KPs' Organizations and AIKS
By Dr. B.N. Sharga
There was no concept of
forming a caste based organization till the beginning of the 19th
century. There were three important centres of Kashmiri Pandits’ population
outside Kashmir at that time. They were Bazaar Sita Ram of Delhi,
which came into existence during the Mughal rule, Kashmiri Mohalla of Lucknow
which came into existence between 1775 and 1778 during the rule of Nawab
Asaf-ud-Daula in Oudh
and Vachchuwali of Lahore, which came into existence during the reign of
Maharaja Ranjeet Singh in Punjab. Out of these three
Kashmiri Mohalla of Lucknow was the biggest colony of Kashmiri Pandits outside
Kashmir in northern India, where according to a rough estimate about 1000
Kashmiri Pandit families used to live at that time and a good majority of
Kashmiri Pandits were either courtiers or big jagirdars and so were
financially very sound.
First meeting of AIKS held at Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh in 1980.
When the British annexed Oudh
and Lord Canning read out the proclamation of Queen Victoria
of England on 1st November 1858 from the ramparts of Allahabad Fort, the
Kashmiri Pandits of Lucknow felt the need to protect their cultural identity and
to strengthen the community bonds. To achieve that objective and to bring all
the community members on one platform they started organizing an annual caste
festival Rishi Peer Ka Jaag in the month of Savan according to
Hindu calendar in memory of a great 17th century saint of Kashmir.
Pt. Sheo Narain Bahar was the
first person who mooted the idea of forming a caste based organization. As he
was the first Indian to become a deputy inspector of schools in the British
period so he used to command a great respect among the community members as well
as the society at large in Oudh.
Due to his hard work and untirring efforts the first community organization
known as Jalsa-e-Tehzeeb came into existence on 9th February
1868 and the publication of the first community magazine Mursala-e-Kashmir
was started in 1871.
As a corollary to all this a
body of Kashmiri Pandits at the national level known as Kashmiri Pandits’
National Club came into existence and its first convention was organized with
great fanfare on a grand scale in the historic Ganju walon Ka Shadikhana
at Kashmiri Mohalla, Lucknow in 1882.
In 1884, a K.P. youth Bishan
Narain Dar went to
England against the
wishes of the community members as sea voyage was considered to be an
unpardonable sin in that period. He was not only ex-communicated but a division
of the community also took place into Dharam Sabha and Bishan Sabha
which jeopardized the efforts of forming a strong organization at the national
The Kashmiri Pandits of
Lahore then took the lead and Pt. Maharaj Krishna Kaul Ghamkhwar then through
the community journal Safeer-e-Kashmir announced the formation of
Kashmiri National Association in 1891 with Raja Narendra Nath Raina Chhijballi
as its Chairman to make it acceptable among the majority of the community
members. But somehow it could not get the good support from the community
members living in other parts of the country.
Then around 1905 the famous
Urdu poet of Lucknow Pt. Brij Narain Chakbast formed the Kashmiri Youngmen’s
Association to guide the young boys of the community. It was formally
inaugurated by Dr. Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru in 1907 with a library. But it was
closed down in 1918 after the migration of Pt. Brij Narain Chakbast from
Kashmiri Mohalla to Golaganj a locality which was near to his work place.
Kashmiri Samaj Allahabad was
formed in 1975 with Mrs. Rajan Nehru as its founder President. In 1979 Justice
Pratap Narain Bakshi became its President and Pt. Omkar Nath Sharga became its
secretary respectively. Sometime in the month of September 1979 they paid a
courtesy call to Prof. Uma Shanker Kochak’s residence who was head, department
of Music of the
where Pt. Prabhat Hukku was also present. Incidentally all had their roots in
Lucknow. There over a cup of tea and light snacks these four persons floated the
idea to form a body at the national level to bring about cultural unification of
the community, to curtail the wasteful expenditure on marriages and to check the
growing menace of inter caste marriages in the community.
Both Justice P.N. Bakshi and Pt. O.N. Sharga worked very hard and burnt a lot of midnight oil to
give a concrete shape to this idea. They extended invitation to all the Kashmiri
Pandits’ outfits in the country to come over to Allahabad
for a thread bare discussion over important issues facing the community.
Consequently a two day convention was held on 8th and 9th
March 1980 at the residence of Justice Shiv Nath Katju on 25, Edmonstone Road
where AIKS was formally launched and Justice P.N. Bakshi and Pt. O.N. Sharga
were unanimously elected as its founder President and general secretary
respectively. Pt. Jyoti Mushran became its founder treasurer. The rest is
history and according to Plato history is never absolute it is always rewritten.