Even as the UPCC chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi was paying her respects to the Late Indira Gandhi on her death anniversary in the UPCC head office in Lucknow a team of Lucknow Talk reporters (a local fortnightly newspaper) was busy sifting through old and yellowed photographs of Indira when she lived with her father in the city.
In the process they met several Kashmiri Pandit families who were close to the Nehru-Gandhi family and who have played a major role in national and state politics in the early years following the countries independence.
They came across Gopal Chakbast the grandson of the late poet Braj Narain Chakbast whose father was a distant cousin of late Indiraji and who produced several rare photographs of her and her aunt Shiela Kaul who was also a veteran politician and Central minister from Lucknow.
They also came across Dr BN Sharga formerly of Shia College Lucknow University, who claims to be (in relationship) the father-in–law of Sonia Gandhi and says he can prove it with the family tree of the two families.
Dr Sharga also had a very revealing statement to make.
“If Raj Thackeray was a student of history he would never have raised the issue of Marathi Manush,” says Dr Sharga, “for even Kashmiri Pandits are Marathi Manush and so were Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi too”.
According to Dr Sharga he has written this is detail in his book Sharga Puran which traces the ancestry of Kashmiri Pandits. In the fourteenth century Kashmir came under the rule of a ruthless sultan of the name of Sikander Budhshikan or Sikander the Idol Breaker. During his reign thousands of Kashmiri Hindus were converted to Islam at the point of a sword. In the end only 11 Brahmin families remained in the valley who took refuge in the forests to escape the wrath of the Sultan. At this stage to increase their numbers the Kashmiris appealed to Marathi Brahmins for help and intermarried with several girls from the region of Maharashtra. At the same time several Marathi families were settled in Kashmir to increase the numbers of the Brahmins there.
Their descendants later adopted surnames like Zutshis, Shungloos and so on. All Kashmiri Pandits today are therefore Marathi Brahmins too.
Similarly Dr Sharga claims that even the families like the Kauls, the Nehrus and the Shargas and many others all are Marathi Brahmins too.
“There should be a quota for Kashmiri Marathi Brahmins in the state of Maharashtra, if Raj Thackeray is serious about protecting the rights of the Marathi Manush,” he says.
“I have raised this issue to show how absolutely useless this kind of talk is,” says Dr Sharga, ” As all Indians, no matter where they come from Kashmir or Uttranchal or even the border states have intermarried Maharashtrian Brahmins and we all are Indians as well as Marathis at the same time, so when Raj Thackeray calls us North Indians he is merely insulting his own relatives. Thackeray should realise that we are all Indians,” he concludes.
In fact we should be grateful for the planned development which was kick-started by Late Indira Gandhi’s father Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru which gave industry an impetus in all parts of India and led to the creation of jobs everywhere in the country, he adds