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Where's India's holocaust museum?
October 21, 2003
The massacre of 6 million Jews by Hitler and the persecution Jews suffered all over the world in the last 15 centuries has been meticulously recorded by the Jews after 1945 and has been enshrined not only in history books, but also in Holocaust museums, the most famous one being in Washington, DC.
It has not been done with a spirit of revenge -- look at Israel and Germany today -- they are on the best of terms; yet, facts are facts and contemporary Germany had to come to terms with its terrible actions during World War II.
Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists have also suffered a terrible holocaust, probably without parallel in human history. Take the Hindu Kush for instance, probably one of the biggest genocides of Hindus. There is practically no serious research ever done about it and no mention in history books. Yet the name Hindu Kush appears many times in the writings of Muslim chroniclers in 1333 AD
Ibn Battutah, the medieval Berber traveller, said the name meant 'Hindu Killer,' a meaning still given by Afghan mountain dwellers. Unlike the Jewish holocaust, the exact toll of the Hindu genocide suggested by the name Hindu Kush is not available. 'However,' writes Hindu Kush specialist Srinandan Vyas, 'the number is easily likely to be in millions.'
A few known historical figures can be used to justify this estimate. The Encyclopaedia Britannica recalls that in December 1398 AD, Taimurlane ordered the execution of at least 50,000 captives before the battle for Delhi; likewise, the number of captives butchered by Taimurlane's army was about 100,000.
The Britannica again mentions that Mughal emperor Akbar ordered the massacre of about 30,000 captured Rajput Hindus on February 24, 1568 AD, after the battle for Chitod, a number confirmed by Abul Fazl, Akbar's court historian. Afghan historian Khondamir notes that during one of the many repeated invasions on the city of Herat in western Afghanistan, which used to be part of the Hindu Shahiya kingdoms '1,500,000 residents perished.' 'Thus,' writes Vyas, 'it is evident that the mountain range was named as Hindu Kush as a reminder to the future Hindu generations of the slaughter and slavery of Hindus during the Moslem conquests.'
Or take the recent plight of the Kashmiri Pandits. Over 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits have been forced to flee their homeland. Many Pandit men, women and children have been brutally murdered. About 70,000 still languish in makeshift refugee camps in Jammu and Delhi. Scores of temples in Kashmir have been desecrated, destroyed, looted, more than 900 educational institutions have been attacked by terrorists. Properties of Pandits have been vandalised, businesses destroyed or taken over, even hospitals have not been spared.
Did you know that this huge human tragedy is taking place in Free India?
Burning books, looting culture is a very important part of the plan as we have seen during early Muslim invasions, where Buddhist centres of learning were ruthlessly burnt and razed to the ground.
Kashmir was also the crucible of knowledge, spirituality, a hallowed centre of learning and the cradle of Shivaism. It was known as Sharda Peeth, the abode of learning. Kashmiri Pandits excelled in philosophy, aesthetics, poetics, sculpture, architecture, mathematics, astronomy and astrology. Sanskrit was studied, propagated and spoken by women and men. Scholars like Kalhan, Jonraj, Srivar, Abhinavgupta, Somanand, Utpaldev, Somdev and Kshemendra created an intellectual centre of unrivalled repute.
Fundamentalism and terrorism have been ruthless in their assault on Sharda Peeth, zealous in ravaging its heritage, and consistent only in bloodthirsty intolerance. The destruction of Hindu places of worship, forced conversions of Pandits and death and ignominy to those who resisted, were accompanied by a savage assault on literary activity. This process has been going on since centuries.
As a correspondent covering India for more than 20 years, I have witnessed the terrible damage terrorism in Kashmir has inflicted upon people's lives, their families, their culture, the very fabric of society, not only of the Kashmiri Pandits, but also Muslims in the valley, who after all, are victims too of Pakistan's bloody designs. Hence, with two journalist friends, we started a Foundation: FACT -- Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism.
The first task of FACT has been to mount an exhibition on terrorism, focussing on the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits, so that the people of India, who do not suffer directly from terrorism understand, what it does to others. This exhibition, which opened at the Habitat Centre, New Delhi, on July 18, was a great success. More than 25,000 people visited the exhibition till its closing day, on July 23. Among them were Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission Justice A S Anand, Rajya Sabha MP Dr Karan Singh, Union Minister Murli Manohar Joshi... It was covered by most English and Hindi national newspapers and reported on the television channels.
Our aim is manifold: we would like to take the present exhibition all around India and all over the world, particularly the United States, where most symposiums on Kashmir, including some organized by the US State Department, are peopled mostly by Pakistanis, Muslims and US-based Indians who are anti-Hindu.
We would also like to start another exhibition on forced Christian conversions in the Northeast. Ultimately, we would like to build a Hindu/ Sikh/Buddhist Indian Holocaust Museum based in New Delhi, or in Bangalore. It will record not only the genocide of Hindus Sikhs and Buddhists at the hands of Muslim invaders, but also the terrible persecution of the Portuguese (hardly mentioned in Indian history books) and British -- nobody knows for instance that 20 million Indians died of famine between 1815 and 1920, because the English broke the agricultural backbone of India to get raw materials like cotton, jute etc.
We need your support for this Indian Holocaust Museum.Francois Gautier