Afghans ruled Kashmir from 1757 to 1819. The Afghan rule of 62 years set fire to the harmony and peace of the valley. This was the darkest period in the history of Cashmere. However, Afghans did not annex the vale on their own but were invited by Kashmiri nobles to rid Kashmir of the misrule of the Mughal empire who annexed Kashmir on 2 Oct 1586 after Yusuf Shah Chak, the last king of Independent Kashmir was exiled by deceit.
Durrani Empire under the leadership of Ahmad Shah Abdali seized the opportunity and sent a strong Afghan force. This army was commanded by Abdullah Khan lshik Aqasi, the first Governor of Afghan rule in the Valley. Durrani empire subdued the resistance put up by Mughals and conquered Kashmir in 1757. The Kashmiris who had expected a better rule were mistaken. Soon after the first governor took command, he let loose his reign of terror. Cashmerees were tied by their backs and thrown in the lakes for the Afghan entertainment.
The petty soldiers looted and plundered every corner of the vale. They cast a dark shadow over the valley. Unlike the Shahmir dynasty, who ruled the valley for 222 years, Afghans were looters who did not leave a single chance to extract money from the locals. Afghan rule was mostly anarchic and every time there was a deposition/assassination of the ruler in Kabul, the gravity and intensity of the misrule and plunder would increase in Cashmere. There was complete despair across the country. After the Abdali, the Durrani empire was ruled by weak rulers who kept changing.
Worn out by the atrocities meted out to them, Kashmiri nobles sent a delegation to Kabul. They reached their grievances and demanded a different governor. A noble one they looked for. The Afghan king offered them a choice; to choose from various Governors. So, they did choose the best clothed among them all. He was the most famous Chirag Beigh. They carried them on their backs towards home. En route, a funeral procession caught the attention of the newly appointed Governor. He ordered his men to stop the procession.
As soon as the mourners stopped, Chirag stepped down from his carriage, approached the deceased, removed the shroud from his face and cut both of his ears. Shocked by his actions, his men asked the reason. He replied “Not only the living but also the dead should know that Chirag Beigh is coming to Cashmere”.
This was Chirag Beigh; the noble selected Governor. The Durrani empire soon after its misrule in Kashmir was met with gloom. After nearly ruling the vale for 62 years, they lost to Sikhs in 1819. However, the Sikh rule was no different.
Wothya Chirag Beig is an expression used to refer to some mistakes you might have done. For e.g If you spilled milk, Wothya Chirag Beig in a humourous way to tell you did a mistake. It literally translates to ‘may Chirag beig step down’.
The story is folklore and can be historically inaccurate.