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Third Edition

A Kashmir Bachao Andolan Publication

July 2002

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Top of Page        B Raman

Special Report Hamid Bashani

Fundamentals Subash Kapila

Economy            B N Kaul

InsideTrack          R Upadhyay

Himalayan Blunder              Romeet Watt

In Black & White B Raman

Statecraft             Romeet Watt

Bottomline           R Upadhyay

 

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 T H E  BO T T O M L I N E

 

RSS & Kashmir: Battle for Integration

R Upadhyay


As per traditional Hindu scripture, Kashmir is the abode of the Goddess of knowledge (Saraswati). The students of the traditional Sanskrit schools by and large in their prayer recite the verse:- “Namaste Sharada Devi Kashmirpurvasini, Tvamaham Prarthaye Nityam, Vidyam Buddhim cha Dehi Me” ( Oh Goddess of knowledge Sharada, whose abode is Kashmir. I pray, please bless me with knowledge). Kashmir according to Nilamat Puran, an ancient Hindu scripture was a vast lake and Rishi Kashyap turned it into a valley and developed Vedic culture there.

The recorded history of Kashmir shows that there was no shadow of Islam in the valley till Sultan Mehmood of Ghazani made an unsuccessful attempt in 11th century AD to conquer this Hindu inhabited area. A literary Sanskrit book – “Rajtarangini” written by Kalhan in between the period 1147-50 AD and history of most celebrated Hindu kings namely Lalitaditya of 7th century AD as well as Avantivarman of 11th century AD are enough proofs that this state had a Hindu origin, which was gradually islamised by foreign invaders after 13th century AD. Balraj Madhok in his book – Kashmir: The storm centre of the world (page 403) said, “Like most other notable Kashmiris Abdullah (Sk Abdullah) also was a scion of a Kashmiri Brahmin family of Srinagar, whose head Pandit Ragho Ram Kaul was converted to Islam in 1766 AD. His grandson Abdullah played an important role in creating political awakening and turmoil in Kashmir”. An American theologian Dr.Paul Muller in his book The Triadic Heart of Shiva has described Kashmir Shaivism as a major school of Indian philosophy on par with Vedanta (Organiser dated August 13,2000).

The basic idea behind the formation of the RSS by its founder Dr. Hedgewar was to unite the fragmented Hindu society, which had to suffer for about 800 years due to imperial imposition of Islam on the Hindus and their Vedic culture. The RSS in its efforts to awaken the people against the distorted “Hindu history” of this sub-continent known as Bharat Khand of Jamboo Dweep and revive its glorious traditions have been working day and night for the last 75 years. The Kashmir issue has therefore been its first regiment in its ideological battle right from the day of the state’s accession to India on October 26, 1947. With its full conviction that “Hindutva is the soul of this country and it is absolute truth” (Late Balasaheb Deoras, former chief of RSS ), the RSS has been awakening the people against the onslaught of “Islamic imperialism” on the centuries old glorious past of Hindu Kashmir.

The RSS has been the main challenger to Kashmiri Muslims, who in the name of preserving the “Kashmiri identity” are fighting for the independence/autonomy/special status of this most sensitive and strategic state on border. Considering the accession of Kashmir to India as complete and final, the RSS maintains that its history, geography and culture have made it an inseparable part of India and as such any claim of Pakistan or the separatist elements in the valley must be defeated by any means.

The RSS Shakhas started coming up in Jammu in 1940 and Prem Nath Dogra, a member of Praja Sabha of Dogra rule in Kashmir became its first Sanghchalak in Jammu in 1942. Prof, Balraj Madhok also started a Shaka in Srinagar in 1944. M.S.Golwalkar, the then RSS chief made his first visit to Srinagar sometime in middle of 1946 and addressed a rally of Kashmiris in the valley, which had 90% Muslim population. He also met Maharaja Hari Singh on October 18, 1947 and played an important role in convincing him for state’s accession to India (Narendra Sehgal in his book – Memorial of Mistakes – Converted Kashmir page 244).

The RSS was banned following the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on January 30,1948 but once the ban was lifted, it became the vanguard to challenge the Nehruvian policy on Kashmir through its political arm, the Bhartiya Jana Sangh and later through Bhartiya Janata Party (till it was in opposition at centre ) It maintains that the Kashmir issue is a bi-product of Nehruvian secularism, which has polluted the psyche of the country to such an extent that this issue will never get resolved until the Nehruvian secularism dies.

K.R. Malkani, a senior BJP leader in his book – The RSS Story -( page 61 ) quoted the views of the Kendriya Karyakari Mandal of the RSS, the supreme policy making body of the organisation that, “the only solution of Kashmir issue was deletion of Article 370 of Indian constitution and return of Pak Occupied Kashmir. Even the BJP till it was in opposition at centre sang the same tune. The BJP leader L.K.Advani, while addressing a meeting (London – August 23,1995) organised by the “Overseas Friends of the BJP” said, “ A BJP Government would scrap Kashmir’s constitutional status and recover the third of the state’s territory under illegal Pakistani occupation” (Hindustan Times, New Delhi, August 24,1995).

The history of freedom movement in Kashmir reveals that Sk. Abdullah’s main thrust of the movement was against Maharaja Hari Singh and not against the Britishers. From the very beginning when he formed Muslim Conference in Kashmir in 1931, his fight was for scrapping the Treaty of Amritsar. In 1846 Kashmir passed into the hands of a Hindu King Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu after he entered into this treaty with Britishers. In his fight against Raja Hari Singh, Abdullah raised the cry of Kashmiri nationalism due to which RSS suspected him to be a force against Indian nationalism. Kashmiri nationalism-the call of Abdullah was linked with the Islamic imperialistic design of the Muslim invaders by the RSS. His aspiration for usurping power of Kashmir from Hindu ruler of the state also resulted into a personal animosity between Sk. Abdullah and Raja Hari Singh.

Since Abdullah’s intention created a suspicion among the Hindus of Jammu region, his leadership remained confined to Kashmir valley and some Muslim majority areas of Jammu region only. His movement therefore did not get much support from the Hindu population of Jammu, which on the other hand had fully cooperated with the national freedom movement under the leadership of Indian National Congress.

In 1946 Abdullah launched “Quit Kashmir Movement” and gave a public call to Maharaja Hari Singh to quit Kashmir and free it from Dogra rule. He did not link his movement with rest of the country against the British rule. He was therefore, arrested by the police of Hari Singh. Fortunately or unfortunately Pandit Nehru had unbounded faith in Abdullah, and never doubted him. Due to his support to Abdullah-centric political arrangement for Kashmir, Nehru was never liked by Maharaja Hari Singh. This was the main reason why despite all the pressures from his close associates including his council of Ministers and efforts of Sardar Patel, the Maharaja was mentally not prepared to accept the accession of his state to India under the Prime Ministership of Nehru. The Maharaja felt that transfer of power to Nehru dominated India meant transfer of power from Hari Singh to Sk. Abdullah. Accordingly, when Nehru tried to intervene for the release of Abullah , his entry to the state was also banned by Hari Singh. Nehru was in fact arrested when he defied the ban order and entered Kashmir.

Abdullah became the Prime Minister and with the support of Nehru, succeeded in maneuvering the transfer of the administrative control of Jammu and Kashmir from Union Home Ministry to the Ministry of External Affairs in 1948. This was one indication that Abdullah did not accept the accession of Kashmir to India like other princely states of the country. Nehru also agreed for plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir, which was against the spirit of the Indian Independence Act passed by British parliament. There is a general impression that Article 370 was got incorporated in Indian constitution by Sk. Abdullah scrumptiously with the support of Pandit Nehru, as Dr. Ambedkar had opposed it .

In conformity with its opposition to the partition of the country between “Hindu India” and “Muslim India”(Pakistan), the RSS got an important issue for marching in its ideological battle. It strongly opposed Nehru on his role in Kashmir. Picking up threads from his “blunders” in Kashmir, the RSS made it the prominent agenda of the organisation in its ideological fight against Nehruvian secularism and successfully expanded its philosophical base in the country. Its stand on Kashmir has not been challenged effectively by its opponents among the non-Kashmiri political parties in the country because of its wide range of support among the people.

The actual role of the RSS in Kashmir started in 1953, when it actively supported the agitation launched by the Hindus of Jammu under the banner of a political party Praja Parishad against the special status of Kashmir under Article 370 of the constitution. In fact Praja Parishad was formed in November 1947 itself in Jammu by a group of RSS Swayamsevakas under the leadership of Prem Nath Dogra, the then Sanghchalak of Jammu to oppose the alleged partisan attitude of Sk. Abdullah towards the Hindu dominated Jammu region. The main plank of the party were:

a. Accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India was complete and final.

b. One Prime Minister, one Flag and one constitution for entire nation including Jammu and Kashmir. “EK VIDHAN, EK NISHAN AND EK PRADHAN” was the slogan.

c. Abolition of special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

d. Ending of the policy of discrimination against Jammu and Ladakh and Hindu minority in the state.

e. Dismissal of the Government headed by Sk. Abdullah.

Akhil Bhartiya Pratinidhi Sabha of RSS in a resolution (March 1953 )condemned the repressive measures of Abdullah Government against the Satyagrahis of Praja Parishad Dr.Shyama Prasad Mukherjee defied the permit system for entry of non-Kashmiri Indians to Kashmir and was arrested on May 11,1953. He died in jail on June 19. The RSS highlighted the death of Mukherjee as a mystery. It also pointed out the “anti national” design of Sk. Abdullah and created public opinion that resulted in Abdullah's government's dismissal and arrest.

M.S.Golwalkar, the then RSS chief, while strongly criticising the Nehruvian policy on Kashmir condemned the statement of Nehru on plebiscite and declared in a function at Nagpur(August 1953) that, “if at all a plebiscite is to be held on Kashmir issue, it should be all over the country and not confined to Kashmir state alone. Limiting it merely to Kashmir would be an act of treachery to the whole country”( RSS: A Vision in Action by H.V. Seshadri – page 46).

Abdullah could stage his come back as the head of Kashmir Government only after 1975 Indira-Sk. Accord but not with his pre-1953 status. By that time much of the provisions of Article 370 of the constitution was diluted and those in Kashmir, who are still fighting for revival of such status are perhaps on a weak wicket.

In 1981-82 the RSS inspired agitation under the banner of Hindu Raksha Samiti against state government plan to introduce a Bill in Kashmir Assembly to take over the control and management of Hindu shrines in the state forced the Government to withdraw the plan. In the summer of 1985 the same Hindu Raksha Samiti launched another agitation and thwarted a move of the state government to raise a mosque inside Jammu secretariat.

Once the BJP led coalition Government came to power at centre in 1998, the RSS leadership expected its Home Minister L.K.Advani to remember his declaration in London on August 23,1995 (Already quoted) and pursue proactive policy in Kashmir. The RSS strongly opposed the resolution for autonomy adopted by Kashmir Assembly in June 2000 and is not satisfied with the “soft” attitude of Vajpayee Government in handling the Kashmir issue. The RSS is now much concerned about the alleged on going demographic change in Jammu and Ladakh region of the state against which some of its leaders have informally favoured the idea of the tri-furcation of state though it is not the official stand of the organisation because of strategic reasons.

While summing up the discussion, we may agree or disagree but for the RSS, Kashmir is closely linked with its “second war of Independence”. With its full conviction that “the history of Kashmir is the history of Hinduism” the RSS will continue its battle so long Kashmir, which also includes Pak Occupied Kashmir is not integrated fully with the rest of the country.  

By special arrangement with South Asian Analysis Group, New Delhi

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