• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

The advent of Islam in medieval Kashmir gave birth to a narrative that describes forcible mass conversion of Hindus, eviction of local people and wanton demolition of religious symbols. A minority of Kashmiri Brahmans and their progeny who did not convert to Islam built and successfully perpetuated this narrative over the centuries. Following the eruption of armed insurgency in Kashmir and mass migration of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990, this community narrative has turned into the Indian mainstream view on Kashmiri Pandits.


Towards his last days, while reflecting on his life and experiences, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah1 described Kashmiri Pandits as ‘The Fifth Columnists’ and ‘The Instruments of Tyranny’.2 The sweeping portrayal of a community by a person accused of having handed over Kashmir to India on a platter to answer the wishes of this minuscule minority looks incredible. Was the Kashmir's ‘tallest leader’ being unsavoury during his last days towards a community that had earlier bestowed upon him the title of Vishnu incarnate?3 To find an answer, a journey through the history of Kashmir with focus on this generally perceived wise community, that formed a merely 4 per cent of Kashmir's population but “exerted influence out of all proportion to its numbers,”4 is a prerequisite.

The ...

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