Table of Contents
   Index
   About the Author
   Preface
   Foreword
 KASHMIR: PAST
   Kashmiri Hindus: Origin ...
   Sultan Zain-ul-abidin
   The Sayyids as Oppressors
   Chak Fanatics
   The Mughals
   The Afghans
   Sikh Rule
   Dogra Rule
 KASHMIR: PRESENT
   Post-1947 Scenario
   Jammu and Ladakh ...
   Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad
   Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq
   Sayyed Mir Qasim
   Sheikh Abdullah Sows Seeds ...
   Farooq Abdullah ...
   Ghulam Mohammad Shah ...
   Rajiv-Farooq Accord
   Proxy War Declared
   Muslim Fundamentalism
   Terrible Plight of Minorities 
   13th November, 1991
   Epilogue
   Appendix
   Download Book 

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir

Milchar

Symbol of Unity

 
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CHAPTER FIVE

The Mughals

(1585-1753 A.D.)

The ruthless Chaks had to face organised opposition on part of the Sunni Muslims, who rallied behind Sheikh Yaqub Sarfi, the political adviser of Sheikh Hamza Makhdom, known as a saint of Kashmir. The internecine sectarian conflicts between the Sunni and Shia Muslims had evoked the keen interest of the Mughal emperor, Akbar, who longed to annex Kashmir to his vast kingdom. At the behest of Sheikh Hamza Makhdom expelled by the Chaks from the city of Srinagar only to take refuge in Beerva (Badgam), Sheikh Yaqub Sarfi and Baba Daud Khaki repaired to the court of the Emperor to petition him to despatch his forces to occupy Kashmir, which after some resistance fell to the Mughal forces. As a Suba (province) of the Mughal empire, Kashmir broke its isolation and registered advances in many a field as a result of its inter-action with the varied components of a vast empire.

There is no denying the fact that Jalal-ud-din Akbar was highly tolerant and never resorted to the policy of persecution and discrimination against the Hindus, who otherwise had to suffer oppression and untold sufferings at the hands of Muslim bigots. On his visit to Kashmir in 1589, the Emperor came to learn of the plight of the Kashmirian Hindus, who were smarting and groaning under the heavy weight of the vexatious exactions like the hated Jazia (poll tax). He repealed the practice of levying Jazia and fines on them having been in vogue since the time of the Chak rulers.l He decreed that the people exhibiting respect and reverence to the Kashmirian Hindus must be rewarded and those levying taxes on them be severely punished by pulling down their houses.2 Akbar's decree proved a great relief to the Hindus living in their homeland and also a source of great allurement to the Hindus, who had marched out of their native place, to return to their homes and hearths which had been looted and ravaged by the Muslim fanatics during the period of their absence. Akbar, to the chagrin of the Muslim fanatics, allowed the Kashmirian Hindus to celebrate their religious festivals and observe other practices without payment of taxes and tributes.3 Credit goes to the Emperor for silencing the loud voices of religious discord and bigotry and also for establishing 'the brotherhood of man'.

Akbar's visit to Kashmir was a matter of great joy and mirthfulness for all segments of the Kashmirian population. He enthused them with new hopes and promises of a luminous future, free from religious strife and turmoil. Records Shuka, a contemporary historian, "Now Jalaludin came to see the kingdom of Kashmir, decked with saffron, walnut, fruits and flowers. The wives of the citizens hastened to have a glimpse of the King. One woman pointed out the King to her dear female friend who was quite eager to see him; another exclaimed with a flutter that she had seen the leader of the army; another woman with threats to her child covered her bosom and went. After the peuple of Kashmir had seen the King, a continuous festivity was held in every house".4

A trail of religious tolerance, mutual accommodation and social harmony as blazed by Akbar was not followed and emulated as a hallowed tradition by one and all succeeding him. His son, Jehangir, swerved from the policy-path of Akbar giving ample proof of his sectarian predilections. Enamoured of the beauties of Kashmir, he by and large aspired to keep it safe from the religious turmoils that had been ravaging the Paradise for centuries. His inconsistent stances unto the-Hindus of Kashmir were largely responsible for the communal frenzy to raise its ugly head. The Kashmirian Hindus were coerced to marry their daughters to the Mughal officers and Subedars. The father of a Hindu girl having repaired to the court of Jehangir to seek justice by pulling the gong of justice brought the atrocious demeanour of a Mughal officer to his notice. Promising justice to the poor father, the Emperor is said to have personally looked into the complaint and to his utter consternation discovered that the Mughal officer had forged a marriage contract with the Hindu girl with the active connivance of the Kashmirian Mullahs. Incensed at this, the Emperor meted out severe punishment to the Mughal officer and ordered the execution of the Mullahs responsible for forging the marriage documents.

Apparently just and equitable in his treatment of the Kashmirian Hindus, yet the Emperor upheld and vigorously clung to the Islamic practices, which mar and besmear his tolerant credentials. He categorically disapproved of the practice of inter-marriages between the Hindus and the Muslims in vogue in the hilly terrains of Kashmir. A Hindu boy was forbidden to marry a Muslim girl, but a Muslim boy had all the licence to marry a Hindu girl. The present day researchers of the medieval history of India have found many a piece of evidence which cloud Jehangir's credentials of tolerance and religious accommodation.

Jehangir following the foot-prints of the Muslim fanatics was responsible for dismantling the flight of steps linking the temple of Shankaracharya to the river Jehlum near the temple of Goddess Tripurasundary.5 The sculptured and chiselled stones were used by Nurjahan to erect a massive mosque known as Pathar Masjid. The Muslims never used the mosque for prayers as it had been built by a woman owing allegiance to the Shia faith. The Sikh commander, Phula Singh, was justified to-declare the mosque as the property of the state as it was built out of the dismantled materials of a part of a temple of a high architectural merit.

Itqad Khan, a cruel and inhuman Mughal subedar, marred and tarnished the image of Jehangir, which was already sullied by his iconoclastic activities in Kashmir. He harassed and persecuted the Kashmirian Hindus forcing them to convert to Islam. He subjected them to cruel levies and taxes only to make them miserable and distressed. He was a sworn enemy of the Shia-Muslims, whom he tyrannised and tonured with a view to decimating them and their faith.

Torture and persecution of the Kashmirian Hindus continued even in the times of Shah Jehan, who was equally enamoured of the beautiful vale of Kashmir. A Muslim mob under the lendership of Khwaja Mam attacked Pandit Mahadeo, looted his house and set it to flames. The mob even set the granaries of the state on fire. Shah Jehan labelled it as a revolt against his authority. He summoned some Muslim nobles from Kashmir to his court and asked Mulla Yusuf, a noble, as to who was responsible for the outrage against Pandit Mahadeo. Mulla Yusuf replied that neither Pandit Mahadeo nor anyone from the public was responsible for it. At this the Emperor thundered and asked if none was responsible for it, it obviously meant the Emperor was at fault. The Emperor called Mulla Yusuf a man devoid of sense, which remark absolutely frustrated him resulting in his fainting fit and subsequent death.

Shah Jehan was equally responsible for indulging in iconoclastic activities in Kashmir. At his behest a number of temples were not only profaned and desecrated, but also ravayed and demolished. Records Bernier, "The doors and pillars were found in some of the idol temples demolished by Shah-Jehan and it is impossible to estimate their value".6

Ali Mardan Khan, originally an Iranian, had taken shelter in the court of Shah Jehan as he was reluctant to hand over to the ruler of Iran the treasure-trove he had come by in Qandahar.7 As a governor of Kashmir, he proved quite tolerant and felt attracted to the monistic philosophy of Shaivism. He was possessed of a poetic genius and had full mastery over Persian language. His eulogy of Lord Shiva in Persian is lofty and sublime and his praises galore of the Hari Parbhat (hillock) are laudable.

With the advent of Aurangzeb, the Kashmirian Hindus were once again hurled into a vortex of crisis, uncertainty and persecution. The Emperor being a religious bigot re-imposed Jazia (poll tax) and other levies on the Hindus. He reduced them as low as dust. He subverted all that what was achieved by his predecessors in the areas of social harmony, religious tolerance and brotherhood of man. Following the dicta of the Islamic Law, Aurangzeb violated all the normal rights of the Hindus including their right to live. His governor in Kashmir Iftikar Khan (1671-75) was cruel and tyrannous. He subjected the Kashmirian Hindus to the worst-ever torture and persecution torcing them either to get converted to Islam or march out of their homeland. As a matter of result, thousands succumbed to his tyranny, but thousands were under pressure to abandon their homes and hearths only to take refuge in the neighbouring regions to safeguard their religion. This could have led to the third massive exodus of the Kashmirian Hindus planned and formulated by the forces of the religious hatred represented by the governor of Kashmir and the Emperor holding the reins of power at central Capital, but got stopped when the Kashmirian Hindu delegation assured the Emperor that they would accept Islam if Guru Tegh Bahadur was first converted to his faith.

In the wake of it, a massive tragedy occurred in the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur,8 ninth in the line of Sikh Gurus. A delegation of five hundred Kashmirian Hindus led by Kirpa Ram, a learned Hindu, called on Guru Tegh Bahadur at the village of Anandpur Sahib in the Punjab. The Guru was informed of the Mughal Governor's immeasurable hostility unto the Kashmirian Hindus and of his atrocious measures to coerce them to get converted to Islam. The Hindus wanted the Guru to plead their case with the bigoted Emperor. Guru Tegh Bahadur was categoric in informing the Hindus that it could be stopped at the cost of a great sacrifice. Guru Govind Singh, then only twelve years old, exhorted his father to undertake the sacrifice for the noble cause of preserving and conserving the religious faith of the Hindus. Guru Tegh Bahadur was already under the surveillance of the Mughal Emperor and his band of officers, who doubted his bonafides as a saint of the highest order. In reality, the Guru was silently lending succour and moral help to his compatriots, who were groaning under the Emperor's sword and tyrannous rule. He was applying balm to the wounds inflicted by the outrageous regime of the religious bigot. The Guru was fully aware of the travails and privations of his people around him and was arousing their religious conscience for putting up a stiff resistance to the tyrannical rule. A tirade of calumny was launched against the Guru with a view to detain him and exterminate him. The Emperor Aurangzeb felt no quirk of conscience when he ordered his brutal execution. The Guru fell a victim to brute force, ignorance, religious bigotry and hatred.

Guru Tegh Bahadur has impeccable credentials for entry into the famed hall of martyrs. His cause was just and noble and his sacrifice lofty. Each drop of his sacred blood wrote a new chapter in the book of Indian history. The Guru's son, Guru Govind Singh, founded the order of Khalsa with the avowed objective of putting up a tough battle against the spectre of brute force, tyranny and religious persecution. The disciples of the Gurus have played a glorious role in holding aloft the banner of human freedom and dignity amidst the moribund forces of ignorance and darkness (the Kashmirian Hindus bow their heads in absolute gratitude to the memory of the Great Martyr and consider him as their real saviour. They are once again hounded out of their homeland and have fallen a prey to the same religious bigotry and hatred that the Guru fought by sacrificing himself).

Another outrageous act of the bigoted Emperor was that he ordered his Governor, Saif Khan, to put Rishi Pir, a well-known Hindu saint of Kashmir under detention. He did not take kindly to the close relations that Rishi Pir had forged with Akund Mullah Shah, the celebrated teacher of Dara Shikoh. The Kashmirian Hindus firmly hold that the great saint appeared in a dream to Aurangzeb the same night demanding to annul the imperial order,9 but the tact remains that Muslims stoutly convinced of Rishi Pir's spiritual height and attainments interceded only to deter the Governor from committing the heinous act of putting him under arrest. Be it said that Rishi Pir was a real spiritualist given to meditation for the achievement of spiritual ascension and final absorption in the Ultimate Reality. Unlike many of his contemporary saints, he had no political advisors nor was he interested in affairs mundane. He never converted people to his faith, yet he helped all men of all hues in going up the ladder of spiritual elevation. He had no rancour against Aurangzeb, who had ordered his detention and even went to the extent of solacing him as he was smarting under remorse for having executed Samrad, a Sufi,10 whom the Emperor considered a heretic. Rishi Pir introduced the cruel Emperor to the lofty concept of immortality of human soul, which is far removed from physical pains and pleasures, joys and sorrows.

Aurangzeb with his policies of fire and sword, religious bigotry and hatred led to the sapping of the Mughal Empire, which his predecessors had assiduously erected. The entire edifice of the Empire started cracking and crumbling and as a consequence Kashmir witnessed a cruel Muhta Khan asserting his political hegemony over the head of the Deputy Governor, Mir Ahmad Khan. Muhta Khan was the Sheikh-ul-Islam of Kashmir. He instructed the Deputy Governor to execute the following insensate mcasures against the Hindus:
  1. No Hindu should be allowed to ride a horse. 2. No Hindu should be allowed to wear Jama (Mughal dress). 3. No Hindu should be allowed to bear arms. 4. No Hindu should be allowed to participate in fairs and festivals. 5. No Hindu should be allowed to put on a Tilak mark. 6. No Hindu should be allowed to receive education. 7. No Hindu should be allowed to visit a garden.

The Deputy Governor did not oblige Muhta Khan, the Sheik-ul-Islam, who seated himself in a mosque and issued orders to execute his measures against the infidels. He in his anti-Hindu Jehad won a considerable following of Muslims directing them to harass the Hindus by erasing Tilak marks from their foreheads, snatching their turbans and shoes, making them to dismount a horse if they were riding one and also tearing off thelr clothes if they appeared clean and decent. Muhta Khan's anti-Hindu Jehad from a mosque, God's abode, culminated in the loot and plunder of the Hindu houses, which were finally set ablaze.

A Hindu trader hailing from Jullander11 was feeding Brahmans in a garden, perhaps by way of earning religious merit. Muhta Khan's frenzied mob of Muslims attacked the Brahmans, who fled from the scene only to take shelter in mountain areas. The trader, Majlis Rai, took refuge in the Deputy Governor's residence, which also was raided. The trader had to run for life, but was finally captured and killed. His house was looted, plundered and ransacked.

Muhta Khan deposed the genial tempered Mir Ahmad Khan and assumed the reins of government under the title of Dindar Khan. He organised systematic raids on the localities, which were inhabited by the Kashmirian Hindus, maiming and killing them, looting and plundering their houses and finally torching them. Those, who were able to save themselves from the frenzy of Muhta Khan, hid themselves in mountain areas.l2

Muhta Khan was a harbinger of chaos and lawlessness in Kashmir. He pursued the anti-Hindu policies of Aurangzeb, who added new chapters to the book of Muslim intolerance in India. He was a usurper, religious bigot and tyrant - all rolled into one. He was ultimately assassinated in the house of a Shia-Muslim. The wrath and ferocious fury of his followers got directed onto the Shias l3, who were given the same inhuman treatment as was meted out to the Kashmirian Hindus. Muhta Khan's son, Sharf-ud-din, succeeded to the office of Sheikh-ul-Islam. He by his atrocious deeds proved an improved version of his father. He persecuted and tortured both the Hindus and the Shia-Muslims.14

The vision and approach of Mir Ali Hamadani as elucidated in his book, Zakhiratulmaluk, was translated into actual practice by Muhta Khan and Sharaf-ud-din and men of their ilk, who were responsible for the most grisly and ghastly kind of carnage of the Kashmirian Hindus. His 'transformation campaign'15 against the Hindu dress, language and culture signalled the catastrophe which resulted in the death and decay of an ethos imbued with wider vision of understanding, tolelance and social harmony. The Jehad (rcligious war) against the Hindus, who are an ancient tribe of Kashmir, was started by Mir Ali Hamadani and his son Mir Mohammad Hamadani 16 and continues unabated and unrestricted till present day.

Notes and References

l. Shuka. Kings of Kashmir.  2. Ibid.  3. ibid.  4. ibid.  5. P.N. Magazine, Koshur Samachar Vol xxxvii No. 9,  December, 1992.  6. Bernier, Journey to Kashmir P. 400.  7. P.N.K. Bamzai, History of Kashmir.  8. More details are available in Khushwant Singh's History  of Sikhs.  9. P.N K Bamzai, History of Kashmir.  10. Sufis were not acceptable to the orthodox Islamists. They  were rejected as heretics because their thought content  was akin to the Hindus and Buddhists. Islam is deistic,  but Sufism is more or less monistic or pantheistic. Mansur  was beheaded when he proclaimed, 'I am the Truth'.  11. Birbal Kachru, Tarikh-i-Kashmir (Persian).  12. Fauq, Tarikh-i-Kashmir.  13. P.N.K. Bamzai, History of Kashmir.  14. Ibid.  15. Parimu (Dr.)R.K., Muslim Rule in Kashmir  16. Ibid.

Kashmir: Past and Present

 

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