Category Archives: genocide

The Night-A story of a Kashmiri Hindu.

It was jan 1998. Veenaji was in the Kitchen. Her Husband Roshanlal was reading the newspaper in the living/Drawing room of their cramped two-room Govt. Quarters at Tope Sherkhanian. She could hear the flipping  sound, when her Husband turned the leaf of the Newspaper. She was thinking about her children, who were perusing   ‘B.E’ in Pune. A knock at the Door was heard clearly in the backdrop of the silence of the Quarter. Roshanlal stood up and opened the Door. A man was standing outside.

“Namaskar Roshanlalji. I am Irfaan. Your neighbor from Banamohallah”. Veenaji too had heard the’ knock’, she came out from the Kitchen out of curiosity. Her Husband, greeted Irfaan. “Come inside. Why are you standing there!  “. Pointing towards Veenaji, Roshanlal asked Veenaji, “Did you recognize him?” The face looked familiar, But She could not recognize him. Irfaan, it seemed understood the confusion of Veenaji. “I am the Son of Khatijah. Remember my Mother! “.  Veenaji’s face lit with happiness.“Yes. I remember her. How is she?” asked Veenaji. “ She died last year because of Heart Failure.” Said Irfaan with regret. She was saddened to hear what he said. “I am so sorry. Please have a seat. I will make tea for both of you.” She went back to the Kitchen.

Irfaan had come to Roshanlal to persuade him to sell his share of  ancestral house. Veenaji was listening to them, while she started making  tea . The memories of her last visit to Kashmir were still vivid. She recalled how she along with her Husband Roshan Lal and their two  Children , a Son-Sachin and Daughter- Meenakshi had moved to Jammu .Her Husband was working in the Govt.Secretariat. They used to live in the Govt. Quarters Tope Sherkhanian. They had moved to jammu in Dec-1989.

J&K has two capitals, i.e, summer capital-Srinagar and winter capital-Jammu. Every year,In winters, the employees of the Govt. Secretariat would move to Jammu for 6 months ; and move back to Srinagar in summers for rest of the 6 months. This custom was/is in vogue since the times of Dogra Rulers . This was/is termed as “Durbaar Move”.

veenaji lit the Gas Stove. She put some milk, sugar and water in an utensil and placed it on the stove.  She looked through the Kitchen Window, although she was not looking at anything, But her past.

The memories of the past started flashing in front of her eyes.

Veenaji and her family loved the winters of Jammu. It would be sunny and warm in Jammu, compared to the cold and gloomy weather of the Srinagar winters. But that year,in 1989-90, It was different. In spite of the warm and sunny weather, she would occasionally feel the shivers. Not because of the weather, but because , on T.V and Radio, she would listen to the news . The merciless killing of the Kashmiri Pandits had started.

And then came the horrendous macabre night of 19 jan 1990.And everything changed after that.

In the last week of Jan 1990, that late night, Her elder Brother Makhan lal along with his family landed at their residence in Jammu. He had come by a taxi. His old mother –Amaji, wife-Lalitaji and two sons Rakesh and Sunil too had come.

As soon as they arrived at their residence, Lalitaji hugged tightly Veenaji and started crying. “it is only by God’s grace that we have reached here safely.” She complained amidst sobs . Amaji tried to console her as she said, “Lalitaji, don’t be a weakling. Be bold. You have yet to face the hardships of life. Be always grateful to God.”

They stayed with Veenaji for some days with this hope that the violence unleashed by the terrorists will be abated soon. But  the destiny of Kashmir had its own plans. After a month, They realized that it might take a long time before they would return back to Kashmir. It was decided by the two families that, they would enroll their children in Jammu for studies , as it was safe.

Since Veenaji and her Family didn’t knew that the situation would deteriorate so much in Kashmir; hence when they had moved to Jammu on the eve of annual “Darbaar move”, they had not taken any documents such as the Mark sheets and other educational documents related to the education of their children. Without these papers, it would be very difficult to get the admissions in the Schools and Colleges. Also, She wanted to get  the documents related to banks such as FD, Saving a/c etc.

Somewhere in  March 1990, She decided to go back to her residence at “Bana Mohallah” , Habbakadal, Kashmir.It was decided that Her sister-in-law lalitaji too would accompany her. In fact Lalitaji had volunteered herself to accompany her. The Males of the House were barred to go to Kashmir as they were more prone to be Shot by the Militants.

They flew to Srinagar and  landed at the Airport by 3-4 P.m. It took them almost 4 hrs. to reach their house at Bana Mohallah. The lanes and by-lanes were muddy as it had rained the previous night. Some Muslim neighbors , who saw them entering their Mohallah, murmured something. By their Gaze , it looked  as if they didn’t wanted them to be there. As they were about to enter their House, Khatijah-the neighbor and friend of Veenaji , came from nowhere and greeted her with a Broad smile. “How are you veenaji. I missed you. Now since Durbaar move will be over shortly,   you be staying  in Kashmir till November!” she exclaimed.  Veenaji  warmly asserted “No, I will stay here for a few days and rejoin my family. We will come back in Mid-April.” She half-lied.  Veenaji knew that she will leave Kashmir tomorrow for Jammu and may not come back next month.

“Then stay put for the night at my house. The curfew will be imposed very soon and you will not get Rice and any other food-item after 15 mintes ”  Pleaded Khatijah.  “ I have brought some rice and Dried-vegetables with me. Thanks .” Veenaji  kindly declined. But Khatijah kept her conversation going and it took another 20-25 minutes before Veenaji and her Sister-in-law entered their house.

Veenaji’s Husband  Roshanlal lived in their ancestral house along with his three Brothers and 3 cousins. Their house was Big and hoary with a courtyard. Though, the house had 25 rooms, But it housed 7 nuclear families. Roshanlal, his 3 Brothers and 3 Cousins(Brothers) though were living in one house, But the wives of all the 7 brothers had decided to cook separately , in separate Kitchens, for their Families(consisting of Husband and Children).All the 7 Brothers had partitioned the 25 rooms in almost equal proportion. Apart from a Kitchen, Veenaji and her Husband had inherited 2 big rooms.

On a normal day, prior to 1990, their house was abuzz with activity. In the morning and in the evenings, many a times, one would hear the synchronous hissing sound from the steaming pressure-cooker, coming from 2 or more Kitchens of the House at the same time. The floating aroma of Knol Khol(Hak) or lamb-meat would titillate the Olfactory of the whole neighborhood. In the afternoon, the shrilled voices of the Children playing in the courtyard was common .In spite of 7 separate kitchens, Veenaji and her 6 co- sister-in-law would often share their delicacies with each other.

But the House was different this time.

As soon as Veenaji entered her House, she was welcomed by the eerie silence. It was frightening. All her 6 co-sister-in-law and their families too had moved to Jammu. The last family that had moved from this house to jammu was almost 15 days back.As she climbed-up the stairs of her house, a strange fear crept  into her heart. It was almost 8.00 P.M by now and the darkness had covered almost everything.

She and Lalitajee were feeling the Hunger pangs. Into the utensil, Veenaji took a handful of rice from the polythene  bag , she had brought with her from jammu. Soon, she realized that she has forgotten to get a matchbox or lighter to light up the cooking gas stove. “I will go downstairs to Ashaji’s kitchen and get the lighter .” she informed Lalitaji. “Do you have the keys of that Kitchen?” asked Lalitaji. “No, she never locks her Kitchen.” Replied Veenaji. “It is so scary here, I too will accompany you.” Said Lalitajee.

The Kitchen-door was indeed unlocked. As soon as Veenajee, switched-on the light, her face became pale out of fear. Shockingly, she exclaimed “Oh! My God. Someone is cooking here!”  . “Hey Bhagwan ! what will we do now?” asked Lalitajee nervously. She was Gaping and beating her chest. Veenaji  knew that her sister-in-law is weak-hearted and might behave strangely or may even faint.

She assessed the situation quickly. There was a matchbox lying on the ground. Many burnt match sticks were scattered over the floor of the Kitchen. From The cooked rice in the utensils, it looked as if ,just a few hours back, someone had cooked it. She did not waste much time in investigating. She opened the cupboard that was at the right corner of the Kitchen. She swept her fingers over the things in the cupboard and soon took a lighter , a torch and a candle from the cupboard. And switched off the main light of the Kitchen and closed the door.

“Follow me quickly”, she whispered . Lalitajee did not protest and followed the instructions. “As we know, someone is using the Kitchen of Ashajee, It might be a militant or a group of Militants. We cannot afford to switch-on the lights and invite any unwanted trouble. Understand Lalitaji?” she looked at her sister-in-law. Lalitaji was very scared, but she acted Bravado and said , “Yes, I do. You are right. But can we make the dinner for us?” she asked. “No. We cannot, since, the aroma of the Rice might give them a clue, that someone is inside the house.” she explained to Lalitaji. “Anyways, I don’t feel hungry now”, lied Lalitaji.They ran up towards the room.

Veenaji  pulled an iron-Chest, that was placed at the corner of the room . She opened the lid and switched-on the Torch. suddenly, Lalitaji could see A bundle of papers, some folders containing some documents, a photo album, and some books. Veenaji took only a couple of  Folders from the Box, closed the lid and placed it to the original position. Lifting the two folders in her hands, she said to Lalitaji, “This is for what we came here and took all the trouble”. She kept the two folders in the bag, that she had brought with her from Jammu.

They were sitting besides a window, so that they could have a direct and unobstructed view of the main Door, leading towards the courtyard. As it was still quite cold, they had draped themselves in the blankets. The main wooden Door of their House was Huge. A big rectangular latch, may be one feet long and 5 inches wide was connected to a wooden Knob  .The latch moved up or down angularly, if the Knob was rotated. The latch faced towards the courtyard and the Knob towards the by-lane. It would make a lot of noise, if someone would open or close the Latch of the Door. Lalitaji was constantly praying to Mother Goddess for their protection. They had even made a plan, in case a militant or a group of Militants enter their house.” In case any intruder comes here, we will slip beneath the Bed. Understand!” explained Veenaji to her Sister-In-Law. Lalitaji had nodded her head in approval.

Just past the midnight, It began to pour heavily. The staccato of the rain hitting the tin-roofs of the Houses was rather unwanted and irritatingly. The odd street lamp positioned on the pole went off too.  It was pitch dark outside. Because of the pitch darkness and noise, they thought, they have lost the chance of detecting  any intruder. Lalitaji was chanting the Hymns of Goddess Indrakshi rather loudly to invoke the blessings. But the sound  of heavy rains superseded her frequency of voice modulation .It stopped raining after a couple of Hours.

Both of them were feeling very sleepy. Pretending to be vigilant at this odd hour of the night, they were looking at  the main Wooden Door. They were drowsing. Their heads would inadvertently hit the wooden window pane and they would concentrate briefly their attention on the wooden door again. Then, they would drowse yet again. They did not talk to each other for couple of Hours.

And then Dogs began to Bark. They woke up.

 

A pack of Dogs were barking on a Shadowy figure. The figure, it seemed was waving something to keep away the Dogs. Soon, another figure appeared, it was smaller in the size than the one who was waving something. The smaller figure grabbed the Loose clothing, most probably the ’ pheran’ of the larger figure . It looked as if, the smaller figure was trying to stop the larger figure. And then, their conversation became louder.

“Leave me Aapa, I have to follow the orders”, fulminated the  belligerent larger figure . The other voice, that of a female in a protesting tone said, “No. I will not let you do it. I will talk to them tomorrow. I will tell them to leave”.

Veenaji’s heart sank. She recognized the voice of the female. It was unmistakably that of Khatijah. Her neighbor. Many thoughts crossed her mind. “Is somebody coming here to kill me. Am I going to live for another day or not! Will I be able to see my Children and Husband again.” She was weighed down by the weltschmerz. Tears began to roll down from the corner of her eyes .Fortunately for her, Lalitaji’s attention was focused towards the two shadowy figures and was unaware of the upheaval of emotions going on in her sister-in-laws’s mind.

The lone street light began to glow suddenly. They could clearly see the two figures. It was indeed Khatijah. Veenaji recognized the other figure too. It was Ajaz-The youngest Son of Khatijah. And, he was carrying a Gun. Khatijah had held the collar of her Son’s Pheran. Ajaz was approaching towards the main wooden door of Veenaji’s House. Khatijah was getting literally dragged, but she didn’t let loose her Grip on the collar.

Khatijah’s tone was changing constantly. From dominant to Pleading, she was trying her best to stop her son from opening the Door. But Ajaz was equally adamant. He dragged her to the Gate and rotated the Knob of the wooden Door. There was a creepy , unpleasant loud sound of opening of the wooden latch. Ajaz Kicked the door open.

“Oh my God! He is coming to Kill us.” Screamed lalitaji. She threw the Blanket and ran Hysterically from one end of the room to other end. “ Control yourself  lalitaji. Instead of getting nervous, think of a plan.”, she comforted lalitaji . She too came out from the warmth of Blanket and held lalitaji’s Shoulders with both of her Hands. “ Let us see and listen to what they are arguing about”. Lalitaji followed her without protest.

Ajaz opened the wooden door. Khatijah’s Grip loosened from the collar. But she grabbed the left leg of her Son. Ajaz kept her dragging. Her pheran was smeared in Mud. “ I will kill myself, if you do not listen to me”. She was crying. Ajaz stopped. He lifted up his Mother and began to clean the dirt from the pheran of his mother. She was still crying Helplessly. Something happened. Ajaz hugged her mother and said, “OK, As you wish. Let us go back”, in a comforting tone. Khatijah kissed the forehead of his Son. They both went back and closed the big wooden door. The dogs started barking again.

Veenaji and Lalitaji had a sigh of relief. They kept on looking at the wooden door until the Dawn. With the first azaan of the mosque, they left the house. Veenaji opened the wooden latch of the Door. She looked back at her House. Little did she realized that she was looking at her hose for the last time.

Within no time, they were at Habba Kadal. The security guards stopped them and asked, “Where are you going?”. Lalitaji’s face lit up. “We are Kashmiri Pandits. We are going to RTC. From there, we will board a Bus for Jammu”. The security Guards let them go. They were intersected and stopped by the Security guards at many places. Upon hearing that they are KP’s, they were let off immediately. It took them more than an Hour and a half to reach RTC by foot.

There were Buses and Taxis waiting for the passengers to take them to Jammu. A sardarji approached them. “Where will you go sister? Jammu! Come sister, in my taxi. Let me take you”. Both Veenaji and Lalitaji were exhausted both physically and mentally. They decided to go by Sardarji’s taxi.

They reached Tope Sherkhanian, Jammu by 4.00 p.m. Lalitaji  narrated the whole incident to everyone present there melodramatically. Veenaji had not interfered lalitaji. She wanted her to vent off her feelings.

Veenaji’s Brother’s family had stayed with them for more than four months, before they moved to a rented accommodation at Subash Nagar.

The tea was boiling in the utensil. Some portion of the boiling tea fell on  the Flame of the cooking gas stove. The burning smell of the tea, drew back Veenaji from her Past. She closed the knob of the gas and  cleaned the Stove with a cloth and washed her hands with a soap. After pouring the tea in the cups, she put the cups in the tray and came out of the small kitchen to the living room.She placed the Tray on the top of the Central table.Irfaan and  Roshanlal  took one cup each from the tray.

Irfaan and Roshanlal were engrossed in a conversation and were oblivious to veenaji’s presence. She was wringing her hands impatiently. “How is your Brother Ajaz?”, She interrupted Irfaan, with a tone of anger. Irfaan looked at her, Put the cup down,  and with a deep sigh, he  said with regret, “He died in an encounter with the security Guards 4 years back .He had become a militant. My mother pleaded with him to give up arms .But he did not listen”. And then he looked the other side. “I am so sorry.” Said Roshanlal apologetically. Veenaji did not tried to comfort him. “You carry on. I have some work in the Kitchen. Excuse me.”She said casually as she did not wanted to be a part of the conversation. She stood up and went again to the Kitchen.

She pretended to dish-wash. But for some reasons, once again, the Flashes of the Horrendous night kept coming to her mind…

 

 

 

 

 

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Propaganda against Re-settlement of KP’s

Since last 25 years, it has been projected by almost all political parties, whether J&k-based or National level, like INC and BJP, that they want to re-settle KP’s back in the land of their ancestors .But never ever, has any political party acted as audaciously, as did the Modi-led NDA govt .The Home Minister of India Sh. Rajnath singh had asked Omar Abdullah in the first week of Sep 2014 to identify the land for the re-settlement of Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir. But the unfortunate floods procrastinated the Plans of GOI.

Now again, just a couple of days back, The home minister of India-Mr. Rajnath singh asked the Chief Minister-Mufti mohammed syed to identify the land for the “composite re-settlement of Kashmiri Pandits”. And it looked as if the C.M nodded his head in agreement. But as expected, he U-turned on the issue of giving land for the settlement of KP’s thus showing his true colour of being a true Islamic-sikluar.

And thus started the Grand- Drama of the Pak-backed-separatists.

Yasin Malik-the leader of the JKLF faction objected to the GOI’s plan of re-settling the KP’s into the valley. He and his coterie are of this view that KP’s should be settled in their original homes with their original Muslim Neighbors. They want KP’s to live as they lived prior to 1989-90.

But, Is it possible for pundits to settle at those places,that they left out of fear in 1990!

An real life anecdote when I visited Kashmir after 24 shows totally different picture of the locality and the people that lived with us pre-1990.

I went to Rainawari, in Srinagar, Kashmir last year .I landed in Kashmir valley on 31st Aug 2014. Immediately, I opted to go to my abandoned-Home in Rainawari. The place looked so different. “Kraylar” looked so different. The lanes and sub-lanes looked Chocked because of illegal encroachment.

When, I reached Bagh jogilankar, I was surprised to find out that even the police-station, that was once situated at the entrance of the Bridge has been shifted to “Silai-center”, opposite Hari singh school.

I tried very hard to identify my old acquaintances. Though I could identify the shops, but the shopkeepers were different. I tried to look into the eyes of the shopkeepers hoping to revive something of the past. But I got blank looks from them. The strange looks made me uncomfortable and unwanted. The appalling condition of the by-lanes was beyond words. The people of the locality have illegally captured the already-narrow-bylanes.

At last, I could identify someone. It was “Magga”. He was the barber. He had trimmed my hair N times , right from the time when I was a Kid, till I grew up to an adolescent. I accosted him and introduced myself. He too looked blankly at me. He could not identify me, as he had seen me when I was a Kid. I told him about my family, my father, Grandfather, My Uncles. With each name, his eyes sparkled in joy. And then he gave me a tight Hug. A few men gathered around us. They started asking me questions about the welfare of my family, my relatives and my Hindu-neighbors. I tried to answer them to the best of my information.

I chatted with them for about 10 minutes. Then I told them that for strange reasons, all the people in Rainawari look different to me. I told them that they looked strangers to me. They listened to me patiently. An acquaintance of “Magga-Barber”, informed me that only 40 indigenous Households/ families are living in that area and rest of the families have shifted to other places in Kashmir. As, I was departing, I could hear his shout, “Even we-the leftover families sometimes feels living among aliens. KP’s did the right thing by migrating to other places.”

The same story has been repeated in many of the localities that were once dominated by the pundits. The original Muslim residents have shifted to other places. Most of the Muslims from the downtown have shifted to posh localities like Rajbagh, Barzullah, etc.

The trite rant of the separatists like Yasin Malik and Syed ali shah Geelani, on the return of Kashmiri Pandits does not hold any water. They too are aware of the fact that during last 25 years, many KM’s have shifted to the posh localities and many amongst them have bought the houses of KP’s- who had to sell their properties in distress.

If they want to re-settle KP’s into their original localities, they will have to re-settle back all the Muslims too- who were the neighbors of KP’s. But that is not possible and that will not be of any help to KP’s .As a matter of fact, The Muslim neighbors of KP’s were totally helpless in protecting their Hindu neighbors in 1990’s. Instead of protecting them, many KM neighbors corroborated with the terrorists and gave vital information about those KP’s, who were on the hit list of Terrorists, thus resulting in Death of many KP’s.

Over the years the mainstream political parties have practiced soft-secessionism. They have over the years poisoned the minds of the majority-Muslims. Separatists as well as the valley-based mainstream political parties have tacitly projected the forced-exodus of KP’s as their victory. Victory of Islam and Hegemony of Muslims. They might be saying hundreds of lies to the Government of India, but the reality is that they are constantly conveying to their vote-bank that KP’s will never be allowed to come back.

The resistance shown by Yasin Malik against the proposed “composite-resettlement” has been portrayed as “inclusive-townships” for KP’s. It has been alleged that GOI is planning to make colonies like Israel did in Palestine. The resistance towards the return of KP’s have been portrayed akin to the resistance of Palestine’s towards the Israel-settlements.

And top of that, the mainstream political parties too have shown the same resistance as did Yasin Malik and company. It is an astutely-planned-propaganda against the return of Kashmiri Pandits. All the valley based-political-parties have excluded deliberately the word “Composite” and are instead using the word “Inclusive”.

The deliberate blatant trampling of the fundamental right of KP’s will once again go unnoticed. Once again the possible return of KP’s will be thwarted. Once again the false propaganda of the Anti-Nationals will echo in the valley. Once again justice will be denied to the KP’s.

And once again,
the goddess of Justice will remain Blindfolded…

Protest by Kashmiri Pandits(19/01/2015)-Holocaust day

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Aftermath of 19 jan 1990-How and why I fled Kashmir

1990, jan 19, invoked the demons within the people of a large section of the majority community to commit the heinous acts blatantly. Kashmiri Pandits’s(KP’s) still dread that cold night of January. Most the KP’s felt that they will be attacked by the colossal Islamic-mobs meandering the lanes and sub-lanes of the valley with an anti-India mission that night. The cacophonous slogans by the mobs instilled a fear among the KP’s. And the bullets from the A.K 47’s of the militants that killed hundreds of KP’s made sure that the Hindus flee Kashmir.

19 Jan 1990 triggered the subsequent events that cleansed the KP’s as a community from the valley. While many quixotic flowery dreams of the KM’s were soon shattered, when the Army took over, the wounds left by that bestial night left a gangrene in the minds of KP’s as a community .It will be 24 years now, since KP’s left the frenzied valley of the 1990.Not a single KP had thought that their return to their motherland will take such a long time. The forced departure was gruesome but quick .However their return to the valley is still elusive. And with passing time, they are slowly but surely getting erased from the Tapestry of Kashmir.

My encounter with two friends Dalip Bhat and Sanjay Bhat, who left the valley in 1990; their experience, and what made them exit from Kashmir after that cold night of 19 Jan 1990!

Few days back ,I asked Dalip, “what does 19 jan 1990 mean to you?”He said, ”Nothing ! I don’t think of Kashmir anymore.” I asked surprisingly, “why is it so?”. He looked straight into my eyes and said, “Do you remember when you visited me while I was posted as a casual worker with Govt. department at Pulwama, Kashmir.” I said calmly, “Yes! But what has it to do with Kashmir!” He said , “I was working on ad-hoc basis with the Forest department .I was just 19 years old in 1989.But I was happy. My village in Murran, pulwama was everything to me. We had rice-fields and orchards. And cows. My family was self-sufficient. I or my family had never- ever thought of moving out of the valley . But then the militancy erupted and the militants backed by Pakistan started killing us. Everything changed after that”. He paused, as if thinking something. “In the midst of a spring night of 1990, I fled Kashmir along with mine and Sanjay’s family . Sanjay’s father was on the hit-list of militants. We were moving stealthily from karfal mohalla to fateh Kadal with our belongings. Karfal mohalla was more sensitive at that time.” He said. His mobile phone rang .He saw the number and excused himself to attend the call.

When Dileep came back after 5 minutes or so, I requested to him to continue. He thought for a while and said, “After many physical, mental and verbal abuses from the majority community, who were clearly on a mission to free Kashmir from the Indians-including us, We somehow managed to reach Jammu.” I interrupted him and asked him, “ Tell me something about your early experiences of Jammu?”.He yawned , stretched his body for a moment, smiled and said, “I lived in Misriwala camp for three years. I was running a grocery shop there. For another one and a half years, I became a trader. I was a sort of stockist of polythene bags. Then I went to Delhi and worked there for 2 years. I came back to Jammu after my mother fell ill in 1998. Thereafter, I opened a Hardware shop in lower Roop-Nagar and I am still in the same Business since then.” There was a sense of pride in what he was saying. “How is your Business now?” I asked him.

“It is good.I have nine shops in a row. Business is excellent. In spite of everything, I feel, I need some more space to stock things like sanitary ware, tiles etc.” “how do you got the idea of opening this shop?”, I asked him. He said, “when, I came here back in 1998, I sensed that lot of KP’s are constructing new houses. Hence, I too opened a shop. And as it proved, It was really a very good decision.” I quipped “But, you didn’t really answered my question, which I asked in the beginning i.e Jan 19 1990?”.

He deliberated for a while and said, “ the memories of Jan 19-20 and the aftermath will ever remain engraved in the minds all those KP’s who were present in the valley. Never before had we witnessed anything wicked- like that of 1990 . Even in my village Murran, the majority community indirectly facilitated our exodus. They had told us categorically that, in case of any militant attack on us, they will side with the militants. Some people say, the mass-madness of the majority community in early 90 was an instantaneous impromptu reaction of the Muslims towards an oppressed rule. OK, I agree for a moment. But will they, who have occupied KP properties or sold illegally KP properties ever wish for their return? Aren’t those people getting patronage from all the political parties? And what is the Guarantee that 1990 will not be repeated if KP’s opt to return back? Majority community en-masse created an environment that forced us to flee. Will there be ever any mass rally that will call for the returns of the KP’s back to the valley?” He fired questions at me. I had no answers. “I have struggled a lot to reach, where I am today. That is why I don’t want to think about Kashmir.” He said with a sigh. His phone rang again, he looked at his Mobile, then at me, I sensed that it was an urgent call. “Attend your call.I will wait”, said I. He went outside the room again. I started thinking about my last encounter with Sanjay.

I knew Sanjay since we were children. Dileep was his relative. In early April 1990, Sanjay was persuaded by his mother to leave for Jammu. He was told by his mother to attend a wedding at Jammu. Underneath the persuasion of his mother was the concern of his safety . Kashmir was a cauldron in 1990. Hindus were branded as infidels or informers and then hunted dead by the militants with impunity. Like every other Kashmiri Hindu, Sanjay’s mother too wanted to keep away her children from the trouble. Sanjay went to the Jammu in the first week of April 1990 on the behest of his mother.

When I had met Sanjay 3-4 months back, I asked him about his ordeal.“I was in Jammu in early April 1990, to attend a wedding. Though Jammu was calm, I knew Kashmir was not. I used to wait eagerly for the news from any source. Be it newspapers in the morning or radio or T.V. in the evenings. The news was disappointing and disheartening. Everyday, I used to listen that a K.P was killed in one locality or other. And then one late evening I got a call from my mother. She told me that my father is on the hit list of the Militants for being a “Mukhbir”(informer).I boarded the Bus to Srinagar early next day morning to help my family,. I reached my home in karfaol mohalla by night. My father was visibly shaken by the threat. He had not ventured outside his home for a week, not even to buy his cigarette. Instead, my younger brother used to buy tobacco and father used an old Hubble-Bubble to smoke.” I was listening to him with attention. “The killing of Satish Tickoo was still fresh in our mind. After all, he was the son of our landlord. Hence, we had taken the threat with seriousness. we were living like frightened pigeons” He asserted.

“We wanted to leave Kashmir ASAP. Every other day, a Kashmiri pandit was gunned down mercilessly by the militants. KP’s were framed by the militants and no-one would dare to challenge their Jihadi-gag-order. My father was a School master. He was a simple and a non-political man. Yet he was framed. I knew dozens of KP’s who were framed as informers. In fact each and every KP family had a member that was framed for being an informer. What was the message they were trying to convey?” he asked me. He took a deep puff of cigarette, inhaled it, rounded his mouth and blew the smoke in rings. Instead of answering, I was just looking at him . And then he said in a choking voice, “the message was clear that they don’t want a KP there- simple”

“How did you fled from Kashmir?” I asked him. He said, “Immediately, after I reached back to Kashmir, I starting looking for a truck to carry us and our belongings to jammu. After a couple of days, with the help of my KP neighbors, I arranged a Truck. My sister and his family were staying in Fateh-Kadal those days. The night , when we were fleeing Kashmir, I, Daleep and his cousin carried our belongings on our backs and travelled on foot from karfal mohalla to Fateh-Kadal in the midst of night. The Muslim ladies who saw us leaving en-route with our belongings, hurled philippics at us. The invectives and their curses are still fresh in my mind. A couple of ladies, out of hatred for our community, even spitted on us from their first-floor-windows. But, we did not stop. There were five more KP families with us in the truck. we had a sigh of relief upon reaching Jammu”. His face was visibly angry as he was recalling the incident.

“Jan 1990 invokes fear, anarchy ,mobocracy, A.K 47’s, shrilled tones of the loudspeakers of the neighborhood mosques. cold-blooded murders of KP’s. Burning schools. Burning houses .Burning bridges. Burning tyres. Stoning of tin-rooftops of our houses in the middle of night. And an idiosyncratic resentment and hate towards my community” said infuriated Sanjay .I too had experienced the same. Every KP had experienced the same.

By now Dileep came back. After discussing some personal issues, I asked for his permission to leave. I stood up and moved towards the door. As I was leaving, he said, “ It was 28 April 1990, 2.00a.m in the morning, when I fled from Kashmir. I want to forget it all. But Somehow, I can’t”

I know for sure, not a single KP has forgotten Kashmir. The aftermath of the clear, cold night of 19 jan 1990 still haunts the community of KP’s. The slogans raised by a large section of Kashmiri Muslims like “Asa gach Pakistan, Batao ros te batnav saan”(we want Pakistan with KP women and without KP men) clearly reflected their state of mind, and the ghouls reigning their mind and conscience in the 90’s. The prolonged time away from their homeland has in fact made KP’s return to Kashmir difficult. If The aftermath of 1990 intensified the anti-India emotion among the Kashmiri Muslim youth, It also created an abyss between the valley of Kashmir and the Kashmiri Pandits, depriving them to return, to the land of their ancestors even after 24 years.

Year after Year, more and more people like Dalip opine that they will not return to Kashmir now, because for them, professionally, there is nothing they can do in Kashmir. Still, there are many who wish for their return everyday. But, I fear that nothing will change if the State Gov. and GOI doesn’t make a roadmap for the return of KP’s exactly the same way, as desired by the KP’s as a community.

But will they?

Kashmir Minorities conversation

It just happened that a few days Back, I met my childhood friend Aashiq at cannaught place, New Delhi. Ashiq is the son of a “shia pir”(sort of Oracle) and lives in the Dal-Lake area of Kashmir. Even though, he came from a poor family, he has managed to do well for himself and is presently working as a Govt. employee in J&K. He was being accompanied by another friend of his “Harmeet”-a Kashmiri Sikh. We headed towards the coffee shop nearby.

We talked about our childhood and that fun. We talked about our boat rides.swimming. Our hiking expeditions and Zabarwan. Our discussions veered towards the present situation in Kashmir viz-a-viz the socio-economic life of the minorities of Kashmir. Harjeet said, “Sikhs of kashmiri were mostly well-off. We are a peaceful community just as pundits and are generally seen as innocuous and gentle humans.”He added, “With the advent of so-called-jihad, we are tacitly subjugated by the majority sunni community. Many of the sikh girls had been lured by the Sunnis on the pretext of love and marriage. And their religion changed after wedding.” Harjeet paused for a moment and said, ”Many of our youths are side-tracked in govt. jobs in spite of good education and capabilities. We know we are being treated as second-hand citizens. we are ready for the impending doom for being a minority of Kashmir. Most of us have brought houses and lands outside Kashmir. We know, our fate can be that of Kashmiri Pandits- who were forced to flee.”

Shahid was quietly listening. I asked him about his opinion on the plight of Shias in Kashmir. He said, “Whatever is happening in Pakistan is bound to be repeated in Kashmir.” His statement reminded of his cousin Shabbir. It was in late-eighties when a sectarian clash broke between shias and sunnis. Shabbir was one such victim of Sunni hegemony. That fateful day, he was at the wrong place at wrong time. Somebody in the crowd had pointed finger towards him and shouted, “He is a Khudd(a derogatory word used for shia-muslims in Kashmir).” He was stripped of his clothes by the crowd that constituted the majority community of sunnis. He was forced to run stark-naked towards his home in the Dal-Lake area. While he was being humiliated, many people in the crowd were cheering and galvanizing the mob to do more such shameful acts.

“We do not support Pakistan. The support to Azadi is because of our compulsion. Even though shia militant-groups were formed by our community, but they hardly participated. It was a gesture to show that we support them. We did not wanted to be conspicuous by not supporting them. Even though we did not really supported them.”said Shahid as he further added, “You can ask any Kashmiri Pandit, who are living in shia-dominated areas in Kashmir. They are the safest in our areas.” I knew it already, Many Kashmiri pundits stay put in their villages that were shia-dominated even when militancy was at its peak.

Harjeet intercepted Jokingly, “ Sunnis consider them as untouchables and untrustworthy”. Shahid nodded his head in approval and said, “we are ready to fight with them with our fists or with bullets.” With a whiff of anger. He said further, “we will fight back” with a determined tone. “when a sunni is killed by armed forced for whatever reason, they come on streets to protest. And if a shia is killed, not a brow is raised.” said shahid.

I was getting late as I had an appointment. But before that, I asked them about Kashmiri Pandits. Harjeet said , “Had you stayed back in Kashmir, you would have faced more ignominy and collateral damage in terms of life and the honour of KP ladies.” Shahid also approved as he said, “The general feeling is that you will never come back again”. He gesticulated as he said, “ And they will make sure that you don’t come back again.”

I took their permission and left them alone in the cafeteria. The last lines of Shahid were reverberating in my mind, “And they will make sure that you don’t come back again”. But I have pinned hope against hope that I will return someday, sometime. But I will return for sure….

Saving my Rakhi Brother-2nd and last part

Soon after Ashok and his family left for Jammu, many more Kashmiri Pandits followed their footsteps. By the Mid-spring most of my KP neighbors had left for an alien land. “Raina’s” and “Dhar’s” had gone, so had “Saproo’s” , “Tickoo’s” and “Bhat’s”.My family and the “saraf’s” were the only KP family left in our neighborhood. Most of the time I and my family members were confined indoors because of the activities of the militants and also because Army was patrolling our area almost 24*7. The peal of the neighborhood temple Bell too was silent.

Hamida was still visiting me, though not that frequently. Her wits were still alive, but I could feel something amiss in her normal behavior. One fine day, I asked her , “Hamida, from last few days, I am feeling as if you are not your usual self. Is everything O.k?” She nodded her head in disapproval and said, “Nothing! I am just fine.”, and looked straight in my eyes. Then something happened. She held my hand and pulled me up from the Sofa. “come to the next room, I want to tell you something” she said. Ever since she had told me about the incidence of Ashok; I took every word of her seriously. And then she whispered, “Everything is not fine Didda, things are becoming worse and I doubt It will get only worst. Shabbir, my brother, has advised me not to meet you or any other KP for that matter.” I asked, “But why?”. “Read between the lines, Didda. You are my dear friend and I don’t want anybody to harm you or your family. I think you too should move out of the valley for the time being” said she in a pensive mood. And she left immediately after that. I never saw her after that.

I had to get curd from the “Ismail goor”(Ismail-the milkman).His shop was hardly 100 meters away from my house. I was thinking about my last interaction with Hamida. It was around noon. Ismail’s son Khalid was rolling down the shutters of his shop. I said to him, “ Don’t roll down the shutters, first give me half a Kg of curd.”He said in a rude tone, “Didda, go back to your home quickly.”And looked at me. His looks were threatening. I almost ran back to my house.I was angry at Khalid. My late father had taught him to read and write. He had given him free tuitions and helped him to secure a Govt. Job. He was like a family member to us all. During all these years he had never ever misbehaved with me.

As, I was thinking about the incidence, I heard a loud deafening explosion outside. I ran out to see what happened! I could only see dust and smoke at a distance .My younger brother Ramesh was running from the opposite direction. He held my hand firmly and almost dragged me back to our house. Without my asking, he said, “A bomb exploded just near “Ismail Goor’s” Shop. I was bewildered and scared.

By the evening, everything was normal. I still hadn’t bought curd. I was someone, who would not eat a meal without curd. I went again to the shop of Ismail. The shutters were still down. I decided to go to Ismail’s house and get the curd. His house was just 50 meters away from my house and I had gone there “N” number of times. He had a cowshed at the ground floor of his house and I directly went inside the shed. I shouted “Khalid, Ismailsaab, are you there?”. Khalid quickly came from nowhere. Anger was written all over his face. He pushed me back as he said, “ you mad girl ! what are you doing here. Get out of here.” Even during this commotion, I clearly saw at least 6 strange faces, ducked in between the bovines. It looked as if they were in a hiding. I came back disappointed. During night, I could not sleep for a long time. I was thinking about Hamida, Khalid and the bomb blast.

It was a moonlit night. And Sleep was still miles away. I opened the window of my room .My room was on the first floor and the windows opened towards the compound. The compound was flanked on two sides by our neighbor’s houses . There was an eight foot high by two feet wide wall securing our compound just opposite my room. The roof of compound wall was covered with slanting tin sheets, so that the snow will not accumulate on the top and will fall down smoothly. A cool breeze was blowing outside. The moon looked stunning. I was about to close the window when an image appeared behind the compound wall. I was scared. I hid myself, but I was still peeping outside the window. He was standing on the wall. I could see him clearly. He was a tall guy about 6 feet. He looked more like an Afgani than a Kashmiri. He was talking to someone on the other side of the wall, whom I could not see. I could hear him clearly . He was speaking Afgani or pushto or any other language but Kashmiri. I was scared to death and was sure that they had come to kidnap me.

Suddenly, someone started stoning my house as well as the compound wall. The sound was piercing the silence of the night and was enough to jolt the whole neighborhood and wake them up from their deep sleep. The stoning also alerted the army men outside the street. I could hear the trample of the boots of the armymen. The intruder too got confused and jumped back to the street. I had a sigh of relief.

Next morning, as I was passing by the shop of “Ismail Goor”, I spotted Khalid sitting in his shop. I was angry at him and tried to ignore him. “Didda, come here”, he said. Though I wanted to avoid him, but I still went up to him. He spoke to me in a cautious low voice. “I have been trying to caution you and your family. I cautioned you before the bomb explosion. I wanted you to go out of the cow-shed yesterday as they(militants) were hiding there and could have harmed you. And It was I Didda who stoned your house yesterday to raise an alarm against those Afganis. I am sorry, I could not inform you earlier as I too fear for my and my family’s life. I beg you to leave this place as soon as possible, for your safety and honor. Now leave this place and act as if nothing has happened. You too are under the surveillance of Militants.”I composed my calm, bought my last curd in Kashmir and went back to my house.

I narrated everything to my Brothers and my mother. We all decided to leave ASAP and come back once the things settle. A taxi was arranged by my Brothers. We only took some clothes and some important papers with us. By 7.00p.m we were at Jammu. We went to our Uncle’s place in Talab tiloo, jammu.

23 years have passed by. The return is still elusive. Who would have thought that KP’s as a community will be scattered emotionally and physically all over the Globe. Who would have thought, the alien land will become so familiar that our own motherland Kashmir will look like an stranger to us. But It has happened.

somebody has rightly said “Truth is stranger than fiction”….

Narrated by-Mrs. Seema Kaul(Didda)

Saving my Rakhi Brother(1990)

1990, when jihadi hooliganism was at its peak, My childhood friend and next-door neighbor, Hamida, came to my home late evening. She looked happy and cheerful as always. There was only one discussion that people were interested in, during those turbulent times-Militancy and Militants. Hamida was no exception. She was in privy of the sources/ militants that were carrying the execution orders of the Hindu minorities on the behest of their Pakistani masters sitting across the border. She was in fact proud of her association with the Militants.

“I want to share something with you!” she said to me eagerly. “OK, Tell me”, I said casually.”No, not here, let us go upstairs or into the next room. It is very confidential”. Now, my curiosity was aroused. I said “OK, Let us go upstairs”. We both went upstairs to “Kainee”(parapet/ top most floor of the house). She was bubbling with energy as she said,” Tomorrow morning, It is the turn of Ashok. He will be shot dead by the militants tomorrow. Don’t tell this to anybody ever. I am sharing this with you as you are my friend”. My heart sank, but I composed myself quickly and said, “Let them kill him. He deserves it.” She said, “ Wow! I love militants. Let the pundits who are leaving every day for jammu leave, but you stay here. Don’t you worry. Nothing will ever happen to you or your family.” I smiled back at her.” Militants are only killing Indian agents and informers” she said. I nodded my head.

I wanted to tell her, “No! militants are killing Kashmiri Pandits for no reason. I wanted to tell her that militants are killing for the sake of jihad. For fame. For money. For power. For self-importance. For their desires and lust”. But, I could not muster courage. I wanted to tell her that it is the anti-Hindu sentiment that is being fanned by the maulvis of the Mosques by using Islamic terminologies to galvanize the common Muslims, and kill the hindus with impunity and without compunction. I wanted to tell her,” No, There is no bravery and holiness in killing hapless, unarmed innocent Pandits”. But I remained quite. After all, I too wanted to live.

Hamida would not leave me alone that evening for a moment, Though I wanted her to go back, so that I could run into Ashok’s house and inform him about his assassination plans by militants. Ashok was a neighbor and a friend of my brother. He was like my elder brother and I used to tie a “Rakhi” to him every year. Even the thought of getting him killed was suffocating me. But that day Hamida was in no hurry to go back to her home. I wanted to get rid of her so desperately that day. But It looked as if she had other plans. She was chattering incessantly and I was nodding my head in approval cursorily, I was in fact thinking hard, to somehow convey the insidious killing plot of militants to Ashok.

Finally, I came up with a plan. I said to her, “ Hamida, I just realized that I had to call up my relatives in Jammu.” She asked, “ which ones? “. I said, “My maternal uncle. They too fled for Jammu few days back.” “Oh! I see. OK, by the time you will call your uncle, I will buy curd from Ismail Goor”. Ismail Goor, The milkman’s shop was located just opposite to Ashok’s house. I could not go to his house in front of Hamida as that could raise suspicion. My mind was over-working, but I still said,” OK, Let us go”.

During those days, Telephone was a status-symbol and not everybody had the privilege of having a Phone at home. Ashok was a Govt. employee working with the telecom department and was thus in possession of a telephone connection. Adjacent to the Ashok’s house were “Dhar’s” and next to “Dhars” were “Raina’s”. “Raina’s” too had a telephone connection at their home.

We reached too quickly at “Ismail Goor’s” shop.I said to Hamida, “ I will go to Rainas and make a call. You wait for me here.” She said,” alright”. I went towards “Raina’s” house. Before stepping into their house, I turned back. Hamida was staring at me from the milkman’s shop. I quickly went inside the compound of the “Raina’s” and scaled the wall to reach into the compound of “Dhar’s”. I scaled the wall flanking Dhar’s and Ashok’s house and jumped with a “thud” into the compound of Ashok. My knees were aching because of the impact of the jump. But I had no time for small physical pains. The back door of Ashok’s house was ajar.I went inside. Ashok was sitting right there in his Drawing-room. I hugged him and tears rolled down from my cheeks. He was perplexed.”What happened Didda?”he jerked me. I said, “ Leave this place as soon as possible. Militants are planning to kill you.”I told him briefly about my encounter with Hamida and her confidential report. By that time, his wife and brother Satish also came. His wife Dolly too began to cry upon knowing the incident. Ashok and Satish consoled us both and they both thanked me for the information. “I need to go back quickly as Hamida is waiting for me and can suspect something fishy if I take too long.”I said to them. Both Ashok and Satish helped me to scale the compound wall and Very soon I landed in “Dhar’s” compound and finally into the compound of the “Raina’s”. As, I opened the main compound door, that opened into the main street, I was shocked to see Hamida standing in front of the door.”Why did you take so long?” said she. “Line was coming busy. I had to try 50 times, before I could connect to my Uncle.”I said. “Oh! I see” she said casually and quickly added, “I have bought video movie cassettes from Shabbir, We will watch them at your home, since you have a VCP”. I said with a sigh of relief, “ OK. Fine.”That night, we watched couple of movies. She stayed overnight at my home.

Next morning, she went back to her home. I thought, let me check whether Ashok had left or not. As, I was about to leave, Hamida came back. she was panting. I gave her a puzzled look. She said incoherently, “ Ashok has fled”. I said “What! I couldn’t get you”. She put her hand on her chest and said slowly and clearly,” Ashok too has left like other pundits “. I said ,” Oh! I see”. She said, “Lucky guy! The militants fired at the locks also suspecting him to be hiding inside. But they found all his family had fled. Not even their neighbors knew, when they fled,”. I gave her a lugubrious look. I was happy inside and thanked God for saving the life of Ashok-My Rakhi Brother.
narrated by-Mrs. Seema kaul

Kashmiri Pandits: VICTIMS of TERROR ‘n HATE CRIME

CRIME against HUMANITY: For the attention of pretended world bodies, contaminated human rights organisations, pseudo-secularists, self-styled leaders, so-called policy makers, tainted political parties and slack bureaucracy…..!

Kashmir can claim the distinction of being the only region of India which possesses an uninterrupted series of written records of its history. The earlier known kings of the Valley are Gonanda I and Damodara I. According to Kalhana, Gonanda I was the contemporary of Kauravas and Pandavas (later Vedic period). Hasan Khuihami claims to have traced the thirty-five kings, which were missing in Kalhana’s chronicle. Of the early kings who ruled over Kashmir at the beginning of Christian era, Ashoka followed Buddhism; while his son, Jaloka, reverted to the worship of Lord Shiva. The Buddhists, however, regained their strength under the patronage of the Turushka kings-Hushka, Jushka and Kanishka.

History of the Kashmiri Pandits is the history of Kashmir since unknown millennia. They are associated with its very existence – society, culture, civilization, customs, traditions, myths and realities. A period of comparative historical validity in the region began with the establishment of the Karkuta rule in AD 627. During the regime of Lohara dynasty, Kashmir came into direct 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 a locality called “Malichmar” near Alikadal (Srinagar) 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 temple treasures and got the idols of gold and silver melted to tide over his financial crisis. Before him two other kings, Jalauka and Kalasa, employed the same approach of plundering the temples 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 once again consolidated their position. But Ramadeva (AD 1252-1273) humiliated those Brahmans who had helped him in his coronation. 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 concealed their identity and cried “ Na Batoham” (I am not a Hindu).

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, 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.

Dulucha, 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. Terrible 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. The cruel invader 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 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 tremendous 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.

In AD 1339, after defeating Kota Rani 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. Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani (AD 1314-AD 1385) wrote in “ Zakhirat’ul Maluk ” :

1. Muslim ruler shall not allow fresh constructions of Hindu temples and shrines for image worship.
2. No repair shall be executed to the existing Hindu temples and shrines.
3. They shall not proffer Muslim names.
4. They shall not ride a harnessed horse.
5. They shall not move about with arms.
6. They shall not wear rings with diamonds.
7. They shall not deal in or eat bacon.
8. They shall not exhibit idolatrous images.
9. They shall not built houses in the neighbourhood of Muslims.
10. They shall not dispose of their dead in the neighbourhood of Muslim graveyards, nor weep or wail over their dead.
11. They shall not deal in or buy Muslim slaves.
12. No Muslim traveller shall be refused lodging in the Hindu temples and shrines where he shall be treated as a guest for three days by non-Muslims.
13. No non-Muslim shall act as a spy in the Muslim state.
14. No problem shall be created for those non-Muslims who, of their own will, show their readiness for Islam.
15. Non-Muslims shall honour Muslims and shall leave their assembly whenever the Muslims enter the premises.
16. The dress of non-Muslims shall be different from that of Muslims to distinguish themselves.
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).

Sikandar- 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 prosecute 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 Shaikh-ul-Islam.

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.

Not 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 mankind.

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 of them left the Valley. Yet many more were passing their days in the most deplorable conditions only on payment of jazia. The allowance of the Brahman academicians was 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!

The 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 extinct”.

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 controversy.

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.

Kashmiri 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 Valley. 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:

No Hindu should ride a horse, nor should a Hindu wear a shoe;
That they should not wear Jama (Mughal costume);
That they should move bare arms;
That they should not visit any garden;
That they should not have tilak mark on their foreheads;
That their children should not receive any education.

But 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 tragic.

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.

The 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 an 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 been converted to 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 Muslims.

The Valley of Kashmir had been ceded by the Sikhs to the British in lieu of indemnity imposed on the Lahore Durbar. The British made it over to Maharaja Gulab Singh on March 16, 1846, for a sum of seventy-five lacs of rupees. In this way, the territory and people of Kashmir were virtually sold to Gulab Singh by the British. Thus began the Dogra rule in Kashmir. The present Jammu & Kashmir State was born.The creation of the Jammu and Kashmir State in 1846, through the Treaty of Amritsar, was a master-stroke of British diplomacy in Asia. No doubt, Kashmir never became a past of the British Indian domain, but the British allowed only minimum operational freedom to the Dogra rulers. In fact, the British created a buffer state of Jammu and Kashmir under the title of a “Sovereign State”, to keep Russia at a distance from British India and to counter the Czarist “menance” in Central Asia.In the middle of the 19th century, the growing menace of Russian expansion in Central Asia posed a direct threat to the security of British domain in India. So there was need to create a buffer between the two rivals in Asia. Kashmir, like Afghanistan, served the purpose. Installation of a British Commissioner in Ladakh in 1847-48 was a prelude to the forceful perpetuation of British imperialist policy in Kashmir. The British managed their Kashmir policy with extraordinary caution and subtle diplomacy.History of Kashmir in the second half of the 19th century should be studied in the backdrop of Anglo-Russian rivalry in Central Asia. Any move on the Central Asian chessboard had its direct impact on Kashmir. The policies of the British in Kashmir were designed to fit in the scheme of their “frontier policy” in Central Asia.In 1885, the first British Resident was appointed in Kashmir. With this statrted the active British intervention in Jammu and Kashmir State. Creation of Gilgit Agency, subjugation of Chitral, establishment of a Council and finally partial deposition of Maharaja Partap Singh in 1889 was the completion of British imperialist strange-hold over Kashmir. This was managed by the British through their successive Residents in Kashmir.

With the formation of Jammu and Kashmir State; and, establishment of the Dogra rule, Kashmiri Pandits were imperceptibly elbowed to the background. Administrators and officials were deputed from Jammu region. Though they enjoyed comprehensive.

This article has been written by Dr Satish Ganjoo

“Let us kill them”-My recent visit to Kashmir

Since 2006, I have visited Kashmir number of times. When I first went to Kashmir after 16 years, I was impressed by the hospitality of the Kashmiri Muslims. I recall vividly, my first visit to Nehru Park in 2006.I was sporting a “Tilak” on my forehead. There was a man selling “ Makai wat”( Maize/ corn).He was saying,” 5 rupaiy ka Ek, 5 rupaiye ka ek”(one corn for 5 rupees).I too approached him, and said in Kashmiri,” Kya se lala, yutah drogh kyazi chuk kinaan?”(why are you selling it so costly?).His face suddenly beamed with glee, He said, “ Oh ! you are a Kashmiri Pandit!, you are my brother, For you it is just 3 Rupees”. I was really touched.

I again visited in 2007, 2008.In 2009, I stayed in a rented room at Rajbagh for 2 months. I was repeatedly getting a feeling that Kashmir will return to pre-1990.I even purchased a plot of land near Avantipura from a Sardarjee. I made new Kashmiri muslim friends in Kashmir. I even used to joke with them about their favorite separatist Politian or Pakistan. Many times I used derogatory words for their chosen leaders or for Pakistan. I even had a religious discussion with them. They did not mind at all on the choice of words that I used in these discussions.

But my recent visit belied my faith, I had developed in my previous visits, forcing me to believe once again that Kashmir is not safe. At least not for Hindus.

Just a week back,I drove to Kashmir with my Dogra friend-Amit and my Business partner Atul from Haryana. The forced exile to jammu has made me learn to speak Dogri and Punjabi fluently. During most of our journey, we spoke in Punjabi. We reached to Jawahar tunnel at around 5p.m.We were stopped by two policemen. The name plate on their uniform suggested that they were Muslims. They asked us to come out of the car. We obliged. They asked us our names. Their faces suddenly hardened upon hearing our names. “Show the documents of this car” said one policeman in an authoritative tone. I promptly did as he desired. All the documents were up-to-date. Then suddenly, the other policeman hurled philippics on Atul accusing us all of smuggling opium. We all protested. In the meanwhile, many local taxis passed-by and the Drivers of the taxis waved their hands to the two policemen saying loud, “Asalaam-walikaum”. The policemen waved back while they said “Salaam”. The two policemen checked our vehicle in detail. The footmats, carpet, Bonet, seats, Dashboard, everything was checked. The whole operation took at least an hour. We were allowed to go later on. We were all feeling humiliated by their invidious behavior. Atul said repeatedly that we were targeted because of being Hindus.

Somehow, we reached Srinagar. I took my friends to a lodge at Rajbagh. Atul always wanted to stay in a Houseboat and I had assured him that we will sure stay at Houseboat at least for a night after a couple of days. we were at Kashmir in connection with a business deal.

I could visibly feel a difference in the attitude of the local KM’s. They seem to have a visible resentment and hatred towards us, whenever they came to know about our names. The bonhomie, it seems has again got lost somewhere. I could again feel from the eyes of the KM’s, what I had felt in 1989-90.I was scared this time. And I was not wrong.

As, I had promised Atul,I took him to a Houseboat near Nehru Park, Dal-gate. We took a “Shikara”(boat) to reach the other side , where there are number of Houseboats. Atul started a conversation with the Manager/owner of the Houseboat. The Manager agreed for Rs 1200/night/room for all three of us. In order to re-confirm with me, Atul said in Punjabi ,” Is this rate OK” .I too answered in Punjabi, “yes”. As we were talking to the manager, a person came into the Houseboat and started speaking to the Manager in Kashmiri, “Are they tourists?”, the manager said,”yes”, “Are they Hindus ”asked he. The manager said, “yes, they are”. Suddenly he raised his tone and said loudly in Kashmiri to the Manager, “ Let us kill them all tonight”. The manager didn’t answer.

They didn’t knew that I too was a Kashmiri. My friends didn’t knew what had transpired. I calmly intercepted the two Kashmiri muslims, as I said in Punjabi,” We will go and fetch our luggage”. The manager nodded his head in agreement, While the other man used scurrilous language for our group in Kashmiri. I asked deliberately to the Manager,” What did he say?” The Manager said,” he is saying OK, Let them stay here”, I smiled at the Manager. He smiled back. I asked my friends to leave that place. When we reached the other side of the lake near the Road, I narrated them the whole episode. They were shocked and scared. We decided to return to our previous lodge at Rajbagh and leave the valley early morning.

These incidents, I believe are a pre-cursor to the incidents that are going to follow. I sometimes used to think that KP’s shouldn’t have left the valley, even in 1990.But looking at the recent events that took place with me, Kashmiri pandits did the right thing. I don’t know why, but my Kashmiri Muslim friends have again got into the mould of 1990.The emerging trend is dangerous. Many more lives will be lost before the peace will dawn again in the valley which Sage Kashyap drained thousands of years back. I have my fingers crossed.
Narrated byRavinder Koul

Our Martyr’s live forever………….

14 sep 1989-I was going towards Sureteng from Kraylar,Rainawari. It was a bright sunny Autumn day. There was a gentle ascend from Kralyar to Sureteng that I was ambling. I was lost in my own world of thoughts .Suddenly I was nudged by someone on my back. I looked back. It was Aslam. He looked jubilant. He was bubbling with excitement and Glee. Without my asking , He said emphatically, ”Tikalal taploo has been shot by militants”. In disbelief my first reaction was,”What!!!”

I have asked so many of my Muslim friends about the reason for killing Kashmiri Pandits .Instead of a logical answer, I have heard “n” number of times that it was a Phase and that every Muslim wanted to take up an AK-47 and wage a war with anyone, whom they considered agents of India.

Basharat Mir’s “curfewed nights” also reiterate what I had heard many times. He has written in his book that the Militants were idolized, worshipped and copied in every sense. However he has bowdlerized that killing of innocents like Kashmiri pundits was also copied by many. I have yet to come across a Kashmiri Muslim who has the remotest compunction of killing Kashmiri Pandits and driving them out of the valley .

When the Pakistani army in the disguise of “Kabailis” raided Kashmir in Oct 1947.They left a trail of blood. Muslims were pardoned except a few like “Sherwani”, who was an activist and a staunch supporter of Shiekh Mohammed Abdullah. But mostly “Kabailis” were after the Blood of Hindus and Sikhs and they killed them mercilessly.

I knew a lady who became a senile person, because of the gory killings she witnessed in Baramullah, while she was a young girl of 10 years or so. She saw her father axed to death in front of her eyes. She along with her family choose “Habba Kadal” as their new area of dwelling. In her early twenties she got married and had two sons and a loving and caring Husband. The macabre incident had not stopped haunting her and eventually she succumbed to her childhood memories and lost her mind. We know hundreds of such incidents. Everyone of us.

History repeated itself in 1989-90, the messengers of death in the garb of jihadis unleashed such a terror that an entire culture and mark of KP’s was wiped out from the valley of Kashmir. As before, muslims were condoned and Hindus were targeted.
In 1947, POK was annexed by Pakistan because the Muslims insidiously sided with Pakistan army just because they happened to follow a common religion. The same strategy was repeated in Kashmir in 1989-90.

When Aslam broke the news to me, I retracted my steps and rushed back to my home. My family already knew about the incident as someone had telephoned them. Many of my family members rushed to Chinkral Mohalla in Habba Kadal.I too went to pay my homage to the martyr in the evening. Hundreds of people had gathered there. I could see many lugubrious faces around me. There was anguish ,grief and anger in the eyes of mourners. The Pakistan backed militants could not break his spirit so they had annihilated him physically. But has the enemy of KP’s and India succeeded in annihilating him and our other martyrs?

The answer is a big “NO”

Though the incidents if 1989-90, killed tens of hundreds of KP’s,burnt down and damaged houses and religious places, raped KP women and virtually obliterated Hinduism from the valley, But it could not kill the spirit of the KP’s.

Martyrs like Sh. Tikalal taploo ,Ashok Kumar qazi,B.K.Ganjoo, P.N.Bhat ,Sarvanand premi and others , laid down their lives for all of us. Though they are not physically present but they are still alive and are fighting with our perpetrators in the form of our inspiration. And no defeat is final until we keep trying.

The battle is still on.

Today on 14th sep. we all pay our tributes to our martyrs who shall live forever in our spirits……