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The mythical ‘dayan’ of Kishtwar and the eating away of the Indian state

It may be politically correct to put the blame for most atrocities on Pakistani terrorists and the ISI, but the role of the majority of the local Kashmiri Muslims in supporting the perpetrators actively and passively cannot be wished away.

Two dastardly events happened on 9th April 2019, just two days before the General Elections in which the BJP, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is widely expected to return to office with an even bigger majority than in 2014.

First, Islamic terrorists shot RSS leader Chandrakant Sharma, while on duty as a medical assistant in the District hospital in Kishtwar. Terrorists barged into the hospital and shot at him, inflicting serious injuries. The terrorists also snatched the weapon from his PSO, Rajinder Kumar, belonging to Jammu & Kashmir Police. In the ensuing scuffle, the PSO was shot dead on the spot. Sharma was taken to Jammu Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. Sharma was Sah Prant Sewa Pramukh of RSS in Jammu and Kashmir.

In the second incident five persons, including a BJP MLA lost their lives when Naxal terrorists ambushed the convoy of BJP in Dantewada in Bastar region Chhattisgarh. BJP MLA Bhima Mandavi, his driver and three security personnel died in the attack.

Both incidents are not isolated, as some might wish to believe. They are part of a larger conspiracy that has been eating away at the Indian state from the time Arab armies arrived at our Western geographical boundaries, followed by Mongols, Persians, Afghans (all representing Islam).

These hordes were, in turn, replaced by Christian armies from Europe; and after 1917, joined by the Communists from Russia and China. All these marauding hordes had only one goal in view: to conquer and loot the most prosperous nation on Earth, and to spread their religions. Even Communism (Marxism/Maoism) etc., are treated like religions by their adherents.

Although I come from Kashmir and have lived in the state for the first twenty years of my life, I have never been to Kishtwar. It was a region too remote from Srinagar or Jammu with no proper roads connecting it to the main cities. As we would travel from Srinagar to Jammu or back, we could see some milestones identifying the turnoffs for Doda, Bhadrawah and Kishtwar. These milestones were the only physical signs of the existence of this region.

Remote regions breed myths and Kishtwar was no exception. There was this myth of the Dayan (commonly understood as a witch or ogress) who was supposed to be the inhabitant of Kishtwar and who would prey upon young and handsome men who had the misfortune of being marked by her.

A distant relative of ours, working for the state government, was transferred to Kishtwar, where apparently he became the victim of a Dayan. He started to waste away and soon became a mere skeleton. His family brought him back to Srinagar where the doctors were unable to diagnose his ailment. I have heard that a kite used to come every day and sit on the windowsill of his room.

Eventually, he died in great pain and agony. The family believed that the Kishtwari Dayan had consumed parts of him when he was in Kishtwar and later when he was shifted to Srinagar; the Dayan followed him in the form of a kite to complete the job.

There is also the story of Maharaja Pratap Singh, the Dogra ruler of Kashmir, who had a Dayan brought from Kishtwar to his Durbar, where he ordered her to demonstrate her powers. She asked him to keep an apple on a table in the middle of the hall. Apparently, after a few moments when the apple was picked up, it was found to have been consumed from within, leaving the peel intact. I don’t know what the king did to this woman, as there is no record of the event, except in the oral folklore of Kashmir.

It seems obvious to me that most of the supposed victims of the Dayan were either suffering from tubercular consumption or from cancer that had not been fully understood by medical science at that time and place. But why the creatures were linked only to Kishtwar is not clear? Perhaps some Kishtwaris can throw some light on this mystery.

In the history of Kashmir, there was a Queen named Didda, the daughter of the Lohar Sardar Simharaj, who married Khemgupta, the Emperor of Kashmir. Kalhan’s description of Didda in the “Rajtarangini” is rather mixed. After the death of her husband in 958 AD, Didda ruled as the Regent of her son and grandson until 980 AD and thereafter as the Empress of Kashmir until her death in 1003 AD. During these 45 years of her rule, she saw her sons and grandsons die and there are some doubts as to whether these were natural deaths. She entered into a number of liaisons with courtiers and warriors and in her insecurity had many of her confidants put to death. I am not sure if later legends morphed Didda into the mythical Dayan of Kishtwar.

What history has recorded is that the last Hindu King of Kashmir, before the advent of Islamic rule, was Sehdev, who ascended the throne in 1301 AD. Twenty years after his accession, a Tartar adventurer, Dulchu Khan, attacked Kashmir with an army of 70000 soldiers. Sehdev fled to Kishtwar, his father-in-law’s kingdom, and left his subjects to the mercy of the invader.

Dulchu Khan ransacked and burnt Kashmir, ordered genocide, and took more than 50,000 Brahmins as slaves. However, it seems that while crossing the Devsar pass, his entire caravan of soldiers and slaves was killed by avalanches. Sehdev abdicated his throne, and Ramachandra, his Chief of the Army, proclaimed himself as king. Rinchin, a Ladakhi refugee whom Sehdev had given shelter and a position of prominence, rose in revolt against Ramachandra and tricked him into a truce, during which he was assassinated. In order to placate the restless population, Rinchin married Ramachandra’s daughter Kotarani and tried to convert to the Hindu faith from his Buddhist religion.

However, the Brahmins of Kashmir refused to accept his conversion and instead derided him saying that one could not become a Hindu; one had to be born into the religion. Rinchin’s anger at this rejection found him listening sympathetically to the preaching of Bulbul Shah, a mendicant from Persia, who was then spreading the message of Islam. Rinchin adopted Islam as his faith, and as Malik Sadruddin became the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir.

Kishtwar, however, continued to be an independent kingdom, ruled by Rajputs, and it was only after the Mughal Emperor Jahangir’s armies subdued Kishtwar in 1620 AD that Islam began to grow roots in this soil, through the preaching and precepts of Sufi saints and faquirs.

However, the Pakistan-inspired insurgency from 1989 has resulted in the replacement of the indigenous Sufi culture of Kashmiri Islam by the imported harsh version of the Wahabi culture. The strain on the fabric of the centuries-old culture of harmonious co-existence has crossed the breaking point and today Kashmir has become a tinderbox ready to explode at the slightest provocation.

Kashmir has seen many pogroms against the Hindus in the past, but these were mostly inspired by bigoted rulers. Most ordinary Kashmiri Muslims were too poor to undertake such murderous activities, a situation that remained unchanged until the 1980s. The almost 100 per cent exodus of the Pandits and other minorities from the valley, after 1989, was achieved through coercion, open intimidation, and targeted murder – activities in which a large proportion of the local Muslim population willingly participated.

It may be politically correct to put the blame for most atrocities on Pakistani terrorists and the ISI, but the role of the majority of the local Kashmiri Muslims in supporting the perpetrators actively and passively cannot be wished away. Narendra Sehgal, in his “Converted Kashmir; Memorial of Mistakes” writes:

After having ruined the heavenly land of Kashmir, Pakistan trained militants have marched successfully towards Doda district of Jammu region. As a result of population proportion and the directionless policy of Government of India, this region too has been engulfed by the fire of separatism. Killings of the Hindus, their migration, attack on police posts and direct encounters with the Army are taking firm roots in the area. Doda after Kashmir and then Jammu, it is part of a definite anti-national conspiracy hatched by Pakistan. All these anti-national activities, sabotage and subversion, take place in broad daylight.

At present, the Muslims in this area constitutes about 55% of the population, but the influence they wield through openly Islamic governments in the state is highly disproportionate to their numbers. The strategy that was so successfully implemented in the valley to drive the Pandits out has seen a repetition in the Districts of Doda and Kishtwar, and depending upon its success, will be introduced in Jammu. The intentions of the insurgents are not hidden. They are openly displayed by them with slogans written on the walls that read: “Kashmir Hindu say khali hai – ab Doda ki bari hai – “Azadi” – Al- Jehad, JKLF ka kya paigam? Jammu Kashmir banega Dar-ul-Islam.

The last riots in Kishtwar on 9th August 2013 that started on a Friday after the Eid prayers were a manifestation of the same sinister plan – to drive the Hindus and other minorities out of their homes in the areas south of the Pir Panjal range and to push Kashmiri Muslims into the vacant spaces left behind by the fleeing populations. This is a classic Chinese manoeuvre, using the ethnic majority Han Chinese to change the demography of Tibet and Xinjiang.

Manmohan Singh’s Government, like King Sehdev’s, having abdicated its responsibility, abandoned the Hindus of Kashmir and their fate was handed over to a partisan state administration that openly espoused the cause of the separatists. Omar Abdullah’s Home Minister, Sajjad Ahmed Kichloo, who hails from Kishtwar, slapped a senior Government employee at the Tourist Reception Centre in Kishtwar on 19th August, just before the CM’s visit to the region. Not only did he slap him three times, but he also had his security personnel to thrash the poor unfortunate in full view of the police officers present. The employee was the Chief Executive Officer of Kishtwar and his crime was that he was not present at the Tourist Reception Centre when this probable descendent of Dulchu Khan appeared on the scene. This incident epitomized the behaviour and attitude of Omar Abdullah and his minions.

The central and state governments imposed a complete blackout on news from the disturbed area. BJP leader Arun Jaitley was stopped at the Jammu airport and not allowed to proceed to Kishtwar. The complicit media channels reported that there were only two deaths in the rioting on Friday, while reports from Jammu indicated that more than 50 Hindus had been killed and hundreds injured. Local papers reported the Hindus saying that they were contemplating migration since the government was unable and unwilling to protect them. This is exactly what the separatists wanted!

The replication of the Kashmir valley strategy has borne fruit in Doda and Kishtwar. Congress and its supporters in the media continue to believe that there is no alternative to keeping on conducting a friendly dialogue with Pakistan. These pathetic pacifists have no compunctions when a hatred-indoctrinated soldier from Pakistan butchers our jawans at the LOC. But for the entire duration of the UPA, they never failed to defend a failed Prime Minister who had lost his sharm years ago in Egypt.

The elections of 2014 put a temporary halt to this strategy, as Pakistan redoubled its murderous efforts in the valley while giving some respite to the Doda/Kishtwar area. The Muftis and the BJP came together to form a Government in the state, and for a while, it seemed to work. The death of Mufti pitchforked his daughter into the CM’s seat. Inexperienced and extremely temperamental it was a matter of time before the alliance broke down. In August 2018 the state Government was dismissed and Governor’s rule imposed. Mehbooba Mufti immediately went on the offensive against her ex-partners and displayed extreme intolerance towards India, Modi and the BJP. Now that General Elections are once again upon us, Mehbooba has joined hands with the Abdullahs, the Congress and the separatists in promoting open secession from India, warning that the whole country would burn if Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution were interfered with.

Kishtwar’s mythical Dayan seems to have found new life and is frantically making up for the lost opportunities after that alleged demonstration of her powers before Maharaja Pratap Singh. A slashed ear has probably given her a personal motive for extreme revenge. With renewed hatred and intensity she is eating the core of Kashmir while some of us see only the unblemished peel. I have heard from my elders that Maharaja Pratap Singh was an enlightened ruler and he must have somehow managed to put the Dayan into the bottle and tightly corked it shut. But, there seems to be a new Didda come to life, who, in order to perpetuate her rule, has uncorked the bottle and let loose this ogress upon the hapless Hindus of Jammu and Kashmir.


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Vijaya Dar
Born in Kashmir. Indic by culture. Occasional writer, avid reader. Love serious cinema, but not TV. Eternal student.

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