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by Narender Sehgal
Either Islam or Death or Banishment
The false face of liberalism of Syeds was unveiled and Sultan Sikander, taking support of cruel designs and atrocities, initiated a strong storm of destruction of Hindus for the purpose of forcible conversion.
As a result of the efforts of Syed Ali Hamdani a new generation of converted Muslims was born. The people of this generation supported not only the foreign religious preachers on the religious plank but also contributed fully in their activities connected with forcible conversion. These people left no stone unturned in demolishing monasteries and temples built by their ancestors. Thc eagerness with which these converted people demonstrated their faith in foreign religious practices hy destroying the established ancient practices is a highly dark chapter of the history of Kashmir.
After Syed Ali Hamdani his son, Syed Mohd. Hamdani, came to Kashmir in 1393 A.D., with 300 religious preachers for completing the unfinished task of his father. This time Kashmir was under the rule of Sikander the iconoclast who was insane in the intoxication of cruelty and bigotry. He gave a state reception to Mohd. Hamdani on his arrival in Kashmir. He registered three estates of Vanshi, Tral and Nunavani in his name where he could, alongwith his disciples, stay for carrying out his Islam-related activities with independence, peace and all amenities. All Government facilities were kept at his disposal.
Close to his father's tomb "Shah Hamdaan shrine" the state government had built a spacious religious centre for Mohd. Hamdani. Sikander, the iconoclast, considered him as his teacher and as good as a father to make him Government guide. Joanraj has written in Rajtarangani that the king would remain in wait with folded hands for the Syed like an ideal servant. He would receive education from him like an ideal student and like an ideal slave carry out his deep study.
Suha Bhat - the traitor
After receiving full support from Sikander, Mohd. Hamdani started forcible conversion of Hindus in Kashmir. The dream that his father could not fructify was completed by Mohd. Hamdani with the help of Sikander. The Prime Minister of Sikander, Suha Bhat, played a prominent role in this bloody campaign. Suha Bhat was a Hindu but he had adopted Islam under the request of Mohd. Hamdani and under the threat of elimination from Sikander. His name as a converted Muslim Prime Minister became Saifuddin. He assumed the leadership of the converted Muslims and in shoulder to shoulder with Sikander he got engaged fully in making Kashmir a Hinduless state. This converted wolf, out of greed for power, played a special role in demolishing all the signs and symbols of Indianness in Kashmir.
This anti-national Saifuddin demonstrated his excitement by brandishing the Islamic sword on the necks of Hindus. Those Hindus who refused conversion were tortured. The Hindu scriptures were thrown in the Dal lake. Seven maunds of sacred thread worn by those Hindus, who were killed under his instructions, were burnt. To perpetuate this terror Sikander got formed an organisation called "Sheikh-ud-Islam" with the help of Saifuddin (Suha Bhat).
A Muslim historian, Hassan, has, in his book "History of Kashmir", given an account of this barbarism of Sikander. He has written that Sikander crushed Hindus the most. An announcement was made in the city that the Hindu who would not adopt Islam was either to be killed or to be banished. As a result of it many Hindus fled from Kashmir, many accepted Islam. Many Brahmins preferred death and died. It is said that Sikander collected six maunds of sacred thread from the converted Hindus and got it burnt. Hazrat Amir Kabir has witnessed the scene himself and he suggested to Sikander that he should impose taxes on the Hindus instead of torturing them to death. All the Hindu scriptures were collected and thrown in the Dal lake and were buried under clay and stones.
Total destruction of Hindu Temples
The demonic gaze of cruel and in human Sultan Sikander fell on sacred spiritual centres of Hindus. Syed Mohd. Hamdani had made Sikander to understand that so long the idols in the temples of idol worshipping infidels were not destroyed, there would be no purpose of conversion. These very places of their deities were source of their inspiration. These very centres may inspire them, in future, to give up Islam. Thus destruction of these places was necessary for delinking fresh converts from their national roots and mainstream. If such places of deities were allowed to survive, inspiration for Indianness will survive. The Sultan accepted as dignified the political idea of Syed Mohd. Hamdani, and became ready to destroy the greatest work of human history and in doing so there was not an iota of civilisation, humanity and wisdom.
Historian Hassan has written that there were many temples during the time of Hindu kings which were just like wonders of the world. Their design and art were so fine and delicate that a viewer would get spellbound. Filled with jealousy and hatred Sikander destroyed these temples. From the material of the temples mosques and shrines were built. First of all he focussed his attention towards Martand temple built by Ramdev.
It took one year to fully damage and destroy this Martand temple. Aflter having failed to demolish the temple totally this enemy of art, culture and godly beauty, stuffed the temple with wooden slippers and set it ablaze. Seeing the matchless beauty of the fold studded domes of the temple getting destroyed Sikander kept on laughing and went on giving instructions for the complete destruction of the temple by treating it as God's order. Stones from the temple's foundation were not spared. It was total plunder and destruction of the temple and the people living around the temple were directed to adopt Islam. Those who did not accept this direction were butchered alongwith their family members. This way people from one village to another were converted into Islam. Even today one gets surprised over art and skill of the builders of this world famous Martand temple by looking at its ruins.
Similarly under the instructions of Sikander one famous temple at Bijbehara, Vijeshwar temple, and 300 other temples around it were destroyed and demolished. Historian Hassan has written that a mosque was built with the idols and stones of Vijeshwar temple and in this area a quarry was built which is called Vijeshwar quarry.
In these state level atrocities and forcible mass conversions Muslim preachers, especially Syeds, had played a pivotal role. The plot for this blood curdling story was prepared by those who were converted to Islam, failing which it would not have been possible for a handful of foreigners and those outsiders who had different religion, to establish their foothold in Kashmir. The result of cowardice and shortsightedness of the Hindus had set ablaze Kashmir usually called a forest of bliss and beatitude. The iconoclast king was of the opinion that if there was any danger to Kashmir in future it could be from these very Hindus. Thus to give a full Islamic shape to Kashmir it was both a "state duty" and "God's order" to destroy Hindus and all their signs and symbols.
Hindus are to leave Kashmir
Bigotry had gripped the king to such an extent that he enforced his direction, "Either adopt Islam, or accept death or banishment" throughout Kashmir. People were given option to choose one among the three alternatives. It meant for Hindus banishment if they refused to adopt Islam. But it was not easy to leave Kashmir and survive. People were killed while fleeing. The Shariat laws and principles were made the constitution of Kashmir. The second writer of Rajtarangani, Joanraj, has written "not a single village or town was spared where places of worship and temples were not damaged and destroyed. Many Hindus lost their courage and accepted conversion. Many migrated from Kashmir and many committed suicide."
There was no end to the horrible story. One British historian has written in his book "Beyond the Pir Panjal" that two Hindus were put together in a sack and drowned in the lake. They had only three alternatives left, either to adopt Islam, or struggle or accept getting killed. There was anger and annoyance in the Hindus against the Sultan's cruel activities. But all those Hindus who launched a struggle against it were trampled to death.
Salutation to those brave Hindus who achieved martyrdom while fighting in the battlefield instead of either committing suicide by taking poison, or tolerated injustice, or adopted Islam or fled like cowards.
As a result of such good deeds of a few Hindus, that Sikander had to yield and some selected Hindu families were allowed to live in Kashmir. But they had to live on the mercy of Muslim bosses and the soldiers of the Sultan. The Sultan imposed taxes on these Hindus which was a penalty for remaining Hindus. These Hindus could neither use vermillion nor wear the sacred thread nor the Sarees and other dress.
Muslim sultans allowed Hindus the right to live on the condition that they would keep on paying taxes. These taxes had to be paid during the Hindu festivals and functions. It had different forms. The Hindus were forced to pay the taxes during Shivratri, Diwali, Ram Navmi, Navratra and Yagnopavit (sacred thread wearing ceremony). In addition to this, taxes were imposed on every pilgrimage. Joanraj in his Rajtarangani has called it "Chandh-Dandh" tax which means that the Hindus were forced to pay tax or the taxes were recovered from them either through beatingor through dishonour. "Chandh-Dandh" means in Sanskrit violent, cruel, horrible.
In addition to this, the Muslim Sardars would attack the houses of Hindus and later share the loot among themselves. This loot included even the women from the looted houses. In Arabic language this loot is called "Maal-e-Ganimat". Joanraj has called it "Lotr Dandh" meaning punishment of loot.
This tax was so painful and horrible that common Hindu would not be able to pay it. And those who could not pay the tax had only the alternative of either facing rigorous imprisonment, or death or acceptance of Islam.
Bonfire of Sanskrit books Shrivar has in his Rajtarangani, written that under the inspiration of Syeds, Sikander set on fire all the books on Sanskrit literature like grass.
According to Shrivar, it is not a simple affair to enumerate the importance and greatness of this sacred land of Kashmir which has been storehouse of education and knowledge. All the Sanskrit books in Kashmir were attractive and after the fire of destruction only the story about it can be repeated. All these books, scriptures and the wealth of knowledge faced destruction in the same way lotus flowers wither under frost of the winter.
When Sikander, under the influence of Syeds, started setting ablaze Sanskrit books, big libraries, which were the storehouses of knowledge, in order to convert Kashmir in Darul Islam, many libraries smouldered for six months. These scriptures of knowledge were used as fuel in the kitchens and bathroom boilers of the Syeds. This dance of destruction caused great worry among the Hindus. They took it as the end of Indian culture. This way, they believed the entire cultural heritage would be totally finished. It needed to be preserved. Thus, some Hindus secretly carried them to the remote forests and mountain routes in the Hima1ayas. Many managed to carry them to safe places in different ancient regions in India.
According to Shrivar, the learned people of that period, on seeing the dance of destruction of knowledge, enacted by the muslims, fled with some books over tortuous mountain routes. This way these Kashmiri Pandits protected the Indian culture by hiding themselves in the jungles for many years. Still innumerable valuable books and scriptures were used as fuel in the hearths of the Sultans.
Humanity cried under demonic deeds of Syeds
During the reign af Sikander thousands of Syeds from West Asia and Central Asia reached Kashmir who started the bloody campaign for conversion. The bloodshed ordered by the Syeds on the soil of Kashmir under the pretext of religious preaching will be treated as the most mean and tainted chapter in the history of humanity.
Shrivar has written that the saga of atrocities committed by the Syeds is horrible as they had crossed all the limits of humanity and cruelty. A vedic scholar, Bhuvneshwar, was killed and his forehead, smeared with sandalwood, was severed and placed on the national highway. In order to create terror among the people, Syeds placed severed heads on charcoal and wood on the banks of the river Jehlum.
The bodies used to be thrown in the river. These swollen bodies would float and emit foul smell and flow down to the Wullar lake. Nobody would think of performing their last rites. Women coming to the two banks of the Jehlum used to be struck with arrows; it was a routine affair. Two to three people were daily executed on the banks of the Jehlum. The bodies of the brave people were thrown on the road like unclaimed bodies. According to Shrivar the naked bodies of those, who used to lead to comfortable life on cotton mattresses beside the cushions, were thrown on the roads and crows, cocks, and vultures feeding on the belly, flesh and fat of these insect infested bodies, emanating stench, were seen.
Between Malikpur and Losht Vihar bodies were kept like logs. Shrivar writes that in many other areas nude dead bodies had been kept like logs. Officers were killed without trial and justice. More cruelty was committed with their bodies. They were subjected to highly inhuman treatment, they were tortured, their bodies were rnutilated to become food for the dogs. After defeat they would be beheaded and their heads would be fixed on the flags.
Taking support of the Government power the Syeds kept it in their mind the aim of continuing the campaign for conversion in order to ensure forcible end of the basic religion and culture of Kashmir besides building mosques and schools for the propagation of principles of Islam. The famous mosques of Vilvihar and Jama Masjid in Srinagar were built during this period.
Saifuddin crossed all limits of cruelty
After Sikander the iconoclast, his son, Alishah, came to Kashmir and occupied the throne. He followed his father's footsteps and within a period of six years he established a new record in tormenting, in killing Hindus and in converting them to Islam. He too was excited by the killing of Hindus and for this work he too appointed Saifuddin as his Prime Minister. This prime minister, who was a convert, displayed again his meanness.
Joanraj has given an account of the atrocities committed by Alishah on the Hindus. He has written that Suha Bhat (Saifuddin) broke all the previous record in imposing heavy taxes on Hindus. This wicked person imposed ban on functions and processions connected with "Dhooj ka chaand" festival. He was jealous about the Brahmins sensing that they would preserve their community in foreign countries, he set up checkposts on the roads and the soldiers would not allow anyone without a permit to go out of the state. The man from this mean community tortured people in the state just as a fisherman tortures the fish. Out of the scare of conversion Brahmins jumped into the fire. Many Brahmins hanged themselves to death, some consumed poison and others drowned themselves. Innumerable Brahmins jumped to death from the mountains. The state was filled with hatred. The supporters of the king did not stop even a single person from committing suicide. A big number of self-respecting Brahmins fled to foreign countries by walking on the footpaths after the main roads had been blocked. These Brahmins left for the foreign lands as the one who bids farewell to this earth; father leaving his son behind and the vice versa. Tough journey, food shortage and painful diseases and hellish life had made them to be free of the terror of hell. A large number of people died on the way because of enemy attacks, different difficulties, snake bites, heat wave. How could one expect meditation, prayer and determination from them ?
Courageous and brave Pandit Ratnakar
The Kashmiri Hindu society alone had to become a victim of the destruction ordered by the Muslim Sultans. It was so because they alone were a hurdle in the establishment of Islamic rule in Kashmir. Many plans were formulated for Islamisation of Kashmir. From allurements to massacre, all means were adopted with the help of the administration for achieving this aim.
Amid this deep darkness and hopelessness there is a reference full of great self-respect. One Kashmiri Pandit, Ratnakar, tried to cultivate the feeling of courage by organising Pandits. With his sound strategy he secured support from new Muslim Pandits for his work. One converted Muslim Moulana Din supported fully Ratnakar and these two, working secretly, increased their activities. But Kashmir had still to face bad days. Both Ratnakar and Moulana Din were arrested and killed because of the treachery of a new Muslim convert.
Sultan Ali Shah, through Government instructions, ordered a search of Pandits and all of them were forced to adopt Islam. It is believed that under the stormy religious conversion, carried out by Sikander and his son, Ali Shah, only 11 families of Hindus were left in Kashmir. The rest were converted, killed or had been forced to migrate.