B L Razdan
It is really sad to learn that the former Jammu & Kashmir Governor and savior of Kashmir for India, is no more. In his condolence message, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Jagmohan Ji’s demise is a monumental loss for our nation. He was an exemplary administrator and a renowned scholar. He always worked towards the betterment of India. His ministerial tenure was marked by innovative policymaking. Condolences to his family and admirers.” on his Twitter handle this morning. A Muslim friend from Kashmir send me this message on What’sUp: “Was extraordinary in his own right, have seen his book, Frozen Turbulence back at your residence at Jammu which I later read and found interesting ,largely convincing and definitely well written, was a man you cannot ignore, will be remembered!” Another Muslim friend from Kashmir wrote about him: “A man of ethics and values, Jagmohan Ji will forever be remembered for his service to the nation as a civil servant and an administrator.”
Kashmiri Pandits should remain ever grateful to two sterling personalities of India, Jagmohan and Balasahab Tackery. But for their timely help, the community would have been nearly doomed.
To start with I want to dispel the impression sought to be created by some sections of the media that terrorism erupted in Jammu and Kashmir state during his governorship. Nothing can be farther from the truth. When the central government felt that the valley was getting out of its hands, to stem the slide and to restore control over law and order, it appointed Jagmohan as the Governor on 19th January 1990. This is clear from his book “My Frozen Turbulence” even if you may not believe me for my personal knowledge as I was posted at Jammu as Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax at that time. The valley bureaucracy, state police force including armed police force, the valley politicians had sort of conspired to snatch the valley from India by declaring independence. Loudspeakers atop mosques would blare out “Azaadi, Azaadi” from dawn to dusk. Kashmiri Pandits, who were threatened over the same loudspeakers to leave or face conversion or death, had left the valley in droves.
The sinister design failed only because of Jagmohan, who knew Kashmir and Kashmiris only too well to be taken for a ride. Anyone else in his place would be still figuring out the situation, which the valley bureaucracy would not let him know, till the valley’s independence call would have gone through immediate recognition by Pakistan backed by China. Jagmohan had endeared himself to the local population during his earlier term as a governor, when during his rule there was “Ram Rajya” in the state. Using his earlier contacts, he moved post haste immediately upon landing in Srinagar, and thwarted the conspiracy of the separatists and the local bureaucracy, the police and the politician. He could not even come to Jammu to participate in January, 26 celebrations and authorized the then Divisional Commissioner, to preside over the flag hoisting ceremony, take the salute and read out his message. Defending the decision to deploy Jagmohan to Kashmir, the then Union Home Minister, Mufti Mohammad Syed had said: “By sending Jagmohan to Kashmir we made major gains. He set up this nucleus of officials to fill the administrative vacuum. And we established the authority of the State.”
Most of us, Kashmiri Pandits, are of the firm view that if his tenure was not abruptly cut short, we would have gone back to our homes with honour and dignity in another couple of months only. A prominent valley politician played a mischief. Using his influence in the local police, he had a couple of shots fired at a funeral procession of which Jagmohan was not even aware. Later this incident was used to malign him and Muslim leaders across party lines went to the then Prime Minister of India making a single point demand of “Removing Jagmohan”; because they knew that with him at the helm, they could not do anything. Furthering his appeasement policy, the then Prime Minister of India, V P Singh, replaced Jagmohan on 26th May, 1990, by Shri Girish Chand Saxena, who the state politicians found acceptable for the simple reason that he would readily agree to the release of the foreign terrorists, who had been arrested and were lying in several jails in India.
The valley dominated National Conference had not forgot its Muslim Conference original anti-Maharaja, anti-Jammu, and anti-KP agenda even though it would assert that it had now become a secular party. Here was an opportunity to realize that dream, but Jagmohan came in the way. He sanctioned relief for them and allowed the government servants to draw their salaries, which decision would not have been taken by anyone other than Jagmohan. The valley leaders and bureaucrats, who resented this decision and rued the day Jagmohan was appointed the Governor, made no bones about it.
Then they started the canard that “Jagmohan was responsible for the exodus or migration – whatever one may call it – of KPs.” This was done as a Taqaiyyah exercise in furtherance of the agenda of Islamisation of the State. This also helped the valley leadership disguise its true intentions once they had failed in their bigger designs; but they could still call shots with the help of the Union Home Minister, a fellow Kashmiri Muslim, whose daughter’s abduction was stage-managed to enable release of the hard core foreign terrorists in exchange. With an amiable governor at the helm in place of Jagmohan, they almost ruled roost, even while they were out of the government, and prevented our return by using their forked tongues in whichever way they would like to befool the Central Government and confuse the Kashmiri Pandits and keep them guessing all the while.
True to his salt, Jagmohan replied to each and every charge and criticism leveled against him with classic elan, in every successive edition of his now legendary book, “My Frozen Turbulence” and compelled his critics to have a rethink, which finding embarrassing for themselves, they chose the convenient option of remaining silent.
Born in September 1927, Jagmohan was a former Indian civil servant, who rose from Delhi Administrative service and caught the eye of late Sanjay Gandhi for his administrative acumen, honesty and willingness to serve uprightly, without fear or favour. I was serving in the Union Home Ministry in Delhi at that time. Through sheer grit, honesty, determination, commitment and hard work he rose to serve as the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi and Goa, as well as the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir. Jagmogan was honoured with the award of Padma Shri by the President of India on 26 January 1971 “for formulation and implementation of the Delhi Master Plan and for playing a pioneering role in planning and implementation of projects in Delhi”.
Kashmiri Pandit community will remain ever grateful to him for having saved them not only from imminent death or conversion, as had happened during their previous six exoduses occasioned by the barbarian foreign invaders, but also for having saved their dignity and honour, which the valley leadership was hell bent on violating.
(The author is formerly of the Indian Revenue Service, retired as Director General of Income Tax, Investigation, Chandigarh.)
B L Razdan