Atta Muhammad Khan became Subedar of Kashmir in 1807 CE.
Taking advantage of utmost lawlessness hoarding around Kabul, he declared himself as the independent king and indulged in heinous activities to fulfill his demoniac dreams. The Sultan of Kabul was also unable to curtail his vicious conduct of tormenting the Kashmiri women.
Burning with erotic desires, the Subedar enforced a mission to fill his harem with “Kashmiri Hoor”.
The Kashmiri Hindu women became prey to his venereal hunger. Whenever any of his aids, would spot a pretty woman, she would be kidnapped. Innumerable ones consumed poison, jumped into the well, and committed suicide to preserve their piety and morality.
Gopinath Shrivastav has illustrated this oppressive conduct in his tome, “Kashmir”:
During Atta Muhammad Khan’s tenure, the Kashmiris would have of their beautiful women’s heads or cut off their nose to present them as ugly, in order to save them from the devilish engulf of Atta Khan.”
The last Afghan Subedar of Kashmir, Azim Khan took office in 1813 CE. Pandit Sahajram had been appointed as the Prime Minister, and twice, around the time of his tenure, Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab had attacked Kashmir but was defeated, both times.
The group of fanatic Muslim vassals and some of the influential Commanders conspired to impose the allegation of inviting King Ranjit Singh to attack Kashmir.
They instigated the Subedar that the attack on the Punjab king was the strategy of Kashmiri Hindus and they wished to supplant the Muslim Subedar with the Hindu king of Punjab. Unfortunately, the Subedar became prey to their instigation and believed their fabricated story was a “challenge to Islam”.
The idea of “Islam under danger” began spreading rapidly in Kashmir and Hindus were ridiculed as King Ranjit Singh’s stooge. The conspiracy to throw them out of Kashmir or forcibly convert them into the Islamic fold became widespread. Their fiefdom was captured and declared as state property. The Jazia Tax was re-imposed on Hindus and they were systematically removed from the administrative services. Numerous accusations and allegations were trusted upon them. Eventually, terrorized by this abasement, many of the Hindus accept the conversion.
The vicious Muslim Commander Sardar Noorshah was appointed to handle the entire treacherous activity of combusting religious emotions and indoctrination and eventually, leading to converting them into Islam.
Pandit Hardas, a prominent Hindu official became his first victim. Pandit Sahajram, the Prime Minister of the state, put in all his efforts to change the hostile atmosphere but the sloganeering of “Islam under danger” was so fierce and impacting that Subedar was completely blinded by its immense hype and furor.
Though Maharaja Ranjit Singh was defeated in both his attempts over Kashmir but his rule in Punjab had emerged as the devoted powerful Hindutva-based kingdom where Hindus and Sikhs lived in brotherhood. The Subedar had also grasped that the neighbouring state of Punjab was emerging as the valourous Hindu kingdom that had the backing and the endorsement of Kashmiri Hindus. The Hindus were severely mangled in their very own Motherland and were unable to follow or perform their religious rituals. Neither their women folks were safe nor their self-esteem was ascended.
It is also the truth that few of the Kashmiri Pandits had approached Maharaja Ranjit Singh and there were few of the Kashmiris were serving in the Punjab administration.
All of these would surely impact Kashmir’s political scenario. Subedar Azim Khan was also disturbed, rather scared by the growing strength of the neighbouring Hindu state, and hence, he stopped the clobber of Pandits but continued strategies of dismantling them. NoorShah and Subedar Azim Khan chalked out a game plan.
Krishna Dhar illustrated in detail this plan in “History of Dhar”.
According to the plan, NoorShah would invite all the prominent Pandits, including Pandit Sahajram’s brother Mirza Pandit, to his home. He would treat them to a Turkish bath. Once they were seated in Caldarium, he would heat it up extremely high and they would die of suffocation. Azim Khan approved of this plan but he insisted that this conspiracy should be put into action when he wouldn’t be in the town.
But, on the day of implementation, Azim Khan’s personal assistant leaked out the conspiracy of Noor Shah and Subedar to Pandit Sahajram.
As per the plan, Subedar stepped out and went away to Shalimar Baug. Sahajram immediately reached near NoorShah’s home via boat. He wrote on a piece of paper in the Kashmiri language, ” The island on which your house is built, has been washed away in the flood.”
Sahajram’s loyal ferryman Hayat took this letter (the rukka) to Mirza Pandit at NoorShah’s residence. Seeing him, Mirza Pandit, grasped that everything was not alright. Hayat bent down, pretended to adjust the flame of Diya, and dropped the rukka, near Mirza Pandit’s feet. Mirza Pandit glanced at the rukka and immediately took a decision. He left his shawl behind and on the pretext of going to the toilet, he escaped and reached the Ghar where his brother was waiting.
In a while, Mirza Pandit’s absence was noticed by NoorShah and in anger, he sent his steadfast servants to catch him, dead or alive. Mirza Pandit meanwhile had disappeared far away and taking advantage of this chaos, the other invited Pandits also ran away.
The stratagem of Azim Khan and NoorShah failed miserably due to the meticulously of an ordinary servant.
This patriotic servant, who divulged the vital information, was a Muslim. The ferryman who was instrumental in conveying the important message was also Muslim. This indicates that those Muslims, who may have converted to Islam but their loyalty to their Motherland, had not decreased and they did not get carried away in supporting the Muslim Subedar and his official, betraying the Motherland.
As it is rightly said, history teaches us the conduct We should adopt in current times…
This incident shows us the mirror.
As conspired, Azim Khan Subedar had gone out of town, on the day of the incident. The next day, Pandit Sahajram and Mirza Pandit went to meet him and conveyed what had happened.
When Azim Khan realised, his plan had failed, he apologized to them. Pandit Sahajram, gained the opportunity of informing the Subedar about Crores of rupees of people’s funds gulped down by NoorShah. Now, Subedar had no choice but to arrest and take action against NoorShah, to save his own skin. He asked Mirza Pandit to go with the army and capture NoorShah.
Mirza Pandit seized his house and broke even the walls and roof to confiscate the hidden gold and precious jewels.
Witnessing his plot getting dismantled, he died of shock.
Sources of Information :
हमारी भूलोका स्मारक : धर्मांतरित कश्मीर
कश्मीर : दहकते अंगारे
जम्मू कश्मीर की अनकही कहानियां
कुलदीप चंद अग्निहोत्री
Kashmir : Behind The Vale
M J Akbar
Afghan invades Kashmir – 5
Atta Muhammad Khan became Subedar of Kashmir in 1807 CE.