By Khalid Bashir Ahmad
On 22 November 2018, Abdul Majid Bhat, Secretary to Government, Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs was transferred and sent to the Department of Cooperatives. His junior colleague, Achal Sethi, replaced Bhat in the Law Department. The transfer could be a routine matter even as it comes close on the heels of controversial Government decisions on LAHDC, Leh and J&K Bank, and apprehensions of further misadventure with State’s special laws.
One hopes that things are not happening under a definite plan but the manner in which the majority community of the state finds itself ousted from the positions of power and planning in the State bureaucracy is alarming.
Recently, the controversial chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state with the largest Muslim presence, made yet another divisive statement baring further his party’s agenda on Kashmir. Aditiyanath said that Hindus and Sikhs in Kashmir were safe under the patronage of Hindu kings with whose fall their debacle started. What he crowned his statement with was
“We should learn from history”. Going by the declared ideology of his party’s fountainhead he was only highlighting the need to “de-Islamize and reclaim Kashmir as a Hindu land”.
It is not clear whether by ‘fall of the Hindu kings’ Aditiyanath meant the collapse of Hindu rule in the 14th century or the removal of Maharaja Hari Singh in 1947. In the first case, we had no Sikhs then as Sikhism was not born yet. In case of the latter, Hari Singh was replaced by Jawaharlal Nehru who was no less a Hindu. Any credulity on power actually transferring to Kashmir in 1947 was quickly removed once for all on 9 August 1953. It would be naïve to believe that Aditiyanath is not acquainted with the current situation in Kashmir – its governing set up in particular. Somehow, if for his preoccupation with erasing Muslim imprint from his State he has not updated himself on the subject, here is to his heart’s delight how quickly his party has put Kashmir on the ‘reclaim’ path.
In 1930, when Hari Singh, the ‘last Hindu ruler’, was in the saddle, Kashmir was ruled by him with a State Administrative Council comprising the following: Major General Janak Singh Bahadur, GEC Wakefield, PK Wattal and Thakur Kartar Singh. Today, when Satya Pal Malik, the Governor Bahadur, is at the helm of affairs he too is ruling Kashmir through a State Administrative Council with his Advisors, Bharat Bushan Vyas, Thiru K. Vijay Kumar, Kewel Krishen Sharma and Khurshid Ahmad Ganai. [During the later years of his rule, Hari Singh too had a Khusru Jung as his Huzoor Minister or Minister in Waiting.]
The Maharaja’s chief secretary [in late 1930s] was Ram Chander Kak, Malik Sahib’s chief secretary is BVR Subrahmanyam. The Maharaja had Colonel Gandharabh Singh as his police chief, the Governor Sahib has Dilbagh Singh. During the last 104 years since when record is available, out of 35 Police Chiefs of the State, only 2 (Peer Ghulam Hassan Shah and Ghulam Jeelani Pandit) were Muslims whose collective tenure lasted for 6 years, 10 months and 15 days. The last Muslim Police Chief the State had was in 1989.
For purposes of record if we talk about judiciary, during the past 90 years since the Jammu & Kashmir High Court was established in 1928, only three Muslims (Mian Jalaluddin, Mufi Bahauddin and Bashir Ahmad Khan) from Jammu & Kashmir have reached the position of Chief Justice. Their combined tenure has lasted for 3 years, 2 months and 21 days which is about 1/6th of the 19 years, 8 months and 2 days Justice Janki Nath Wazir, a Jammu Rajput Hindu, alone held the post from 30 March 1948 to 2 December 1067.
Governor Satya Pal Malik is Jammu & Kashmir’s 11th Head of the State and all of them came from the same community. If you find V. Khalid among the names of former Governors of Jammu & Kashmir, don’t get confused. His was a temporary arrangement in accordance with the Constitutional requirement. In 1984, when Governor B K Nehru refused to carry out the instructions of the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, to dismiss Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah he was overnight transferred and replaced by Jagmohan. For a short duration between Nehru’s exit and Jagmohan’s arrival, the Tamil Nadu born Chief Justice, J&K High Court, Justice V. Khalid, assumed charge of the Governor.
As of today, all vital departments of bureaucracy like home, finance, planning and development, power development, higher education, school education, technical education, health and medical education, industries and commerce, rural development and panchayati raj, housing and urban development and forest, ecology and environment are headed by persons who profess Malik Sahib’s faith.
The emphasis, it seems, is on building a garden of same-colour flowers, an experiment already carried out at the J&K Raj Bhawan.
Khalid Bashir Ahmad is a renowned Kashmiri poet, historian and author. His book Kashmir: Exposing The Myth Behind The Narrative was lately hailed for its fresh insights into Kashmir history.
This story first appeared in December Print Issue of The Indus Post.