From Bihar to Tihar
It's all a tale of broken promises
THEN N NOW
DR ALTAF HUSSAIN YATOO
The hanging of Muhammad Afzal Guru will normally lead our memory just to February 11, 1984, the fateful day when Muhammad Maqbool Bhat was hanged. The parallel between the two events is that both the men belonged to North Kashmir, were convicted and hanged inside the premises of the Tihar Jail when Kashmir was ‘ruled over’ by the National Conference regime. What these hangings signify in the real sense of the word? Are these just hangings hinting towards the demise of two persons or the events symbolizing the tale of suffering of a whole nation? Study of history will lead us to the fact that Tihar in reality has a resemblance with Bihar vis-à-vis the helplessness as well as the humiliation of Kashmiris, because it is in Bihar where lies buried the last royal family of Kashmir: Yusuf Shah Chak, Yaqoob Shah Chak and their kith and kin.
It is an irony of fate that those Mughals who became the source of integration of whole India became colonizers for Kashmir. They also initiated such a ‘tradition’ of oppression and humiliation for Kashmir which 427 years’ struggle has failed to do away with. Known for their marshal spirit outside Kashmir the Mughals based their policy on mere treachery in Kashmir. As he failed to win Kashmir in his several attempts through the ‘force of arms’, Akbar decided to use his ‘shrewdness’ to invade Kashmir. It seems that Akbar through his experience had known the Kalhanian dictum that ‘this land [of Kashmir] could not be won over by the force of arms’!
The war which was fought between the Kashmiri and the Mughal forces in the environs of Baramulla took several turns before it concluded into a truce between the belligerents. Although the Kashmiri nobles were all against the truce but it was under the trustworthy aegis of Raja Bhagwan Das that they ultimately got motivated. Although Pandit Shuka, for clear reasons, has accused Yusuf Shah Chak of his luxury loving attitude which, indeed, had its due share in formulating the truce with the Mughals but the assurances by a Rajput of the caliber of Raja Bhagwan Das were very much instrumental.
As per the ‘peace truce’ Yusuf Shah Chak was taken to the Mughal Darbar to pay homage to the ‘great monarch’ (Akbar) and was to be freed and reinstated as the King of Kashmir according to the provisions of the settlement. However, soon after the royal attire of Yusuf Shah Chak was changed with the clothing of a beggar and pauper. Quite against the promises the ex-king of Kashmir was sent to Bihar to live miserably there. This treacherous attitude on the part of Akbar so much disturbed the Rajput mentality of Raja Bhagwan Das that he twice attempted to commit suicide. Back home, Yaqub Shah Chak continued his struggle to regain the kingdom as well as the lost sovereignty of Kashmir. However, very soon he was beguiled like his father only to meet the latter at Bihar. The father-son duo was thus consumed by the blazing climate of Bihar after their separation from the ‘paradise on earth’. Habba Khatoon, the ex-queen expressed her agony by singing the songs of separation for her beloved. As per the research done by Professor Muhibbul Hasan the ground where the imprisoned Chaks were buried is still called the Kashmiri Chak. Basharat Peer has also talked about this graveyard of Kashmir’s last royalty in his Curfewed Night.
After consolidating their power in Kashmir the Mughals, being far advanced in statecraft, provided roti, kapda, makaan to Kashmiris as a cost of their sovereignty by employing them in constructing different structures which were built to perpetuate their bondage much like the innocent girl of the Jahiliyyah Arab who used to help her father in digging up her own grave. It seems that the Mughals knew that the future rulers of Kashmir would provide them sadak, bijli aur pani to achieve their docility. The Mughals are also credited with having killed dozens of meditating Rishis who, they thought, were the symbols of Kashmiri identity. However, one of the Mughal princes, Dara Shikoh constructed the famous Pari Mahal for mystical meditations. This destination is today used to make an onslaught on the Muslim identity of Kashmir in the name of cultural (musical) concerts. The other Mughal prince, Aurengzeb is known for his vilification of Kashmiris in spite of his tall religious stature. They also laid the famous Mughal Gardens less to beautify Kashmir than to make them as their resting spots. These gardens are now used as the token of peace (read without dignity) and prosperity of Kashmir. Moreover, the Mughals were quite instrumental in popularizing the couplet:
agar firdaus baru-i zamin ast
hamin ast, hamin ast-o hamin ast
It seems that history repeated itself when the last Mughal king, Bahadur Shah Zafar received the same treatment by the British as the one received by the last king of Kashmir on the part of the Mughals. It was in Burma that Bahadur Shah longed for ‘two yards of earth’ (do gaz zamin) of India (koo-i yar) to be buried therein.
The tale of oppression and humiliation initiated by the Mughals got aggravated during the Pathan, Sikh and Dogra regimes. After the political upheaval of 1947 while as the Indian sub-continent was divided into two separate nations Kashmir got trifurcated. The humiliation continued unabated. Ours is the only lot on the surface of earth whose Prime Minster was arrested (August 8, 1953) by ordinary policemen like an ordinary person. He would have died as a prisoner had he not ‘emerged’ as the Chief Minster afterwards. Keeping in view the statements of his counsels, the concern expressed by the international HR watchdogs and the letter of 200 plus respectable citizens of India, is Afzal’s hanging compatible with India’s democratic and judicial system? Or this is simply the perpetuation of the ‘tale of broken promises’ on the part of the largest democracy of the globe!
Lastupdate on : Mon, 18 Feb 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 18 Feb 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 19 Feb 2013 00:00:00 IST
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