Oct 2, 1586: Day of Kashmiri resistance against foreign occupation

Too much has been written about the Kashmiri culture and war characteristics, but all this is propagated by the outsiders.  Following the Kashmir Mughal invasion, writers were appointed to throw mud at the Kashmiri sultans which continues to this day.  It is encouraged, and they are led to believe that they don’t have a martial character. Mughals ransacked the valley, and made every provision to make it a serene summer-refuge for themselves without a second thought to the people. They even prohibited rooster fighting and inclusion of Kashmiris in their military as they believed it will encourage the martial nature of the natives.

History has been gravely misinterpreted over the four hundred years of occupation to favor the oppressors and demonize the natives. That is the case, many Kashmiris have started to believe in the past written by their occupiers. One such colonial ruse, Kashmir is a paradise, takes seconds to smell the colonial rhetoric. It sees Kashmir as a serene playground, separated from its people and their political ambitions. Once said by the Mughal emperor Jahangir, and continued to this day. At the point when the Mughal empire was fighting Kashmiris after they misleadingly imprisoned the last ruler of Independent Kashmir, Yousef Shah Chak, Mughals would recount sonnets to give them courage.

Beware of the three, an Afghan, a Kumboo and a Kashmiri

The sonnet was to demonize the Kashmiris for fighting against Mughals, as they expected that they won’t receive a strong resistance in the valley, but to their surprise, Kashmiris fought valiantly. A bunch of untrained ranchers of Kashmir under the rulership of Sultan Yusuf Shah Chak and Prince Yaqub Shah Chak triumphed over the military of the most dominant and powerful Empire of Asia: Not just once but twice. Mughal cavalries were ransacked and the colonizers at the mercy of the Kashmiri army.

“Many perished in the battle thus fought, and the men of Kasema Khana (Mughals) were struck with panic. The Kashmirians ( Kashmiri) saw that the Yavanas were defeated and broken, and they rushed on these suddenly.”

Haidar Malik in his Tarikh-i-Kashmir further writes about the fighting:

“The battle lasted for one month, between the strong armies of Yaqub and Akbar. It snowed so heavily that the Mughal army forced by intense cold, slit open the stomach of elephants and the horses to take shelter inside them. Yet it did not help. The winter was so severe that animals were sunk up to their chests in the snow. “

Mullah Umar, a Kashmiri poet writes

They saw the crescent,

They thought it was bread,

They stretched their hands,

To snatch and catch it.

Around 3,000 of Mughal soldiers died attempting to conquer Kashmir. Mughal Governor like Amiruddin, Madhu Singh, Hassan Beigh died in the battle.

(Muslim Kashmir, 2007 Fida Hasnain)

Renowned Kashmiri historian and Professor Fida Hasnain mentioned it in his book. To keep away from the total catastrophe of the Mughals, Bhagwan das was compelled to send Ali Akbar Ali as his emissary to Prince Yaqub Shah on a mission of peace.

In 1586, an agreement was reached among Cashmere and the Mughal Rule. On March 25, Sultan Yusuf Shah Chak, the last ruler of independent Kashmir arrived at the Mughal court to give his consent to the peace arrangement yet to the opposite, he was placed in prison by Todar mal. Never to return. The incident remains to be the darkest blot on the character of Emperor Akbar. On Oct 2, 1586, the Mughal Army marched upon Kashmir.  It still took his army three years to put down the armed resistance spearheaded by Prince Yaqub Shah Chak. For a long time, Yosuf ached for Kashmir, and when Akbar asked him for what good reason he needed to be sent back. He said

 The distant meadows are in blooms!

Hast thou not heard my plaint?

Flowers bloom on mountain lakes!

Come, let us to the mountain meads;

The lilac blooms in distant woods,

Hast thou not heard my plaint?

Yosef was talking about Cashmere. It’s meadows, its unblemished waters, and rich green glades. He was talking about his beloved Queen & the nightingale of Kashmir, Habba Khatoon. Yosuf, after whom Kashmir was never free, died of natural death in Bihar. The commander of the Kashmir army used to encourage his fighters by saying Victory is a day far. When Kashmiri resistance seemed to have ended, the natives resorted to name-calling Mughals. The tomb of Yusuf Shah Chak, Yaqub Shah Chak, and Habba Khatoon lies in Bihar.

Kashmir is yet again at the political crossroads where their identity is threatened more than ever, but this nation has been fighting for the last 400 years for their sovereignty, and it is an obvious fact that this is not going away. Attempts are being made to twist the history to present the K-resistance as feeble, but if we were to consider history, Kashmiris has shown exemplary courage. Whether that be the Dogra occupation when Immauddin led the fight against Ghulab Singh at Maisum and made him retreat or the Galwans who gave tough times not just to Dogra but also the Sikhs, their history is full of valor. The writers who try to glorify the rule arguing that the Mughal occupation developed Kashmir do so to establish the argument in their favor. It is the same rhetoric that argues that Kashmir can’t survive independently even though Kashmir has been independent for thousands of years, much older than their nation-state.

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