Second Exodus (1506-1585)
Pandits suffered vicissitudes and misfortune when under the zeal of Islamic
fundamentalism the Sultans made it a state under policy to effect forcible
conversion and implements it by issuing decrees to sever and chop off limbs
of the Pandits, kidnap them, loot their possessions and imprison respectable
people on various concocted pretexts so as to pressurize them to change
their faith and become the followers of Islam, the religion of the rulers.
There is a general
agreement on the point that the Chaks came to Kashmir from the land of
Dares of Dartistan of Gilgit-Hunza Region. Ferocious, rugged and wild
by nature they possessed great physical powers. When Shah Mir founded the
Sultanate in Kashmir he found them the most suitable to be recruited to
his armed forces. This brought them into great prominence.
The Chaks belonged
to the Shia sect of the Muslims, like all other earlier Muslim rulers they
also adopted their policy of conversion by coercion, loot, plunder arson
and butchering of Kashmiri Pandits, who as a result of continual religious
persecution became considerably reduced in number. There was no let up
in religious crusade against them either to force them to get converted
or face liquidation.
known as abode of sufis and saints (Rishiwari) presented scenario of religious
harmony, peace and absolute tolerance as long as there was preponderance
of Hindu population, be it Saivites, Vaishavites or Buddists. All co-existed
amidst amity and maintained very cordial relations and religious intolerance
was unknown. This serene and sublime atmosphere was vitiated and poisoned
by the emergence of alien Muslim rulers, no matter what class of
dynasty they belonged to. The holy land of Kashmir, the cradle of Trika
philosophy, the abode of rishis and munis was transformed into an arena
of strife and intrigues which very soon saw not only the reversal but
also the annihilation of centuries old and precious socio-cultural attainments.
Making a historical
evaluation of political and social role of Islam in Kashmir and among various
medieval societies, historians have adjudged Muslim ideology as parochial
and stereotyped. It is in this ideological framework that, to one's
amazement and shock, loot, arson rape, murder and killing have a religious
recognition and sanction.
Firstly all this
appears legalized under the umbrella of 'maliganeem' . Secondly any
social strife leading to disorder and anarchy is permissible getting covered
under Jehad (holy war). Thirdly any Muslim intoxicated with religious frenzy
and going on a spree of killing without rhyme or reason is saluted as'Majahid'
or 'Ghazi' (conqueror or victor).
The Kashmiri Hindu
having reached a high level of cultura attainment was found to be a soft
target and was thus subjected to the most horrendous tortures and
atrocities in the name of service to Islam. A right thinking person wonders
whether the message of Islam was bloodshed, plunder, arson and liquidation
of followers of other faiths or for spirrtual betterment and exaltation
of mankind at large.
Dr. M.L. Kapoor observes
that it took Islam almost six centuries to secure a strong foothold
in Kashmir. Subsequently with a jet speed it galloped through and within
next one hundred years over shadowed Hinduism and claimed a majorty.
Quoting Jonaraja Dr. Kapoor writes "As the wine destroys the trees
and locusts the paddy crops, so did the Yavanas destroy the usage of Kashmiris
and the Kingdom of Kashmir was polluted by evil practices of malechhas."
While the power of
the later Sultan ebbed, the Chaks correspondingly gained supremacy
at the court and ultimately succeeded in usurping the throne and establishing
their suzerainty over Kashmir. They consolidated their political power
through intrigues, conspiracies and murders of political rivals and
opponents. They spared no ferocious and barbaric means to seize political
power. Though belonging to the Shia sect the Chaks were no less ruthless
than the earlier Sunni rulers and showed no sympathetic consideration
for the Kashmiri Pandits whose number continued dwindling steadily following
the unrelenting onslaughts of the fanatical zealots.
When Fatah Khan (1506-16)
proclaimed himself the ruler and ascended the throne under the title of
Sultan Fatah Shah, the situation in the valley was depressing and deplorable.
He tried bid best to restore normalcy and rule of law and order by curbing
the power of nobles but met with no success. Contrarily he ended up
in becoming a mere tool in the hands of those who counted in the echelons
of power. Foremost among those were the intriguing Shams Chak, and
his three trusted friends. Nasrat Raina, Sarhang Raina and Moosa Raina.
Moosa Raina succeeded Shamas Chak as the Prime Minister of Sultan Fatah
Shah. He was a confident of Shams-ud-Din Iraqi propagator of Islamic
faith and converter of non-believers and Sunnis to Shia sect of Islam.
Hailing from Talish on the Caspian Sea he played a capital and instrumental
role in converting Chaks to Shia sect of Islam. Receiving green signal
from Moosa Raina Shams Iraqi opened floodgates of repression, terror and
cruelty against the Kashmiri Hindus. Hindu places of worship were demolished
only to see the erection of mosques on their foundations. All traces of
infidelity and idol worship were replaced by Islamic symbols and the infidels
and holy thread bearers of Kashmir were converted to Islam so much so that
Shams Iraqi with the help of Moosa Raina was able to convert 24000 Brahmin
families to Islam. (Kapoor from 'Baharistani Shahi'). The two savages terrorized
and forced their faith. A model of bigotry and tyranny, Moose mission of
humiliating, looting and then murdering those Kashmir Pendits who still
clung to their ancient faith besides wiping out residual Hindu temples
and religious repression became intolerable and showed indications
of being tantamount to ethnic cleansing, some Hindus rallied round the
leadership of one Pandit Nirmal Kanth, a respected scholar. They sent a
delegation to Prime Minister Moosa Raina to appeal for mercy. Moosa Raina
came down with a heavy hand on the members of the delegation. It was breaking
their head against the stone wall of cruel Feteh Shah, wolfish Shamas Iraqi
and pitiless Moosa Raina. The suppliants were thrown into jail, where unfed
they famished and groaned and died of starvation. This forms one of the
darkest periods of the black history of Kashmir. Shamas Iraqi's fanaticism
and zealot was unquenchable. His vindictiveness did not get satiated with
the massive conversion of Kashmiri Pandits whom he found with suspicion
and distrust. He did not spare then even after they had forcibly accepted
Islam. He charged the neophytes of clinging to their original faith. He
gave free vent to his wrath when he observed them chanting mantra by placing
their haunches on the hand written copies of Muslim religious texts and
bowing before Hindu idols. Moosa Raina set up camps for forcible circumcision
of the neophytes in order to brutalise and deculturise them. Moosa Raina
and his gang men would forcibly draw and haul them out of the homes and
stuff their mouths with beef so as to stagger and shock them psychologically.
This was intended to give them such a shaking that they would not dare
retain any Hindu tradition and lest they should be exterminated, snapped
their habitual links with the Hindus, their erstwhile brethren.
After Moosa Raina
had gone the way of all flesh in 1513 Mohammed Shah (1517) appointed Kazi Chak, again a
Shia, as his Prime Minister. Kazi Chak too gave no quarter
and no time for recovery to the distressed Kashmiri Pandits. One hound
after another thirsty of the blood of the unfortunate Pandits followed
in succession. Kazi Chak left no stone unturned inflicting pain and heaping
disasters and miseries on the Pandits. He initiated a systematic and planned
campaign for the desecration and dismantling of Hindu temples and sacred
places. The movable and immovable property of Pandits were looted and ravaged
and ruined. It is attributed to him that he used to get 900 KPs beheaded
every day for not having accepted Islam as their only mode of faith. Such
kind of cruelty was unheard of before.
The Hindus hold cows
sacred and revere them. The Chaks ordered that one thousand cows be slaughtered
every day to wreck vengeance on the Kashmiri Hindus so as to shock them
into accepting Islam. They re-imposed the dreaded punitive tax Jazia on
KPs and snapped all means of sustenance from them. The contemporary historian
Shukla testifies. "The Hindus were overpowered by the religious intolerance
the same way as the sun is overpowered by the gray sable clouds". A KP
wearing the sacred thread had to pay annual tax to the Chak rulers. For
the Chaks killing, butchering, mangling and marauding was a common place
routine after not worth being taken as a sensation.
During the Chak period
the KPs were persecuted, snubbed, humiliated, held low and trampled mercilessly.
They had to pay tax even for performing their religious rites and obligations,
rituals and customs. To preserve the distinctive traits of their sect and
creed the Kashmiri Pandits were bound to pay 40 precious stones to the
ruler. The Chak era goes down as black saga in the history of the Kashmiri
Pandits. The Chak rulers were cruel and heartless and peerless in devising
ever-new methods of inflicting pain and misery to the KPs without the slightest
tremor of scruple. Those KPs who somehow escaped getting converted to Islam
fled their native places to seek refuge and sustenance at safer places
in the neighbourhood of Kashmir Valley. It was a massive exodus in that
innumerable KPs left their homes and hearths and marched out of Kashmir.
While they were fleeing for their lives, a barrage of spiteful abuse and
insolent contumely was let loose on them with the aim of preventing their
return to the land of their genesis. Thus the genocide of Kashmir Pandits
was designed, engineered and pursued to transmute the basic character of
the heritage of Kashmir, change its social religious and cultural identity
beyond recognition and reduce this ancient land of Hindu sages and saints
to the Muslims ghetto as was conceived by the Sayyid theologians.
When Akbar, the Mughal
King, began to make inroad into Kashmir and Yusuf Shah Chalk abjectly surrendered
and joined the invading Moghul forces, the rebel Yakub Chak seized the
reigns of power in Kashmir. He too initiated his rule with forced conversion
of the Pandits, rank communalist as he was. He made the Jama Masjid in
Srinagar as the headquarters of his Jehad against the Sunnis and the Pandits.
Under his instructions his fanatic Shia zealots committed numerous atrocities
on the Pandits, especially on their women folk, including their massacre.
He added a new feather to his cap in his Jehad for Islam by hauling up
Pandits in their houses and roasting them alive. It was a new cono button
to the spread of Islam in Kashmir.