The Kashmir Files, has initiated the debate on the genocide and mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits. The left liberal cabals as well as the Islamists are furious at the movie, reason being it attempts to present the history of Kashmiri Pandits genocide as it is, without any sugarcoating. The other segment of the society is empathetic towards the Pandit community who has to flee the valley.
In between the two cabals, lies the truth. The truth of Kashmiri Pandits who had to flee from their homes, for the sake of survival the Pandit community have faced the brunt of Islamic radicalization, not once, not twice, not thrice but seven times.
Vivek Agnihotri’s The Kashmir Files has brought to fore the plight of Kashmiri Hindus and the atrocities perpetrated on the community in 1990. However, the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990s was not the first of its kind. The Hindu community has faced the sword of ethnic cleansing at least six more times.
First Exodus under Sikander Butshikan
The first exodus of the Hindu community from Kashmir happened in 1389-1413 CE, when Sultan Sikandar Shah commonly known as Sikander Butshikan (destroyer of idols) unleashed an Islamic terror crusade throughout the valley. During his tenure, temples were razed, and mosques were constructed in their place. The Centre for Integrated and Holistic Studies claims that during his reign, native Hindus were subjected to forced conversions , and others forms of brutality like looting, rapes, pillage became a norm and this forced thousands of Hindus to leave the valley in order to protect themselves.
Second Exodus under Shah-II
The second exodus was marked in the reign of Fateh Shah II, during 1505-1514 CE. Shah came under the influence of Shams-ud-din Araqi, who was a Noorbakshi Shi’a Sufi, and then began the heinous practice of persecuting Hindus in the valley.
Third Exodus under Mughals
After the dismissal of Shah Miri dynasty, Kashmir valley went under the control of Mughals and after that atrocities began on the Hindu community. The reign of Jahangir and Shahjahan were like nightmares for the community. Jahangir’s commander Sardar Itquad Khan, specialized in converting Kashmiri Hindus under torture. Aurangzeb and his famous governor, Iftekhar Khan, continued the reign of terror unleashed by his predecessors. This in turn forced the Hindu community to flee to other parts of India.
Fourth Exodus under Durranis
Taking advantage of the declining Mughal Empire, the Durranis of Afghanistan took over the control of the Kashmir valley in 1752. The Durranis mastered Aurangzeb in cruelty triggering fourth exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits community.
The Kashmir valley has seen many rulers, like the Sikhs and the Dogras. It’s important to note that during the Sikh or the Dogra rule, the valley’s majority i.e. Muslims were not subjected to any kind of religious persecution.
However, after the death of Dogra ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Britishers invaded the valley.
Fifth Exodus by the Britishers
A British officer’s cook Abdul Qadeer was facing sedition charges for his fiery remarks against Maharaja Hari Singh in July 1931. The trial of Qadeer stirred up sentiments, protests were being held against the Dogra ruler. Things became ugly after the protesters were fired upon, this firing triggered communal violence in areas of Naushehra, Bohri Kadal etc. Since the firing orders were given by local Governor Trilok Chand, the Kashmiri Pandits were targeted, attacked and ransacked. Communal riots took places in several places and properties of the minority community were razed to ground, forcing them to flee the valley.
Some historians believe that the onus of this exodus was on Britishers. There is no need to tell that Britishers thrived on the agenda of ‘divide and rule’, but this is mandatory to say that this politics of the the Britishers had triggered the fifth exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits.
Kashmir has not been a very peaceful land for longer periods. In the 1900s the condition of Kashmiri Pandits kept deteriorating. A series communal violence had been reported in the state. After 1947’s independence, Pakistan’s ISI backed groups started pushing for the radicalization of Kashmir. To sustain their agenda, they bred hatred for Kashmiri Pandits. There were concerted efforts to orchestrate a public relations campaign to change the Kashmiri people.
Seventh Exodus in wake of Islamic Fundamentalism
The prior exoduses and persecution are often being brushed under the carpet with the logic that back then, there were dynasties. But the most barbarous genocide faced by the Kashmiri Pandit community was under a democratic nation.
It’s not a hidden fact that in 1980s Pakistan backed terrorism started rooting in the valley. Terrorist outfits and their members started persecuting the religious minorities i.e. the Kashmiri Hindus. The message was loud and clear, ‘Convert, leave or Perish’. The brutal targeted killings, rapes of Kashmiri Hindus forced the community to leave the valley. More than five lakh Kashmiri Hindus fled the valley to save their lives. Thus, the Kashmiri Pandit community marks the day of 19 January, 1990 as the Holocaust day, a day when a community was reduced to the status of refugees and was forced to live in camps in their own country.
The innocent community of Kashmiri Hindus, time and again had become a victim of fatal Islamic fundamentalism in the Kashmir valley.