- K.N. Pandita
The patriarch of exiled community is no more. The teacher, philosopher, ideologue and the patriarch, who conceived, publicized and nurtured the concept of Pandit Homeland soon after our exile in 1990 has departed. For nearly thirty years Professor Teng and I were colleagues at the University of Kashmir, he was in the Political Science Department while I was at the Centre of Central Asian Studies. There was hardly a week when we did not meet in his office room, sipped mugs of coffee and talked endlessly on a variety of subjects, especially current politics, Kashmir situation, Indian and international affairs. I learnt more and more in each sitting over those long years and I have befitted immensely from it. He was blunt, flawless and precise in analyzing situations.
Both of us had one thing in common. That was the scurvy and discriminatory treatment we were meted out at the hands of the university authorities in regard to our promotion, status and professional exposure. He often said that we must take into account the circumstances, the political atmosphere that prevailed in the State and in the country and evaluate our community’s deprivations and discrimination more as the consequence of that sickening situation rather than something like a vendetta. One thing which I cannot forget is that in those sittings he often hinted at the rising crescendo of China as the arbiter of Asian destiny. This was in 1960s and 70s.
He had extraordinarily clear and transparent ideas about the political scenario in the country. He lamented the deep-seated servile psyche of the Indian political leadership and the nation subjugated too long by foreign invaders and rulers and the worst was that this mentality had not left them even after India attained freedom.
As an astute scholar and teacher of politics, he was highly critical of the way in which secularism and democracy were trivialized and abused in this country. He had his peculiar way of castigating the pseudo-secularist leadership of the State and of the country. An author of about half a dozen books, two of which, namely Article 370 of Indian Constitution and India’s Northern Border (on which Indian government imposed a ban) and numerous research articles, he had a vast circle of friends who greatly cherished his company for discussions on political matters. Many of his students who became important government functionaries, MLAs, MPs and ministers always showed him great respect and valued his observations.
Mohan Kishen Teng remained associated with the Left wing in Kashmir. He was not an ideological communist but being an astute student and scholar of Marxism-Leninism and having interacted extensively with many Left stalwarts, he had attained a full grasp of the leftist ideology and was at home while discussing its nitty-gritty in private assemblies.
He has left behind a large number of students, well-wishers and admirers. He was gifted with farsighted vision in Kashmir politics and insurgency and the time has proved many of his predictions true as we walk down memory lane. He stood like a rock behind his concept of Kashmiri Pandit Homeland. Even the diehards amongst the Congressites did concede in private that it was difficult to disarm Dr Teng in most of his concepts and ideological formulations. He was gifted with a facile pen and could marshal his arguments with ease and force of conviction. He will remain the most outstanding thinker in the contemporary history of the Kashmiri Pandits and a day will come when his commentaries, analysis and inferences of Kashmir and Indian politics will be taken as a desk book source for understanding Kashmir question. The community is orphaned with his departure and I have suffered a personal loss. May his soul rest in peace.