Jammu honours the late Maharaja Hari Singh

The government of the UT has agreed to declare 23 September a public holiday in commemoration of the birthday of Maharaja Hari Singh, the last ruler of the Dogra ruling house of Jammu and Kashmir. Well done and salutes to the Hindu population of the Jammu region.

Though it is painful to think that the realization came home to the Jammuites nearly fifty years after the departure of Maharaja Hari Singh, nevertheless, taking into account the vengeful attitude of Nehru towards the Maharaja, and the anti-Maharaja animus having percolated down the ranks of Congress leadership in New Delhi, it is praiseworthy for the Modi government to have set right a wrong his predecessors had done.

Those well acquainted with the Sheikh Abdullah-led four-decade-long anti-Maharaja Hari Singh agitation in Kashmir, viciously miss-named as the ‘freedom movement’, know that the NC and its leadership left no stone unturned to paint the Maharaja in the darkest colour. He was handed over all negative characteristics like a tyrant, a bloodsucker, a rank autocrat and oppressor and what not. Painting him in black colour was tantamount to painting the entire Dogra society as persecutors and oppressors.

Thus, the entire freedom movement of the National Conference led by Sheikh Abdullah was in texture a communal and anti-Dogra movement but wrapped in secular deception.

The NC movement originated from the mosques in the valley and Hazratbal in Srinagar shrine had become the workshop of the agitators where their leaders frequently brainwashed them.

Sheikh Abdullah’s secularist tantrum ( Sher-I Kashmir ka kya Irshad/ Hindu, Muslim, Sikh Ittihad) was a strategic masterstroke that befooled one and all connected with Kashmir politics. It was meant to counter the J&K Muslim Conference which was led by the Mirwaiz House in the valley. Although the Sheikh was a protégée of the same house yet he found that if he was to grab the supreme leadership of Kashmiris, he needed to oppose the Mirwaiz House politically.

The second facet of the masterstroke was the Sheikh’s tremendous success in convincing Nehru of his ‘secularist’ credentials. Both were playing ball with each other. The Sheikh was paving the way for Kashmir Sultanate and Nehru was angling for Kashmir’s inclusion into the Indian Union but at the same time trying to tell the world that he was a liberal to the hilt and did not oppose Kashmir enjoying outright autonomy.

The Sheikh was the main instrument in creating distance between the Maharaja and Nehru. The anti-Dogra narrative used by him in his public rallies in the valley was repeated by him during his meetings with Nehru. Unfortunately, those were not the days of advanced IT so the lies and canards carried by the Sheikh to his idealistic friend could have been contradicted at the spur of the moment.

The Maharaja found a sympathiser in the Deputy Prime Minister of India, Sardar Patel, whom Nehru thought a diehard Hindu nationalist not sympathetic to the Muslim community of India. The ideological and political differences between Nehru and the Sardar beggar no elucidation. Go through the entire corpus of correspondence between the Maharaja and the Sardar, and you will gain a peep into the tripartite relations between Nehru, Sardar and the Maharaja.

Despite the Maharaja’s request to Gandhi and the Sardar to dissuade Nehru from visiting Kashmir in the early summer of 1947, Nehru stubbornly brushed aside the counsel of the two top leaders and headed towards J&K. At the border between J&K and Punjab somewhere near Kohala, Nehru was stopped from proceeding to Srinagar and was detained for some hours in a rest-house. On urgent summon by Congress President Maulana Azad, Nehru returned to Delhi. Nehru never forgave the Maharaja for doing something which the law of the land required the Maharaja to do.

For 12 long years, the British colonisers of India put Nehru behind the bars for agitating against the Raj. When independence was won, Nehru clean brushed the memory of twelve years of imprisonment by the British and invited the last Viceroy to be India’s first Governor General. Try to understand the poison of vengeance in the head of the man.

The true Sheikh unfolded on 8-9 August 1953, when the he was removed and arrested for treason. He had been bargaining with the American agencies for the Sultanate of Kashmir. The promises made by the Americans were grandiose including the establishment of a colony of twenty-five thousand American settlers in the valley.

On 26 October 1947, in the aftermath of the invasion of tribal lashkars on Kashmir, and India’s military intervention, Nehru took away power from the hands of the benign ruler of Kashmir and handed it over to a wily, unscrupulous egomaniac Muslim leader of the valley allowing him all autocratic powers to trample the minority community under his iron heels. The Maharaja who had signed the instrument of accession began to be humiliated, despised and hated. His litanies of complaints depicting the autocratic dispensation with which the Sheikh carried out his administration went to the dustbin. The Sheikh wanted his physical removal from the State. An agreement between Nehru, Sheikh Abdullah and the Maharaja was arrived at to let the Maharaja go out of the State for six months, after which the issue of his rehabilitation in the State would be considered. The ink on this agreement had hardly dried up when the

Sheikh launched a tirade against the Maharaja demanding that he be deposed and sent away from the State. With the proud Dogra blood in his veins, the Maharaja left his native state and encamped in Mumbai never to return to his native land.

A few days ago Dr Karan Singh, also the Yuvraj, said that his role in the Congress was zero and he was almost side-lined by the organization. Nobody should have any remorse nor Yuvraj himself. He has failed to prove his mettle as the offspring of a house of rulers who created the modern state of Jammu and Kashmir not through trickery, chicanery or appeasement but through the valour and bravery of a soldier and a swordsman.

When his father was so ignominiously driven out of his State, he sheepishly accepted to be the ‘Sadr-e Riyasat’ of a State where everybody including his clansmen did not approve of him accepting a rubber stamp status. Then came the time when he had to give up that position and he took to politics and fought election for parliament membership. He had still the hard core of the Dogra constituency with him out of emotions of course, and he was returned to the Parliament where he rubbed shoulders with those who deposed his father and sent him on an exile. Where did his sense of pride evaporate in thin air? In further mundane thinking and action he sent one of his sons to the NC and the other to BJP to rub shoulders with every Tom, Dick and Harry. The sheen of royalty was surrendered as a result of avarice and greed. Unfortunately, there is lack of self-pride and renunciation in the progeny to stand head and tail above everybody else to convey to the world that the royal blood runs in their veins.

The Congress has shunted him out as happens with all those who are bereft of the virtue of renunciation. And now before every passer-by, he laments that he has been thrown out by the Congress after fifty years of service. We respect him as a learned scholar of Hindu studies. But we have a question. Are the Hindu shastras so flimsy as not to inculcate in him the eternal truth in the philosophy of renunciation (tyaga) especially when one enters the banparasta stage?

Prof. K.N. Pandita
Prof. K.N. Pandita
Prof. K.N. Pandita is the former Director of the Centre for Central Asian Studies, University of Kashmir. Prof. Pandita was awarded Padma Shri by the Government of India for his contribution in the field of literature and education.

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