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The octa-exoduses of Kashmiri Pandits

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vasureddy
vasureddy
Dr. Vasu reddy graduated MBBS from kurnool medical college , post graduation from All India institute of medical sciences, New Delhi and surgical oncology from kidwai memorial institute of oncology. He has good knowledge in history, economics and politics.

Kashmir is unique in its history and geography. It was an epicentre of Hinduism and Indus valley civilization. Kalhana, a Kashmiri historian in the 12th century CE described the history of Kashmir since 2449 BCE in his legendary chronicle (written in 12th century CE)– Raja Tarangini – (“the river of kings”) which consists of 7826 verses divided into eight books called Tarangas. He described about and wrote about the great king Lalitaditya Muktapida (697-733 CE) of Karkota empire, whose kingdom extended from Caspian sea (Sea of Kashyapa) till Pragajyotisha (Assam) in the east and Rashtrakutas (Deccan) in South. Kashmir was a safe place for Buddhists, Saraswats and Pandits until it was invaded by Muslims. Its civilization and culture flourished and people used to live in harmony.

King Lalitaditya successfully stood and prevented the invasion from Arab raider Junaid and later Hisham ibn’ Amar al-Taghlibi. The Utpala, Karkota and Lohara dynasties ruled predominantly between 1300- 1400 CE. There was instability during the Karkota dynasty especially during the period 1315- 1339 CE. Suhadeva (1301-20), the king of Lohara dynasty  and King Ramachandra both hindu rulers gave shelter to Shah Mir from swat valley, Rinchen from Ladakh (Buddhist) and Bulbul shah (a Turkistani sufi). Rinchen under the influence of Shah Mir and Bulbul Shah, murdered King Ramachandra, converted himself to Islam (renamed himself as Sultan Sadruddin) and also forcefully converted 10,000 brahmins to Islam. Hence Rinchan became the first muslim ruler of Kashmir. Shah Mir (1339-42) established Islamic rule under the title Sultan Shamsudin (The light of Religion) and conducted forceful conversions in Kashmir. He established Shah Mir dynasty which extended from 1339-1561).

Shah Mir was succeeded by Shihab-ud-Bin and  Qutub-ud-Bin (1373-1389) who proselytized the valley forcefully. But most of them used to follow hindu culture though they were muslims until Sufi Mir  Syed Ali  Hamadani came to Kashmir from Hamadan (Ecbatana of Herodotus) in Iran. The sufis advised the Sultans to make a strict Sharia /Islamic law and discriminate against non muslims. With this Sultan Qutub ud bin brought stricter rigid Islamic laws introduced forced conversions, destroyed temples or converted them to Islamic mouments.

Dr. Farooq Peer, a noted Kashmiri academician writes about sufi Mir  syed Ali Hamadani as ,

“The Valley of Kashmir is indebted to the great saint for cleansing it from idol worship and blessing it with the gift of Islam.”

The First Exodus (1389-1413- Shah Mir Dynasty):

With strong influence of Sufi Syed Hamadani, Sikandar Shah (Sikandar Butshikan) (1389-1413) the great grandson of Shah Mir and eldest son of Qutub Ud Bin along with Sufi Mir Mohammad (Amir Sayyid Muhammad, Son of Mir Syed Ali), turned out to be biggest iconoclasts. According to writings of Jonaraja, a Kashmiri historian, and excerpts from Baharistan-i-shahi (chronicle written by anonymous author about medevial Kashmir,1614) and Tohfatu’l-Ahbab (written by Muhammad Ali Kashmiri in Farsi,1642)   Sikandar  had cleansed Kashmir of Hindus and non muslims. Many Hindu temples including Martand temple (Sun God), Vijayesvara (Shiva), Chakradhara (Visnu), Suresvari (?), Varaha (Visnu), and Tripuresvara (?), Parihaspore, Tarapitha temples at Iskander Pora, and Maha Shri Temple were destroyed. In this way he turned about the idol breaker and also started collecting Jizya (a tax from non-Muslims) and constructed mosques and Khanqas (places of gatherings of Sufi brotherhood). Those who did not convert were killed and many fleed. More than 1 lakh Kashmiri pandits were drowned near Rainawari in Srinagar in a lake and this place now almost forgotten is called as Bhatta Mazaar (the graveyard of Kashmiri Pandits).

Jonaraja writes in his Dwithiya Rajatarangini (a continuation of Kalhanas Rajatarangini)

“Crowds of Hindus ran away in different directions through by-passes; their social life was totally disrupted, their life became miserable with hunger and fatigue; many died in scorching heat; many got emaciated due to under-nourishment; many lived on alms in villages enroute to the provinces in India; some disguised as Muslims roamed about the country searching their distressed families; their means of livelihood were snatched from them to prevent their education and break their morale; the Hindus rolled out their tongues like dogs searching dog’s morsel at every door”.

“Sultan Sikandar was constantly busy annihilating the infidels and destroyed most of the temples…,” records Haidar Malik Chadurah (soldier during the period of 4th Moghul emperor Jahangir).

The Second exodus – (1413-1418 ):

After the death of Sikandar due to a prolonged bed ridden illness with elephantiasis, Kashmir rule  was followed by a terrible rule of Sikandar’s son Ali Shah. Ali Shah’s rule was gruesome. Apart from collecting Jizyas, Hindus were barred from following their customs like applying  tilak and were even prevented from fleeing Kashmir by closing the routes and were either forcefully converted or killed.

The Third exodus (Shah Mir Dynasty -1470-1540):

After the death of Ali shah, there was a short period of tolerant rule by Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin (1418-1470), son of Sikandar Shah, the 8th sultan of Kashmir. Under the influence of his stepmother Shobha, Saints Lalleshwari and Nund Rishi, reversed many policies of previous rulers, constructed temples, translated  Mahabharata and Rajatarangini in Persia. Because of his rule, he was called Bodh Shah (Great King). He was succeded by his son Hyder Shah (1470-72 CE) who committed atrocities against Hindus forcing them to kill themselves by jumping into Vitasta/Vyath (Jhelum) river. Hasan Khan (son of Hyder Shah)  along with Shamas Chak, Shringar Raina and Musa Raina (Shias) continued the genocide of Hindus. Shia dynasty was established  by Mir Shams-ud-Din Iraqi (1440-1515 CE), who came from Iraq. In a book Tarikh-i-Hasan written by Ghulam Hasan Khuihami “twenty-four thousand Hindu families were converted to Iraqi’s faith by force and compulsion”. During a holy festival of Ashura (Muharam 1518 CE) 700-800 non Muslims were killed. Shias were intolerant to sunnis also and even they were converted to Shia faith. The chak dynasty was the first Shia dynasty that ruled Kashmir. Chak rule extended from 1553-1586 CE.

In the chronicle Baharistan-i-Shahi its written,

“All traces of infidelity and idol worship were replaced by Islamic symbols and the infidels and holy thread wearers of Kashmir were converted to Islam.”

With these continuous fanatic ways, persecution of Hindus continued and lead to 3rd exodus from Kashmir.

The Fourth Exodus (1586-1720 CE):

Mughal general Mirza Hyder Dhughlat (1540-1551 CE)  attacked  on the name of Humayun and ruled Kashmir. Later on Mughals took over and their reign extended from 1586-1752CE. Akbar rule was tolerant and he abolished Jaziyas and granted villages to Hindus. But later rulers Jahangir and Shahjahan continued the atrocities on Hindu ceremonies, temples and people.

A famous French historian Francois Bernier wrote – “The doors and pillars were found in some of the idol temples demolished by Shah-Jehan and it is impossible to estimate their value.”

Under the rule of Aurangazed ( 1658-1707) the fourth exodus occurred where the Jizya tax was reintroduced, women were made to wear compulsory salwars, tilak over forehead was forbidden. Iftkar khan , the governor of Aurangazeb played a vital role in the genocide and Kashmiri pandits requested Guru tej Bahadur from Punjab, the ninth guru to protect them from his atrocities.

The Fifth Exodus (1720):

During the late Moghul rule, Muhat Khan was appointed as Sheikh-ul-Islam or the superior authority of Islam of Kashmir (1720 CE).  Six commandments were amended against the Kafirs or people who don’t follow Islam

1.No Hindu should ride a horse; or wear shoes.

2. Should not wear Jama (Mughal style clothing).

3. Should not move out with their arms covered.

4. Shall not visit any garden.

5. Are not permitted to have a tilak mark on their foreheads.

6. Their children should not be educated.

Not only the Hindus but the Shia muslims were also persecuted under his rule.

The Sixth Exodus(1753-1819):

After the Moghul rule, the Afghans attacked Kashmir and Afghan rule came into existence. The afghan rule extended for 66 years (1753-1819 CE) and 28 pathan governors and deputy governors ruled Kashmir. Abdullah Khan Ishaq Aqasi was the first governor of Kashmir.

W.R. Lawrence called this as “reign of brutal tyranny.” Hindus used to disfigure their daughters by cutting their nose, ears and tonsuring them to protect from the afghan rulers. Hindus were packed and soaked into river Jhelum and killed which led to mass exodus to different parts of North India.

Later Sikh rule came to Kashmir from 1819-1846 CE, a time period by which 90% of population had already embraced Islam or left the valley with only 10% Hindus remaining in the valley. Later Dogra rule came into existence from 1846.

The Seventh Exodus (1931-1980):

At the time of Sikh and Dogra rule, Hindus in Kashmir led a peaceful life but it was transient until the Islamic leaders took over their role in Kashmir and Hindus were persecuted again. During the rule of Dogra dynasty, secularism flourished where in Dogra ruler Maharaja Ranbir singh (1856-1885) ruled the valley with peace and he ruled in lines of King Zain-ul-Abidin and Akbar and Avantivarman (king of Utpala dynasty who ruled between 855-883 CE) . During his rule Pandits and Maulvis were encouraged and various religious books nearly 5000  were translated to various languages. Followed by Ranjit Singh, Maharaja Pratap Singh’s rule also continued in the same lines until 1931 , when the first communal violence occurred in the valley.

During the prominence of Sheik Abdullah, a “SheikRaj” remained in the valley. On June, 21, 1931, Sheikh abdulla led YMMA (Young Man’s Muslim Association) held a meeting against Maharaja at Khanqah-i-mohalla. During the speech, Abdul Qadeer Khan raised  proislamic voice and urged people to break down into Maharaja’s Palace which led to his arrest under sedition charges. A widespread agitation was raised against the arrest of Abdul Qadeer arrest under the leadership of Sheik Abdullah against Maharaja Hari Singh, successor of Maharaja Pratap Singh. Sheik Abdullah started Kashmir Muslim conference initially and raised slogan “Quit Kashmir” against the Maharaja in May, 1946  bringing all people of  a religion together in pushing out even the king from the valley.  On 26th October, 1947 Maharaja Hari singh signed “Instrument of accession” and with undue pressure Shaikh Abdullah was made the prime minister of Kashmir. Effective power rested with Shaikh Abdullah and an army was made with the local people called as Militia.

The Maharaja was exiled from the valley to Bombay on 20th June, 1949. Unlike other 560 plus princely states, Covenants of Merger and Merger Agreements were not signed with the Maharaja. Dr. B R Ambedkar could recognize the tactics of Sheikh Abdullah about the special status for Jammu and Kashmir—and he said:

“You want India to defend Kashmir, feed its people, give Kashmiri’s equal rights all over India. But you want to deny India and Indians all rights in Kashmir. I am a Law Minister of India, I cannot be a party to such a betrayal of national interests.” To promote partitionism he often advocated not to take paddy from India, Instead eat potatoes produced in Kashmir and hence he is often called as “ Aaloo Bab”.

Though Shaik Abdullah was arrested a couple of times, his unconditional motivation to isolate Muslims in the valley from India continued and Hindus faced persecution many a times until his death. People were brainwashed and a conspiracy continued with an aim to establish an Islamic republic of Kashmir.  Indira- Shaikh accord was signed in 1974, during which period the imperialistic mentality of the rulers of Kashmir continued and the Indian government remained a mute spectator.

The eighth exodus (1980-2019)

During the period of 1947-1986, its expected nearly 4 lakh Hindus were exiled from the valley. During 1986, Mufti Syed was thought to have played a role in riots by promoting cow slaughter and destroying temple at Anantnnag. Pakistan, after its humiliating defeat in 1971 war, promoted terrorism in Valley and various organizations were formed and people induced into them and separations of Kashmir. Indian national flag was burnt , Pakistan flag was hoisted, pro-Pakistan slogans raised. Celebrations continued during an incidence promoting  release of daughter of Mufti Syed in exchange of 5 terrorists in 1989. Police protection was needed to hoist tricolour at Ganpathyar temple in Srinagar and the exodus of Kashmiri Hindus continued. During 1989-1990, nearly 25,000 Kashmiri youth were trained as Jihadis and Kashmiri Hindus and non Muslims were considered as Kafirs and were targeted. Their Lands were grabbed, lives threatened and people were terrorized under the support of ISI.

On January 4, 1990 , local news papers – Aftab and Al safa released a public statement asking Kashmiri Pandits to leave the valley.

Press release of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) organization  published in the morning edition of Urdu Daily ‘Aftab’ of April, 01, 1990.

‘Aim of the present struggle is the supremacy of Islam in Kashmir, in all walks of life and nothing else. Any one who puts a hurdle in our way will be annihilated’

Head lines of Urdu Daily, Al Safa, of April, 14, 1990.

‘Kashmiri Pandits responsible for duress against Muslims should leave the Valley within two days’.

Wall posters indicating “ Islamic republic of Kashmir” were found everywhere in the valley.

Various slogans  raised were:

“Zalimo, O Kafiro, Kashmir harmara chod do”.

Merciless, O! Kafirs leave our Kashmir)

“Kashmir mein agar rehna hai, Allah-ho-Akbar kahna hoga”

(Any one wanting to live in Kashmir will have to convert to Islam)

La Sharqia la gharbia, Islamia! Islamia!

From East to West, there will be only Islam

“Musalmano jago, Kafiro bhago”,

(O! Muslims, Arise, O! Kafirs, scoot)

“Islam hamara maqsad hai, Quran hamara dastur hai, jehad hamara Rasta hai”

(Islam is our objective, Q’uran is our constitution, Jehad is our way of our life)

“Kashmir banega Pakistan”

(Kashmir will become Pakistan)

“Kashmir banao Pakistan, Bataw varaie, Batneiw saan”

(We will turn Kashmir into Pakistan alongwith Kashmiri Pandit women, but without their men folk)

“Pakistan se kya Rishta? La Ilah-e- Illalah”

(Islam defines our relationship with Pakistan)

Dil mein rakho Allah ka khauf; Hath mein rakho Kalashnikov.

(With fear of Allah ruling your hearts, wield a Kalashnikov)

“Yahan kya chalega, Nizam-e- Mustafa”

(We want to be ruled under Shari’ah)

“People’s League ka kya paigam, Fateh, Azadi aur Islam”

(“What is the message of People’s League? Victory, Freedom and Islam.”)

Ralive, Tsaliv ya Galive (either convert to Islam, leave the land, or die).

Former Director of J&K Police, Sri M.M.Khajooria writes-

“Mischief of the summer of 1989 started with serving notice to the prominent members of the minority community to quit Kashmir. The letter said, ‘We order you to leave Kashmir immediately, otherwise your children will be harmed. We are not scaring you but this land is only for Muslims, and is the land of Allah. Sikhs and Hindus cannot stay here.’ The threatening note ended with a warning, ‘If you do not obey, we will start with your children. Kashmir Liberation Zindabad.’”

Then Governor Jagmohan, wrote a detailed letter on the atrocities to the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1990 but his efforts went in vain. With brutality continuing, eyes gouged out, bodies floating in jhelum river, bodies hanged to trees, women raped, tortured and killed, body parts of many dismantled, battered faces, not even the children left, many missing, burnt alive, grenades thrown, bullets punched into the bodies , the massacre and genocide continued with no reaction from central government, state government watching grotesque proceedings, silenced human right organisations and international countries- the Kashmiri pandits cried for help with none responding hugged each other, hearts thumping with fear, nights to pass on became refuges in their own place and nation with horrified memories in brains and scars left on hearts.   

By the end of year 1990, around 3,50,000 Kashmiri Pandits were exiled from the valley as they remained as refugees in Jammu and elsewhere and nearly 45,000 people were killed since then. The massacres continued with Sangrampora in 1993, Udhampore in 1997, Prankot in 1998, Wandhama in 1998(23 Kashmiri pandits killed), Nandimarg in 2003 (24 kashmiri pandits shot dead). With these continuous atrocities and ongoing genocide on Kashmiri Pandits, their number waned from 10% in 1947 to 5% in 1986 and may be less than 1% now. But now with article 370 abrogation, hope is back into the lives and the present government is making paths for rehabilitating Kashmiri pandits to their ancestral places and getting back their properties. A route map is being made to control the terrorism first and reinstate Kashmiri pandits to their parental locations.

Kalhan, writes about Kashmir as :

“It is a country where the sun shines mildly, being the place created by Rishi Kashyap, for his glory – big and lofty houses, learning, saffron, icy cool water and grapes rare in Heaven are plentiful here – Kailash is the best place in the three worlds (Tri-lok), Himalayas the best place in Kailash, and Kashmir the best place in Himalayas.”

The saga will not be complete until every Kashmiri pandits be relocated to their place and rehabilitated with courage filled  in  their hearts and their freedom given back.

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vasureddy
vasureddy
Dr. Vasu reddy graduated MBBS from kurnool medical college , post graduation from All India institute of medical sciences, New Delhi and surgical oncology from kidwai memorial institute of oncology. He has good knowledge in history, economics and politics.
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