This Blog provides an insight on the Kashmir-issue, India and Pakistan. The articles on this Blog can be best described as thought-provoking. The articles thrive to trigger debate about the miseries enslaved Kashmiris are facing and discuss also possible solutions to this long standing conflict. It also aims to convince readers why Independent Kashmir is the best solution for all parties involved.



Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Tragedy of Kashmiri Pandits

Kashmir history is five thousand years old. In course of time, many invaders from outside led incursions into Kashmir. Recurrent turmoils within, too, have been part of her destiny. However, inter-community clashes did not show their ugly face as engrained culture. There is hardly any substantial historical evidence to prove that in a complex society people belonging to majority religious group compassed extirpation or decimation of a minority group.

Islam in Kashmir

Islam came to Kashmir in about A.D.1330 - 1339. Again there is no evidence to show that Islam was forcibly thrust on the people of Kashmir. Of course from the accounts given by Kalhana, and later on by Jonaraja, in Rajatarangini, one can find that Hindu society of those days was groaning under the burden of superficialities while the ruling class was engrossed in court conspiracies in order to keep itself saddled in the seat of power. The upper strata of society, intoxicated with power and identifying itself with the ruling class, had been isolated from the wider Kashmirian milieu. Tyrannical caste system had almost rent the social fabric into shreds. Continuous in-fighting and dissensions had sapped economic resources of the state.

In the background of this socio-political landscape of early mediaeval period, Islam was brought to Kashmir by the sufis like Bulbul Shah and Shah Hamadan. This opened the floodgates of revolt against oppressive caste system, revolution against social taboos and acceptance of a new faith based on social equality and fraternity. In his Rajatarangini, Jonaraja writes about Sultan Shahabu'd-Din Shahmiri as this:" the ancestors of Shahabu'd-Din came to Kashmir from the regions of Swat. They were the descendents of Pandavas and had converted to Islam."

A careful study of history reveals that one of the major reasons of not forcing conversion on people in Kashmir was that the ancestors of her rulers were themselves closely connected either with Hinduism or Buddhism. During his visit to Kashmir, the Mughal Emperor Jehangir was surprised to observe the coexistence and common life style of Kashmiri Hindus (Pandits) and Muslims. He writes in his memoirs, viz. Tuzak - Jehangiri," I do not understand what type of Musalmans are found in Kashmir because there appears no difference between them and Kashmiri Hindus. They share each others' customs and traditions to the extent that they celebrate feasts together."

At Nagabal spring in Anantnag, there is a temple of the Hindus, a gurudwara of the Sikhs and a mosque of the Muslims ( built by Dara Shikoh). What a glaring proof of religious toleranace. In far off villages in Ladakh region, we find members of one family adhering to different faiths at one and the same time. All of them live in peace and amity. If a couple is not of common faith, the son adopts his father's religion and the daughter that of her mother. This means that in Kashmir conversion from one religion to another never meant nursing hatred and ill will against any religion. Conversion took place, but surnames (zaat) remained the same. Among Muslim in the valley today we have Bhat, Koul, Raina, Teng, Munshi, Mahajan, Pandith and many more common zaat among Muslims and Hindus. In some cases slight variations have been affected such as Dhar becomes Dar, Rathore become Rather, Lavanya becomes Lone, etc. This shows that Kashmiri Pandits are our own flesh and blood. Centuries ago, our and their ancestors were brothers from the same blood. In terms of race, the same blood runs in our veins.