM of JK got Kak arrested on the charges that he had been supporting & cons-pirating with MC & Muslim League of Pakistan for JK accession with that country. Kak was tied to hay-ropes ( grass ropes) & moved through the streets of Srinagar where NC cabals were spitting, abusing & vituperating Ramchandra Kak & asking “Kashmir’s Lion” to try him in court and punish him for two years behind bars. ( Comprehensive Kashmir History ( 2014) by S Qayoom, volume 3, page 80) . On this most disgusting episode , an intellectual has derisively commented as under: ” A MUSLIM LEADER has punished a HINDU LEADER for supporting Muslims…..” ( Kashmir Papers, Page 56, ibid).
Janak Singh was actually a “makeshift arrangement” between Maharaja, Congress & NC leadership. He was soon replaced on 15-10-1947 by a pro-Congressman from Punjab, Mehar Chand Mahajan , as new PM of JK till 5-3-1948 when Sheikh Abdullah was formally sworn in as new PM of JK.
London based contemporary subcontinental historian Rakesh Ankit is of the view that Ramchandra Kak was never in favour of accession of JK with India. He was greatly disturbed by growing closeness of Congress leaders with Sheikh Abdullah during 1938-1946. Nehru had identified himself with Sheikh Abdullah & within two months of his arrest he was sending telegrams to Maharaja & RC Kak demanding immediate release of Sheikh & the telegrams were highly coloured, inaccurate & vituperative statements of the Congress leaders. It was against this background that Maharajah & Kak had decided in 1946 not to accede with India. Then, visits by Indian leaders from June-August, 1947 were dramatic & decisive in the JK falling in the way of India . Those high profile visits led to decapitation of entire State Administration. Kak was removed on 11 August 1947 followed by deluge of removals at top level , namely, revenue minister, army minister, chief secretary, chief engineer, IGP, Director Civil Supplies, Governor , etc, all were removed at the behest of Indian leaders to prepare a ground for Sheikh Abdullah’s appointment as Emergency Administrator & then unopposed PM. ( Rajesh Ankit, Ram Chandra Kak: Forgotten Premier of Kashmir, Epilogue JK Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 4 , pages 36-39).
That much for victimisation of Ramchandra Kak for his different political beliefs. Even a Brahman Kashmiri Batta or Pandit, he was not communal in essence. The following passage from his wonderful book is sufficient to prove the point: ” ….Syed Ali or Shah Hamadan….. descended where the Masjid [ Khanqah] now stands, and told the Hindu fakir to depart. He refused, upon which Shah Hamadan said that if he would bring him news from heaven, he would then believe that he was a great man. The Hindu fakir, who had the care of numerous images, immediately dispatched one of them to heaven, upon which Shah Hamadan kicked his slipper after it with such force that the image fell to the ground. He then asked the fakir how he became so great a man; he replied, by doing charitable actions; upon which Shah Hamadan thought him worthy of being made a convert to Islam; and in a few days so many more followed his example ….. sacred strings worn by the Brahmans, were delivered up by the Hindu proselytes. The converted fakir himself was called Shyk Baba Wuli [Shaikh Baba Wali], …..”””…(Ram Chandra Kak’s Ancient Monuments of Kashmir, PM of JK from 1945-47).
Stunned. Yes , this is what Ramchandra Kak has written about Hazrat Amir Kabir (RA), founder of Islam in JK, despite concoctions & fabrications written & spread by overwhelming number of local Battas & their Delhi masters about the narrated legend & conversions of Kashmir . Apparently unbelievable, such pro-Muslim comments coming from the pen of a local Hindu shows that Ramchandra Kak was a great son of Kashmiri soil who was not accorded the kind of respect by Kashmiris which he deserved. He seems to have had conscious mind that JK was a Muslim land & that its demography deserved to be respected. He does not seem to have been a communal Hindu or a religious bigot as was spread by National Conference cabals.