In the fray for the London mayoral elections, along with a bus driver’s son and a billionaire’s son, is a British-Dogra musician who calls himself the “Maharaja of the sovereign state of Jammu and Kashmir”.
Ankit Love is the 32-year-old son of Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party patron Bhim Singh. He grew up in Surrey and set up the ‘One Love Party’ last year to spread the message of peace for all mankind.
The party has now promised to make air pollution in London a priority, and plans to promote green cars, hydrogen fuel stations and solar panels in homes, apart from free higher education and legalisation of cannabis under a licence system.
Ankit’s LinkedIn profile describes him as a music artiste, filmmaker and founder of Ankit Love Productions. Beethoven Burst, a single on his first album Forever (2010) was a hit on MTV. His short film Whale! and documentary Runners premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012, it says.
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What stands out, though, is that the profile refers to him as “His Highness The Emperor (Maharaja), Sovereign State of Jammu and Kashmir”. And like a true monarch, Ankit expresses concern about his “subjects”. “Who shall support me in bringing justice for my abused subjects?” he says regarding the attack on Kashmiri students for allegedly refusing to chant “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”.
Ankit says he was enrolled at Bishop Cotton School, Shimla, but was moved to the UK in 1989 for security reasons on account of his family’s political engagements.
Claiming to be the product of the “merger of two of the most revered dynasties in the region, the priestly Saraswat dynasty of Afghanistan and royal Dogra dynasty of Jammu and Kashmir”, Ankit says he was “born under the armed guard” in 1983, and that his mother named him Love with the hope that he would bring peace to the region. His LinkedIn profile says, “The Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, Ankit Love, with the union of these two ancient spiritual and royal legacies and the future dream of peace, solar power and hydrogen fuel, starts his new dynasty with the name his mother gave him at birth, Love. This is the Love dynasty.”
Ankit says his “coronation” took place at a yoga centre in a London hotel in March 2015. The profile says, “The sovereign royal title remained vacant for decades after the passing of his predecessor Maharaja Hari (Singh)… Ankit Love’s uncle the Yuvraj (Crown Prince) Karan (Singh) had voluntarily renounced the titles in favour of allegiance to India’s socialist vision and became an Indian citizen…”
Asked about Ankit’s claim to be “Maharaja”, Bhim Singh said it appeared to be an attempt to expose the Indian leadership’s inaction in resolving the problems of the state. “He is provoking his constituency (people of the state),” he said. “I wish Ankit had not joined politics. Politics ruined our family,” he added.
What Ankit’s profile fails to mention is that his ancestors were killed and buried in the fort at Ramnagar in Udhampur district over 200 years ago. According to Deshbandu Nutan, a Dogri writer-cum-historian, Bhim Singh’s ancestors (of the Thakkar clan) were killed by then Raja Suchet Singh (of the Dogra dynasty), who was the brother of then Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu.