By RC Ganjoo
The first Kashmiri Pandit R C Kak (Ram Chandra Kak) who became a controversial prime minister of Maharaja Hari Singh’s regime had given the concept of “Independent Kashmir” keeping in view the changing political scenario at that time. After feeling the pulses of people of Kashmir, he had come to this conclusion that the majority Muslim state of Kashmir will never join the Indian domain while the minority (Hindus) would not like to be part of Pakistan. The only option left was to keep Kashmir an independent state with friendly relations with India and Pakistan.
He had that foresightedness as described by late Moti Lal Razdan “Saqi” in his book “Hamara Adab”. The book said he (Kak) was very close to Maharaja Hari Singh but was removed unceremoniously from the prime minister’s post when Sheikh Mohd Abdullah, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru and Acharya Kripalani hatched a conspiracy and poisoned Maharaja’s ears against him. Kak had risen from the post of a librarian to prime minister’s position by dint of his sincerity and ability. He was appointed as Prime Ministers of Jammu and Kashmir on 1st July 1945 and arrested of the 12th August 1947 when Maharaja Hari Singh was leaving the state. Janak Singh took over his post. Moti Lal Saqi, Padmashree Awardee, in his book had also mentioned how R C Kak was humiliated by the late Sheikh Mohd Abdullah, when he was paraded through main bazaar of Harisingh street in Srinagar city, with both his hands tied with a cord made of twisted paddy hay and people were ordered to shower shit and filth from their housetops over R C Kak. Kak was forced to give statement against Maharaja Hari Singh rule. But he did not utter a single word against the Maharaja. It is sad to notice, when Kak died on 10th Feb 1983, in Srinagar his death was not even condoled. The political enmity between R C Kak and Sheikh Mohd Abdullah had begun when the latter was arrested on 24th May 1946 on the charges of opposing the Maharaja’s rule.
However, accession took place. It was against the wishes of Maharaja Hari Singh when India approached UNO. This irritated Maharaja Hari Singh and he wrote to Pt Nehru that accession was final and he has no business to approach to UNO as it will complicate the matter. R C Kak’s role was found dubious and made suspects in the eyes of Maharaja Hari Singh. That was the reason Kak was removed from the prime minister’s post says Capt. Dewan Singh ( ADC to Maharaja Hari Singh).
According to Capt. Dewan Singh, Maharaja Hari Singh was against the British rule. He had even ordered his state force not to wear neckties. To keep Englishmen at arm’s length he had introduced “State Subject” provision because he knew that they would buy land and capture Kashmir. The state subject still exists. And job opportunities for the people of the state would be minimized as the foreigner would become the masters. About Maharaja Hari Singh’s nationalism, Dewan Singh says when he was in Bombay in 1949 he was persuaded by top industrialists and leaders of the country to speak against Pt Nehru’s follies . Maharaja Hari Singh declined to do so because, in his opinion, Pakistan would take advantage of it. Maharaja Hari Singh was very sincere and loyal to the Indian Union but Delhi had never wished him well.
The late Moti Lal Razdan “Saqi,” authority on Kashmir history, had said that Kashmir has strategic importance in the Indian subcontinent. It is mentioned in the Gazetteer of 1888 that “whosoever keeps Kashmir with him would control the subcontinent.”
Born June5, 1893 in Gautam Gotra of the Razdan ( Rajanaka) clan R C Kak graduated in 1913 from Sri Partap College , Srinagar affiliated to Punjab University, Lahore. At the age of 8 Kak was married in 1901 to Janki Devi who was at 7 . His wife was daughter of Pandit Lakshman Joo Tiku, the first Qualified engineer of Kashmir who was drafted to work on the contraction of Jhelum Valley road . From 1914 till 1919, R C Kak spent 5 years in India taking training under the legendary archaeologist Sir John Marshall, The then Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India. After completion of his training he was appointed as superintend and later promoted as the director of the newly formed Archeology and Research department in J&K State. He directed the local Archeological survey for 10 years from 1919 till 1929 , a team which was responsible for improved state of preservation of the ancient buildings in Kashmir. He also prepared a scientific catalogue of the collection in the Sri Partap Museum , Srinagar . His publication in the field of Kashmir Archeological Survey are : Antiquities of Marv-Madhwan (1924), A handbook of Archeological and Numismatic section of Sri Partap Museum (1924), Antiquities of Bhimber –Rajouri ( 1926) and Outline of History of Kashmir ( 1927), References in Kashmir and Education and services ( 1928). In the capacity of director or Archeology and Research in Kashmir, he was also appointed as Librarian of Maharaja Hari Singh’s private Royal Library that housed more than 275 Sanskrit manuscripts and 800 rare and old books. His famous book based on research work Ancient Monuments contain the ealier period of Kashmir art and history from 6th century onwards. Also the findings of foundations of old temples belonging to the 3rd and 4th century and large courtyard of terracotta tiles with features of Central Asian influence. He came in contact with the European archeologists giants like Younghusnad, Foucher and Marshall also classical Sanskrit orientalists Prof. Maurice Winternitz of the Prague University, Czechoslovakia. It was the year 1924 when Winternitz visited Kashmir in search of extent versions of Mahabharata manuscripts. The help rendered by R C Kak and Prof. Nitayanand Shastri to Prof. Winternitz came to fruit with the publication of the first critical edition of the Mahabharata in 1927 by the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune.
R C Kak’s other classical contribution to the ancient history of Kashmir came in the form of help rendered to the publication of first European critical edition of the 6th century cultural text of Kashmir the NILMATAPURANA by the famous Dutch scholar K de Vreese which he prepared under the guidance of Prof. J Ph Vogel of the Leiden University, Holland in 1938. However, R C Kak”s archeological career was short-lived as the state was constrained to make use of his exceptional administrative capabilities in other directions.
His appointment to the high post of Prime Minister came at the time when 2nd world War was at its peak. Gopal Swami Ayyanger who was Prime Minister of the state for six years from 1937 onwards, this happened with all succeeding incumbents Raja Maharaja Singh, B N Rau, Col K N Haksar. Pt R C Kak and general Janak Singh right from to the crisis in 1947.
His wife died due to tuberculosis in 1928 when she was 34, leaving behind four sons . Kak remarried in 1935 an English woman Mary Margret but with no child from her. His wife was affectionately called Ben Ded in Kak family. She adopted Kashmiri tradition with perfection and learnt Kashmiri language.
Ram Chandra Kak –an intellectual with integrity and who incidentally was also the last Kashmiri Pandit Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir State. Kak was pre-eminently a scholar and a politician.