by Jia Lal Kilam


CHAPTER XIX
Dila Ram's Murder and After

MIR HAZAR KHAN, the next Subedar created a record of his own perhaps unbeaten in the annals of Kashmir by his most merciless and brutal treatment that he meted out to the Kashmiri Pandits. There have been Subedars such as Karim Dad Khan and Azad who disfigured and blackened the pages of Kashmir history bytheir misdeeds but Mir Hazar Khan is a category by himself. He was laden with the hatred of the Pandits in an unbounded measure, and the result was that he was satisfied not only with killing them or drowning them in the rivers which he certainly did, but he chalked out well-planned methods to wipe them out of their existence. But with all this, he failed as the subsequent history of this country has shown.

Mir Hazar Khan, soon after his assuming the reins of the administration of the country, declared his independence. Taimur Shah, the Kabul king breathed his last and was succeeded by Zaman Khan. Zaman Khan confirmed Mir Hazar Khan's appointment but at the same tirne wished Mir Hazar to send to Kabul the annual tribute. There was enough of unsettledness at Kabul. Mir Hazar taking advantage of this state of affairs, refused point blank to make the payment and along with this announced that he would thereafter rule as an independent king. A reign of terror was ushered in Kashmir, which took its first victim in Pandit Dila Ram who was murdered at Khanayar in the year 1793 A. D. After the murder of Dila Ram, a systematic process was adopted for the extermination of the whole lot of the Pandits. A regular Kashmiri Pandit hunt was had recourse to by him and various were the methods adopted for their killing." Thousands of them were killed by ordinary and known methods. Many more were put in sacks and drowned in the Dal Lake, and those who survived were harassed in such a manner that they forgot even Faqir Ullah's zulum". A number of the Kashmiri Pandit notables of Baramulla - a town near Srinagar - were arrested, then humiliated and ultimately put in prison and later on drowned in Jhelum river. Realizing that it was futile to attempt at the extermination of a whole race, he tried to make the life of the surviving lot both impossible and miserable. Jazia was again imposed upon the whole community. Not satisfied with this, he promulgated another equally abnoxious order. The Pandits were strictly forbidden to read Persian and the penalty for the infringement was certain death. The degrading and unwholesome consequences of this latter order can well be understood when we bear in mind that the Persian was then the court language and all affairs of the State were conducted in this language. It is a known fact that the Kashmiri Pandits' mastery over the Persian language was second only to the Persians. The result was that they secured an entrance into the administration of the country. But Mir Hazar wanted them to be ousted for all time from the administrative machinery and this he could achieve with ease, if no Persian knowing Pandit was available. But then there were Pandits who continued in service, mostly in Daftari Diwani (Accounts Department). He abolished the Daftari Diwani, which was so well organised by Dila Ram. The Pandits' aptitude for service in the Accounts Department is well known. With its abolition they were all thrown out.l The result was that a Pandit became for the time being a waif, a destitute creature, a man nobody to support him or to care for him. But this was as short liYed as the career of Mir Hazar himself. The Pandit yet again rose. The news in those days travelled very slow, but the news about the declaration of Mir Hazar's independence and the zulum he perpetrated reached Kabul after all. Zaman Khan who was busy elsewhere did not deem it advisable to depute a military campaign against Mir Hazar but in its stead he deputed Mirza Khan, Mir Hazar's father to Kashmir to bring the latter round by peaceful methods. Mirza Khan tried his best to wean his son from the path he had chosen but failed and was imprisoned by Mir Hazar. After this there was no other alternative left for Zaman Khan but to send an army against Mir Hazar. A huge army was sent under the command of a veteran General by name Ahmad Khan. Mir Hazar Khan also started with a huge force and the two armies met at Baramulla. Before fighting any engagement, Mir Hazar Khan brought out of prison all the Pandit notables who were suffering imprisonment at Baramulla and drowned them in river Jhelum. But Mir Hazar was soon defeated in the battle that was fought at Baramulla. He fled from the scene of action and took refuge in the Shah Hamdan mosque at Srinagar. But he was soon arrested and put in prison. Thus ended the inglorious career of a person who shed the innocent blood of peaceful and harmless citizens for no other purpose but that of satisfying his own perverted desires. Mir Hazar thus beaten, Rahmatullah Khan became the Subedar. He was not destined to remain long in Kashmir, and was soon after recalled by the king. He went to Kabul carrying with himself a Kashmiri Pandit by name Nand Ram Tiku, who in course of time rose to the eminent place of Diwan at Kabul and changed the course of Kashmir history more than once. Kifayat Khan now came to succeed him. He was in a marked contrast to Mir Hazar - just, humane and kind, but he too was recalled by the king of Kabul after a short period of three months. There is nothing of importance during his regime excepting a Shia-Sunni riot which was the result of a private enmity between a Shia and a Sunni notable. Arsala Khan followed next as the Subedar in 1795 A. D. He appointed Mohammad Khan as his deputy. He also had quite a short lived career. The past two years were a pericd of total unsettledness which was the legacy left by Mir Hazar. Palace intrigues, marauding expeditions of the Bombas, internecine quarrels of rival factional heads are the main noteworthy events of these two fateful years which created a veritable hell in the country. Abdullah Khan Alkozai now appears on the scene as Subedar in 1796 A. D.

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