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Many people have accused Kashmiris of being dishonest and untrustworthy for a lo
ng time but over the last decade or two more and more people have been more voca
l about it. Kashmiris have been described as notoriously treacherous and unscrup
ulous. There are many proverbs which describe them as rouges and not worthy of f
Agar kahat ul rijal u
ftad, azehan uns kamgiri
Yake Afghan, doyum Kamboh soyam badza
at Kashmiri.
Although a scarcity of men should happen, do not cultivate the acquaintance of t
hese three people:
The first an Afghan, the second a Kamboh and the third a rascal Kashmiri.
The Kashmiris have borne the reputation of being untrustworthy not only througho
ut India but throughout the world. According to the Kalahanas Rajatarangini (the
historical chronicle of Kashmir), the Kashmiris were noted to be dishonest and c
unning. William Moorcroft in his Travels in the Himalayan Provinces of Hindustan
and the Punjab, in Ladakh and Kashmir, in Peshawur, Kabul, Kunduz and Bokhara,
from 1819 to 1825, writes, In character the Kashmirian is selfish, superstitious,
ignorant, supple, intriguing, dishonest and false; he has great ingenuity as a
mechanic, and a decided genius for manufactures and commerce, but his transactio
ns are always conducted in a fraudulent spirit. Numerous people have written on K
ashmir and most of them have nothing good to say of the character of Kashmiri pe
ople (p. 128).
The Kashmiris themselves have been at the forefront of it and have left no stone
unturned to malign the character of fellow Kashmiris. A great number of convers
ations taking place between fellow Kashmiris even today, end up targeting the ch
aracter of Kashmiris Ye Gye Kashir Khaslat (this is the character of Kashmiris). Ev
en a group of people talking about politics, business or anything for that matte
r use such phrases quite often.
While most of authors who have written disparaging accounts on the character of
Kashmiris do appreciate the tyranny and oppression faced by the people. There ar
e some Kashmiris who believe that they were once brave, honest, honorable people
and that continued oppression has led them to be dishonest, tactful and opportu
nistic which they believe have helped them to survive even in worst times.
A glimpse through Kashmiris history suggests that even during Kalhanas time Kashmi
r was in political turmoil and it was at the centre of barbarism. For many years
Kashmiris were taught that they were slaves and did not have any rights. They w
ere called Zulm parast, or worshippers of tyranny. The persecution and ill treat
ment of Kashmiris has been recorded over centuries.
Biscoe in his Kashmir in Sunlight and shade notes, Kashmir has been conquered and
re-conquered by invaders, who have murdered, oppressed and enslaved their ances
tors, and so ground the life and heart out of them that their better selves have
been crushed and has even gone to the extent of saying: It is quite possible that
if we Britishers had to undergo what the Kashmiris have suffered in the past we
might have lost our manhood. (p. 79).
The Kashmiris have fought and struggled very hard for their survival and the onl
y weapons available to him were lying and treachery. This has also been noted by
Lawrence in The valley of Kashmir (p. 279).

Moorcroft also admits that the vices of the Kashmiris are not innate, but are due
to the government under which they lived. The natives of Kashmir have always be
en considered as amongst the most lively and ingenious people of Asia and deserv
edly so (ibid)
Allen Stacey in his Visiting Kashmir notes, history of natural disasters- floods
, heavy snows, earthquakes etc- also played a part. Survival was the one constant
in the changing patterns of the Kashmiri people. To survive calamity, and conqu
est, they needed to develop a certain amount of guile, cunning and ruthlessness
in both business and barter. Perhaps because of this many succumbed to an increa
sing lack of personal inner strength or morality. What did it matter though, whe
n tomorrow might never come? And indeed, for many it did not (p. 34).
The Kashmiris have suffered for long under the Salatini Kashmir (the Muslims of
Kashmir), the Mughals, the Afghans, the Sikhs and the Dogras. Later they were be
trayed by the leaders of India and Pakistan and even by their own leaders- from
Nehru to Jinnah to Sheikh Abdullah down to this day. In fact it would not be wro
ng to say that persecution has been a major part of Kashmiri history.
Lawrence concludes that the Kashmiri is what his rulers have made, but I believe
and hope that two generations of just and strong rule will transform him into a
useful, intelligent, and a fairly honest man. (p. 283) ibid.
Despite their continued sufferings and persecution, Kashmiris ask: aisi bhi koi s
hab hai jis ki sahar na ho (can there be a night which does not yield to dawn). T
he emotions of Kashmiris cannot be expressed any better than by these couplets o
f Asrar-Ul-Haq Majaz:
Yeh musalsal aafaten, yeh shorishen, yeh qatal-e-aam
Aadmi kab tak rahe auham-e-baatil ka ghulaam.
Zehan-e-insaani ne ab auham ke zulmaat mein
Zindagi ki sakht toofani andheri raat mein.
Kuch nahin tau kam se kam khawab-e-sehar dekha tau hai
Jis taraf dekha na tha ab tak udhar dekha tau hai.
Those endless misfortunes, those sufferings, those carnages
How long can man remain enslaved to arbitrariness and deceit.
Now the human mind, amidst the tyranny of arbitrariness.
In the dark stormy night of life.
Has dreamed at last of a new dawn, if nothing else
Has looked down towards a vista it had never seen before.