Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India

Milchar

Lalla-Ded Educational and Welfare Trust

  Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India

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Milchar
April-May 2003 issue

Maa Sharika Temple, Hari Parvat, Village Anangpur, Faridabad.

Table of Contents

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

 

From the Pages of History

 … J.N. Kachroo

Kashmiri Loses Her Independence

    Babar founded Mughal rule in India in 1526 AD. His mission was clear to him; he aimed at building an J.N. Kachroo empire. Kashmir, occupying an important strategic position, could not escape his notice. The beauty of the Valley with its bracing climate had an additional attraction  to the Mughals, inhabitants of a cold country. But subduing Kashmir was not an easy cake-walk for the Mughals. After facing set backs more than once and suffering a little humiliation, Mughals finally claimed Kashmir to be a part of their empire only in 1586, i.e. 60 years after the occupation of Delhi throne. This success came to the then Mughal emperor not by using his prowess but a strategy.

     In 1526, Kashmir was under the rule of Sultan Mohammad Shah (IV). Anarchy prevailed in the kingdom due to the fighting among petty nobles and also rivalry among the scions and their successors of Zain-ul-Abidin. Among the nobles, two prominent persons Kazi Chak and Malik Abdal Magrey played an important role.

     In 1527, Babar sent a force under Kushak Beg and Ali Beg to help Sikander in securing the throne by overthrowing the ruling prince. The Kashmiris saw through the trick which was to bring Kashmir under the Mughal hegemony. As a result, the otherwise rival feudal lords of the Valley rallied under the banner of Kazi Chak, whose patriotism was stirred. He was at Naushera then, having been driven out of the Valley by his powerful rival, Abdal Magrey. Kazi Chak collected a force comprising the hill tribes and exiled Kashmiri soldiers, put his 18 year old son at its head and conducted a successful operation against the mighty Mughals, who had to withdraw ignominiously without entering the Valley.

     Kazi Chak became a hero. He was appointed as Wazir. However, his rival Abdal Magrey took shelter under Babar and induced him to make another attempt. Babar agreed but used a different excuse. Kazi Chak, removing Muhammad Shah from the throne, had put up his son Prince Ibrahim on the throne. Babar got Nazuk Shah, a scion of Shah Mir declared as Sultan of Kashmir. Some nobles helped him and with the help of the Mughal army, defeated the forces of Kazi Chak and enthroned Nazuk Shah. Only after one year in 1530, Muhammad Shah was restored. Magrey quickly sensed the resentment of the nobles against the presence of the Mughal soldiers who were sent back from Kashmir. Thus Babar failed a second time in bringing Kashmir under his sway.

     The Mughals made a third attempt during Humayun's rule. A strong Mughal force of 3000 horse under Mehram Beg entered Srinagar without much resistance. But soon the Kashmiri nobles patched up their differences again and invited Kazi Chak to lead them to drive the invader out of their native land. The Mughals could not stand the pressure mounted by the Kashmiris. They agreed to quit the Valley on promise of a safe passage to the Punjab.

     Mirza Haider Dughlat, an adventurer from Tashkent and a close relative of Babar tried his luck in 1533 but met with the combined resistance of Kazi Chak and Abdal Magrey. However, Mirza Dughlat helped by Abdal Magrey occupied Srinagar in 1540 AD and placed Nazuk Shah on the throne. Dughlat thus exercised influence on the Sultan and increased the influence of the Mughals for eleven years till his death. But the Sultans retained independence.

     Meanwhile, the last Sultan ruler, Habib Shah was removed from the throne of Kashmir and replaced by Ghazi Chak. The rule of Kashmir passed on to Chaks in 1561.

     During early years of Akbar's rule, Shamas Raina, a local noble helped Abdul Mali, a favourite of Humayun, to invade Kashmir, but was defeated by Ghazi Chak. Kashmir continued to be independent.

     Hussain Shah Chak ascended the throne of Kashmir in 1563 AD. Chaks were the followers of Shia faith. Helped and instigated by the Imperial government at Agra, Shia-Suni conflict took a violent turn. Akbar made a diplomatic move. He sent two envoys, both of Shia faith to Kashmir to ask the Chak ruler Hussain to accept the Mughal suzerainty. The Chak ruler refused and sent away the envoys with presents for the King. Akbar made another diplomatic attempt in 1578 AD, but not much was achieved.

     In 1579, Yusuf Shah Chak ascended the throne. A lover of music, Yusuf married a simple but romantic girl Zooni, later known as Habba Khatoon. She  was a singer and a poetess. People lost their confidence in their king. His wise minister Mohammad Bahaqi took over the charge of the ruler and forced Yusuf Shah to flee to seek Akbar's help. Finding it a great opportunity, Akbar sent Mughal soldiers under Raja Man Singh. But Yusuf Chak realised his shortsighted act and persuaded Man Singh not to proceed to Srinagar, but himself went at the head of a small army of 4000 from hill tribes. He succeeded in capturing the throne once again.

     Akbar made more than one attempt to bring Yusuf Shah to attend his court but all in vain.

     Thus Kashmir maintained her freedom and the mighty Mughals failed to win Kashmir either militarily of diplomatically, right from 1526 to 1586 AD.  Throughout the period, the Kashmiris gave  proof of their patriotism and exhibited a wonderful ability of facing the enemy unitedly, inspite of mutual differences.

     The determined Akbar, the great Mughal Emperor now decided to make the final bid to annexe Kashmir by means fair or foul.

     On December 20, 1585, a strong force of 500 horse under the command of Raja Bhagwan Das marched  into Kashmir via Jhelum valley route. Yusuf Shah felt nervous and thought it futile to offer any resistance. But his youthful and dashing son, Yaqub put up a stiff resistance. Bhagwan Das's benumbed force could make no progress and entered into negotiation with Yusuf Shah. It was agreed that 1) The Mughals would withdraw, 2) Yusuf Shah would retain the throne, 3) Coins would be struck and Khutba read in the name of the emperor, 4) Yusuf Shah was persuaded to travel to Attock to receive regards from the emperor and where the treaty would be ratified. Though advised by his son not to go, Yusuf Shah travelled only to be imprisoned there. Bhagwan Das thought it as a betrayal and even attempted suicide. When Akbar reached Lahore, he handed over Yusuf Shah to Raja Tudarmal. After two and a half years, he was given a Mansab of 500 horse, sent to Bihar and not allowed to go back. In 1592, he died there and was buried in Patna.

            Back home, Yaqub Shah continued to rule as the Sultan of Kashmir, disregarding the terms of agreement and striking coins in his name. But soon, he, because of a ruthless policy of terror, lost the confidence of his people.  Sheikh Yaqub Sarfi, a poet, a respected Suni, secured the support of a large number of Kashmiri nobles, and invited Akbar to come to Kashmir to put an end to the prevailing lawlessness. Assured of local help and support, the Triumphant Mughals entered Srinagar on 14 October 1586.

     Thus Kashmir lost its independence to become a province of the Mughal Empire.

            Yaqub Shah made futile attempts to regain his throne. It took three years for the Mughal Subedhars to restore complete order. On 14th October 1589, Akbar, the great Mughal entered Srinagar to a rousing reception by all sections of the people who were sick of the lawlessness and intrigues of the nobles.

 

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