The 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
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.
Kashmir universally 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
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 schools.
When persecution 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
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.