Wednesday, December 8, 2010

History Of KASHMIR | History |

History of the Kashmiri Pandits is the history of Kashmir since last more than 10000 years. They are associated with its very existence -society, culture, civilization, customs, traditions, myths and realities. A period of comparative historical validity began with the establishment of the Karkuta rule in AD 627. Avantivarman (AD 855-833) is believed to be the first Vaishnavite ruler of Kashmir. 

During the regime of Lohara dynasty, Kashmir came into contact with the Muslim invaders who attacked India. When Mahmud Ghazni annexed the Punjab, most of the tribes on the borders of Kashmir embraced Islam. At that time, the Valley was ruled by Sangram Raja (AD 1003-1028). Even after their conversion to Islam, these people continued to visit Kashmir – as traders, wanderers and even missionaries. There are historical evidences that some of these tribals settled in the Valley and made some venture into propagating their new religion.

Harsha (AD 1089-1101), was a man of extravagant habits and a jumble of contraries.
He robbed the temple treasures and melt idols of gold and silver to tide over his financial crisis. Before him two other kings, Jalauka and Kalasa, employed the same approach of plundering the temples and melting the images of gold and silver to augment their depleted treasuries. Harsha also employed Muslim generals, who are called Turushkas by Kalhana, for the first time in the history of Kashmir. Now Muslims as a class appeared in the political field and began to consolidate its roots. Bhikshachara, a descendant of Harsha, organized a cavalry force mainly consisting of the Muslims. 

During the reign of
Gopadeva (AD 1171-1180), the Brahmans consolidated their position. But
the Lavanya tribe shattered their roots once again. The Damaras,
Lavanyas and other tribes never allowed the Brahmans to monopolize. In
the reign of Jassaka (AD 1180-1198), two Brahmans – Kshuksa and Bhima,
endeavored to capture the throne. But it was the fear of Damaras or
feudal lords that prevented them. Ramadeva (AD 1252-1273) humiliated
those Brahmans who had helped him in his coronation. They conspired
against him but could not succeed. A reign of terror, loot and plunder
was let loose against them. Many Brahmans were killed and others
crushed barbarously. This was the first direct assault against them in
the history of Kashmir. To save themselves they cried “ Na Batoham” (I
am not a Bhatta). The Kashmiri Pandits are even now taunted as Bhattas
and Dalli Bhattas.
To counter the supremacy of the Brahmans, the
rulers of Kashmir encouraged the influx of Muslims into the Valley.
During the reign of Suhadeva (AD 1301-1320) many Muslim adventurers
came to Kashmir. The chief among them was a Muslim missionary- Bulbul
Shah. Two others were Shahmir from Swat and Rinchana from Tibet.
Shahmir came in AD 1313 along with his numerous relations. Suhadeva
granted him a jagir in a village near Baramulla. Ramachandra, the Prime
Minister and Commander-in-Chief of Kashmir, employed Rinchana and
granted him jagir in a village in the Lar Valley. These two adventurers
were instrumental in the establishment of the Muslim rule in Kashmir.
Another adventurer who received Suhadeva’s patronage was Lankar Chak.
a Tartar chief from Central Asia, invaded Kashmir with 60,000 strong
horsemen. Suhadeva tried to induce him to retreat by paying him off a
large sum of money. For this purpose he imposed heavy taxes even upon
the Brahmans who had never before been taxed. But Dulucha refused to
retreat and struck terror. He ravaged the Valley with fire and sword.
Monstrous miseries were inflicted upon the people including the
Brahmans. According to Baharistan – i -Shahi, “Dulucha and his soldiers
killed everyone they could find . People who had fled to the hills and
forests were pursued and captured. Men were killed, women and children
were reduced to slavery and sold to the merchants of Khita (Turkistan),
whom the invaders had brought with them. All the houses in the cities
and the villages were burnt. The invaders ate as much of the corn and
rice as they could . Whatever was left, they burnt and destroyed. In
this way the whole of the Kashmir Valley was trampled under foot”.
Suhadeva fled to Kishtwar, leaving the Kingdom to the cruel aggressors.
Dulucha stayed here for eight months and took about 50,000 Brahmans
with him as slaves. But all the troops and slaves perished while
crossing the Devsar pass. It was a terrible experience for the
legendary Kashmiri Pandits.
Dulucha went away from the Valley but
left it haunted. The cursed people had lost all faith in their ruler-
Suhadeva. Taking the advantage of the chaos and confusion, Rinchana-
the refugee from Tibet, occupied the throne with the help of some
chiefs . He killed his benefactor, Ramachandra, in the fort of Lar by
treacherous means and married his daughter, Kota Rani.
Rinchana, a
Buddhist, wanted to get initiated into the Brahmanical fold to
strengthen his political position. At that time, Shaivism was the most
extensively practised religion in the Valley. So he called Sri
Devaswami, the religious head of the Shaivas, to indoctrinate himself
into the Hindu religion. Devaswami called a secret meeting of the
prominent Pandits, who refused to accept Rinchana into Hinduism because
of his low birth. Jonaraja says,” The King asked Devaswami to initiate
him in the mantras of Shiva, but as he was Bhautta (Tibetian),
Devaswami feared that the King was unworthy of such initiation and did
not favour him”. This was a monstrous blunder on the part of Pandits,
which turned the course of history. In fact, the Brahmans were not
ready to share their privileges with an outsider. Thus deflected,
Rinchana wanted to establish a uniform faith of warring sects and
creeds in Kashmir with himself as its head. But Shahmir and Bulbul Shah
managed his conversion to Islam. Ramachandra’s son, Ravanachandra, and
many others also embraced Islam. A Muslim ruling class came into
existence. In this way the Kashmiri Pandits were responsible for the
destruction of their own ascendency and the ruin of their very
existence. They are tremendously paying for it even now.
People of
inferior origin and subordinate castes were attracted to Islam by
gradual methods. This newly established Muslim class slowly
consolidated its position and employed various methods to propagate the
new faith. However, the Brahmans put a brave front and resisted the
tide. After the death of Rinchana (AD 1326), Udyanadeva, the brother of
Suhadeva, was installed on the throne of Kashmir and Shahmir was
appointed as Commander-in-Chief.
Achala, a Turkish chief, invaded
Kashmir during the reign of Udyanadeva, laying waste the territories he
passed through. The king fled to Tibet. Kota Rani – the queen, faced
the invader, procured his death and saved the kingdom. In this
operation , Shahmir played the dominant role. Jonaraja says, “Strange
that this believer in Allah became the saviour of the people. As a
dried up river allows men to cross it and gives them shelter on its
banks, even so this believer in Allah, calm and active, protected the
terrified subjects.” Shahmir’s influence increased tremendously and he
further strengthened his position by entering into matrimonial
relations with the powerful nobles in Kashmir. A subversive struggle
was born between the tolerant Hinduism and the militant Islam.
AD 1339, after defeating Kota Rain by a foul strategem and procuring
her death, Shahmir ascended the throne of Kashmir under the name of
Sultan Shamas-ud-Din (The Light of the Religion – Islam). He got
khutaba read and the coins struck to his name. Islam became the court
religion. Shahmir became the legitimate author and architect of Muslim
rule in Kashmir. With the establishment of the new regime Muslim
missionaries, preachers, sayyids and saints penetrated into the Valley.
Sayyid Jalal-ud-Din, Sayyid Taj-ud-Din, Sayyid Hussain Simnani, Sayyid
Masud and Sayyid Yusuf came to Kashmir to avoid the intended massacre
by Timur. Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani (Shah Hamadan) entered Kashmir with
700 sayyids; and, his son, Mir Muhammad Hamadani, with 300 more. They
endured in the Valley under royal protection and disseminated the
message of Islam. This naturally caused animosity among the Brahmans
and resulted in frail rebellion during the reign of Shihab-ud-Din (AD
1354-1373). In order to break the upheaval among the Hindus and to make
them prostrate, the Sultan turned his attention towards their temples.
All the temples in Srinagar, including the one at Bijbehara, were
wrecked to terrorize the poor Kashmiri Pandits. It seems that by this
time, the sultans of Kashmir were perfectly islamized as a result of
their contacts, interactions and intercourses with the sayyids. These
sayyids came here as absconders in search of safe harbours, but
manoeuvered the events for their own cause and fanatic iconoclastic
zeal. The Hindus began to feel deserted and alienated in their own
land. To consolidate their rule, sultans institutionalized the “policy
of extermination” to eradicate all traces of Hinduism in any form.
However, the Kashmiri Pandits stuck to their own religion and
traditions, ignoring the atrocities, barbarism and cruelties of the
privileged ruling class. But there were many from other castes who,
either by conviction or in order to gain royal favour, embraced Islam.
These new converts were looked down upon by the Kashmiri Pandits as
traitorous and treacherous, with no loyalty for time-honored values.
This gave rise to a new class rivalry. Suha Bhatt, who after embracing
Islam took the name of Saif-ud-Din, became the leader of the fresh
converts during the reign of Sikandar (AD 1389-1413).
the Butshikan, was bigoted with fanatic religious zeal to spread Islam
in the entire Valley. This fanaticism was stimulated by Mir Muhammad
Hamadani. Suha Bhatt – the convert, was appointed Prime Minister by
Sikandar and both hatched a deadly conspiracy to persecute the Hindus
and enforce upon the Nizam-i-Mustaffa. Jonaraja says, “ The Sultan
forgot his kingly duties and took delight day and night in breaking
images … He broke images of Martanda, Vishaya, Ishana, Chakrabrit and
Tripureshvara …… There was no city, no town, no village, no wood where
Turushka left the temples of the gods unbroken.” According to Hassan
(History of Kashmir), “ This country possessed from the times of Hindu
rajas many temples which were like the wonders of the world. Their
workmanship was so fine and delicate that one found himself bewildered
at their sight. Sikandar, goaded by feelings of bigotry, destroyed them
and levelled them with the earth and with the material built many
mosques and khanqahs. In the first instance he turned his attention
towards the great Martand temple built by Ramdev (the temple was
rebuilt by King Lalitaditya, AD 724-760) on Mattan Kareva. For one year
he tried to demolish it, but failed. At last in sheer dismay, he dug
out stones from its base and having stored enough wood in their place,
set fire to it. The gold gilt paintings on its walls were totally
destroyed and the walls surrounding its premises were demolished. Its
ruins even now strike wonder in men’s minds. At Bijbehara, three
hundred temples including the famous Vijiveshwara temple, which was
partly damaged by Shihab-ud-Din, were destroyed. With the material of
Vijiveshwara temple, a mosque was built and on its site a khanqah,
which is even now known as Vijiveshwara Khanqah.” The stones and bricks
which once configurated a marvelous and splendid temple or monastery,
now hold up mosques. Hassan further adds, “ Sikandar meted out greatest
oppression to the Hindus. It was notified in the Valley that if a Hindu
does not become a Muslim, he must leave the country or be killed. As a
result some of the Hindus fled away, some accepted Islam and many
Brahmans consented to be killed and gave their lives. It is said that
Sikandar collected, by these methods, six maunds of sacred thread form
Hindu converts and burnt them. Mir Muhammad Hamadani, who was a witness
of all this vicious brutality, barbarism and vandalism, at last advised
him to desist from the slaughter of Brahmans and told him to impose
jazia (religious tax) instead of death upon them. All the Hindu books
of learning were collected and thrown into Dal Lake and were buried
beneath stones and earth.” Sikandar issued orders that no man should
wear the tilak mark on his forehead and no woman be allowed to perform
sati. He also insisted on breaking and melting of all the gold and
silver idols of gods and coin the metal into money. An attempt was made
to destroy the caste of the Aryan Saraswat Brahmans by force and those
who resisted were subject to heavy fines. Farishta says, “ Many of the
Brahmans, rather than abandon their religion or their county, poisoned
themselves; some emigrated from their native homes, while a few escaped
the evil of banishment by becoming Muhammedans”. To strictly enforce
the Nizam-i-Mustaffa, Sikandar established the office of
According to W.R. Lawrence, the Aryan Saraswat
Brahmans of Kashmir were given three choices-death, conversion or
exile. “Many fled, many were converted and many were killed, and it is
said that this thorough monarch (Sikandar) burnt seven maunds of sacred
threads of the murdered Brahmans”. As for the statements of Hassan and
Lawrence, six maunds of sacred threads of converts and seven maunds of
murdered Pandits were burnt. The number of people, to whom these
thirteen maunds of sacred threads belonged, might have been
tremendously colossal. A mammoth number of the Saraswat Pandits also
went into exile, causing the first disastrous mass exodus of the
community. When Suha Bhatt- the convert, came to know that many
Brahmans were leaving Kashmir, he tried to check their exodus and
ordered the frontier guards not to allow any one to cross the borders.
The unfortunate Pandits caught while crossing the border were awarded
severe punishments. Even the converts were required to pay jazia as
they were suspected of secretly clinging to their old religion.
only Sikandar- the Butshikan, but Suha Bhatta – the convert, also was
responsible for this barbarous, murderous and cruel approach towards
the mythical Kashmiri Pandits. Jonaraja says, “ Suha Bhatta- the
convert, after demolishing the temples felt the satisfaction, and with
the help of sayyids, ulema and newly converts tried to destroy the
caste of the people… the illustrious Brahmans declared that they would
die rather than lose their caste and religion, and Suha Bhatta – the
convert, subjected them to a heavy fine, jazia, because they held to
their caste and religion.” There is no parallel of this religious
persecution in the history of the subcontinent.
Ali Shah – the
tyrant (AD 1413-1430), son of Sikandar- the Butshikan, during his short
rule of six years, carried on his father’s 24-year tyrant reign with
homicides, conversions, tyranny and enforced jazia. Suha Bhatta – the
convert, who retained the prime ministership continued his earlier
crimes and atrocities against the Kashmiri Pandits. Jonaraja gives a
graphic account of the plight of the illustrious Kashmiri Pandits in
the draconian reign of Ali Shah. He says,” Suha Bhatta- the convert,
passed the limit by levying fine, jazia, on the twice – born. This
evil-minded man forbade ceremonies and processions on the new moon. He
became envious that the Brahmans who had become fearless would keep up
their caste by going over to foreign countries, he therefore ordered
posting of squads on the roads, not to allow passage to any one without
a passport. Then as the fisherman torments fish, so this low born man
tormented the twice-born in this country. The legendary Brahmans burnt
themselves in the flaming fire through fear of conversion. Some
Brahmans killed themselves by taking poison, some by the rope and
others by drowning themselves. Others again by falling from a
precipice. The country was contaminated by hatred and the king’s
favourites could not prevent one in a thousand from committing suicide
…. A multitude of celebrated Brahmans, who prided in their caste, fled
from the country through bye-roads as the main roads were closed. Even
as men depart from this world, so did the Aryan Saraswat Brahmans of
Kashmir flee to foreign countries. The difficult countries through
which they passed, the scanty food, painful illness and the torments of
hell during life time removed from the minds of the Kashmiri Pandits
the fears of hell. Oppressed by various calamities such as encounter
with the enemy, fear of snakes, fierce heat and scanty food; many
Brahmans perished on the way and thus obtained salvation.” This was the
second miserable mass exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits. Jonaraja calls it
“ Chandh-Dandh” – violent, cruel, brutal and horrible punishment, for
the abandoned and vulnerable Saraswat Brahmans of Kashmir. History
repeated itself again in AD 1989-1990.
The brutal religious
persecution of the Kashmiri Pandits has been borne testimony to by
almost all the Muslim historians. Hassan, Fauq and Nizam – ud – Din
have condemned these excesses in unscathing terms. It was the reign of
terror and homicide. The majority of the Hindus were converted forcibly
and a large number had left the Valley. Yet many more were passing
their days in the most deplorable conditions only on payment of jazia.
The allowances of the Brahman academicians were stopped to destroy the
ancient learning, literature, education, art and culture. These
enlightened intellectuals had to move from door to door for food, like
dogs. One can’t imagine a higher level of mental torture!
Brahmans, even after paying jazia, could not openly declare themselves
as Hindus nor could they apply tilak on their foreheads. Neither could
they pray in their temples or perform any religious ceremony. Even then
they did not forget their past and rich tradition. As the custodians of
their extraordinary cultural heritage, they wrote the illuminating
treatises on the stupendous Kashmir Shaivism, colossal literature,
splendid art, marvelous music, grammar and medicine.
Sultan Zainul
Abidin-the Budshah (Great Monarch), ruled Kashmir from AD 1420 to 1460.
The son of Sultan Sikandar – the Butshikan, and the brother of Sultan
Ali Shah- the tyrant, Zainul Abidin followed the policy of tolerance,
endurance, patience, sympathy and broad mindedness. He recalled the
Kashmiri Pandits who had left the Valley during the rule of Sikandar
and Ali Shah. Jazia was abolished and the Brahmans were given their
earlier positions in administration. Demolished temples were rebuilt
and new ones constructed. Two temples were built by Zainul Abidin at
Ishbar, Srinagar. The Sultan also participated in the Hindu festivals.
A large number of houses were built for the widows of the Brahmans who
had suffered during the reign of terror. Zainul Abidin stopped the
killing of cows, restricted the eating of beef and catching of fish in
the sacred springs of the Hindus. Even the personal law as laid down in
the Shastras was adopted for the Hindus. The legenday Kashmiri Pandits
were resurrected and resuscitated. Ferguson observes that indeed
history has very few examples where the policy of a father was so
completely reversed by the son. Even the Mughal monarch, Akbar – the
great , capitalized on the religious policy of Zainul Abidin. But the
conservative and dogmatic Muslims reacted very sharply to this policy
of toleration and mutual coexistence . According to Mulla Bahauddin, “
The Sultan reimported practices of infidels which had once become
But the honey-moon of the Kashmiri Pandits proved very
brief. During the reign of Haider Shah (AD 1470-1472) – the prodigal
son of the great Zainul Abidin, Kashmiri Pandits once again suffered
tremendously. Under the evil influence of Purni- the Hindu barber,
Haider Shah adopted various corrupt and cruel practices against the
Saraswat Brahmans. The repression was so terrible that the tolerant
Pandits lost their cool. Hassan says, “ the patience of the Pandits
having reached the breaking point, they rose in a body and set fire to
some mosques which were built with the material of the Hindu temples
once demolished by Sikandar. The rising was quelled by the sword; many
more Pandits were drowned in rivers; and, loot and plunder was
practiced with unbridled licence.” Srivara also illustrates the cruel
and inhuman treatment given to the mythical Kashmiri Saraswat Brahmans,
“ many Pandits struggled and threw themselves in river Vitasta to be
drowned there. The arms and noses of many people were cut off, even of
those Brahmans who were king’s servants.” Ravage and arson of the
sacred places continued during the indifferent rule of Hassan Khan (AD
1476-1487), when the real authority was with the gang of three persons-
Shams Chak, Shringhar Raina and Musa Raina. The pressure exerted on the
illustrious Kashmiri Pandits was so barbarous that, in order to save
themselves from merciless brutality, some of them gave up their caste
and screamed – “ I am not a Bhatta, I am not a Bhatta” ( I am not a
Hindu). They went in strict seclusion to avoid any argument or
Mir Shams-ud-Din Iraqi, who visited the Saffron Valley
twice in AD 1477 and 1496, was the founder of Nurbakhshiya order (Shia
sect) in Kashmir. His mission was the vigorous propagation of his
faith. So, not contented with peaceful preachings, violent methods were
employed. In this adventure , Iraqi was helped by the most dreaded
tyrant- Malik Musa Raina, a convertee, whose original name was Soma
Chandra. Not only the poor vulnerable Brahmans, but the Sunni Muslims
were also violently converted to Shia sect by murderous techniques.
This dogmatic fanaticism even crippled the Sunni ruler of Kashmir,
Fateh Shah (AD 1510-1517). A khanqah was built at Zadibal (Srinagar) by
Iraqi, which became the nucleus of Shia concentration.
Pandits suffered ferociously under the instructions of Shams-ud-Din
Iraqi and Musa Raina. About 24,000 of them were forcibly converted to
Shia sect of Islam. Iraqi had even issued orders that everyday about
1500 to 2000 Brahmans be brought to his doorsteps, remove their sacred
threads, administer Kalima to them, circumcise them and make them eat
beef. These decrees were ferociously and brutally carried out. The
Hindu religious scriptures from 7th century AD onwards and about 18
magnificent temples were destroyed, property confiscated and ladies
abused. Thousands of Brahmans killed themselves to evade this horrific
barbarism and thousands migrated to other places, resulting in their
third tragic mass exodus from the Saffron Valley of Kashmir. Those who
stayed behind were not only forced to pay jazia, but their noses and
ears were chopped off. To escape the tremendous pain and agony, they
cried. “I am not a Hindu.” After Kashmir , the next destination of
Iraqi for war against so-called infidelity was Kargil. It is now a Shia
–dominated area and there are frequent sectarian clashes between them
and the Buddhists.
In AD 1519, about ten thousand Kashmiri Pandits
died during pilgrimage to Harmukh Ganga, where they had gone to immerse
the ashes of those eight hundred Hindus who had been massacred during
Ashura a year before. Poet-historian Suka says about this cataclysm, “
Ganga was oppressed with hunger, as it was after a long time that she
had devoured bones; she surely devoured the men also who carried the
bones.” It was after a gap of many years that the people were allowed
to go on a pilgrimage to Harmukh lake, which ended in the most
devastating tragedy.
Qazi Chak, the founder of Chak rule in Kashmir
(AD 1553-1586), carried on ferocious religious policy and made
conversion of many Hindus to Shia sect of Islam. According to Suka, one
thousand cows were used to be killed everyday without any opposition
under the orders of the Chak rulers, who were Shias, just to injure the
religious sentiments of the Kashmiri Pandits. These celebrated and
highly educated Aryan Saraswat Brahmans were made the objects of
laughter and reproach. They were publically taunted, abused and
humiliated. The last Chak ruler, Yaqub Chak, had a bigoted zeal for the
propagation of Shia sect and planned mass conversion of the Hindus.
However, he could not administer his criminal designs because of the
Mughal annexation.
Akbar was tremendously influenced by the amazing
moral supremacy of the Kashmiri Pandits. Abul Fazl records in
Ain-i-Akbari, “ the most respectable class in this country (Kashmir) is
that of the Pandits, who, notwithstanding their need for freedom from
the bonds of tradition and custom, are the true worshippers of God.
They do not loosen their tongue of calumny against those not of their
faith, nor beg, nor importune. They employ themselves in planting fruit
trees and are generally a source of inspiration for others”. The great
Mughal Emperor abolished jazia and other unjust taxes imposed upon the
Hindus. He also evinced great interest in the rehabilitation of the
Pandits. Suka says, “ The Emperor announced that he would without delay
reward those who would respect the Brahmans in Kashmir and that he
would instantly pull down the houses of those who would demand the
annual tribute from them.” The greatness of Akbar lies in his
magnificent and fascinating policy of religious tolerance. Jahangir and
Shah Jahan were not so tolerant. But their religious enthusiasm cannot
be termed as fanatic. During this period, the Brahmans could perform
their religious ceremonies after paying some tribute. But the whole
scenario changed with the accession of Aurangzeb to the throne. With
his bigoted fanatic and dogmatic approach, the Kashmiri Pandits were
once again made vulnerable. Iftkar Khan, the Mughal governor of Kashmir
during the reign of Aurangzeb, brutally tyrannized over the Brahmans to
such an extent that they approached Guru Teg Bhahadur, the ninth Sikh
Guru, at Anandpur in Punjab and solicited his personal intervention
with the Emperor. This ultimately led to the Guru’s martyrdom and made
Guru Gobid Singh to create the Khalsa to fight the oppressors .
Muzaffer Khan, Nassar Khan and Ibrahim Khan were other governors of
Aurangzeb who ferociously terrorized the Kashmiri Pandits. These
celebrated scapegoats were once again forced to migrate from the land
of their origin. It was the fourth disastrous mass exodus of the Aryan
Saraswat Brahmans from Kashmir.
During the rule of later Mughals,
Kashmir witnessed the outbreak of the worst kind of religious
intolerance. In AD 1720, Mullah Abdul Nabi, also called Muhat Khan, a
non-resident Kashmiri Muslim, was appointed as Shaikhul Islam . In
order to assert his religious authority, he asked the Deputy Governor,
Mir Ahmed Khan , to start a campaign of persecution of the Kafirs
(infidels) – as the Kashmiri Pandits were called. In order to satisfy
his satanic ego, the Mulla issued six commandments:

1. No Hindu should ride a horse, nor should a Hindu wear a shoe;
2. That they should not wear Jama (Mughal costume);
3. That they should move bare arms;

4. That they should not visit any garden;
5. That they should not have tilak mark on their foreheads;
6. That their children should not receive any education.

Ahmed Khan refused to execute the mischievous decree. The Mullah then
excited his followers against the Kashmiri Pandits. He established his
seat in a mosque, assumed the duties of the administrator under the
title of Dindar Khan and let loose the reign of terror. The Hindus were
wickedly tormented, their houses burnt and property looted. Hundreds of
Brahmans were killed, prostrated, maimed and humiliated. They began to
run away in large numbers and hide themselves in mountainous terrain.
This was the fifth dreadful mass exodus of the legendary Kashmiri
Pandits from their mystic motherland. Those who remained behind lived
in the most horrific and terrible conditions generated by the Mullah
and his gang. But soon he was assassinated by his rivals and his son,
Sharif-ud-Din, become the new Shaikhul-Islam. The son improved upon the
brutal methods of his father and inflicted most barbaric, cruel and
inhuman tortures upon the vulnerable Brahmans. The plight of the
Kashmiri Pandits during this period became tremendously miserable and
The Afghan rule in Kashmir (AD 1753-1819) was a period of
cruelty, homicide and anarchy. W.R. Lawrence calls it the “reign of
brutal tyranny.” The barbarous Afghans employed every wild, inhuman,
primitive, ferocious, cruel and brutal method to suppress the Kashmiri
Brahmans. A pitcher filled with ordure was placed on the head of a
Pandit and stones were pelt on it, till it broke and the unfortunate
Brahman become wet with filth. Their brutality and atrocity crossed the
extreme limits when Hindus were tied up in grass sacks, two and two,
and drowned in the Dal Lake. The victimized Hindu were forced to flee
the country or were killed or converted to Islam. There was sixth
horrible mass exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits, to far away places like
Delhi, Allahabad, etc. Many covered the long distances on foot.

Hindu parents destroyed the beauty of their daughters by shaving their
heads or cutting their noses and ears to save them from degradation.
Any Muslim could jump on the back of a Pandit and take a ride. Mir
Hazar – an Afghan governor, used leather bags instead of grass sacks
for the drowning of Brahmans. Turbans and shoes were forbidden for
them. The Saraswat Brahmans of Kashmir were also forced to grow beards
and tilak was interdicted. The Afghans are now only remembered for
their barbarity, brutality, ferocity, tyranny and cruelty. They thought
no more of cutting of heads than of plucking a flower.
Shahmirs, Chaks, Mughals and homicidal Afghans tore the fabric of
society in Kashmir and left deep scars on it. When the Afghan
oppression became intolerable, the Pandits turned with hope to the
rising power of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. But they were suspected. The
Afghan governor, Azim Khan, confiscated their jagirs and imposed jazia
on them. Eminent Pandits were brutally killed, humiliated and their
authority was snatched. Nur Shah Diwani – a cruel Muslim official who
was in charge of revenue collection, hatched a conspiracy in league
with Azim Khan to eliminate the distinguished Kashmiri Brahmans. But
this evil manoeuvre was exposed and a galaxy of Pandits saved. Pandit
Sahajram, the Diwan, played a prominent role in the rescue operation.

Azim Khan had appointed Sukhram Safaya, Mirza Pandit and Birbal Dhar as
revenue collectors. Birbal Dhar could not collect the required amount
due to failure of crops. The atrocious Afghan governor browbeated
Pandit Birbal to make the payment of one lac rupees. Rowdy and
boisterous soldiers were send to threaten him and other Pandits.
Sensing the Afghan tsunami, distinguished Kashmiri Pandits called a
backstairs meeting in which it was resolved to invite Ranjit Singh for
the conquest of Kashmir and salvation of the Aryan Saraswat Brahmans.
Accordingly Birbal Dhar and his minor son, Raja Kak Dhar, secretly left
for Lahore with a petition signed by the prominent Kashmiri Pandits
through which as invitation was extended to Ranjit Singh to take over
the Valley. When Azim Khan came to know about these developments, he
sent his soldiers to nab Birbal Dhar and teach him a lesson. But when
these bandits met with no success, the cruel governor turned his guns
towards the wife and daughter-in-law of Birbal Dhar . Both the ladies
had taken shelter in the house of a trustworthy Muslim, Qadus Gojwari.
Azim Khan asked Pandit Basa Kak to hunt down the innocent ladies. Basa
Kak knew about the retreat of ladies but did not disclose it even after
monstrous tortures and oppressive penalties. At last his abdomen was
ripped open in the most barbarous manner and the dead body discredited
- the most unfortunate and brutal crime against humanity in the
civilized world. The poor ladies were also captured . Birbal Dhar’s
wife committed suicide by swallowing a piece of diamond. The younger
lady was violently converted to Islam and handed over to an Afghan
noble, who carried her to Kabul.
Nervous to the marrow of his
bones and crazy with rage, Azim Khan tormented all those Kashmiri
Brahmans whom he suspected to be in league with Birbal Dhar. Prominent
Pandits were detained in a concentration camp at Nishat Garden and
ferociously tortured. But on learning about the Sikh advances towards
Kashmir, he lost all nerve and solicited instruction from Pandit
Sahajram Dhar. The illustrious Pandit advised him to sent off his
ladies folk to Kabul. It was the only way to save them from the
ignominious treatment. Sahajram himself escorted the ladies to Kabul
and saved them from disastrous shame. Azim Khan himself ran away from
the Valley, leaving the administration into the hands of his brother,
Jabbar Khan. However, atrocious Afghans were crushed and the Sikhs
annexed Kashmir. Some extremist Sikhs, including Phul Singh,
endeavoured to knock down the mosque of Shah Hamadan. But celebrated
Birbal Dhar, at a considerable risk to his own life, made them desist
from this action. According to GMD Sufi, “ It is to the lasting credit
of Birbal Dhar that when a deputation of Muslims headed by Sayyid Hasan
Shah Qadiri Khanyari approached him to dissuade the Sikhs from the
destruction of the Khanqah, he moved in the matter, used his influence
and saved this historical structure from vandalism.” It reveals the
true personality and character of a distinguished Kashmiri Pandit.

During the Sikh rule in Kashmir, AD 1819-1846, the celebrated Pandits
reclaimed their past glory and magnificence. They claimed back the
prominent places of trust and honour. Cow slaughter was banned, temples
renovated and the earlier wrongs rectified. The legendary Kashmiri
Pandits received a healing touch after centuries of barbarity, ferocity
and tyranny. But by the time, the Sikhs conquered Kashmir in AD 1819,
about nine-tenths of the population had become the followers of Islam.
Out of the 10% Hindu population, a large number had migrated to the
Punjab and other provinces. The Pandits in general belonged to the
middle class while the upper and lower classes were dominated by the
With the formation of Jammu and Kashmir State; and,
establishment of the Dogra rule in 1846, Kashmiri Pandits were
imperceptibly elbowed to the background. Administrators and officials
were deputed from Jammu region. Though they enjoyed comprehensive
religious freedom and social emancipation, political rights of the
Kashmiri Brahmans were confined. On certain occasions, they even became
victims of intrigue and suspicions. The vicious communal forces also
turned their wrath against them. During the communal disturbances of
July 1931, shops and houses belonging to the Kashmiri Brahmans were not
only looted but also burnt. Three innocent Hindus lost their lives.
This communalism in the state politics aggravated and magnified with
the passage of time . It was fed for years with vicious communal
propaganda and brainwashing.

After independence and accession of Jammu & Kashmir state to India, Kashmiri Pandits were pushed back to the barbarous Afghan era. They were given the sugarcoated dozes of poisonous toxics. Article 370 of Indian constitution just reduced them to cipher and liquidated their population. Under the pretext of economic reforms, their jagirs were confiscated and distributed among the Muslim peasants. The administration of Shaikh Abdullah adopted malicious and pernicious approach towards the Saraswat Brahmans of Kashmir. They were taunted on one excuse or the other. Hindu temples were desecrated, looted and plundered. Minor girls of the community were forced to embrace Islam and marry the Muslim youth.

Shaikh Abdullah tried to create “ Shaikhdom” for his dynastic rule in Kashmir. But his dreams were shattered when he was arrested in 1953 for anti-national activities. In 1958, he was released but detained again after three months under the Kashmir conspiracy case. However, the case was withdrawn in 1964 because of political reasons. But he was arrested again in May 1965 for his subversive activities and released in January
1968. Again, in January 1971, a ban was imposed forbidding him to enter the Jammu Kashmir state. This restriction was lifted in 1972.

During 1953-1974 Shaikh Abdullah characterized India as an imperialist power endeavouring to subjugate the people of Kashmir. He asserted that the accession of Kashmir with India was his greatest blunder for which
history will never forgive him. He also demanded the right of self determination for the people of Muslim – dominated Kashmir, but ignored the Hindu- dominated Jammu and Buddhist- dominated Ladakh regions. The
Shaikh advocated plebiscite and unconditional withdrawal of Indian army from the Saffron Valley. He made emotional solicitations that after death his body should not be buried in the subjugated Valley, but immersed into the sacred waters of Arabian sea. However, today his magnificent tomb stands on the banks of beautiful Dal Lake in Srinagar and is guarded by the Indian security personnel. By such gratuitous and conflicting statements, his secular credentials evaporated into thin air. The prospect of disloyalty and sedition began to haunt the Saffron Valley. Kashmiriyat switched over to political vandalism and bigoted fundamentalism. Shaikh Abdullah desperately held Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, a Kashmiri Pandit, responsible for the shattering of his malevolent dreams in 1953.

The Shaikh ambiguously decided to retaliate against the whole Pandit community in Kashmir. In vindictiveness, he instigated his associated that while making a choice between a Kashmiri Pandit and dreaded cobra, kill the Pandit first. A vicious campaign of terror was launched against the Aryan Saraswat Brahmans of Kashmir. They were refused entry to government jobs and institutions of higher learning. Besides hurling strong statement
against the Government of India and Kashmiri Pandits, the Shaikh derided that the whole lot of Indian army cannot save the Hindus in Kashmir against the malevolence of Muslims. The very existence of Kashmiri Pandits was ignored during their political adventurism. They were made to pay for every move on the political chessboard in Kashmir because they represented the pseudo-secularism, incognito- socialism and flowering- democracy of India.

But then the whole political scenario in Kashmir took a dramatic turn in 1974, when Indira-Shaikh accord was signed by virtue of which the Shaikh became the Chief Minister of the State after the lapse of 22 years. Ignoring the great expectations he had created among the people in Kashmir and his vigorous campaign for plebiscite, the sophist Shaikh began to speak the language of Indian nationalism, democracy, socialism and secularism. The slogans of plebiscite, self-determination and independent Kashmir melted away. But the Hate- India virus, infused by him into the blood of the Muslim youth in Kashmir, was exploited by other corrupt self-styled politicians for their own interests from time to time. A vacuum was created because the people were betrayed disillusioned, politically raped and left in wilderness by their own leaders.

From 1947-1986 about four lac Kashmiri Pandits silently migrated from Kashmir. Hypocritical atrocities and criminal ignorances of political leaders were responsible for these development. Pakistan, to avenge the defeat of Bangladesh, blatantly sponsored the violence and terrorism in the Valley, resulting in the turmoil of 1989-90.

The then governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Jagmohan, wrote a detailed letter to the former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi , on April 21,1990, endorsing the alarming signals earliest transmitted by the intelligence agencies. But cowardly Indian leadership was still unconcerned.

“Aay Zalimu, Aay Kafiroo,
Kashmir Hamara Choudh Dou”

“Bharat Kay Aiwanu Ko
Aag Lagado, Aag Lagado”

The final assault on the Kashmiri Pandits started with these slogans. Barbarous terrorists from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Sudan and even Saudi Arabia penetrated into the Saffron Valley. Brutal, wild and barbarous techniques were employed to hound and kill the Aryan Saraswat Brahmans of Kashmir. Even wicked Afghans will be feeling sorry in their graves for the brutal holocaust of the legendary Kashmiri Pandits.

The barbarous murder of hundreds of innocent Brahmans of Kashmir caused their seventh and final agonizing mass exodus from the Valley. This was the final knock down of ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Kashmiri
Pandits. The mass massacres at Sangrampora (1997), Udhampore (1997), Prankot (1998), Wandhama (1998) and Nadimarg (2003) were the follow up cleansing operations. Pandits in Kashmir dwindled from 10% in 1947 to fewer than 5% in 1989 and to less than 1% today. In the barbarous turmoil about 60,000 persons including the Kashmiri Pandits, nationalistic Muslims and Sikhs have been killed; besides, thousands of security personnel massacured. The pretended world bodies, contaminated human rights organizations, pseudo-secularists, self-styled leaders, so-called policy makers, tainted political parties and slack bureaucracy have failed to express serious concern at this great human tragedy.

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