Ram Chandra Kak

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Ram Chandra Kak
Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir
In office
June 1945 – 10 August 1947
Preceded by Sir Benegal Narsing Rau
Succeeded by Janak Singh
Personal details
Born 5 June 1893
Died 10 February 1983

Ram Chandra Kak (5 June 1893 – 10 February 1983) was Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir[1][2] during 1945-47. He was also a pioneering archaeologist who excavated the leading sites of antiquities in Kashmir Valley and wrote the definitive text on them.

Career[edit]

He served at various keys positions in Maharaja Hari Singh's administration. Beginning as the superintendent of archaeology,[3] he was appointed to the post of chief secretary in 1937. He was the minister of military affairs in 1941 and held the role of "minister-in-waiting" for the Maharaja Hari Singh during 1942–1945. He was appointed as the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir from June 1945 – 11 August 1947 during the key transitional period when the British prepared for departure from India.[4]

1946[edit]

In 1946, the National Conference party began the Quit Kashmir movement against the Maharaja. Its leader Sheikh Abdullah was arrested on 15 May. Jawaharlal Nehru attempted to come to Kashmir as his defence counsel. Nehru's entry into the state was blocked by Kak. Nehru was arrested on 22 June and kept at the dak bungalow in Domel, close to Muzaffarabad. Nehru returned to Delhi after two days following a summon from Gandhi. Later, Kak met the Indian National Congress leaders in India in July and Nehru was permitted to revisit Srinagar. He met Abdullah in jail.[5]

Kak was ill-disposed to the Indian National Congress because, in his view, it allied itself with Sheikh Abudllah and lent its "great weight of authority" to his agitation against the State government. After Abdullah's arrest in 1946, Congress leaders are said to have sent telegrams to Kak as well as the Maharaja demanding Abdullah's release. Kak held that "highly coloured, inaccurate and vituperative statements" were published by Congress, resolutions were passed against the Maharaja's government, and commissions of enquiry appointed. For these reasons both Kak and the Maharaja decided against acceding to the India Union in 1946 (even before the partition was decided).[6]

Kak tried to initiate a dialogue with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who was to become the Home minister in Interim Government of India. However, he rejected the idea that the Interim Government would inherit the authority of the British Governemnt and made it clear that any "interference" by the Interim Government would not be welcomed. In turn, Patel rejected the notion of complete independence for Kashmir. Kak's initiative ended in failure. Subsequently the British Resident in Kashmir reported to the Viceroy that Kashmir was likely to stay out of the Indian Union.[7]

1947[edit]

After the Partition of India was decided in June 1947, the decision on accession became imminent. Lord Mountbatten visited Kashmir in June for five days (19–23 June) and pressured the Maharaja as well as Kak to make a decision. As to which Dominion to accede, Mountbatten said that it was the State government's decision, but strongly hinted that Pakistan was the right choice..[6][1]

Accession to Pakistan did not appeal to the Maharaja. Kak's position was that "since Kashmir would not accede to Pakistan it could not accede to India" (emphasis in the original). He advised the Maharaja was that Kashmir should remain independent for at least a year, after which the issue of accession could be considered. Jinnah told him that Kashmir could hope to get far better terms if it acceded immediately rather than later. But Kak's position was that the State's decision on non-accession was final. Jinnah is reported to have said that he did not mind the State not acceding to Pakistan as long as it did not accede to India.[6][1]

General Henry Scott, the Chief of Staff of State Forces,[4] credits Kak for maintaining friendly relations with the would-be state of Pakistan and its dominant party Muslim League. During Kak's tenure, the West Pakistan states (Punjab and North-West Frontier Province) are said to have stationed troops along the two main roads leading to the State and protected the traffic from raids..[8] According to the National Conference leader Sheikh Abdullah, Kak had good relations with the ruling circles in Pakistan. He says, Kak had assessed that, being a Muslim majority state, Kashmir was bound to accede to Pakistan and he had prepared a path for himself to serve in that eventuality.[9]

However, Kak was inimical to the Indian National Congress. General Scott believes that the Congress leaders including Mahatma Gandhi "intrigued in the State" for the dismissal of Kak from Premiership.[8] Indeed, during Gandhi's visit to Kashmir around 1 August 1947, Gandhi reportedly pointed out to Kak how unpopular he was among the people and, in response, Kak had offered to resign.[10] However, the Maharaja is believed to have already decided, a few weeks earlier, to dismiss Kak and to declare a general amnesty to political prisoners. Scholar Prem Shankar Jha states that this represented the Maharaja's decision sometime at the beginning of July that he did not want to accede to Pakistan, and, so, India was his only option if independence proved impossible. He believed Kak to be an impediment to repairing relations with the Indian National Congress.[11]

The Tribune reported that Kak had enabled Pakistan's Muslim League to confine the pro-India National Conference but establish its own "operational bases" in various cities of the State. Pakistani "crusaders" from Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province are said to have entered the Kashmir Valley as tourists, carrying out propaganda as well as organising squads of "stabbers" and "fire-raisers". "Jinnah caps were visible everywhere".[12] The British Resident in Kashmir also confirmed similar information.[13]

Dismissal[edit]

Kak was dismissed as Prime Minister on 11 August 1947 and put under house arrest. He returned to the Maharaja's service a few weeks later even though not as the Prime Minister.[14]

According to Kak, his dismissal was followed by a "decapitation" of the State administration. All senior officials such as the Chief Secretary, the Chief of the Army Staff, the Inspector General of Police were also replaced by less experienced people from the Maharaja's own community.[6] According to Henry Lawrence Scott, the Maharaja came under the influence of the Deputy Prime Minister M L. Batra, a Hindu swami, and the Maharani's brother Nachint Chand, all of whom wanted Kashmir to join India and whose intrigues were responsible for the dismissal and public humiliation of Kak.[8]

When Sheikh Abdullah became Prime Minister of Kashmir, Kak was externed. After this, Kak retired from public life.

Academic and historian[edit]

Ram Chandra Kak was believed to be in possession of the Sharada script copy of the Nilamata Purana.[3] Kak's pioneering book Ancient monuments of Kashmir was published in 1933 and Francis Younghusband wrote the foreword to the book.[15]

Books[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Noorani, A.G. (30 January 2010). "Myths & Reality". 27. Frontline. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  2. ^ Varenya, Varad (17 May 2011). "No big fuss over the win". Center Right India. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Nilamatapurana - The Leiden Edition". Kashmir Bhavan Center, Luton, UK. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Ankit, Rajesh (February 2010). "Forgotten men of Kashmir". Himal South Asian. Retrieved 20 November 2015. 
  5. ^ Madhok, Bal Raj (1992), "Political Rumblings: Quit Kashmir Movement", Kashmir: The Storm Centre of the World, Houston, Texas: A. Ghosh, ISBN 9780961161491 
  6. ^ a b c d Ankit, Rajesh, "Pandit Ramchandra Kak: The Forgotten Premier of Kashmir", Epilogue, Vol 4, Issue 4, Epilogue -Jammu Kashmir, pp. 36–39 
  7. ^ Bhattacharjea, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah 2008, p. 93–94.
  8. ^ a b c Rakesh Ankit (May 2010). "Henry Scott: The forgotten soldier of Kashmir". Epilogue. 4 (5): 47. 
  9. ^ Abdullah, Sheikh Mohammad (1993). Flames of the Chinar: an autobiography. Viking. p. 91. 
  10. ^ Bhattacharjea, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah 2008, p. 99.
  11. ^ Jha, The Origins of a Dispute 2003, pp. 44-45; Jha, Rival Versions of History 1996, pp. 41-43
  12. ^ Report in The Tribune, 23 October 1947. Quoted in Mahajan, Mehr Chand (1963), Looking Back: The Autobiography of Mehr Chand Mahajan, Former Chief Justice of India, Asia Publishing House, pp. 139–140 
  13. ^ Jha, The Origins of a Dispute 2003, p. 15; Jha, Rival Versions of History 1996, p. 15
  14. ^ Jha, The Origins of a Dispute 2003, p. 46; Jha, Rival Versions of History 1996, p. 44
  15. ^ Bhatt, Saligram; Kaul, Padamshree JN (2008). Kashmiri Scholars contributions to knowledge and World Peace. A.P.H. Publishing House. ISBN 9788131304020. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Sir Benegal Narsing Rau
Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir
1945 – 1947
Succeeded by
Janak Singh