|Vol. III, No. 26 Delhi, Monday, February 20, 1950 Annas Four Air Mail-/4/6|
The story of Hindu-Muslim relations in Kashmir Valley—the only Muslim majority part of the Jammu & Kashmir State which is still a part of Bharat. Makes an interesting and revealing story. It enables us to understand the Kashmir affair as it has developed of late, as perhaps nothing else can. The story quite naturally begins with the advent of Islam in this secluded playground of Bharatiya gods—their Nadanvan—set amidst the snowy peaks of the Himalayas. The early Muslim invaders of Bharat left it untouched and its Hindu rulers contined their march towards decay unconcerned about the fate that their fellow Princes had been suffering at the hands of the invaders in other parts of Bharat. But it could not remain safe for long.
Shah Hamdan succeeded in coverting Renchen Shah — a Balt (inhabitant of Balistan, Kashmir) paramour of the widow of the last Hindu King. Shah Hamdan and Shah Mirza brought to Kashmir Islam which began to make steady progress with the political backing of the ruling class. But the masses of Kashmir remained wedded to their ancestral religion till Sikandar the Iconoclast the great destroyer, a grandson of Shah Mirza who ascended the throne in 1396 confronted the people with the choice between Islam or death.
The few Hindus who had escaped death or conversion then started their life as a minority community in Kashmir. The Muslim Kashmiris also continued their ancestral customs, manners and way of living.
Soon after the Mughal conquest of Bharat, Mirza Haider, a consin of Humayun seized the throne of Kashmir in 1549. But it did not become a part of the Mughal Empire till after its conquest by Akbar in the late twenties of the 16th century Mughal rule in Kashmir was as good or as bad as in Bharat. The tyrannical Afghan rule came to an abrupt end in 1819 when Maharaja Ranjit Singh conquered the valley and annexed it to his Kingdom of Lahore.
Maharaja Gulab Singh, the founder of the present Dogra Ruling Dynasty conquered Kashmir early in 1847 from Imam Din the last Governor appointed by the Sikh government of Lahore who refused to honour the Treaty of Amritsar whereby the British recognised Gulab Singh as the de jure ruler of Kashmir Valley besides his own kingdom of Jammu and Ladakh. Hindu Muslim relations in Kashmir under the Dogra rule continued to be very cordial. With the accession of the present ruler Maharaja Hari Singh in 1925, there was a change.
His speech at the first Round Table Conference wherein he expressed princely Bharat’s sympathy for the demands of Bharat for selfrule turned the political department against him. So it began to work actively for an internal trouble in the State to bring round the rule.
It wanted somebody to fan the fire of discontent among the Kashmiri Muslims and organise them against the Hindu Maharaja and his Hindu subjects. Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah, educated at Islamia College Lahore and the Muslim University, Aligarh, was the first postgraduate in science among the Kashmiri Muslims. In 1931 he was young, ambitious and fully indoctrinated with the philosophy of Muslim separatism which was then emanating from Aligarh.
He roused then against the Hindu ruler and his Hindu subjects, whom he identified with each other. There were wide-spread riots, massacres and killings in Mirpur, Kotli and other parts of the Jammu province also. The results of this holocaust were consolidated by Sheikh Abdullah by founding the All-Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference.
He soon realised that he could not raise the masses so long as he worked through a purely communal organisation. He wanted national support for his cause. And so under the advice of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Pandit Nehru he decided to convert his organisation into National Conference so that Hindus also could join it.
As the struggle for power between the Muslim League and the Congress intensified in Bharat he sided more and more with the Congress. On the whole the Hindus and Muslims of Kashmir who are heirs to a common heritage and who share the common way of life and family names— even Qazi is a surname of Kashmiri Hindus—can settle down to a life of friendship or cordiality as equal citizens of Bharat if the indecision about the valley is ended and they become definite that they are to live as part and parcel of the Bharatiya nation.
– A Kashmiri