Dalits and Kashmiri Muslims – Similarities

By Ameer Tarin: January 23, 2022


Dalits traditionally branded as impure and conveniently type-cast as chamars, latrine and sewer cleaners are not allowed to socialise or be part of Hindu society. An accidental bodily contact with upper castes can go seriously wrong for Dalits. Mahatma Gandhi preferred to call them Harijan, ‘the people of god’. Dalits developed an allergy and hatred with this sinister conspiracy as sincerity of Gandhi became a question mark. The question raised was, an objection, the way Dalits were given a name to identify them differently for all times to come. The question asked was; why couldn’t they simply be called and accepted as Hindus like other Hindus?

Not in the distant past, the news of dead dogs being thrown in the wells owned by generally suppressed Dalits in South Delhi was reported and for many quarters it was not a surprise. The memories are still fresh with India’s erstwhile Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Babu Jagjivan Ram’s visit to Birla Mandir when the temple was thoroughly washed and cleaned; an insult in a brazen manner to the visiting dignitary. There are unending stories that are recorded to depict the atrocities committed on weak, poverty stricken Dalits from times immemorial and even continue today in twenty first century suffering humiliation at the hands of upper-caste and privileged Brahmans.

Late Bhim Rao Ambedkar, reverently and popularly known as Baba Saheb, father of Indian constitution, was influenced by Buddhism and embraced the new faith after disillusionment with caste-system and other inequalities in Hinduism. Baba Saheb was grieved to see his people in deprivation living a life in humiliation below subsistence level and not even able to dream of getting basic education as learning was a reserved prerogative of the upper castes. Though now Dalits perform in an outstanding manner in all fields of education and are spread throughout the world.

Since October 26, 1947 Kashmiris have been pressing hard to impress upon India to heed their cries to restore them their legitimate rights. In this connection, Kashmiris initially started of their struggle peacefully represented by their leader Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah who chose to be a friend of Pandit Nehru expecting him to be a trusted friend who promised him in private and in public on several occasions to respect the rights of Kashmiris and safeguard the right to be an independent nation like it existed before 1947. But that was not to be and people came out on the roads to fight with bricks and stones resulting in the death of nearly fifteen hundred people on August 9, 1953. People were crushed with an iron hand and powers that be managed to impose governments of puppets from New Delhi giving them power through rigged elections.

The story continued till October 1989 when people resorted to violence picking up guns and getting training in handling arms from across cease-fire line, the other part of Kashmir administered by Pakistan that again resulted in the death of more than one hundred thousand men, women and children, rapes, disappearances, random killings in torture chambers. This all was done with the help and disinformation campaign led by elite class of Kashmiri Pandits who initially fed Nehru with wrong information and misled him in believing that 4% Kashmiri Pandits would not be safe if India did not occupy Muslim majority Kashmir.

In this fight India also lost an estimated forty thousand army men and officers. It is worth noting that the army men who died in the fight, a majority of them, unfortunately, were Dalits who were used to face the brunt of war as these people were thought to be dispensable.

Gandhi was a so called high caste. High castes represent a small minority in India, some 10% of the population, yet dominate Indian society in much the same way whites ruled South Africa during the official period of Apartheid. Dalits often use the phrase Apartheid in India when speaking about their problems.


Kashmiri Muslims are considered impure and low-caste; referred to using a derogatory term, ‘mussarman’ though Pandits living amongst them for centuries have not intriguingly learnt the name to be spelt and pronounced as Mussalman. If any Muslim inadvertently walks into their lodgings; the action is considered blasphemous and the whole lodging has to be cleaned and made pure by water mixed with ‘disinfectant cow dung and urine’.

Kashmiri Muslims believe that they lived in darkness and centuries back in 1372 A.D. Abdul Rahman known as Bulbul Shah and later Mir Syed Ali Hamadani, Sufi Saints from Central Asia with their spiritual and intellectual powers converted the Kashmir’s Buddhist king Rinchen followed by a huge majority of Pandits to Islam. These Sufi Saints were armed with a Staff and accompanied by few disciples. All Sufi Saints of Kashmir are held in very high esteem by Muslims and Pandits alike. Kashmiri Muslims are known for Kashmiriat that includes communal harmony, tolerance and respect for humanity. During and after transfer of power to India from British, the sub-continent was on fire and both Muslims and Hindus were engaged in a bloodbath. Kashmir was busy marching on the roads in Kashmir with simulation guns made of timber chanting slogans hamla awar khabardar, hum Kashmiri hein tayaar protecting their 4% minority Pandit community.

Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah an M.SC. Graduate from Aligarh revered and then popularly known as Sheri Kashmir gave a hope to his people by befriending Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who promised him and people of Kashmir a right to live a life free of subjugation and bondage. History had something else in store for Kashmir and Pandit Nehru taking a somersault betrayed his bosom friend to create a history of conflict.

Sheikh Abdullah mesmerised by Pandit Nehru kept people sedated and most importantly to save 4% Pandits from any invisible harm. In comparison, Jammu beyond Udhampur was committing crimes against humanity to indulge in a massacre that saw six hundred thousand Muslims butchered by Dogra Rajputs assisted by Maharaja Hari Singh’s army. Kashmir housing good human beings kept its tradition of maintaining communal harmony. It did not take long for Pandit Nehru to give measure by measure to Sheikh putting him behind bars for years on several times till Sheikh died a political death.

Pandit Nehru, as is believed, was initially inclined to help Sheikh Abdullah fulfil his dream but the caucus of privileged Kashmiri Pandits reminded Nehru of the duty towards his fellow Pandits to save them from annihilation at the hands of Kashmiri Muslims. Nehru listened and fell a prey to the incessant intrigues of Pandits rather than respect heart to heart talk he had with his friend Sheikh Abdullah. Sheikh had demonstrated to the world at large that he was a secular leader who guaranteed the safety and rights of all minorities which he had proved to the world by action and deeds.

One hundred percent white collar jobs of the Babu culture were and are monopolised by Pandits and one hundred percent municipality jobs like cleaning latrines, sewers, lanes and roads reserved for Kashmiri Muslims. Learning was the birth right of Pandits and Muslims, though in majority were to serve Pandits and their families. Muslims at the moment are also spread throughout the world doing wonderfully well in education, business and all fields of science and technology. The Independent State of Kashmir had a few battalions of its army which after occupation were merged with Indian army. With the passage of time in 1962 war with China, all these Kashmiri battalions were consumed on NEFA border fighting Chinese, with not a word mentioned anywhere.

Gandhi obtained the cure for his anxiety, but the people of Kashmir have suffered anxiety ever since. Gandhi, ‘the man of peace’, brought misery to the men of Kashmir.