JK Govt to reclaim mortal remains of Yusuf Shah

The Jammu and Kashmir government is contemplating to reclaim the mortal remains of independent Kashmir's last ruler Yusuf Shah Chak.
JK Govt to reclaim mortal remains of Yusuf Shah
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The Jammu and Kashmir government is contemplating to reclaim the mortal remains of independent Kashmir's last ruler Yusuf Shah Chak.

The Ministry of Culture headed by senior PDP minister, Dr Haseeb Drabu, is working on a proposal to approach Government of Bihar to seek Chak's mortal remains, sources told Greater Kashmir.

Chak died in exile in Bihar after Mughal emperor Akbar annexed Kashmir in 1586 AD. His grave is in village Biswak of Nalanda district.

"It will take some time before the process is actually taken up," a senior official in the State Government said. "The Government is eager to bring back his (Chak's) mortal remains and bury them in Kashmir as a mark of respect to him."

Chak succeeded his father Ali Shah as the last emperor of independent Kashmir.

"But his rule had a tragic end as Mughal emperor at Delhi, Akbar, by deceit, made him to travel to Lahore (now in Pakistan) for a meeting," Fida Hasnain, a noted historian said. "He (Akbar) had sent his ambassador Bhagwan Dass to Yusuf Shah with an offer of truce in 1586. Despite reservations shown by his people that he (Akbar) was not trustworthy, Yusuf Shah, concerned about the fate of Kashmir, left to meet him in Lahore, where he was arrested and subsequently sent into exile to Bihar."

That was the time when Akbar was ruling entire north India and was making forays into Kashmir, historians say.

While Chak's son Yaqub Shah succeeded his father, at the same time, Akbar invaded Kashmir to capture it. Yaqub had established his base in Kishtwar and, as per historians, fought for three years against Akbar but ultimately lost to his army.

"Yaqub was also sent into exile to Bihar and poisoned there," said Hasnain. "Both father and son are buried in Bihar."

Kashmiri author Basharat Peer in his book Curfewed Nights writes that Chak was the last independent ruler of Kashmir after whom Kashmir was never free.

"It is a tragic story," Peer writes. "…Yusuf Shah's imprisonment and betrayal by Akbar has become a metaphor for the relationship between Delhi and Srinagar."

Chak's love for poetry and music had seen him falling for a beautiful married woman Zoon, of Chandhoor Pampore during his rule. She was a poetess, who would also sing.

"She (Zoon) was educated and well-versed with Persian and Arabic but her family had got her married to an illiterate peasant. Yusuf Shah gave her the place she deserved," Hasnain said.

Zoon then became famous poetess Habba Khatoon, an inseparable part of Kashmir's folklore and history. But Akbar's invasion brought a tragic end to the love story too.

"There is a perception that Yusuf Shah would always remain engrossed in music, which isn't true. He was caught in a situation. How could have he challenged Akbar?" Hasnain said. "Yusuf Shah was revered in Kashmir. We talk of independent Kashmir. It is ironical that Kashmir doesn't celebrate a day in Yusuf Shah's memory as the last ruler of independent Kashmir."

There are some accounts that following Chak's arrest Habba Khatoon used to write and sing songs in Kashmiri, longing for reunion with her beloved.

However, noted historian Muhammad Yusuf Taing said Habba Khatoon was sent to Bihar to spent rest of her life with Chak.

"An agreement was reached between Akbar and Yusuf Shah, by virtue of which Habba Khatoon was sent to Bihar to live with him (Chak)," Taing said, quoting his research. "They both died there and are buried at same place. I along with then Chief Minister Sheikh Muhammed Abdullah went to Bihar and we built a tomb on the graves of Yusuf Shah and Habba Khatoon."

Chak has become a third Kashmiri whose mortal remains are being sought—after Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front founder Muhammad Maqbool Bhat, who was hanged in 1984 in New Delhi's Tihar Jail and Muhammed Afzal Guru, who met the same fate in February 2013.

The government of India denied their bodies to their relatives and buried them inside Tihar jail. Every year separatists reiterate the demand.

In March 2013, the High Court Bar Association, while protesting for return of mortal remains of Bhat and Guru, had also raised the demand for return of mortal remains of Chak.

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