Coalition of Hindus of North America

Kashmir is often seen as some sort of Indian military occupation over a Muslim majority region. A brief history would help in understanding this conflict better. The state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) was primarily Hindu until the 14th century and the birthplace of Shaivism – one of the major traditions in Hinduism that reveres Lord Shiva. The state itself is named for an ancient Hindu sage Kashyap. The tutelary deity of classical Kashmir was Sharada, a manifestation of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of wisdom, whose prayers refer to her as “Kashmira-pura-vasini” (she who resides in Kashmir). Over the last 500 years, its indigenous residents have been the subject to repeated persecution leading to the “Seven Exoduses of Kashmiri Hindus”.

Fast forwarding to 1947, during the partition of India, J&K’s king Hari Singh decided to bide his time in deciding the fate of the state. During this uncertainty, the newly formed Islamic Republic of Pakistan sent its army and tribal militia to invade Kashmir. Hari Singh turned to India for protection, in return for unconditionally acceding the whole state, including the present day ‘Pakistan occupied Kashmir’ (PoK) to India. The terms for J&K’s accession to India, signed on 26 October 1947 were same as those similarly signed by rulers of more than 550 princely states.

As the first battle of Kashmir continued into 1948. The Indian Prime Minister, Nehru, called for a ceasefire, and took the dispute to the newly formed United Nations. The result was the current stalemate. In later years, Nehru struck a deal with Sheikh Abdullah, a leader of Kashmiri Muslims to grant special status to J&K, and Article 370 came into existence long after the state actually acceded to India.

J&K state comprised of three parts; Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley, Hindu- majority Jammu, and Buddhist-dominated Ladakh (which constitutes 65% of J&K’s territory). Yet it is only the Kashmir Valley that dominates political discourse.

For India, a Muslim majority state of J&K was never a problem as the country does not discriminate based on religion. However, in addition to illegally holding on to PoK, Pakistan continued to exploit the state’s affairs through Kashmiri politicians and separatists to exploit the religious angle.

Until 1980s, when terrorists’ infiltration increased in Kashmir valley, there was no heavy Indian army presence in the valley. However, in late 1980s, the Abdullah government gave in to the terrorists’ call to ethnically cleanse the valley of Kashmiri Pandits, the Hindu minority. Amidst a complete collapse of the administration, taped slogans were repeatedly played during those nights of January 1990 from mosques all over Kashmir valley: ‘Yahan kya chalega, Nizam-e-Mustafa’ (What do we want here? Rule of Shariah). On the dark night of January 19, 1990, the worst nightmares of Kashmiri Pandits came true. Screaming from loud speakers and crowded streets was a message for the Sikhs and Hindus living in Kashmir – Ralive, Tsaliv ya Galive (convert to Islam, leave the land, or die).

Terror apologists conveniently ignore these genocidal events that led to the heavy presence of the Indian Army in 1990s. Kashmiri Hindus became refugees in their own country. Jammu and Ladakh did not want to meet this fate – hence army presence was necessitated, to safeguard against further genocide.