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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir


Symbol of Unity


Air Chief Marshal Swaroop Kishna Kaul

First Kashmiri Chief of Air Staff

By Dr. B.N. Sharga

SK KaulAir Chief Marshal S.K. Kaulís ancestors were originally the residents of Habba Kadal area of the Srinagar district of the Kashmir valley. His ancestor Pandit Maharaj Kaul "Dattatreye" came out from the Kashmir valley in the beginning of the 19th century during the rule of Mughal Emperor Shah alam-II (1759-1806) around 1804 via Mughal route and finally settled down in Bazaar Sita Ram of Delhi. After witnessing the growing influence of the British over the administration at Delhi and lack of proper opportunities to secure a good job his son Pandit Ram Chandra Kaul then migrated to the nearby Gwalior state to try his luck there. After sometime he got the job in the Gwalior State Service. The name of his son was Pandit Sri Krishna Kaul.

Pandit Sri Krishna Kaul had his traditional education in Urdu and Persian language under the supervision of able and learned Maulvis in the Gwalior state. After completing his education he got a job in the Gwalior State Service but later on he came to Lucknow in search of a job around 1842 where his cousin (Mausera Bhai) the famous Urdu poet Pandit Day a Shanker Kaul "Naseem" was employed in the court of Nawab Amjad Ali Shah (1842-1847) as a Bakshi. He started living in Kashmiri Mohalla with "Naseem".

After some time Pandit Sri Krishna Kaul got a job in the court of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah (1847-1856) and was made a "daroga" of some department. He was popularly known as "Bhaiyyaji" among the community members in Kashmiri Mohalla. After the Mutiny of 1857 he joined the police department under the British rule and was made a Sub-Inspector at Lakhimpur Kheri. He again came back to Kashmiri Mohalla around 1875 after his retirement from the active government service. In recognition to his loyalty towards the British Crown, he was made an honorary Magistrate and then a Municipal Commissioner by the British and the title of Rai Bahadur was conferred upon him. He was also an Urdu poet of repute and used to compose his Urdu couplets under the pen name of "Takhallus", "Yes" like his father Pandit Ram Chandra Kaul who was also an Urdu poet. Pandit Sri Krishna Kaul used to take the guidance in Urdu poetry writing from his cousin "Naseem" who was an established Urdu poet at that time with a very sharp intellect. Some of the Urdu couplets composed by Pandit Sri Krishna Kaul are there in Bahar-e-Gulshane Kashmir, Vol-II which was published in 1932.

The idea about the style of Pandit Sri Krishna Kaulís poetry writing and his selection of words to express his feelings can be formed from the following Urdu couplets composed by him.

ďTassavur jalwai yar dil mein hai,

allah ki kudrat ka

Ki butkhane mein aya hoon mein, mushtaq uski surat ka,

Na dar roz jaza ka hai, no andesha kayamat ka

Tarsa hoon uski baksheesh ko, bharosa hai inayat ka,

Ajeeb rind behkhoob tak mein hai, dukhtare raz ki,

Dilhi khair ho ab to hafiz uski, hurmat ka,

Fidaye naz ho kar, mar gaya zere kadam uski,

Ki naksho payenaz kab nishan hain meri turbat ka,

Damgar yeh nikalte hain jo ashk garam aakhon se,

Asar baki abhi hai sozish dil ki hararat ka."

His son Pt. Shyam Krishna Kaul after completing his education went to Calcutta (Kolkata) and got a job in the Calcutta-Nagpur railway section of that time. He subsequently became an audit officer in the same railway division. Pt. Shyam Krishna Kaulís son Pt. Kunwar Krishna Kaul after the death of his father got the job in the same railway division with its headquarters at Calcutta. Pt. Kunwar Krishna Kaul was married with Roop Kumari who was the daughter of Pt. Triloki Nath Kaul, a leading criminal lawyer of Bahraich and grand daughter of Pt. Baij Nath Kaul "Chungi" of Kashmiri Mohalla, Lucknow. He had three sons Pratap Krishna, Hari Krishna and Swaroop Krishna.

Pandit Kunwar Krishna Kaulís brother Pandit Brij Krishna Kaul "Bekhabar" was also a reputed Urdu poet of Kashmiri Mohalla, Lucknow. Pandit Brij Krishna Kaul did a monumental work of compiling the poetic compositions of the Kashmiri Pandit poets in the form of two volumes of "Bahar-e-Gulshane Kashmir", He later on migrated from Lucknow to Jaipur where he died in 1927.

Pt. Kunwar Krishna Kaulís eldest son Pratap Krishna Kaul was born in 1930. P.K. Kaul after completing his education became an I.A.S. Officer. He was posted in Lucknow as a city Magistrate around 1954. After working in various posts in the various districts of U.P. and in the secretariat at Lucknow, he ultimately become a Cabinet Secretary in the Central government around 1984. He then became Indiaís ambassador to the United States of America in 1986. He retired from active government service in 1990. He is married with Usha who is the daughter of Pt. Krishna Narain Channa and grand daughter of Pt. Laxmi Narain Channa of Jammu.

Pt. Kunwar Krishna Kaul's second son Hari Krishna Kaul was born in 1932. He got married with Subhadra who is the daughter of Pt. Jai Narain Urga. He died quite young in July 1982 at the age of about 50 years.

Pt. Kunwar Krishna Kaul's third and the last son A.C.M. Swaroop Krishna Kaul was born on 20th December 1934 in Kashmiri Mohalla, Lucknow. He had his early schooling in Beasant College in Benaras (Varanasi) which is run by the Rishi Valley Trust of the Theosophical Society of India founded by Annie Beasant. He did his matriculation from this institution in 1949. He then joined the Government College, Allahabad and did his F.Sc. from there in 1951.

After that he joined the National Defence Academy at Kharakvasla in December 1951 and did his graduation course in military training. After passing out from N.D.A. in December 1952 he joined the Air Force Academy at Jodhpur and then did six months extensive training course in flying jet aircrafts at the jet Training Wing of the Air Force at Hakimpet in Secundarabad. He then got his commission in the Indian Air Force in December 1954 as a Pilot Officer in the Squardon No: 17 of the Air Force at Adampur.

It was only in 1954 that the Indian Air Force had its first Indian Chief when Air Marshal Subodh Mukherjee became the chief of the Air Staff. As the top ranking British officers of the Air Force left for their country lock, stock and barrel, so the junior Indian officers got quick promotions in the Air Force after the independence of the country.

During the Indo-Pak war of 1965 Air Chief Marshal S.K. Kaul was based at Pathankot. He flew mystery air craft and took a very active part in these operations. He was a part of the 28 aircraft strike formations of our Air Force which struck the Chamb-Jourian sector on 17th September 1965 and which was mainly responsible for successfully thwarting and blunting the Pakistani Armour thrust in our territory. Throughout this conflict he undertook many offensive strikes and air support missions to provide air cover to our marching troops in the Pasrur Bulge Sialkot sector of the war front. Our armed forces gave a crushing defeat to the Pakistan army in this war and moved up to the outskirts of the Lahore city. After this the government raised the rank of the Chief of the Air Staff from Air Marshal to Air Chief Marshal.

Air Chief Marshal S.K. Kaul after this war got the promotion and was made a Commanding Officer of a hunter bomber squadron at Hasimasa in the eastern sector.

 India came to the rescue of "Mukti Bahni" in 1971 to provide it logistic support in their freedom struggle and at the same time to stop the massive influx of refugees from across the border into our territory.

Though actual Indo-Pak war started on 3rd December 1971 but prior to that Air Chief Marshal S.K. Kaul who was Wing Commander at that time started under taking photo reconnaissance missions over erstwhile East Pakistan since October 1971. These missions were specially carried out deep into enemy territories covering heavily defended sectors of Comilla, Sylhet and Saidpur. The photographs obtained through these drae devil missions of the fortified enemy positions helped our armed forces to finalise their assault plans accordingly to minimise the casualty figures.

Throughout 1971 war Air Chief Marshal S.K. Kaul carried out strike missions with top precision on military targets of the enemy covering practically the whole area of the erstwhile east Pakistan. He also led some important missions such as an attack on the Dhaka Government House. This mission was a great success and ultimately forced the Pak army to surrender before our armed forces. For this gallantry, determination, professional skill and leadership of a very high order the then President of India V.V. Giri honoured him with Mahavir Chakra (M.V.C.).

His citation reads "on 4th December 1971, he again volunteered for another task to photograph the Tejgaon and Karmitola airfields. His reconnaissance flights over these two airfields in the face of the most sustained and heavy enemy ground fire, stands out as acts of heroism, extreme gallantry and devotion to duty, in addition to his reconnaissance exploits, he led the very first eight air crafts strike mission over Dhaka. In this raid his formation encountered enemy aircraft near the target areas. With exemplary leadership, he maneuvered his force in such a manner that two of the enemy aircrafts could be shot down and the other two fled away. The target thus became clear for attack and all through the war he led his squadron boldly and courageously in the face of the enemy. "

After this war A.C.M., S.K. Kaul became chief operation officer at the Pune Air Force station which is one of the major flying base of the Indian Air Force. He was then made the Wing Commander and group captain in the directorate of Air Intelligence at the Air Force headquarters at New Delhi.

After completing this important assignment A.C.M., S.K. Kaul became the Air Officer Commanding of the Air Force station at Bareilly, which is a very important Air Base of the Central Command. It houses two squadrons with highly specialized role of strategic reconnaissance and electronic warfare.

When Mrs. Indira Gandhi became the Prime Minister of the country for the second time in 1980 after the fall of the Janta Party Government, she sent A.C.M., S.K. Kaul to Moscow in 1982 as the Air Attache in the Indian embassy there. He held this post upto January 1986. During this period there was an unprecedented procurement and induction of a large number of air crafts and other weapon systems from the erstwhile Soviet Union for the Indian Air Force to make it one of the best in the world. These included MiG-29, AN-32, 12-76 aircrafts and Mi-17 and Mi-26 helicopters. Apart from all this A.C.M., S.K. Kaul successfully co-ordinated the induction of Radar and Missile systems for the IAF as well. While at Moscow he was also instrumental for the co-ordination of first Indo-Soviet joint space venture very successfully in which Squadron leader Rakesh Sharma carried out his historic space journey to become the first Indian consmonaught. During this period he also arranged, the training in U.S.S.R. of a large number of Indian Air Force personnels for the newly acquired weapon systems from that country.

After his return from Moscow he was posted as the Director of Personnel (Officers) at the Air Force Headquarters at New Delhi. He was then made the senior Air Staff Officer at the South Western Air Command at Jodhpur. During this two years stint at the Jodhpur Air Base apart from conducting the routine air exercises, he reorganised the total Air Defence environment of that important region, which included the integration of the Army Radars with the Air Force for providing proper Air Defence to the Bombay high region from any strike by the enemy.

Around 1989 he was appointed as the senior air staff officer in CAC  at Allahabad. He again rearranged the operational air exercises, which were conducted in this command to give it a total thrust towards the task oriented training. Under this command a large scale air borne operations involving a battalion group, paradropping and heliborne operations, dropping two company groups were organised and very successfully conducted, thus enhancing our capabilities in this field.

In February 1991 he became AOC-in-C of the Central Air Command and he remained on this post up to 30 April 1992. During this tenure he devoted his special attention towards optimization and utilization of the resources and simultaneously identifying the areas for effecting economy, both in manpower and materials by taking effective steps to curtail the unproductive expenditure. Apart from all this he also gave special attention towards the welfare of the air personnel. Under his command greater efforts were made and due emphasis was given to improve the quality of life at all the stations of the Air Force by providing a better and healthier environment in them with improved facilities.

In order to project and identify the Air Force with our countrymen, particularly those living in the rural areas, a scheme was launched to adopt a village continguous to the Air Force camps. For carrying out all this work and for his distinguished record of service of the most extraordinary nature the then President of India Mr. R.Venkataraman awarded him with Param Vishisht Seva Medal in 1992.

On 18th May 1992 he was appointed as the AOC-in-Chief of the Western Air Command, which is the largest and one of the most important operational command of the IAF to keep a constant vigil on the western border of our country. In order to promote closer co-operation and better integration of joint planning between the Army and the Air Force he institutionalised bi-annual conferences with both Northern and Western Command of the Army with active support of the two GOCs-in-C. These conference, helped a lot in building up a better understanding between the two wings of our armed forces, the Army and the Air Force thus paving a way for integrated joint planning for future wars.

On 31st July 1993 he was appointed by the government as the chief of the Air Staff. He retired from this post on 21 December 1995 after putting in 42 years of active service in the Indian Air Force. In November 1994, he was also appointed as Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. In this capacity he gave great impetus to joint planning and co-operation in conducting any operation.

Air Chief Marshal S.K. Kaul got married on 11 December 1962 at Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh with Nita the daughter of Pt. Chand Narain Raina "Chand" of Lahore who was a reputed Urdu poet. Mrs. Nita Kaul is a very active social worker. She has contributed a lot in the field of adult education by regularly organising various adult education programmes at the places where her husband was posted from time to time. She has also worked for the institutions for the handicapped children at most of the Air Bases. She also made the Air Force Wives Welfare Association meaningful by involving a large number of wives of the Air Force personnels in various ventures and social programmes. This couple has two daughters Shivani and Devyani. The former is married with Sanjay Tikku while the latter is married with Barmali Agrawal.

Air Chief Marshal S.K Kaul is a charming personality. He was a keen sportsman during his young age. Golf and Tennis are his most favourite games. He loves reading books on various subjects and listening Indian Classical music. He is popularity known as Supp Bhai among his relatives and close friends. He is humble and highly cultured . He has over 3700 hours of accident free flying record to his credit which is a very remarkable feat indeed. He had flown various types of fighter and bombar supersonic aircrafts held out in the inventory of the Indian Air Force from the Vampires in the 1950s to the latest MiG-23, Jagaur, MiG-29, and Mirage-2000 aircrafts. After his retirement from service he settled down in the Gurgaon.

Kashmiri Writers B.N. Sharga


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