The pseudo-intellectual brigade of our nation often cites alienation of the Kashmiri masses as the reason for the armed insurgency in Kashmir. As a result of this, we Kashmiris living outside the state are often left to answer a barrage of questions ranging from, What exactly is wrong in Kashmir to Who do you side with…,or, ubiquitous and seemingly intelligent jhollawallas ( an extinct breed of communists elsewhere, to be seen only in India) asking Why doesn’t India let go of Kashmir if the people don’t want to stay with India. Being no historian of any repute whatsoever, I decided to write what can be a layman’s guide to the genesis of Kashmir crisis and the independence issue.
Unlike other Islamic invasions like that of Iran, Kashmir did not have armies of Arabs or Turks marching into Kashmir. Although Zulchu raided Kashmir in the early spring of 1323 AD,but he had entered Kashmir not with a mission to rule but to raid. This is evident from the fact that when his armies marched back (with women and children as slaves) they were caught in a snow storm which killed all of them. The conversion of Rinchan Lama (who defeated Suhdev’s general Rama Chand by treachery),to Islam was a turning point in the history of Kashmir.There are various theories on how Rinchan (1324-26AD) converted to Islam but the most plausible seems the fact that Bulbul Shah(a zealot of the Shah Ne'matullah Wali sect)converted him to Islam. Thus Rinchan was the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir, apart from being a foreigner. We must not fail to mention the role of Shams-ud-din(Shah-Mir 1341-45 AD)who had come to Kashmir as a dervish, killed associates of Kota Rani(wife of Rinchan) and usurped the crown later. Thus Kashmir began to be ruled by invaders and its natives lost their independence.
The next notable king was Shihabu'd-Din (1360-1378 AD,grandson of Shams-ud-din)about whom the famous Persian Text Bahiristan-i-Shahi says and I quote” Towards the fag end of his life, he was infused with a zeal for delmolishing idol-houses and destroying the temples and idols of the infidels. He destroyed the massive temple at Beejeh Belareh (Bijbehara). He had designs to destroy all the temples and put an end to the entire community of the infidels. But death overtook him in the year A.H. 780 (A.D 1378).”This was the beginning of miseries for the people of Kashmir. The rather notorious role of Sayyid’ Ali Hamdani(popularly called Shah-i-Hamdan in Kashmir by Muslims) in changing the mindset of foreign invading Muslim rulers from fairly benign to extremely fanatic Muslims is clear from the fact that he asked Sultan-Qutubdin to impose Shariah(Islamic Laws) in Kashmir. About Sayyid Ali Hamdani,Bahiristan-i-Shahi says I quote” Again it needs to be recorded that for some of the time which the holy Amir spent in Kashmir he lived in a sarai at 'Alau'd-Din Pora. At the site where his khanqah was built, there existed a small temple which was demolished and converted into an estrade on which he offered namaz (prayer) five times a day and recited portions of the Qur'an morning and evening. Sultan Qutbu'd-Din occasionally attended these congregational prayers.” I am choosing a Muslim source to quote for it lends credence to the fact that such demolitions were glorified and even considered righteous by the Muslim rulers, historians and the Amirs.After the death of Sultan-Qutubdin,he was succeeded by his son Sultan Sikandar who needs no introduction. “Sikandar But-shikan or Sikandar the Iconoclast” burnt or destroyed as many temples as he could lay his hands on. He killed thousands of Hindus and converted lacs. One significant detail is that three kharwars (one kharwar is approximately equal to eighty kilograms) of Hindu ceremonial thread (zunnar) were burnt by Sultan Sikandar. (Tarikh-i-Hasan Khuihami, Pir Ghulam Hasan, Vol II, RPD,* Srinagar 1954.).His period was a period of utter darkness and barbarianism in the history of Kashmir.This is what historians (mostly muslims)have to say about him."He [Sikandar] prohibited all types of frugal games. Nobody dared commit acts which were prohibited by the Sharia.. The Sultãn was constantly busy in annihilating the infidels and destroyed most of the temples..." (Haidar Malik Chãdurãh: Tãrîkh-i-Kashmîr; edited and translated into English by Razia Bano, Delhi, 1991, p. 55.)"[he] strived to destroy the idols and temples of the infidels. He got demolished the famous temple of Mahãdeva at Bahrãre. The temple was dug out from its foundations and the hole (that remained) reached the water level. Another temple at Jagdar was also demolished… Rãjã Alamãdat had got a big temple constructed at Sinpur. (...) the temple was destroyed [by Sikandar]." (Khwãjah Nizãmu’d- Dîn Ahmad bin Muhammad Muqîm al-Harbî: Tabqãt-i-Akbarî translated by B. De, Calcutta, 1973)"Sikander burnt all books the same wise as fire burns hay". "All the scintillating works faced destruction in the same manner that lotus flowers face with the onset of frosty winter." (Srivara, Zaina Rajtarangini).Many mosques were constructed from the debris of broken hindu temples. Iskandarpora was laid out on the debris of the destroyed temples of Hindus. In the neighbourhood of the royal palace in Iskandarpora, the Sultan destroyed the temple of Maha Shri which had been built by Pravarasena and another one built by Tarapida. The material from these was used for constructing a Jami' mosque in the middle of the city. Most of the Hindus fled the valley of Kashmir in order to protect their religion,women and children.This was the first forced migration of Hindus from Kashmir.Thus the first steps of pan-Islamization or conversion of Dar-ul-Harb to Dar-ul-Islam were taken and and a strong base was set for the foreign invading rulers to follow.
However the rule of Sultan Zaina-ul-abidin(Badshah)was a period of glory and prosperity for Kashmir.He rebuilt a lot of temples and appointed scholars to re-write Hindu scriptures and texts.A lot of Sanskrit texts were translated to Persian and vice-versa.Peace and great scholars returned to Kashmir.Ancient rituals and customs of the land of Kashmir were revived.Islam and Hinduism lived in harmony alongside. In terms of Zain-ul-abidin’s achievements his reign can be compared to the reign of the greatest ruler of Kashmir Lalit-aditya-Muktapida.His reign lasted fifty-two years.With the sad demise of the great leader of men and the torch bearer of secularism forces of fantacism came to the fore again.There were constant infightings between various contenders for the crown of Kashmir.All the contenders despite their differences were cruel and unjust to Hindus.The below given qoute from Baharistan-i-Shahi justifies that.”With the support of some more kings, the infidels had flourished day after day. But with the support and authority of Malik Musa Raina, Amir Shamsu'd-Din Muhammad undertook a wholesale destruction of all those idol-houses as well as the total ruination of the very foundation of infidelity and disbelief. On the site of every idol-house he destroyed, he ordered the construction of a mosque for offering prayers after the Islamic manner. The idolatory and heresy which had existed prior to his coming to this place were effectively replaced by his preaching and propagation of Islamic laws and practices. He brought honour to all the infidels and heretics (zandiqa) of Kashmir by admitting them to the Islamic faith and bestowed upon them many kinds of rewards and benefactions. It is publicly known as well as emphatically related that during his life-time, with the virtuous efforts and elaborate arrangements made by the fortunate Malik Musa Raina, twenty-four thousand families of staunch infidels and stubborn heretics were ennobled by being converted to the Islamic faith.It is difficult to compute the number of people who had hitherto indulged in corrupt practices of a wrong (false) faith and dissent and were put on the right track under the proper guidance of Mir Shamsu'd-Din 'Iraqi .” Not be fazed and bored by too much of history the point that I am trying to arrive at is…Arabs, Afghans and Persians have conquered our land for centuries, killed the natives much like Europeans who created America by killing Red Indians, destroyed temples and other great institutions like libraries and ancient houses of learning, subjugated the language of the land and imposed alien languages are now asking for independence of the very land that simply does not belong to them. That to my ignorant mind this is the genesis of the problem, though self proclaimed intellectuals like self styled commanders would argue the opposite with pen and gun respectively.
The leaders of Hurriyat want us to believe two things, one that they are the true representatives of the people of Kashmir, two the people of Kashmir want independence from the Indian dominion. That we are so used to strange happenings in the state we may believe the most absurd to be the norm, yet on both these counts our mental faculties would reason us to believe otherwise. Hurriyat is an amalgamation of fundamentalist religious parties of a certain faith alone. Most of the constituents of the Hurriyat are headed by people whose ancestors are not natives hence have come into the state as invaders or religious preachers with political motives. Thus we have a group of people mostly foreigners representing a certain faith which happens to be Islam in this case. That puts a big question mark on its so called representative character. As far as people of Kashmir(even if we consider only Muslims to be the citizens of Kashmir)wanting independence why on this earth would they stand in long queues at last assembly elections to exercise their franchise. I am referring to the last elections only because they were considered free and fair not just by national but reputed International Agencies. Besides if Hurriyat is the true representatives of the people of Kashmir as they want us to believe I wonder what Congress, PDP and other political parties are. Are people so naïve that they voted them in power despite a strong threat by terrorists to kill anyone who would vote.
The separatists by themselves are no force to reckon with. That’s why Pakistan is supporting them with men, material and money to carry out subversive activities within the state. Only a weak cause has to be supported by brute force which can be testified by the earlier attempts of rulers of non-Kashmiri descent. Why did Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela not need terrorists to support freedom movements in their respective nations?
The garb of independence very subtly hides the wolf of Pan-Islamic expansion. It is about time, we call the separatists’ bluff. Let them show their representative strength first and then claim to be the true representatives of people and torch bearers of the sponsored freedom struggle. While genuine grievances of the people of all the regions of the state should be addressed to, terrorism and its traders should be sternly dealt with for they are no better than ordinary criminals.
Thus is the layman’s guide to genesis and issue of independence in Kashmir.