After the annexation of India and Pakistan from British forces, Kashmir re-entered a state of turmoil. Having political roots, this exodus spurred from a mixed ideology. Those in power wished for an Islamic Republic to be established in Kashmir, with no space for minorities.
Kashmir entered a darker period of time when Gul Shah confiscated the Chief Minister title from Farooq Abdullah. During this time period, Kashmir saw a number of curfew days, essentially leaving Kashmir in a state of lock-down for months at a time. Gul Shah provoked a group of Kashmiri Muslims to attack Kashmiri Pandits, in the clarion call to ‘save the face of Islam.’ Within a short amount of time, an unleashed spree of Hindu temple desecration took place, with wide-spread slaughtering, female molestation and torching of cowsheds.
The anti-Hindu parade spread out of North Kashmir, unlike the previous exoduses. It went towards South Kashmir, where Farooq Abdullah helped to destroy temples in Anantnag, Salar, and Fatehpur. With the help of tribesmen in the region, Kashmiri Pandits were murdered and raped; their houses were looted. With the absence of safety in their own home, many fled towards Jammu and Delhi as havens.
Before Farooq Abdullah, the ‘guise of secularism ‘in Kashmir was termed by Sheikh Abdullah. His regime promised a free Kashmir to all religions, yet him and successors all fueled and funded attacks against the indigenous Pandits of the Kashmir Valley. For the few Pandits who stayed in Kashmir, they believed their Muslim neighbors and friends wouldn’t hurt them; the truth could not be farther from that.
The Fourth Exodus (1753)
After the Mughal regime, Kashmir was ruled by the Afghans from 1753-1819. This time was another unjust period of cruelty, homicide, and anarchy for Kashmiri Pandits. Physical torture in the most ruthless fashion, forced conversions to Islam, exorbitant taxes, unchecked harassment and shameless molestation of women folk; more than what they faced under Mughal regime. The Afghans even sent Kashmiri people to Afghanistan as slaves and were the reason Kashmir’s shawl industry shrunk in size by placing extreme taxes on the region’s famous shawl weavers.
Mir Muqim and Ihsk Asqi, the first few Aghan rulers, collaborated to bring hell-fire down onto the Kashmiri population. These rulers did not differentiate between poor and rich, they attacked any Hindu they could find. During this time, several Afghan governors were in power; Chief Minister Fazal Kanth beheaded Kailash Dhar, a Kashmiri Pandit, in broad daylight in the open court of the Governor Amir Khan Jawansher. After this, Kashmiri Pandits were killed relentlessly. This episode so alarmed and panicked the KPs that they felt helpless and desperate. Mir Hazar, another Afghan governor, used leather bags instead of grass sacks for the drowning of Brahmans, showcasing the complete inhumanity towards Kashmiri Pandits during this time. Moreover, to keep Kashmiris from practicing their Hindu faith, there were strict laws forbidding the usage of tilak, forcing men to grow beards, and more.
What is interesting to note about this exodus was that Muslims were targeted as well. The Afghan rulers were dominantly Shia practicing Muslims. The common Muslim sect in Kashmir were the Sunnis. Muslims in Kashmir were forced to pay their prayers in accordance to the Shia doctrines. If they did not, they would be killed with iron rods, and beaten to death.
To save their lives while preserving their Hindu faith, the Kashmiri Pandits fled their homes; they fled the land of their ancestors once again. There was a mass exodus to far away places like Delhi, Allahabad, Poonch, etc. for safety and shelter. Many covered the long distances on foot. Over the course of the sixty seven year rule of the Afghans, the Kashmiri Pandits had to flee Kashmir a total of four times.
The Kashmiri Pandits then approached Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who invaded and captured Kashmir to start the Sikh reign over Kashmir shortly afterwards. The capture of Kashmir by Sikhs marked the deliverance of the KPs from the barbarous Afghan governors. It was the first time in 400 years the Kashmiri Pandits saw peace.
Several sources were used to write this article: (some portions were taken directly from the original source)
The Third Exodus of the Kashmiri Hindus occurred under the Mughal Rule (1585-1753).
Initially, under the rule of Akbar, Kashmiri Hindus regained their dignity as the he repealed the many taxes and fines previously imposed by the vicious Chak rulers.
Aurangzeb starkly differed from his predecessors after ascending the throne of Dehli in 1658. He wanted to Islamicise the entirety of the Indian subcontinent using his violent methods of religious persecution. Aurangzeb had destroyed Hindu centres of learning and temples, imposed strict Islamic laws, and reintroduced taxes (such as the Jizyah) on non-Muslims. In order to build an Islamic state, he felt the necessity to uproot the Hindu scholarly class.
As Kashmir was a hub for Hindu learning, he targeted the Kashmiri Pundits by appointing many villainous governors, such as Iftekhar Khan. During his rule of five years of torture, Kashmiri Pundits were forced to either convert or leave Kashmir. Thousands of Kashmiri Pundits left Kashmir, and settled in Dehli. They settled in a particular region, ‘Bazar Sitaram’.
Around 500 Kashmiri Hindus, let by Pandit Kripa Ram, approached the eighth Sikh Guru at the time, Teg Bahadur at ‘Anandpur Sahib’, in Makhowal, Punjab. They went with the hope to be alleviated by the oppression enforced by Iftekhar Khan. They narrated the atrocities they faced, including the ban of the tilak on the forehead and the wearing of the sacred thread, along with sexual abuse and forced abductions of Hindu women.
Hearing the plight of Kashmiri Hindus, Guru Tegh Bahadur decided to confront the Mughals directly. He embarked on a journey to Dehli, after anointing his son – Guru Gobind Singh – as the next Sikh Guru. He was arrested by Mughal officials in Rupanagar, Punjab, and was kept under arrest for four months in the nearby region of Sarhind.
Aurangzeb invited the Guru from his captivity to Dehli on a pretext, but he was instead asked to accept Islam, instead of the Sikh religion. To demonstrate his divinity, Aurangzeb requested him to display a miracle. However, he flatly refused and was put under compulsion to convert to Islam. Unwilling to change his religion, he refused. Guru Teg Bahadur had vowed to defend and protect the Kashmiri Hindus, and so he did not give into conversion nor did he attempt to escape. Along with him, three of his followers were subjected to immense torture. ‘Bhai Mati Das’ was hacked to pieces, ‘Bhai Dayal Das’ was tortured in a cauldron of boiling water, and Bhai Sati Das was burned alive. Guru Tegh Bahadur himself was bound to a cage, forced to witness the inhumane suffering inflicted on his friends.
On 24th November 1675, Guru Teg Bahadur was ordered to be executed in Delhi, by the orders of the Aurangzeb. He was beheaded by the executioner ‘Jalal-ud-din Jalad’ in Chandni Chowk (a market square close to the Red Fort), in public. The Guru became a martyr for the defence and protection of the Kashmiri Hindus. Aurangzeb was taken aback by this martyrdom, and the commencement of the fall of the Mughal empire has begun.
Despite the martyrdom of Guru Teg Bahadur, the destruction of temples, brutal torture and killings of the Kashmiri Pundits continued under the reign of Aurangzeb. The continual exodus of Kashmiri Hindus into other regions of the Indian subcontinent occurred. Kashmiri Pundits also had to change their profession to adapt to these different regions. For example, Zutshis and Shangloos, after facing tremendous struggles, settled in the Gangetic plain and over a period of generations had changed into Pehlvis (poets) and Topawallas.
Sources: ‘Shri Guru Granth Prakash’ ‘Shri Guru Pratap Suraj’, J. S. Grewal (1998). The Sikhs of the Punjab. Cambridge University Press. pp. 71–73. ISBN 978-0-521-63764-0., Pashaura Singh (2014). Louis E. Fenech (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies. Oxford University Press. pp. 236–238. ISBN 978-0-19-100411-7.
Chandra, Satish. “Guru Tegh Bahadur’s martyrdom”. The Hindu. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
H.R. Gupta. History of the Sikhs: The Sikh Gurus, 1469-1708. 1. ISBN 9788121502764.
Main source: Bachittar Natak – by his son, Guru Gobind Singh
Gandhi, Surjit (2007). History of Sikh gurus retold. Atlantic Publishers. pp. 653–91. ISBN 978-81-269-0858-5.
Who were the Chaks?
The Chaks belonged to the Shia sect of Islam and there is a consensus that they came to Kashmir from the land of Dardistan of the Gilgit-Hunza Region. Ferocious, rugged, and wild by nature they possessed great physical powers. When Shams-ud-Din Shah Mir founded the Sultanate in Kashmir he found them the most suitable to be recruited to his armed forces, bringing them into prominence. 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. 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 his 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.
Persecution of Hindus
Before Chak Rule in Kashmir, Sultan Muhammed Shah appointed Kazi Chak as his Prime Minister, who devoted himself with fiendish zeal to persecute Hindus and convert them to Islam. 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 Kashmiri Pandits beheaded every day for not having accepted Islam as their only mode of faith. Such kind of cruelty was unheard of before. The Chaks ordered that one thousand cows be slaughtered every day to wreak vengeance on the Kashmiri Hindus to shock them into accepting Islam. They re-imposed the Jizya tax on Kashmiri Pandits and snapped all means of sustenance from them. During the Chak period, the Kashmiri Pandits 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 rulers were cruel and heartless and peerless in devising ever-new methods of inflicting pain and misery to the Kashmiri Pandits without the slightest tremor of scruple. Those Kashmiri Pandits who somehow escaped getting converted to Islam fled their native places to seek refuge and sustenance at safer places in the neighborhood of Kashmir Valley. It was a massive exodus in that innumerable Kashmiri Pandits left their homes and marched out of Kashmir.
Namaste Shaarade Devi
Tvaam-Aham Praarthaye Nityam
Vidyaa-Daanam ca dEhi mE
Meaning:- Salutations to Devi Sharada, who abide in the abode of Kashmiira, O Devi, I always pray you for knowledge; Please bestow on me the gift of that knowledge, which illumines everything within.
Mukhe may thamboolam
nayana yugale kajjala kala,
vilasathi gale moukthilatha,
Sphuarath kanchee satee
Prathu kati thate hataka mayee,
Bhajami sthwam gowreem nagapathee kisorimavrutham
Meaning:- Adi Shankaracharya, in Ananda Lahari, exalts Goddess Gowri, “O Mother, I salute and sing about you always, With redness of Thamboola in your mouth, With black coloured eyes due to black collyrium,
With forehead shining due to the red dot from the Kashmir, With sparkling chain in your neck and adorned with shining silk from Kanchi,which is tied by the golden belt on to your waist.”
Did you know the Kashmiri Pandits were chased out of their own home seven times? This article describes the first exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits which dates back to the 1300’s. “Kashmir” comes from “Kashyapa Mira” (Kashyapa’s Lake) because Kashmir was formerly a lake. Kashyapa Rishi was a Vedic sage who is believed to have drained water encompassing this place, which led to valleys and mountains and settling people (Brahmins). The Nilamata Purana (source of ancient history for Kashmir) describes the valley’s origin from the waters, a lake called Sati-saras. The Purana describes the beauty of Kasmira along with the sacred places and the Kashmiri way of living. Kashmir is a beautiful place where the people devoted their lives to God and carried on traditions. Hinduism and Buddhism were believed to be predominant religions in Kashmir where Shaivism and Advaita Vedanta were present. King Gananda and Emperor Ashoka were known to help Hinduism and Buddhism flourish in this place. Kashmir is also known for being a place to learn and obtain knowledge. Many Sages are known to have blessed the place with Hindu Philosophy. Adi Shankaracharya visited Kashmir in 520 BCE where he went to the Shankaracharya Hill and visited the Shiva temple that resides there. He composed Shivananda Lahari and travelled to the Sharada Peetam and composed the Saundarya Lahari.
Unfortunately, Kashmir was disturbed by outsiders who wanted to destabilize the way of life. Syid Mir Ali Hamdani and Sikandar are widely responsible for disrupting peace in Kashmir (1389-1413). Shah Mir is the founder of the Muslim rule in Kashmir and tried to ruin Hindu traditions, where he encouraging inter-marriages between Muslims and Hindus. Syid Mir Ali Hamdani, along with 700 Sayyids, moved to Kashmir and drove a wide gap between the majority Hindus and minority Muslims. Hamdani tortured Kashmiri Pandits and forced them to either die, leave, or convert to Islam. Besides, Hamdani is known for demolishing Hindu temples such as Kalishree temple near Fatah Kadal in Srinagar and built a mosque known as Khanqah-i-Mulla. With his repressive and precautionary measures backed by state terrorism, he achieved the conversion of 37,000 Hindus to Islam. Besides, it was state policy to harass Kashmiri Pandits. The Sayyids headed by Mir Ali Hamdani openly preached extermination of Hindu religion and Hindu politics from Kashmir in order for Islam to flourish.
Sikandar is widely known for his atrocious acts against Kashmiri Pandits, where he would murder them and destroy temples for fun. Sikandar also stepped on Hindu Deity idols, decapitated Kashmiri Hindus, and burned their religious books. Seven mounds of the sacred threads and books were thrown into the Dal Lake. Due to the atrocious and unbearable torture, Kashmiri Hindus had to leave to the neighboring regions of Kishtwar and Bhadarwah through the smithan pass and to various provinces of India via Batote (Bhatta wath, the path of the Bhattas or Kashmiri Pandits).
The Kashmiri Pandits numbering over thousands were drowned in the Lake. They were charred to death at a spot in the neighborhoods of Rainawari in Srinagar City, known as Bhatta Mazar (The graveyard of the Bhattas, the K.P.s) beyond Jogilanker. Only some Kashmiri Pandit families stayed back in Kashmir to save Hindu traditions, and some chose to migrate to other places in fear of retaliation.
Many Kashmiri Hindus were left to die on the streets due to hunger and sickness. Some Kashmiri Hindus disguised themselves as Muslims for survival and to search for their missing families. The Sultan claimed victory on how he demolished Hinduism in Kashmir and performed atrocities against Kashmiri Hindus. Overall, Kashmiri Pandits were chased from their land from outsiders like Syid Mir and Sikandar, who destroyed Hindu traditions and made Islam dominant. We can never forget the brutal torture experienced by the Kashmiri Pandits’ despite the Liberal media’s vested propagandas. With historical knowledge of Kashmiri Pandits’ presence in the valley dating back to as early as the 13th century, which was way before the Mughal invasion underlines the fact that Kashmir was, is, and will always remain an integral part of India.