Sanskritising Kashmir!


Recently there was an alarm and panic because of alleged move for replacement of the Persian script of Kashmiri language by Devanagari or Sanskrit script. There is no doubt that the original Kashmiri language from ancient times was written in Sarada script. However, after the advent of Islam in Kashmir, the Persian script was introduced. Now for almost 7 to 8 centuries Kashmiri is written in the Persian script. In fact, when Budshah brought back Kashmiri Pandits who had migrated during the time of his father, he made them learn Persian and gave them important posts in his government. Since that time, Kashmiri language has been written in Persian script. Kashmiri language in the same script is one of the national languages recognized in the constitution of India. The currency notes give denomination in Kashmiri language in Persian script. Just see a thousand rupee note, it says in Kashmiri “ak saas ropiye”! The idea of replacing the basic script creates suspicion about some section of people interested in reversing the history of Kashmir by taking it back to the Hindu period. No doubt Kashmir has had a glorious Hindu past but it has now equally glorious Muslim present!

Normally, people in the mainland India should have been happy to accept Kashmir as a Muslim majority state to reinforce their claim of a secular India. Even though earlier there was some pretence of secularism but now at present, it is unabashedly violent and extreme communalism which holds the sway. Right from the start, the BJP-RSS combine has been trying its best to highlight the Hindu past of Kashmir. For them there seems to be a dichotomy. They seem to be irreconcilable to the loss of Kashmir’s glorious Hindu past which has been replaced by the vibrant but very tolerant Muslim present!It is not physically possible to bring back the Hindu past. For that one will have to arrange Ghar Wapsi of 10 million Kashmiri Muslims!

Allegedly, there is a concerted attempt to portray Kashmir as a holy land for Hindus. It is supposed to be home of umpteen holy sites of the Hindus from the earliest times. Every second day feelers about the discovery of a new holy site are circulated and attempts are made to initiate pilgrimages to these sites. Even the State Tourism Department instead of emphasizing the natural beauty has been projecting it as the “Abode of Siva”! According to some observers, there appears to be a diabolical plan to overrun Kashmir with millions of Hindu pilgrims. Even if only 1 % of Indian Hindus decide to come on a pilgrimage to Kashmir, it would mean more than 10 million pilgrims!

It is alleged that a number of moves have, in fact, been initiated to effect a demographic change in the Kashmir Valley. The notorious Sainik Colonies and Composite Pandit Townships along with shelters for outside labour are supposed to be clever moves in that direction. Additionally, the allotment of land to outside industrialists is alleged to be very subtle move to alter the Muslim majority character of the Valley. Very often the example of Israel in regard to Palestinians is quoted. Incidentally, there is complete collusion in many affairs of security and defence between Israel and India. However, the similarity in actions is not possible even if tried. Israel unlike India does not have a neighbor armed with dozens of nukes handled by operators who consider suicide as a path to Heaven! So there is a limit till which these efforts of resurrection can go. Crossing the limit can result in a South Asian Armageddon!

The authors of the above ideas for resurrecting Kashmir’s Hindu past must understand that they are driving Kashmiri Muslims to a wall. Kashmir had its own vibrant and very tolerant culture. It has been known as the valley of the saints. However, over past some time because of the actions of the extremist Hindutva elements, the religion is becoming a symbol of protest. It is turning into Muslim Kashmiris against Hindu India. It is in fact visual demonstration of extreme alienation. One can see a parallel of this situation in the Eastern Europe of seventies. Under the Communist Soviet Regime, in most of these countries like Poland and Czechoslovakia, religion had become a symbol of protest against the faithless Communist Regime. The new wave of militancy in Kashmir, involving highly educated youth committed to die and fully supported by common people everywhere is a living proof of this alienation. In fact, the famous journalist like Kuldeep Nayar says India is losing Kashmir and has advocated return to complete autonomous status of 1953 to save Kashmir!

The killing of Burhan Muzaffar Wani, the 22 year old technocrat from Tral and the subsequent violence involving shooting of 34 youth and injuring of hundreds in clashes should be an eye opener for the authors of the Sanskritisation campaign. Burhan wave has already become a Tsunami. The time is running out fast and there is urgent need for the saner elements to intervene forcefully to arrest this destructive march to resurrect the past. As far as the panic among the locals regarding Hinduisation of Kashmir is concerned, they need not be unduly alarmed. The history always moves forward. There is no evidence of a backward march of history anywhere in the world!

Mohammad Ashraf,   I.A.S. (Retired), Former Director General Tourism, Jammu & Kashmir),


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