Kashmir – the “Paradise Terrestre des Indes” of Bernier, has the proud privilege of having a history in Sanskrit (Rajatarangini) giving a lucid account of events from 3000 B.C. to 1149 A.D., including the list of kings, queens, ministers, and their military expeditions to neighboring states.
Kashmiris distinguished themselves in the production of an uninterrupted series of written records of its history, reaching back beyond the medieval times Kalhana in the 12th century A.D. testifies to the existence of at least eleven earlier compositions on the history of Kashmir which he consulted to write his immortal and outstanding book – Rajatarangini.
The early accounts of Kashmir are referred to by various sources, both indigenous as well as foreign. The only certain reference to Kashmir that classical literature has preserved is found in Ptolemy’s Geography, wherein he referred to the region as “Kaspeiria”. Herodotos, the “Father of History” has referred to Kashmir as “Kaspatyros”. Wilson was the first who distinctly attempted to connect the name of Kashpatros with Kashmir. According to Wilson, the name Kashmir was derived from Kasyappura, a name which he supposed to have been given to the country owing to its colonization by the Raja Kashyapa.
Earlier Buddhist pilgrims from China on their way to the sacred locations of the Indian plains visited Kashmir and chose it as a resting place. According to M.A. Stein, the first clear reference to Kashmir is contained in a record dating from 541 A.D. given by an Indian envoy who reached China during the early part of the reign of the Tang dynasty. Hiuen Tsang was the first Chinese traveler who visited Kashmir and resided here as an honored guest for two years. The records of this great Chinese pilgrim contain the fullest and most accurate description of Kashmir.
The next Chinese notice of Kashmir, with considerable historical interest, is contained in the Annals of the “Tang Dynasty”. Another Chinese pilgrim Ou-King also visited Kashmir. He reached Kashmir in the year 759 A.D. from Gandhara, by the same route as followed by Hieun Tsang. He stayed for 4 years to visit holy sites and study Sanskrit.
Muhammad bin Al-Qasim was the first Muslim (Arabian) commander who established the Arab hegemony in Sindh, Punjab, and Multan in India during 711-712 A.D. through Indus Valley, Muslim forces reached close enough to the confines of Kashmir. The Arabic literature provides enough, accurate and valuable information about ancient Kashmir. The credit goes to Alberuni – a great Muslim scholar who during his long stay at Ghazna and Punjab (1017 – 30 A.D.) had utilized every opportunity to collect information on Kashmir.
Kalhana’s immortal work Rajatarangini, composed in the year 1148 – 49 A.D. is our oldest record of the various kings and their dynasties. Kalhana, during his research, has consulted some of the compositions on the history of Kashmir i.e.; Kshemendra’s Nrapavali which chronicles Nilmatpurana. According to Kalhana, Padmamihira had obtained the information about earlier kings from Helaraja who had composed a “list of kings” (Parthivavali) Kalhana’s Rajatarangini is the only work in Indian literature that may be regarded as a historical text.
King Zain-ul-Abidin, of Kashmir, has the credit of translating Kalhana’s Rajatarangini’ into Persian during the 15th century. Abu Fazl, the great writer during the Mughal period incorporated long abstracts of Rajatarangini in his famous book Ain-i-Akbari, under the orders of the Mughal king – Akbar. Bernier (1665 A.D.) an authority on Kashmir studies makes a mention of it in his lectures. Motorcraft during his visit to Kashmir in 1823 A.D., obtained a copy of Rajatarangini and got it translated into French by M. Troyer., Dr. Buhler and Dr. Stein were the pioneers in providing the monumental translation of the chronicles published in 1900. R.S. Pandit in 1935 A.D. translated Rajatarangini into English, highlighting its poetic and literary standards.
Parihaspura is believed to be the birthplace of Kalhana, who was a Brahmin by descent and a Saiva by faith. Kalhana’s father, Compaka, was a minister in King Harsa’s reign (1089-1101 A.D.) who remained loyal to the king until his last. Kalhana as a historian has consulted every available source, besides studying coins and inspecting old monumental structures. He is a master of accurate topography of ancient Kashmir. Sanskrit was the official and sole literary language of Kashmir, not only in Kalhana’s own time but also in those earlier periods from which the records used by him may have dated. Kalhana’s work was continued by Jonaraja, who brought the chronicle down to the reign of Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin (1420-70 A.D.). The greater part of his chronicle deals with the reign of Hindu rulers from Jayasimha to Queen Kota. His pupil Srivara, recorded historical events dating from 1459 to 1486 A.D., The 4th chronicle titled Rajavalipataka by Prajyabhatta was completed by his pupil Shuka some years after the annexation of Kashmir by Akbar (1586 A.D.).
After the advent of Muslim rule in Kashmir, Sanskrit continued to be the official language. With the increasing patronage of the Persian language and literature by the Muslim rulers, there are rich Persian records of the history of Kashmir by eminent Kashmiri scholars. Mulla Ahmad, Kashmiri, translated Kalhana’s Rajatarangini into Persian under the orders of King Zain-ul-Abidin. Malik Haider Chadura wrote a history of Kashmir from the earliest times to his times in Persian during 1617 A.D. during the reign of Jehangir. Haider Malik was both a historian and an architect. He designed the architectural structures of Jamia Masjid Srinagar after it was consumed by fire. The Khanqah of Mir Sham-ud-Din Iraqi was also designed by him. Another Kashmiri scholar of the Persian language and poet Narayan Koul Aijaz, in his book “Twarikh-i-Kashmir” (1710 A.D.) assesses the reigns of the Sultans and early Mughals. Khawaja Mohammad Azam Kaul of Didamar (Srinagar) wrote a historical account of Kashmir titled “Waquat-i-Kashmir” in 1735-46 A.D. Khawaja history of Kashmir. During Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s rule Pandit Birbal Kachru, wrote “History of Kashmir” in 1836 A.D. Moulvi Ghulam Hassan’s “Twarikh-i-Kashmir”, in three volumes deals with Geography, Political History, and the Arts and Crafts of Kashmir. He was an authority on Kashmir and its past. It was Moulvi Hassan of Bandipora who was the main source of providing historical and statistical information to Sir. W. Lawrence, the settlement commissioner of Kashmir.
During the middle of the 19th century, when Urdu and English were the court languages in the state, there were valuable contributions to the history of Kashmir by Kashmiri scholars, i.e… Pandit Anand Koul (Geography of Jammu and Kashmir in 1910 A.D.); and Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Sofi (Kashir in 1949) deserve mention. Mohammad Din Fauq, a Kashmiri who settled in Lahore, wrote about the History, Geography, folklore, and origin of communities in Kashmir. He wrote in the Urdu language.
A detailed account of Kashmir, its people, agriculture, religion, architecture, arts and crafts is recorded by Mirza Haider Dughlat, a cousin of Mughal king Babar, in his Tarikh-e-Rashidi. He invaded Kashmir twice, once from Kashgar in 1533 A.D. and again from Lahore in 1540 A.D. when he ruled the valley for ten years in the name of puppet king Nazuk Shah.
The Tabaqat-i-Akbari by Nizam-ud-Din refers to the history of Kashmir from the earliest times to the conquest of the valley by Akbar, in one of its sections. “Tarikh-i-Farishta” by Mohammad Qasim Farishta contains a chapter on Kashmir. Very useful information about Akbar’s relations with Chak rulers of Kashmir is contained in A.Q. Badayunis’ “Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh”. Abu Fazal’s “Akbar Nama” and “Ain-i-Akbari” and Jehangiri’s “Tuzk” provide rich information about the land and people of Kashmir.
Father Gerome Xavier and Benoist de Gois were the first Europeans to visit Kashmir, accompanying Akbar. They were followed by famous scholars i.e., Francis Bernier (1665 A.D.) who accompanied Aurangzeb; George Forester, Vigne (1835 A.D.); Moorcraft; Fredrick Drew; Lawrence and Lord Cunningham whose works form the bedrock of the study of Kashmir and its people.
The archaeological studies of the early sites in Kashmir supplement the old chronicles and texts. Sir W. Lawrence in his memorable work “The Valley of Kashmir” says, “Kashmir is the holy land of the Hindus and I Have rarely been in any village which cannot show old Kashmir temples, huge stone seats of Mahadeo, Phallic emblems, innumerable carved images heaped in grotesque confusion by some clear spring have met me at every turn. I have seen curious mosques built in a style, unlike the presence of wooden beams with stones between. Chance excavations, for irrigation and other works, reveal curious sculptures and interesting relics of ancient history.
It was Goerge Buhler’s remarkable visit to Kashmir in 1875 A.D., which resulted in the discovery of valuable material for a systematic study of the history of Kashmir. Dr. M.A. Stein followed the methodology of his teacher, Goerge Buhler, and thanks to his sustained labors for presenting a comprehensive knowledge of the antiquities of the valley. His memoir on the ancient geography of Kashmir is a monumental work that shows the close link that most of these ruins form in the chain of data for a study of the history of this ancient land and its people.
The study of Kashmir coins by some scholars has resulted in useful data being collected on the chronology of the Sultans and other Muslim kings from the 14th to 17th centuries. Such studies by C.J. Rogers, Sir Aurel Stein, and R. B. Whitehead have made considerable contributions to the ancient history of Kashmir through a study of old coins.
The Kashmiri people are perhaps the most important source of Kashmir history. Kashmiri art, culture, traditions, customs, manners, folklore, language, dress food, and other related habits, which they held since ancient times present an open book of history. The Kashmiris are a living race with a magnificent past, full of both joy and sorrow, hope and fear, who are changing along with the times, leaving their cowardice and bonds of slavery to shape and design their future.
According to Dr. Stein, Kashmir can claim to have the distinction of being the only region of India that possesses an uninterrupted series of written records of its history, going back beyond the period of Muslim rule and deserving the name of real chronicles.
Kashmir History – After Independence
After a long period of struggle for independent states, the Indians were declared independent, by the British, who before leaving the land, partitioned it into two states, i.e., India and Pakistan, on the midnight of 14th August 1947 A.D.
With the departure of Maharaja Hari Singh, the last Dogra King on the 26th of January 1947 A.D. from Kashmir to Jammu the state was in a chaotic situation, and there was an acute shortage of all essential commodities of life in the valley especially, salt, sugar, cloth, kerosene, and petrol, etc.
The emergency administration, with Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s National Conference as the torchbearer, made every effort to normalize the situation and on the request of Sheikh, the central government prevailed upon the Maharaja to appoint Mohan Chand Mahajan as Prime Minister on the 5th of March 1948 A.D., the emergency administration was converted into a regular council of ministers with Sheikh Abdullah as Prime Minister.
The “New Kashmir” plan, as envisaged and Sheikh’s popular government implemented social and agrarian reforms. In April 1949 A.D., a land reforms committee was appointed to prepare a plan for the abolition of the zamindari system and transfer of land to the tiller. The Chakdari system came to an end.
To change the Educational system, the mother tongue was adopted as the medium of instruction in primary classes. Schools and colleges were set up throughout the J&K State. The J&K University was established on 1st Nov. 1948 A.D., with its campus at Hazratbal, Srinagar.
In May 1951, the Yuvaraj, Dr. Karan Singh in the capacity of the Regent, issued a proclamation convoking a constituent Assembly based on free adult franchise. Elections to the assembly were held and it met in October 1951 A.D. for the first time. All the 75 seats of the assembly were won by the National Conference. The constituent assembly in its meeting decided that the titular head i.e., Maharaja be called Sadar-e-Riyasat to be elected by the Legislative Assembly for a term of five years.
The position of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the Indian Union was settled in an agreement popularly known as the “Delhi Agreement” of 1952 A.D., in which India agreed to accord a special statute and position to J&K State in the constitution, whereby complete internal autonomy was assured to the state.
Due to the disturbing political and economic situation in the state during the early months of 1953 A.D., there was dissension in the cabinet. On the 8th of August 1953 A.D., the Sadar-e-Riyasat with the support of the central government dismissed Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah as Prime Minister, and on the 9th of August 1953 A.D., invited Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, (the trusted Lieutenant of Sheikh as well as center) to form a new government. Sheikh was arrested on the 9th of August 1953 A.D. and kept in detention.
Bakshi announced various programs to ameliorate the economic crisis. The Levee was abolished forthwith; cottage industries were developed. The Educational freedom from school to university level was abolished. Efforts were made to develop the regional languages i.e. Kashmir, Dogri, and Ladakhi. The permit system for the tourists was abolished.
It was during Bakshi’s regime that the constituent Assembly confirmed the state’s accession to India on 6th February 1954 A.D.
The drafting committee presented the draft of the new constitution to the Assembly on 10t Oct 1956 A.D., which was unanimously adopted on 17 November 1956 A.D., and came into effect from 26 January 1957 A.D. in 1959 A.D., The state Assembly unanimously decided to seek amendment of the state’s constitution to provide for the extension of the jurisdiction of the election commission of India and the supreme court over the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Elections to the new legislative assembly were held in March 1957 A.D., and the national conference headed by Bakshi won 68; Praja Parishad 05, Harijan Mandal 1, and independent 1 out of 75 seats. The second election was held in 1962 A.D., under the control of the Election Commission of India. Bakshi was forced to resign under the “Kamraj Plan” in August 1963 A.D. He was succeeded by Khawja Shamus-ud-deen, a compromise candidate as prime minister.
It was on December 27, 1963, A.D. that the Holy Relic of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) at Hazratbal Shrine was stolen, which caused widespread anger and anguish among the Kashmiris. This event was responsible for the loss of the Sham-ud-Deen ministry. With the help of the central government, the national conference legislatures elected Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq as their leader in February 1964 A.D. With every change in government and by the planting of blue-eyed boys by the Delhi Government, the state in one way or the other, came nearer to the center. It was during Sadiq’s regime, that the head of state was to be designated as “Governor” and the Prime Minister as “Chief Minister”, on the pattern of the Indian Constitution.
Mr. Sadiq decided to withdraw all the charges of conspiracy against Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and others, who were in detention from August 1953 A.D. to April 1964 A.D., with a brief spell of freedom from January to April 1958 A.D. after his release in April 1964 A.D., he was received very warmly by the people and was invited by Pandit Nehru to visit Delhi, after Delhi, he visited Pakistan. He cut short his tour due to the death of Pandit Nehru on 27th May 1964 A.D.
In August 1965 A.D., there was a 22-day Indo-Pak war. During the Arab – the Israel war in 1967 A.D., there were widespread riots in Srinagar. In September 1967 A.D., Kashmiri Pandits led a massive agitation against the marriage of a Pandit girl, named Prameshwari to a Muslim boy.
During G.M. Sadiq’s regime, many NC members like Mohammad Shafi Qureshi, and Syed Mir Qasim were active in establishing the Indian National Congress Party in the state. With the demise of Mr. Sadiq on December 12, 1971 A.D., Syed Mir Qasim, the congress stalwart in the state was called upon to assume office as Chief Minister.
In December 1971 A.D., there were 14 days of war between India and Pakistan, which led to the creation of “Bangladesh”, as a sovereign state.
The Shimla Agreement between Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Mr. Z.A. Bhuttoo was signed on July 3, 1972, A.D., in which 90,000 soldiers of Pakistan captured by the Indian Army and Mukti Bhani of Bangladesh, were allowed to return to Pakistan. The ceasefire line in Kashmir was renamed as “Line of Actual Control”.
The fourth elections to the State Legislative Assembly were held in March 1972 A.D., which returned the INC to power. All political parties took part in these elections for the 74 seats; Congress won 57, the Jamat-i-Islami 05, the Jana Sangh 03, and Independent 09.
It was during Mir Qasim’s rule, that Sheikh Abdullah and his trusted Lieutenant Mirza Afzal Afzal Beigh, who were in prison, were released. Over time, there were exchanges of views for the restoration of power to Sheikh Abdullah, between Mirza Afzal Beigh and G. Parthasarathy, (Mrs. Gandhi’s Ambassador). An accord called “Indira – Abdullah Accord” was negotiated in 1975 A.D., by which Sheikh Abdullah was offered the Chief Ministership of the state and Syed Qasim was asked to step down by the high command in Delhi. In his second period as the ruler of the state, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was accused of having sold his conscience for the lure of power through the masses as the majority of Kashmiris considered secession from India the only panacea for their ills. The tall and towering personality of Sheikh Abdullah who dominated the political scene of Kashmir for about half a century came to an end after his demise in 1982 A.D. After his death his son Dr. Farooq Abdullah was administered the oath of office as Chief Minister of Kashmir.
Dr. Farooq’s rule of 02 years came to an end due to a split in the National Conference and he was replaced by his brother-in-law Ghulam Mohammad Shah at the behest of Govt. of India. But he hailed to restore the law and order situation. There was hardly a day when curfew was not imposed in one part of the other in the valley Shah was therefore referred to as curfew chief minister. He was dismissed in March 1986 A.D. and the governor’s rule was imposed throughout the state. After six months Dr. Farooq with the blessings of Rajiv Gandhi was reinstalled as chief minister on November 7, 1986 A.D., Dr. Farooq’s great achievement on the political front was the reunion of two factions, led by Dr. Farooq and Mirwaiz Moulvi Farooq after 40 long years.
During Dr. Farooq’s second stint as Chief Minister, there was a complete breakdown of the state administration. The entire socio-economic setup crumbled and the political scenario had assumed a ferocious look. The entire system was dominated by militancy – the propounders of NIzam-e-Mustafa and Azadi for Kashmiris.
During 1988 and 1989 A.D., the conditions were totally out of control. There was a writ of militants in every domain of social, political, and economic affairs. There were frequent bandhs, processions, and marching to the UN observer’s office in Srinagar. The people were in a do-or-die situation to achieve freedom.
Governor Jagmohan was replaced by K.V. Krishna Rao, as the new incumbent on 11th July 1989. When the conditions were just out of control, the central government replaced Governor K.V. Krishan Rao and in his place, Jagmohan was installed as the new governor on January 17, 1990 A.D. The appointment of the new Governor irked Dr. Farooq who resigned as Chief Minister, during Jagmohan’s term of office the Kashmiri Pandits were encouraged by the majority of the Muslim population to be annihilated. Silent protestors and processions were gunned down and the security forces left no stone unturned to harass, harm, and kill the innocent Kashmiris, who fought for their rights.
Mirwaiz Farooq was killed by unidentified gunmen and his funeral procession was fired, in which 15 mourners lost their lives and 60 were injured during Jagmohan’s rule.
Jagmohan after his second term was replaced by a retired intelligence officer, namely Girish Saxena, on 20th May 1990 A.D. As there was no improvement in the chaotic conditions during Saxena’s Governorship, he was replaced by K.V. Krishna Rao.
Elections to the Legislative Assembly were held in the months of September-October 1996 A.D., under the barrel gun and the participation of the electorate in these elections was negligible which gave a mandate to Dr. Farooq’s national conference who assumed power as chief minister on October 09, 1996 A.D. Dr. Farooq again ruled Kashmir from 1996 to 2002 A.D. for six years. In the elections, again held under tight security in October 2002, none of the political parties gained a majority to form the government. So, a coalition government between Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party was formed with Mufti Mohammad Syed as Chief Minister for a term of the first three years as per the agreement. After the expiry of his term of office, he was replaced by Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad, a Congress candidate from Jammu (Doda district) region, who assumed office on November 2, 2005 A.D. The coalition government formed by Congress and PDP came to an end when differences between the two parties surfaced on certain issues, resulting in fresh elections during 2008 A.D. The coalition government had a tough time dealing with the public outcry on “Azadi” and “Amarnath” issues. After the election in 2008 A.D., a coalition government was formed between the National Conference and the Congress party, with young Omar Abdullah, as the Chief Minister and the President of the National Conference Dr. Farooq Abdullah was inducted into the Union Cabinet as Minister of Renewable Energy.