This talk was presented at Amnesty International held Conference in
Chicago, USA. I would like to thank Amnesty International for providing us with the
opportunity of presenting the Historical Perspective of the Kashmir
conflict and the human rights violations of Kashmiri Pandits.
I am going to tell you a story of a people, my people, called Kashmiri
Hindus from Kashmir. This is a story of people whose highest ethos,
since times long gone, has been non-violence, highest aspiration the
pursuit of learning, highest goal perfection in spirituality. This
community has had 100 percent literacy rate until recently. And their
main source of income has always been the income they could muster
from their learning or land. The story I am going to tell you is not of the
grandeur of their learning, but the slow but sure dissemination of these
people, their institutions of learning, their arts, their lost categories, their
miseries, their humiliation, the raping and murdering of their sisters
mothers, massacres of their children, their disenfranchisement, loss of
their land and homes. The majority of this left over community, those
who still had not succumbed to the above mayhems, is languishing in the
refugee camps in India. The story of their misfortune is long, about 700
years long, but I will try to sum it up for you in next fifteen minutes. I
will only highlight some of the important events with the intent of
pointing out parallels with the present.
This story starts around AD 1320, when the first Muslim ruler of Dynasty
Shah-Mir’s usurped the throne of Kashmir. Shah-Mir was not a
Kashmiri, but had been given shelter by the previous Hindu King. At
that time Kashmir was mostly Hindu/Buddhist in nature. The main
trouble started when around (AD 1381) during the reign of the Sultan
Qutuibdin, when a foreign Cleric Sayyid Ali Hamdani came to
Kashmir from Hamdan. This is when the first Madrasa appeared in
Kashmir, and whose first pupil was the Sultan Qutuibdin. His first
instruction is to follow Sharia law and to apply on the infidels. That is
when the King started on a program of destroying Hindu temples. He
died early and is followed by his son Sikander Butshikan, (Destroyer
of idols) again tutored and influenced by Sayyid Ali Hamdani.
Sultan Sikander But-Shiken (AD 1393) Rules for 26 years. While
following the instructs and the dictates of his teacher Sayyid Ali
Hamdani, he systematically destroys temples, Kashmiri institution,
prohibits playing and learning of Music and Dramatics, Effectively
annihilates institutions of Kashmiri Learning, Forces conversion and
massacres on those who resist. In one short period he killed so many
people as to collect 80 Kgm’s of Sacred initiatory thread. (Each such
thread weighs about 1 gram, making it about 80 thousand people.)
During his reign large scale conversions and migration of Kashmir’s took
place. See Jonaraja Page 657-669 and Tarikh-I-Hasam KhuiAmi, Pir
GulAm Hasan Page 178-180)
Sultan Sikander is followed by Sultan Zain-ul-Abdin (AD 1414) His rule
was the mostly benevolent for Kashmiri Hindus, MaliK Musa Raina (AD1501-) During his reign another Sayyed from
outside comes to Kashmir and becomes the major influence on Malik
Musa Raina. 24000 families are forcibly converted on orders from Amir
Shamasu’d-Din Iraqi, to Islam ( Ref: Tarikh-I-Hasam KhuiAmi, Pir
GulAm Hasan & Tohfatul-Ahbab, Anonymous )RPD. ACC. No. 1155&
THK p270 )
On order from Iraqi 1,500-2000 infidels were brought everyday to the
doorsteps of Mir Iraqi. Who in turn would remove their sacred thread,
administer Kalmia to them, Circumcise them and forced them to eat beef.
Ref Tohfatul-Ahbab, Anonymous RPD. ACC. No. 1155, ff157) For
Graphic description of the forced Circumcision On IdgAh grounds again
see , Tohfatul-Ahbab, Anonymous RPD. ACC. No. 1155, ff 1190-191)
Malik Kaji Chak AD 1518 (Promises Amir Shamasu’d-din Iraqi his
loyalty) By this time large number of converted Hindu’s have reverted
back to their previous religious practices. This is not acceptable Amir
Iraqi, and he order Malik Kaji Check to act against them. In AD 1518,
1000 leading personalities of the community, who had gone back to their
old faith, were massacred in front of their families and their followers,
The families and the followers were warned not to repeat the mistake of
going back to their infidel ways. These leading personalities had an
influence over hundreds of other families, and they all were coerced back
to Islam. (Bahristan-I-shahi).
These policies forced constant migration of Kashmiri Hindus out of
Kashmir. However even to migrate out of Kashmir, they were forced to
pay taxes along with the humiliation and the abduction of their women
Afghan Rule: The Pathan rule was considered the most barbaric rule our
community had to suffer. It is said that during this rule only 11 Kashmiri
Hindu families were left over in Kashmir.
One can see from some the events pointed out above, that the main
source of the atrocities over Kashmiri Hindus, who had by now become
minority in their own land, was initiated and led by the Muslim Clerics
coming from out side and establishing their Madrassas. Even though the
implementation was very often through local converted authorities.
Consequences to My community:
• Impact on the Community was disastrous reducing them from being
Majority community to Minority Community, Loss of cultural and the
educational institutions, loss of sources of sustenance, loss of places and
mode of worship, Humiliation and the suppression.
From here I will jump to period from 1948 to 1989. There after this story
even though still of Kashmiri Hindus, it also includes the story of the
Minorities of Jammu and Kashmir state. Which are Dogras of Jammu,
Kashmiri Hindus, Ladhakhis and the Sikhs.
• Jammu And Kashmir (1948 – 1990) I will divide this portion in to two
Discrimination at the Governmental Level:
• In 1948 State of Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India. And the Muslim
conference of Kashmir renamed as National Conference came to power
with separate constitution and the Judiciary. This period is the story of
the absolute dominance by the Kashmiri Muslim, who arranged the stage,
under the screen of Article 370, for the disproportionate representation in
the state Assembly as well as in the Parliament. They enacted laws,
which would further dis-enfranchise Kashmiri Hindus.
• By 1948 the Kashmiri Hindu population was 15 %. However they had at
most one representative in the state assembly (out of the total of 75
members) and hardly ever any representation in Indian Parliament.
• The Voting precincts were carved such that Kashmiri Hindus would
always be in minority.
• The state gov’t enacted laws, which setup reservations in educational
institutions and the Government Jobs for the Majority population. (The
Government being the main employer in state.) Note that traditionally the
main occupation for the community was secured through the education
(white collar jobs). The enactment of these laws removed the possibility
of education for youth within the state. Kashmiri Hindus youth were thus
systematically forced to leave the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Reservation of the Jobs for the majority Muslim community blocked the
possibility of the getting jobs in the state. It guaranteed the slow and
steady reduction of the Kashmiri Hindus population.
• Passage of the Draconian Land reform Act: The land reform act was
passed by the state giovernment through they took the land from the
Kashmiri Hindus, gave it to the Muslim tillers with out any compensation
to the Hindus.
• Kashmiri Hindus who left the state experienced insurmountable
difficulties in claiming to be the state subject, both for them selves as
well as for their descendents.
• Where as the Muslims who had left India and adopted Pakistan are too
easily recognized as the state subject.
• The Kashmiri Hindu woman, if she marries out side Kashmir, looses all
rights to her ancestral property and effectively the state subject.
Discrimination from Majority Populace:
• Constant harassment and the humiliation of our community members by
the Muslim is so rampant, that for a long time I thought that it must the
normal to live like that.
• Regular desecration, destruction and the occupation of our places of
worship never gets much press. And since the judicial system of the state
is independent of the Central Government there is no recourse for
• The tendency of our community to get on with our lives without
protesting. The discriminations of the local government and the Muslim
community has been mistaken by many as the peaceful coexistence of the
two communities. I implore rest of the world not to take the silence of the
lamb as peacefulness of the wolf.
The one message that is clear of to our experience is that religious bigotry
was a constant theme for our community even during the period from 1948-
1990. However some time around 1980 onwards a large number of
Madrassas in Kashmir, (of Wahabi type) started appearing. There was at the
same time appearance of large number of non-Kashmiri Muslim clergy
population. This gave a serious twist to the existing but still not so extreme
religious bigotry. It is during this period that religious fanaticism in Kashmir
started becoming intense. By 1990 it had come to full boil, and could not be
kept under lid anymore. Again notice the Influence of Madrasas and
foreigners, a theme having resonance with past history.
Kashmir (1989 – Present)
In 1990 loud-speakers blurred from the Mosques of Kshmir, with the
Allaha-O-Akabar, Musalmano Jago; Kaffiro-Bago; Jihad AARahaa hai
Translation; (Allah is great, Muslims Wakeup, Infiddle run-away; Jihad is
“If it were truly a movement for the freedom of Kashmir the content of
slogans would be entirely different.” However this uprising based in
transforming Kashmir in to an Islamic theocracy, is presented to outside
world as freedom struggle.
Other slogans blurred from the loudspeakers left no doubt about the thrust of
the movement. Examples of which are given below.
! What is meant by freedom? Answer: – La Ilha Ilalaha
! What law will be applicable here? Answer: – Nizam e Mustafa
! Kashmir will transform to heaven with Hindu women and without
Starting 1989 the situation worsened, due to the injunction of foreign
elements dominated by Pakistan. It caused,
! Killing of KP leaders
! Murdering and raping of members of KP and other minorities –
! Mass migration of Kashmiri Hindus
(Please note the parallel with the past history)
! State of KPs for last 12 years – ignored by State and Central govt.
o People living in sub human conditions in Camps (300000
! no sanitation
! Decrease in birth rate
! Increase in death rate
! Major psychiatric problems refugee camps
And I can tell with pride, that even during these depths of despair Kashmiri
Hindus have not picked up guns to avenge themselves through terrorism, but
are struggling to some how provide education to their children, for that is all
they are still certain about.
We have shown here that the intent of the foreign sponsored movement in
Kashmir is to bring in Islamic law and to force the local minority population
either to get converted to Islam or force them to leave Kashmir and not
freedom. An objective in consonance with the objectives adopted
BY RAVINDER NATH KOUL