Saturday, May 8, 2021







R C Kak was born in 1893 in the Razdan family of Kashmir. In 1901, at the age of 8, he was married to 7-year-old Janki Devi Tikoo. Janki Devi was the daughter of Pandit Lakshman Joo Tikoo of downtown, Srinagar. Pandit Lakshman Joo was the first qualified engineer of Kashmir who was drafted to work on the construction of Jhelum Valley Road. 

After graduating from SP College, Srinagar, R C Kak spent 5 years (1914-1919) 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 Archeologist and later promoted to the director of the newly formed Archeology and Research Department in J&K State. He remained as Director of Archeological Survey for 10 years from 1919 to 1929. During this period, he led extensive excavations of some major archaeological sites in the Kashmir valley that include Awantipora and Harwan. He wrote some scholarly and research-based books on the archaeological remains of the Kashmir valley.

Tuberculosis was a great killer before Penicillin and other antibiotics had been invented. Unfortunately, in 1928, Kak’s wife, Janki Devi died at the young age of 34 due to tuberculosis leaving behind four sons. In 1935, Kak remarried an English woman Mary Margret Allcock. The marriage took place in England. He had no child from this marriage. Mary Margaret adopted Kashmiri traditions with perfection and learnt the Kashmiri language. She was also affectionate towards Kak's children and family. Kak's relatives affectionately called her Ben Ded or the "Great Sister". Many visitors to Kak's house at Kaksarai noticed Ben Ded dressed like a Kashmiri Panditani meeting people or attending to some household work or sitting in the garden under a Chinar tree. Ben Ded spoke fluent Kashmiri with household servants. The Kaks would also spend holidays in their family hut at Gulmarg. Later during his exile, Kak used to spend summers in Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh. Ben Ded had adopted Lila Bhan as her daughter.


Kak was granted the title of Rai Bahadur in the year 1938 by British India and thereafter he became the Maharaja’s Minister-in-Waiting. The Maharaja was extremely pleased with his work. Kak became the Prime Minister of J&K (1945-1947) and died in 1983. In his state, his death was not officially condoled. That was the extent of humiliation he suffered. He also moved to court against his banishment order and got it quashed. He also moved to the Court of Law for restoration of his pension. In his memoirs, Radha Krishen Sher writes this:-

" Violating all the norms of civilized behaviour, the new National Conference government humiliated RC Kak. The latter maintained his dignity and said, “I had to do whatever I did because I was loyal to his Highness”. Despite cool relations with the Maharaja later, Pt. Kak never spoke or wrote anything that could have lowered the prestige of the Maharaja. There are few instances in history, where the loyal servant took upon himself the responsibility for acts of omissions and commissions of his superiors.”

RC Kak was a man of sterling character. He never bypassed protocol. During Quit Kashmir Movement, Maharaj Krishan Dhar, Governor had come to seek his advice to tackle the situation created by Nehru’s defiance at Kohala, R C Kak told him curtly, ‘You are the District Magistrate and enjoy full powers. I don’t wield such powers as you do. Why do you ask me for guidance on such matters? It is your business ’. When RC Kak submitted his resignation, two other senior officers-Sham Lal Dhar (later Home Secretary) and Justice Shahmiri (Sessions Judge) also prematurely retired. They were subsequently rehabilitated by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. Did the National Conference leadership settle a personal vendetta against the Maharaja by humiliating his prime minister? 


 Ben Ded indeed accompanied her husband to some official functions either at the Maharaja's Palace or the British Resident’s place, but for most of her life in Kashmir, she kept herself out of the affairs of the administration and was fully involved in the family affairs. During the turbulent period of 1947, Ben Ded stood like a rock to support her husband after he was arrested by the popular government headed by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and banished from the State. She fought for his release with Nehru, Sardar Patel and Mountbatten. She fought for the restoration of his pension that had been stopped. After the death of her husband, Ben Ded moved to England. However, she couldn't adjust in England and returned to India. She lived in their Kaksarai house for some time and later shifted to Rawalpora, in Srinagar city. In the Rawalpora colony, she lived with Dr B K.Jalali 's family. Dr B K Jalali is closely related to RC Kak. Very reluctantly she left Kashmir in 1990 when Pakistan-sponsored armed militancy created darkness, death and destruction all over the valley. She moved to Indore to live with her daughter where she finally breathed her last. She died in exile. Ben Ded is believed to have with her some keynotes that Kak had scribbled for his proposed memoir. Possibly she wanted to publish her husband's memoirs. 


( Avtar Mota)

Creative Commons License
CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\\.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.