The history of the Pandits of Kashmir goes back to the period when the Aryan Saraswat Brahmans. WHO accustomed live to tell the tale the banks of the Saraswati River. migrated to the Kashmir Valley. With the passage of time. they assumed the name Bhattas and now they are popularly known as the Kashmiri Pandits.
Kashmiri Pandits, who formed a significant part of Kashmir. were closely associated with its culture, customs and traditions. The land of Kashmir was home to many. The first struggle for survival faced by the Kashmiri Pandits was during the reign of Abhimanu. It was during the 14th century that Kashmir came to contact with the Muslim invaders. who took advantage of the weak administration of the Lohra Dynasty and established their rule.
It is said that during 1089-1101 AD, Muslim Generals, who were employed by the then king. began consolidating their roots as a community in Kashmir. The first direct assault to the Kashmiri Pandits during 1252-1273 AD. took place when they conspired against the King and failed in their attempts to overthrow him. The King took action against them and they faced much torture. During 1301-1320 AD the rulers encouraged. the inflow of Muslims into the natural depression to counter the supremacy of the Brahmans. Most of the rulers WHO came later tried to try and do away with them. Some of them adopted methods similar to the notorious killing of the Jews in Deutschland during Hitler’s rule.
These rulers tried to exterminate and eradicate all Hindus from Kashmir. Ali Shah, who ruled Kashmir during 1413-1430 AD. adopted tyranny as his tool of administration. His reign was carried out with killings. conversions
and forced taxation on the Pandits. He forbade ceremonies and enforced conversion on the Pandits. Fearing conversion, many killed themselves. Many kashmiri Pandits fled from their homes and found
refuge in other places. This oppression of the Pandits was one of the most terrible incidences of mass exodus.
Throughout this period. numerous Pandits were banned from attending religious prayers and meetings in temples.
However, when Sultan Zainul Abidin took over the rule of Kashmir.
he choose the tolerant path. He ensured that the Pandits’ glory was resurrected and they were given back all that they had lost. This was the phase of peace for the Pandits who lived in their homeland without any threat. In the following years. the Kashmiri Pandits suffered terribly under the rule of Shams-ud-Din Iraqi and Musa Raina. The Pandits were stripped off their religious identity and their religious scriptures were burnt. Those who opposed were slaughtered mercilessly.
When Akbar the Mughal came to power, he ruled with tolerance towards the Kashmiri Brahmins as well. His policies towards the religious practices were lenient and all throughout his rul., Pandits were respected and were given the freedom to perform. their religious festivals and live secure lives. The period between 1753-1819 was again a period of cruelty and anarchy. Afghan rule of this period victimised the Pandits in the worse form. This was a period of genocide when thousands of Kashmiri Pandits were killed. History provides instances of parents shaving off their daughters’ heads and cutting their nose so as to destroy their beauty and save them from disgrace. Know More About Rani Durgavati, Who defeated Akbar army three times in the war.
Sikh rule in Kashmir was a period of relief for the Pandits after years of torture and barbarism. By this time, a majority of the population had already converted to Islam. and most had left the State. Those who remained, claimed back their lost honour by rebuilding their homes and temples in hope of starting afresh.
In 1846, during the Dogra rule.
the Pandits were again targeted when their political, religious and cultural freedom were curtailed. The communal disturbances of 1931 pushed many kashmiri Pandits towards migration. Their houses were looted, shops burnt, women and children abducted and the whole community tortured. In order to establish the dominance of one community in the region of Kashmir. the inhuman acts against the kashmiri Pandits. which had been prevailing since ancient times, turned brutal and barbaric. in what we can call the genocide of the Pandits.
The Kashmiri Pandits, with a history of over 5000 years in Kashmir.
were made victims once again in one of the ugliest chapters of Indian history.In the year 1990, following threats against all Hindus to leave Kashmir. there was widespread chaos in the area when the kashmiri Pandits were targeted and killed. People were shot in the open and anti- India slogans were raised.
Temples and houses were burnt down and there were explosions in various parts. Thousands were reported dead. Those who survived the massacre fled to other parts of the country. The extermination of the Pandits 25 years ago is perhaps the most tragic incident of recent past and one that has to be talked about more often. At present there are hardly any kashmiri Pandits living in Srinagar or any other part of the valley. Some of them live in refugee camps in Jammu while a few live in Delhi and Mumbai.
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