by Sita Ram Goel
What is Kashmir? Is it a piece of orphan territory to be occupied by whosoever carries a gun? Or is it an integral part of an ancient country and the extension of a great culture?
Who are the people of Kashmir? Are they those who regard themselves as sons and daughters of that ancient country and as inheritors of that great culture? Or are they those who have been enslaved and brutalized and alienated from their ancestral society and culture by a terrorist and totalitarian cult?
To whom does Kashmir belong? Does it belong to the country and the culture which has suffered and survived brutal assaults by the terrorists and totalitarian cult? Or does it belong to the imperialist enclave which has been torn away by force from an organic whole and which is being used as a launching pad for further assaults on what has survived of the ancient country and the great culture?
These are the questions which should be posed and answered by all those who are concerned with what is called the Kashmir problem but what, in fact, is the problem presented by terrorist and totalitarian ideologies operating under religious cloaks. And it must be admitted that none of these questions can be answered except with the help of history.
It is my considered opinion that the so called Kashmir problem, we have been facing, since 1947 has never been viewed in a historical perspective. That is why it has defied solution so far, and its end is not in sight in the near future. Politicians at the helm of affairs during this nearly half a century have been living from hand to mouth and are waiting for Pakistan to face them with a fait accompli. Once againg they are out to hand over Kashmir and its people to be butchers who have devastated this fair land and destroyed its rich eulture. The name of the game is restoration of democracy.
Having watched the scene all these years, I feel that the secularist forces in India have never felt sure that Kashmir is an integral part of India like the rest of our states. It is only when someone else says that Kashmir does not belong to India that they make some half-hearted noises for fooling the people of India. This is the meaning of Article 370 and of propping up one Muslim leader after another in the valley in the fond hope that world events will some day solve the problem one way or the other.
It is therefore high time that we renounce this ritual and have a look at the problem in a historical perspective. I should like to warn that histories of Kashmir written by Kashmiri Hindus in modern times are worse than useless for this purpose. I have read almost all of them, only to be left wondering at the piteous state to which the Hindu mind in Kashmir has been reduced. I am not taking these histories into account except for bits and pieces which fall into the broad pattern.
What then is the history of Kashmir? It is the same as the history of the rest of India in its long drawn out encounter with Islam with a few notable differnces which I shall point out as I proceed.
Kashmir has been an integral part of Bharatvarsha which comprises the present day states of Afganistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bangladesh. What distinguished it in ancient times was not that it produced some kings who extended their political sway to neighbouring provinces of Bharatvarsha, but that for a long time it remained one of the foremost cradles of spirituality and culture created by Sanatan Dharma. The achievements of its sages and savants need not be recounted here. They are well known not only in India but also in far off lands extending towards the north and the east. The Chinese pilgrim, Hiuen Tsang, found the ancient Hindu culture flourishing in Kashmir only two decades before the armies of Islam arrived on the borders of Bharatvarsha.
Again, it goes to the credit of Kashmir that its kings supported the Turki and Hindu Shahiyas of Kabul and Zabul in repelling one invasion after another till the north-western gateway stood closed to Islamic inroads effectively and the Islamic imperialists at Damascus and Kufa were forced to seek another avenue of advance through Makran and Baluchistan.
Finally Kashmir not only threw back the Islamic army which advanced towards its borders from Sindh and Multan under Mohammed Bin Qasim (712-715 CE) but also forged an alliance with China which was facing the same menace in Central Asia. At the same time it fought tooth and nail with the Tibetans who were at that time in alliance with Islamic imperialism. Few Hindu kings in Bharatvasha are known to have matched the wisdom and vision of Chandrapida (713-724 CE) and his younger brother Lalitaditya Muktapida (724-760 CE).
The Hindu rulers of Kashmir cannot be blamed in particular for permitting some Islamic missionaries to settle down in the valley for creating seditious colonies of converts. That was a blindness shared in common by Hindu rulers all over Bharatvarsha throughout the centuries. None of them realized that the Sufis were sappers and miners for Islamic imperialism. What distinguishes the Hindu rulers of Kashmir from Hindu rulers elsewhere is that they continued to recruit in their army Turks from Central Asia without realizing that the Turks had become Islamicized and as such were no longer mere wage earners. One of Kashmir's Hindu rulers Harsha (1089-1101 CE) was persuaded by his Muslim favourites to plunder temple properties and melt down icons made of precious metal. Apologists of Islam have been highlighting this isolated incident in order to cover up the iconoclastic record of Islam not only in Kashmir but also in the rest of Bharatvarsha. At the same time they conceal the fact that Kashmir passed under the heel of Islam not as a result of the labours of its missionaries but due to a coup staged by an Islamicised army.
What followed the coup is recorded in numerous histories written by some contemporary Hindus but mostly by Muslim chroniclersÑthe slaughter of Brahmins, the destruction of temples, forced conversion. The pattern was the same as in other parts of Bharatvarsha which had the misfortune of passing under the heel of Islam at one time or the other. The only distinguishing feature in the case of Kashmir has been that unlike elsewhere no Hindu resistance or rebellion could manage to surface anywhere in the valley subsequent to 1338 CE when that scheming Shah Mir became the first Muslim Sultan of Kashmir. Perhaps the odds were too overwhelming, or perhaps a psyche of surrender had been crystallizing over a pcriod of time. The latter seems to be the case if we consult the record of Kashmiri Hindus subsequent to that period.
What is the record? Starting with Jonaraja (15th century CE), the author of the second Rajatarangni, and coming down to Jawahar Lal Nehru (20th century CE) it is an endless saga of sycophancy and kowtowing on the part of Kashmiri Hindus before the aggressors. One has to read the songs which Jonaraja composed in praise of Zain-ul- Abedin and the panegyrics which Jawahar Lal Nehru has heaped on Mohammed Ghaznavi, Babar, Akbar and Sheikh Abdullah, his Sher-i-Kashmir. The record shows a progressive degeneration of the Hindu psyche vis-a-vis Muslim sultans. Jonaraja had the decency at least to detail the brutalities committed by the Islamic sultans. For Jawahar Lal Nehru that dark chapter in the history of Kashmir does not exist at all. In his fat volume, Glimpses of World History, he mentions the doings of Mihirgul in Kashmir in the 5th century CE and then jumps straight to the "sale of Kashmir" to Gulab Singh in 1846 CE. In the Discovery of India he has space only for spreading the canard in the context of Rinchin. It always comes to the Brahmins being blamed for every misfortune that has fallen to Hindu society and culture at any time in their hoary history.
Small wonder that balance of farces in Kashmir should have continued to tilt in favour of Islamic imperialism till the last Hindu has been hounded out of his ancestral homeland. Small wonder that the hoodlums strut around not only in the valley but in the capital city of Delhi with airs of injured innocence. Small wonder that the Marxist-Muslim combine of scribes who dominate the media blame Jagmohan for arranging an overnight and enmasse exodus of the Hindus from the valley. (They cannot forgive Jagmohan for bringing back Kashmir to India at a time when the combine was hoping that Pakistan would face India with an accomplished fact.) Small wonder that what Arun Shourie has aptly described as the "Formula Factory" - the Nayars, the Puris, the Kotharis, the Dhars, the Haksars, the Tarkundes - should be busy devising ways for handing over the Kashmir Hindus to their age-old oppressors.
The Kashmiri Hindus will be committing suicide if they walk into the trap and agree to return to a "democracy" presided over by the hoodlums. The only alternative left to them is to battle for their proper rights against the fanatics and their apologists. The battle has to be ideological under the circumstances and along the following lines:
1. That Kashmir was a great cradle of Hindu culture for a long time should be publicized in great detail;
2. That how this culture was ruthlessly destroyed by theocratic fanaticism should be made known in equally detailed manner;
3. That the Hindu population of Kashmir was forced to convert to Islam by brutal methods should be made known widely;
4. That the Sufis were no way behind other fanatics in their proselytising zeal to which they gave maximum effect under state patronage should be brought out clearly;
5. That the Rishi tradition of Yogic spirituality which went undergound and which survived for a long time and had nothing to do with Sufism should be made manifest.
The Islamic fundamentalism sweeping the world today is not a display of self confidence, rather it is its uneasy reaction to the emergence of a world culture based upon humanism, rationalism and universalism. Let the Hindus of Kashmir become more conscious of their own cultural heritage so that they become increasingly aware of the crimes committed on their land and their people. No other section of Hindu society is better qualified to give a lead in this context. Let there be no doubt that the lead will be followed by the rest of India.
(Courtesy: Kashmir: The Forgotten Side: released at AIKPC, Kanpur)
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