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Change of an era – 2

Maharaja Ranjit Singh ruled Kashmir for twenty-seven years and appointed ten Governors during the period.

His tenure was a soothing relief from the five century-long periods of atrocities for Kashmiri Hindus. The Muslim Vassals, who persecuted the Hindus repeatedly in every possible manner, went absconding. The women folks regained their freedom and their honor. The echoes of bells ringing in the temples and the chanting of Vedricha filled the air with serene tranquility.

But, unfortunately, the rulers and the prominent persons in the society did not strategize to create this flourishing time into a permanent one. The five century-long invasions followed by foreign rule had created devastating effects on once thriving Educational, Cultural and Spiritual hub. The efforts to re-connect with the ancient prosperity were negligible, hence the gone by glory became extinct. Meanwhile, the Britishers had already set their legs in Bharat.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh had appointed Raja Gulabsinh as his heir to rule Kashmir, during his lifetime. The bitter battle was fought in 1846, between the British and the Sikhs, and as per the Amritsar treaty, the British accepted the suzerainty of Maharaja Gulabsinh over Jammu-Kashmir but they retributed by appointing a British agent to keep Gulabsinh under control.

Maharaja Gulab Singh created a strong and strengthened Jammu-Kashmir, accumulating several small kingdoms, through his army movements and political potency, and the newly formed dominion of Jammu & Kashmir, consisting of Ladakh, Gilgit, Baltistan, Jammu and Kashmir valley constituted the biggest dominion of the Bharatvarsh.

One of his valorous commanders Jorawarsingh was an expert in Guerrilla warfare. He annexed Ladakh to Jammu & Kashmir but his gallantry efforts cost him his life.

Prominent historian K M Pannikar has noted down his unparalleled combat skills and army operations.

He mentioned: ” The air over the snow-clad mountain range of Ladakh and Baaltistaan, 15,000 ft above the sea level, is so thin that the person residing in the plains would find it difficult to survive. Not once, but to lead the army Six times, is an astonishing achievement. Continuous and constant attempts, to win and acquire the region and create it into a peaceful one, is a notable task and it is and will remain, unmatched in history. His greatness will shine on pages of history, forever.”

Maharaja Gulab Singh expired in 1857.

Ranveer Singh’s tenure created a wave of Hindutva all around Kashmir and the ripple of returning back to Hindutva, turned into a strong urge, among the Kashmiris who were victims of compulsive religious conversion into the Islamic fold, during bygone centuries.

Some of the Rajput Muslims of Rajouri-Poonch and a few from Kashmir valley requested Maharaja Ranveer Singh’s court to accept them again in the religion, where their soul belongs. Maharaja recommended their case to a few of the prominent Pandits but the biggest irony and misfortune of our nation, the few so-called lessees of Hindu religion, with their short-sightedness rejected their plea, outright!!!

The entire history could have been different, had their narrow vision not rebuffed Rinchan from accepting Hinduism, five hundred years back, which resulted in five centuries of horrendous brutality over the ab-original population of Kashmir, by the Islamic rulers.

History was repeating again and those who fail to learn from historical follies, suffer enormously.

Had Maharaja Ranveer Singh accepted these converted Muslims into the Hindu fold without being swirled by the ultra-conservative Hindu priests, the entire enigma would have ended, then and there, forever. The coming generation would always suffer, the massive mischance erupted by such intolerance.

Post Maharaja Ranveer Singh’s tenure, Maharaja Pratap Singh was coronated but his coronation was challenged by his younger brother, Amar Singh. British Government did extend help to Pratap Singh but taking advantage of the chaos, appointed their political agent for Leh, Shrinagar, and Gilgit and thus, expanded their dominance.

After Maharaja Pratap Singh’s demise, Hari Singh, his nephew, came to power in 1923. Maharaja Hari Singh, the son of Raja Amar Singh and Bhotiali Chib, was coronated as Pratap Singh did not have an heir.

Though history has misinterpreted his persona as a greedy king for power. Maharaja Hari Singh was young and dynamic and was a keen follower of Hindutva. After being coronated, he proposed Constitutional amendments.

It was he who put forward the demand for “Complete Freedom” at the Round Table Conference, as the representative of the Chamber of Princes (Narendra Mandal) in 1931.

He very specifically remarked, ” This is the first occasion, when the princes of princely states, have come forward to discuss regarding political future of Bharat, with the British Government and the representatives of British India. Being Bharatiya, We wish that our Motherland acquires the position of respect and equal honorable status.”

This was the first time, that a princely king had raised the issue of Bharat’s independence, with extreme determination. Such a firm and inexorable expression evoked a sense of fright within the Britishers. Their idea of instigating Bharat’s princely kings against the blazing fervor for freedom appeared to be losing its charm. They began charting out alternate strategies and hence, decided to project local Kashmiri Muslims, as a leader.



Sources of Information :

हमारी भूलोका स्मारक : धर्मांतरित कश्मीर

नरेन्द्र सहगल

कश्मीर : दहकते अंगारे

जगमोहन जी

जम्मू कश्मीर की अनकही कहानियां

कुलदीप चंद अग्निहोत्री

Kashmir : Behind The Vale

M J Akbar

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