Table of Contents
   About the Author
   Kashmiri Hindus: Origin ...
   Sultan Zain-ul-abidin
   The Sayyids as Oppressors
   Chak Fanatics
   The Mughals
   The Afghans
   Sikh Rule
   Dogra Rule
   Post-1947 Scenario
   Jammu and Ladakh ...
   Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad
   Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq
   Sayyed Mir Qasim
   Sheikh Abdullah Sows Seeds ...
   Farooq Abdullah ...
   Ghulam Mohammad Shah ...
   Rajiv-Farooq Accord
   Proxy War Declared
   Muslim Fundamentalism
   Terrible Plight of Minorities 
   13th November, 1991
   Download Book 

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir


Symbol of Unity



The Afghans

(1753-1820 A.D.)

Mir Muquim Kanth and Khwaja Zahir Didamari, two prominent Muslim leaders of Kashmir, were responsible for inducing Ahmad Shah Abdali to invade Kashmir to bring it under his hegemony. Accepting the invitation, Abdali despatched a strong army of Afghans under Abdullah Khan Ishk Aqasi (1753) to reduce Kashmir. The local resistance offered by Qasim's commander could not stand the Afghan onslaught and Ishk Aqasi established the rule of Afghans in Kashmir. He proved a scourge for the Kashmirians. He indulged in a spree of loot, plunder and murder to amass wealth. Writes PNK Bamzai, "Rude was the shock that the Kashmirians got when they witnessed the first acts of barbarity at the hands of their new masters." The Afghans maintained their suzerainty over Kashmir for a period of sixty-seven years. They were absolutely ignorant, barbarous, cruel and inhuman. Their atrocities on the Kashmirian Hindus beat all previous records. They inflicted brutalities even on the Muslims. They plundered the houses of the rich as well as the poor. Anybody resisting or complaining would be straight-away put to sword. Their methods of torture and persecution were absolutely brutal and inhuman.

Mir Muquim Kanth2 responsible for extending 'Islamic invitation' to the Afghans harassed and persecuted the Kashmirian Hindus. He was hand in glove with Ishk Aqasi, who, in the wake of his victory, let loose a reign of terror. The houses of the Hindus were looted and pillaged. Huge fines were imposed on them. Any Hindu audacious enough not to pay the fines was brutally murdered. Having failed to withstand the brutal torture of the Afghans, the Kashmirian Hindus started migrating to safer zones in the neighbourhood of Kashmir. Mir Muquim Kanth proved to be their worst persecutor. A popular verse graphically describes the plight of the Hindus.
  "Ah dil hama khaufo khatr ast darin shahr kun azmi safar fitna Muquim ast darin shahr" "O heart ! both fear and peril are rampant in the city; prepare for journey, Muquim (disorder) is stationed in the city".3

Mir Muquim collaborated with the cruel Ishk Aqasi in terrorising and persecuting the Kashmirians of all hues. He lent him an active support in his campaign of extortion of huge sums of money from people at the point of sword. The responsibjljty for reducing the Kashmirians especially the Hindus to abysmal depths of poverty, degradation and slavery squarely rested on him. Realizing that all was lost, the bard sang, "Pursidam az kharabiye gulistan zi baghban, Afghan kashid gulf ki Afghan kharab kard". I asked the gardener the cause of the destruction of the garden, Heaving a sigh he replied, "It is the Afghan who did it".4

The Kashmirian Muslims having invited the Afghans to capture the land of Kashmir equally suffered their brutalities. They got shaken with terror when Ishk Aqasi applied red-hot iron bars to the body of a Muslim businessman to extort huge sums of money from him. wailing and moaning, they rued the day when their leaders undertook the impolitic step of extending invitation to the Afghans, who were their co-religionists. The bard in Mulla Ahmad sang, "Shud nai nagma kuchan foryd, harfi Afghan chu...Shah Agasi dar Kashmir." "Sweet music of the flute has got itself changed into mournful notes as soon as the Afghan made his appearance on the scene. The uproarious Afghan with his dreadful voice makes one feel the terrible panic of the resurrection day. Whatever the Afghan does brings before one's eves the fearful picture of the resurrection day with all its din and hustle".6

With their cup of patience full, the Kashmirian Muslims in their utter frustration and despair tried their best to rise in revolt against the Afghans, but failed for want of leadership. After his misrule of five months, Ishk Aqasi left the valley for Kabul carrying with him a huge sum of more than a crore of rupees. He handed over the Valley to Abdullah Khan Kabuli appointing SukhJiwan, a Hindu trader, as his adviser. At the behest of Abul Hassan Bandey, Sukhjiwan became the virtual ruler of the land. He was popular with the Kashmirians of all hues. He established peace in Kashmir and led people to new levels of prosperity. He enjoyed massive support from the Muslims as well as the Hindus. He was just and truthful. He never contributed to sectarian politics and more than most was above religious bigotry and narrow mindedness. He did not devise persecutionary measures against people of different faiths. Instead he set an extraordinary precedent of attending Friday prayers at Jama Masiid (mosque) in Srinagar.7 He dedicated himself effacingly to re-weave the web of social and religious harmony, which was otherwise torn to tatters by the religious intolerants. The Muslim nobility motivated by religious considerations never allowed him peace and was busy in behind the scene intrigues against him only to wrest power from him. Acting as an active agent of Afghans, Mir Muquim Kanth sowed the seeds of discord and strife between Sukhjiwan and his Prime Minister, Abul Hassan Bandey. At the behest of the Muslim nobility, Sukhjiwan's army in the battle against the Afghans led by Noor-ud-din Bamzai deserted to the enemy resulting in his discomfiture and capture. Noor-ud-din Bamzai ordered Sukhjiwan to be blinded and Ahmed Shah Abdali got him trampled to death under the feet of a wild elephant.

What Kashmir had to witness was the revolt of Lal Khan Khattak, a baron of Beerva Pargana, against Noor-ud-din Bamzai's nephew, Jan Muhammad Khan. Lal Khan discomfited the forces of Jan Muhammad and proclaimed his independence. He was given to mad fits, but was a religious bigot. He let loose an orgy of loot, plunder, murder and arson on the Kashmirians in general and the Hindus in particular.8 Whole families were stamped out and their valuables looted. He put their members either to sword or drowned them in the sparkling waters of the world famous Dal Lake.9 He was equally cruel to the Shia-Muslims, who were ruthlessly butchered. A Shia, Hafiz Abdullah by name, was accused of propagating the Shia doctrines in the guise of a Sunni. He was produced before a Qazi, who beheaded him with his own hands.l0 His rule lasted only for a period of six months. But it proved quite trying for the Hindus, who were Lal Khan's main butts of target as he was motivated to extirpate 'infidelity' from the land of Kashmir. The Hindus were leaderless and could not galvanise themselves into a resisting force against the atrocious Lal Khan, who humiliated them by resorting to different ways.11

Faqirullah Kanth with the active aid and support of the furious Bombas managed to capture power and headed the administration for one full year. He was cruel and ruthless and had his way by keeping Abdali away from intervention by sending him regular tributes. To avenge the death of his father, Mir Muquim Kanth, Faqirullah put hundreds of Hindus to death. His Bomba supporters were equally terrible for the Hindus, who under their ruthless tyranny cried and shrieked in utter agony and were mercilessly butchered in the streets of Srinagar filling them with nasty stench emitting from the decaying and putrifying bodies. The Bombas also did not allow the Hindus to come out of their houses, which they torched only to burn them alive. Those Hindus, who embraced Islam, were spared the orgy.

The Bomba tyrants and Faqirullah Kanth beat all previous records of ruthlessness unto the Hindus. Thousands keen to safeguard their life and religion marched out of Kashmir to neighbouring regions and also various parts of India. It proved a massive exodus for the Kashmirian Hindus, who had no options other than getting killed or marching out of their land of genesis. This is how colonies of the Kashmirian Hindus came up in Delhi, Lahore, Agra and other parts of India.

Amir Khan Jawansher, a Shia-Muslim also had his covetous eyes on the land of Kashmir. Abdali being in doldrums, he assumed the governorship of Kashmir and appointed Mir Fazl Kanth as his Chief Minister. Given to a life of voluptuousness, he spent numerous nights on the waters of the Dal Lake in the company of his beautiful queen, who was a Hanji girl. Fazl Kanth taking advantage of the Governor's carefree disposition beheaded Kailash Dhar in the open court and indulged in brutal killing and looting of the Hindus. Kailash Dhar's body was hatefully consigned to the river water.l2 The event sent deep shivers down the backs of countless Hindus, who in sheer panic fled to Poonch and Kabul, perhaps, for refuge. Saif Khan, the brother of notorious Lal Khan Khattak, torched the beautiful palaces of Sukhjiwan Mal in the city of Srinagar. With a view to pacify the fury of Saif Khan, the Governor got the body of Lal Khan, the worst persecutor of the Kashmirian Hindus, buried in the courtyard of Mir Ali Hamadani's mosque, which was the seat of first Jehad (religious war) waged against the Hindu 'infidels'.

Amir Khan harbouring a deep-seated prejudice and grouse against the Sunni Muslims started on a spree of killing them and detaining their prominent nobles. He harassed and persecuted them the same way as they had been harassing and persecuting the Shia-Muslims. To the chagrin of Sunnis, the Governor prepared an Imambara on the shores of the Dal Lake for holding mourning sessions on the death anniversary of Hassan and Hussein.13 He even coerced the Sunni Mullahs to say their prayers in accordance with the Shia doctrines. The Sunnis got inflammed and made petitions to Timur Shah at Kabul for replacing the Governor.

The land of Kashmir had to witness the darkest period of its history when 'Haji' Karim Dad Khan took over as the Governor of Kashmir. He was a psychopath as he inflicted pains on the Hindus and killed them just for the pleasure of killing. He was quite inventive in matters of levying new exactions on peasants, nobles, traders and men of other walks of life. He brought about all-round ruination of Kashmir reducing it to the lowest ebb. He was an inveterate enemy of the Hindu 'infidels'. Without rhyme or reason, he tied them back to back in pairs, put them in sacks and hurled them into the pristine waters of the Dal Lake to meet their watery grave. Looting and plundering of the properties of the Kashmirian Hindus was normal for every religious bigot. Karim Dad Khan being cruel and inhuman heaped all sorts of humiliation, disrespect and contumely on the Hindu women folk.l4 His tyranny unto the Hindus pales all description.

'Haji' Karim Dad Khan imposed a new levy on the Kashmirian Hindus. It was known as Zari Dood or Smoke Tax. He accused the Hindus of murdering his two tax gatherers, whom he had purposely kept in hiding. He called the prominent members of the Hindu community and shut them in a cow-shed where dry cow-dung was kept burning only to suffocate them with the fumes. The Haji refused to let them out of the cow-shed until they submitted and agreed to pay an annual levy of 50,000 rupees as smoke tax.l5

The Afghan governors continued unrestrained in their policy of fire and sword against the Hindu population of Kashmir. In persecuting and massacring Hindus ruthlessly, they had definite religious motivations as their formulated design was only to decimate and steam-roll the remaining segments of Hindu population. Azad Khan, Hazar Khan and Azim were all brutal and cruel to Hindus. Azad Khan was an infernal despot. He felt proud of his marksmanship when he levelled his musket at an opening which he saw in the pathway and shot to death an unfortunate spectator. He doled out a threat to an operator that if he failed in removing the film from his eye, he would rip his belly open. The man failed in the cure and Azad Khan 'verified the threat'.l6 He let loose an orgy of loot, murder and arson on the Kashmirian Hindus in Poonch where they had fled to take refuge. Dila Ram, his Prime Minister, saved some of them from his wrath and fury. That is how he was hailed as their liberator. Writes Forster, "Dila Ram possessed a more liberal disposition than is usually found in an Indian. His deportment seemed uniformly benevolent to all classes of people. With his companions he was affable and good humoured. He was humane to his domestics and exercised with a reasonable temperance the duties of his office.''17

Dila Ram was intelligent and ready-witted which is proved by his conversation with the King of Kabul, whom he explained his Tilak-mark on the brow as a symbol for one God, the two dots on the ear-lobes as witnesses to God's existence and a dot of it on throat (Adam's apple) signifying to kill one not believing in God's existence. Being the Prime Minister of two Afghan tyrants, Haji Karim Dad Khan and Azad Khan, Dila Ram with his good sense, intelligence and accommodation was able to reduce their fury and also balm the festering wounds of the Kashmirian Hindus and others as well.

Hazar Khan put Dila Ram to death as he was charged with tending the interests of thc Kashmirians without distinctions of creed and religion. He let loose an unprecedented reign of terror against the Hindus, tying them back to back in pairs, cramping them into sacks and hurling them into the shimmering waters of the Dal Lake causing the kith and kin of the hapless victims to rend the sky with their agonising shrieks and screams. He devised many methods of torturing them and putting them to death. Those surviving his fury felt so much terrorised that they forgot the tyrannies of Faqirullah Kanth, a bad persecutor of Hindus.18 Having imprisoned some Hindus in Baramulla, he dispensed with them by hurling them into the Jehlum river. To harass and impoverish them, he re-imposed the hateful Jazia (poll tax) on them.20 The Kashmirian Hindus, who had made brilliant contributions to Persian language and literature, were decreed not to read Persian. Anybody flouting the decree was straight-away to be slaughtered. Hazar had all the plans to decimate the race of the Hindus, but the deputation of a new Governor saved them from his fury and bigotry.

Azim Khan in his first flush of victory over the Sikhs went berserk against the Hindus. He massacred Diwan Har Das Tiku22 and Hindus in general. To win the confidence of the Muslim nobles, Azim bestowed new Jagirs on them only to enlist their support for his sagging rule. The Hindus had no involvement in the Sikh attack on Kashmir, yet Azim suspected their involvement and complicity. In his wrath against the Hindus, he ousted one and all from the governmental positions and brought Nur Shah Dewani into prominence with a view to satiate the vengefulness of Azim Khan against the Hindus. Nur Shah 23 wove a conspiracy to kill all prominent Hindus so that others dare not raise their finger against Azim and Afghan rulers in Kabul. He planned to invite all notable Hindus only to intern them in the 'Hamam' of his house till they would fade away to death. But, the entire plot got leaked through the servant of Nur Shah Dewani to Sahaj Ram, who was instrumental in saving most of the Tlindu notables from internment and consequent death. Despite it, Azim Khan had to bank upon Birbal Dhar, Mirza Pandit Dhar and Sukh Ram Baqaya for retrieving his government in doldrums due to the depletion of the financial resources. Afghans in general were fully aware and appreciative of the intelligence and good-ness of the Hindus especially their administrative acumen and abilities. But despite it, they fell victim to their religious bigotry and were tortured and brutally murdered at their whim and will. The fragile minority of the Kashmirian Hindus lived in fear, terror, pain and agony. With no abatement in their fury against the Hindu 'infidels', the Afghans forced them to march out of their homeland only to save their life and religious faith. The Muslims of Kashmir provided the Afghans their support base as they shared religious sentiments and empathy with them. There is no example available to establish that Muslims were tied back to back in pairs, put into sacks and hurled into the Dal Lake to meet their watery grave.

Birbal Dhar to retrieve the Kashmirian Hindus in particular from the tyrannical and chaotic rule of the Afghans crossed over to the plains of the Punjab on a horse-back only to exhort Maharaja Ranjit Singh to capture Kashmir for the Sikhs to rule. The Kashmirian Muslims were equally tired of their ferocity, barbarity and persecution. That is how Birbal Dhar, a brilliant son of Kashmir, was lent active support by the notable Kashmirian Muslim nobles and the Maliks (wardens of the passes). As he had failed to collect revenue for the Afghan treasury, Azim Khan surrounded his house by a hundred qizilbash troops only to prevent his escape from the purlieux of Kashmir to the plains of the Punjab. Rapacious as the Afghans were, Azim wanted to see his treasury full even though Kashmir was groaning under severe famine conditions. Entrusting his wife and daughter-in-law to the care of a Muslim noble, Qudus Gojawari, Birbal Dhar with the active support of Dyan Singh, the brother of Gulab Singh, in the court of Ranjit Singh, marched back to Kashmir at the head of 30,000 Sikh troops. Kashmir was lost to the Muslims and slipped back into the hands of Hindus, who celebrated the victory only to signal their deliverance from the barbarous rule of the Afghans. In the absence of Birbal Dhar, his daughter-in-law was sent as a gift to the Afghan King at Kabul, his wife committed suicide and Qudus Gojawari, the collaborator of Birbal Dhar was made to hang on gibbets at least for a fortnight.23

Notes and References

1. P.N.K. Bamzai. History of Kashmir, P 424.  2. Mir Muquim was a Mughal by stock, but a Kashmiri by domicile.  3. Ibid. Justice K.L. Kilam, History of Kashmiri Pundits, P 424  4. P.N.K. Bamzai, History of Kashmir, P 424.  5. Ibid.  6. Justice J. L. Kilam, History of Kashmiri Pandits  7. P.N.K. Bamzai, History of Kashmir.  8. Ibid.  9. Fauq, Tarikh-i-Kashmir.  10. Anand Ram Pahalwan, Turikh-i-Kashmir; Hassan maintains that 2000 Kashmirian Hindus were forcibly converted to Islam; Fauq holds that Bombas were generally used to tease, harass and loot Hindus.  11. P.N.K. Bamzai, History of Kashmir.  12. Ibid.  13. Ibid.  14. The Kashmirian Hindus resorted to the practice of child marriage as the Afghans and all of their hue would carry off their young budding daughters. They also cut off the noses of their bright and beautiful girls only to save them from the Afghan savages.  15. P.N.K. Bamzai, History of Kashmir.  16. E.M. Forster, Travels.  1 7. Ibid.  18. Hasan and Fauq, Tarikh-i-Kashmir.  19. Ibid.  20. Ibid.  21. Ibid.  22. Ibid.  23. P.N.K. Bamzai, History of Kashmir.  Note :The stock of the Afghans with the Kashmirian Hindus was very low. Read the dialogue of Mirza Pandit Dhar with Azim Khan at the disappearance of Birbal Dhar from Kashmir.

Kashmir: Past and Present



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World Kashmiri Pandit Conference 1993 Panun Kashmir
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