On the Sidelines of Kashmir History

By K.N. Pandita

Mr. Jagmohan’s write – up (Kashmir’s new danger April 12, 2007) asks for some vital clarifications. A letter will not do, hence a full write-up.

Shri Jagmohan is one most outstanding authority on contemporary Kashmir essentially first by virtue of being an astute scholar, and secondly having headed the J&K State twice, once in normal times and the next at a crucial time when armed insurgency broke out. Notwithstanding these unique qualifications, some basics of Kashmir history and psyche appear to have remained obscure to his searching eye.

In the first place it is a big fallacy to think that Kashmir had a tolerant Islam. It was never so. Muslim historians, pseudo-secular Hindus and some self-styled visionaries manipulated it. Works of Kashmiri Persian histories like Baharistan-i-Shahi (A.D. 1622) and Tohfatu’l-Ahbab (closing years of 16th century) and Tarikh-i-Kashmir of Peerzada Ghulam Hasan have remained inaccessible to most of Kashmir commentators including perhaps Jagmohan. These and other casual Persian histories give an insight into atrocities perpetrated on the Kashmiri Hindus from A.D 1339 to the end of the Pathan rule in circa A.D. 1797. For a long period of over four hundred years, Kashmiri Hindus have borne untold atrocities, forced conversion and circumcision and persecution at the hands of the local Muslim satraps, warlords and their engines of oppression. Never did a single Kashmri Muslim stand up to the tyrannical and bigoted rulers and goons demanding justice to the Hindu population.

What is termed as “tolerant Islam” of Kashmir, is actually the culture of forced tolerance, which the powerful and dominating Dogra regimes under Gulab Singh and Ranbir Singh (A.D. 1840 to 1897) enforced in the State through its muscle power. The Dogras understood well that the Kashmiris had to be disarmed of their strong and special weapon – – hypocrisy. From A.D. 1339 to 1947, Kashmiri Hindus have been spared the tyranny and persecution for just one hundred years of Dogra rule, A.D. 1846 to 1947. The ushering in of populist majority rule in 1947 in Kashmir on the foundation of forty-year long hate–Dogra (read Hindu) movement surreptitiously called “freedom movement” was the beginning of the destruction of the Pandit minority. The Constitution of India that accorded special status to the State of Jammu and Kashmir including Article 370, State Constitution and Flag, snatched away from the Pandit minority all that it gave to the Muslim majority. Independence opened the floodgate of anti-Pandit crusade, which finally culminated in 1990.

The story of atrocities, which Kashmiris perpetrated on the local Hindu and Sikh population in district Baramulla during the 15-day seizure by the Pakistani tribal hordes in Oct-Nov 1947 has been most discreetly, shrewdly and deftly made to submerge under the façade of Abdullah’s sham slogan of Hindu-Muslim-Sikh ittehad (unity). An independent agency has, during last two years, conducted a painstaking and in-depth research in these atrocities by interviewing the still surviving persons of 1947 tribal invasion in the then district of Baramulla. He has collected horrendous and hair – raising stories of massacre, rape, loot, arson, plunder, desecration of shrines and vandalising of temples all conducted by the locals with the minimal support of the armed tribesmen. The study has so far filled nearly a thousand pages of the draft manuscript as it deals with almost each village in Baramulla district where there was a sprinkling of Hindu households. The researcher has interviewed each family in fullest possible detail.

It is stated by the NC leaders that after repulsing the invaders from Baramulla in 1947, they exhorted the locals to dump on the roadside all the property they had looted from the Hindu households and that as a result, hundreds of dumps were raised and the looted property was retrieved and returned to the Pandits after identification. What a canard and what a white lie.? The first question is that NC accepts that hundreds of dumps were raised of looted Hindu property. This belies their claim that there was harmony between the two communities. Secondly, the heaps of retrieved goods that are so proudly stated, were nothing but heaps of empty cardboards, broken pieces of furniture, broken utensils, worn out rugs and mats, and of course huge quantities of books, which did not interest the looters at all. Therefore to claim that NC maintained communal harmony is a blatant canard and classical hypocrisy. Had just a dozen of tribesmen succeeded in entering the peripheries of the city of Srinagar, the entire Muslim population would have risen in their support as happened in Uri, Bonyar, Narwaw, Baramulla, Delina, Sopor, Handwara,, Langet, Bandipore, Pattan, Magam and Tangmarag towns. What is more interesting is that right from those days down to present day, which is a span of over 60 years, the leading national political party, Congress, and more importantly, the Leftists have never tired of eulogising NC and its leadership for maintaining so-called “communal harmony” during the raid on Kashmir.

As regards Nund Rishi of whom Jagmohan speaks so spiritedly, has anybody outside the Kashmir Islamic fold ever verified whether there was a personality in Kashmir that historically did exist in the shape and form in which his fans present him today? No never. Yes we have the Rishi Nameh, a short versified biography of the Rishis of Kashmir published by the Kashmir Cultural Academy. And what does it say about Nun Rishi? Anybody with even an elementary knowledge of Persian will shudder after reading the adventures of Nun Rishi Islamised as Shaykh Nuru’d-Din with the sobriquet of “Noorani” – – the enlightened. The biographer, out of his great devotion describes in full detail how Nund Rishi, accompanied by his musclemen, attacked the temple at Bumzov near Mattan, abused the Hindu chief priest, challenged him to miracles, threw cow hide on his idols, evicted him and finally succeeded in converting him to Islam. This activity resulted in demolishing the temple and erection of a mosque at the site. If this is the work of Rishis, and if this is for what Nund Rishi has to be praised and eulogised, I have nothing to say to Shri Jagmohan.

The events of 1990 resulting in the extirpation of the Pandit community from their land of birth, looting of their left-behind properties and forcible occupation of their assets, and declaring them as absconders (mufroor) in revenue records do not at all endorse the views of Jagmohan that there was harmony and that the Islam of Kashmir was anyway different from Islam in other parts of the non- Arab world.

The sugar – coated pills called “Kashmiriyat” or “moderate and tolerant Islam of Kashmir” etc. have been coined not by the Kashmiris but by the idealists (trishunka) who have all along tried to project Kashmir as India’s secularist model, and, ironically, at the cost of the minuscule Pandit religious minority.

Jagmohan has tried to evoke Mufti Saeed’s sense of responsibility by helping him remind his days as India’s Home Minister. It would have been in fitness of things if Jagmohan had also asked the Mufti to demand an enquiry into the attacks on Pandits in Anantnag district in 1986 when the Mufti was Congress chief. Such a demand becomes more relevant when even today fingers are pointing towards the Mufti. Indeed nobody knows better than Jagmohan the untold ins and outs of that shameful episode.

I have written this rejoinder only to set the historical rencored right. It is the responsibility of honest and impartial historians to state the facts of history.

(The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University, Srinagar).

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