Sunday, 19 June 2016

Why Sikh Empire of Punjab enacted a number of Anti-Muslim Laws in Kashmir?

Ahmed Shah Abdali invasions of Punjab continued for eight times from 1748 to 1767-68 and in the year of 1798, Shah Zaman invaded Punjab for the last time. In nearly most of their expeditions, they were attacked by the Sikhs and they looted the baggage of Afgnans. Therefore, the last three invasions of Punjab from 1762 to 1767 by the Ahmed Shah Abdali were carried out clearly to annihilate the Sikhs.

Hari Singh Bhangi the Chief leader of the Bhangi Misal had fought with Afghans a number of times. On November 1756, Ahmad Shah Abdali invaded Punjab for the fourth time and captured Lahore but soon he returned to Afghanistan leaving behind Timur Shah at Lahore.

By 1758, Adina Beg Khan (A Muslim Punjabi Arain) met the Sikhs and solicited their help to throw out the Afghans representative from Lahore

Soon Hari Singh Bhangi along with his son Jhanda Singh, Gujjar Singh, Lehna Singh built a combined front with Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, Jai Singh Kanahiya, Charat Singh Sukerchakia and other Sikh Sardars.

They allied with Adina Beg Khan and the Marathas and marched upon Lahore. Before their advent into Lahore Timur Shah fled to Afghanistan and they captured the city of Lahore without any great effort. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia became the head of the Sikh sovereignty. Under his rule, the domain of Sikhs considerably grew over Punjab.

After the death of Jassa Singh, Afghans started gaining power again. However, that was short term, as Maharaja Ranjit Singh built up a strong force to counteract them.

One of the main rivals to be defeated by Ranjit Singh was Shah Zaman. Shah Zaman, despite his previous defeats, attacked Lahore and surrounded Sikhs from all the sides. The Afghans now planned to attack Amritsar, which was well answered by the forces of Ranjit Singh.

Ranjit Singh won the hearts of everyone in Punjab, irrespective of religion and status. It was on July 7, 1799 that the victorious Ranjit Singh entered Lahore. Almost 777 years of foreign rule, starting from the Turkish invader Mahmud of Ghazni in 1022 after ousting the Hindu Shahi ruler Raja Tarnochalpal, until the defeat of a last Abdali invader of Punjab Shah Zaman; Punjabis had not ruled their own land.

Punjab had a picture of chaos and disorder when Maharaja Ranjit Singh took over as its ruler on 12th April 1801 by establishing the Sikh Empire of Punjab. Later, with the Secular Punjabi Rule, Maharaja Ranjit Singh conquered the Kashmir valley, Ladakh, along with modern day Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and annexed it into the Empire of Punjab.

In 1800 century, the religious ratio of Punjabi people in Punjab was 48% Muslim Punjabis, 43% Hindu Punjabis, 8% Sikh Punjabis and 1% others. Muslim Punjabis and Hindu Punjabis were in the support of the Sikh Empire of Punjab. Prime Minister of Sikh Empire of Punjab was a Hindu Punjabi Dhian Singh Dogra and Foreign Minister was a Muslim Punjabi Fakir Aziz-ud-Din. Religion was a personal subject in Sikh Empire of Punjab. Justice was provided to the inhabitants of Punjab without discrimination of religion.

In secular state the religion is supposed to be a personal subject, but, in Kashmir, Sikh rule was generally considered as oppressive, protected, perhaps by the remoteness of Kashmir from the capital of the Sikh Empire of Punjab in Lahore. A number of Anti-Muslim laws were enacted, which included handing out death sentences for cow slaughter, closing down the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar, and banning the Azaan, the public Muslim call to prayer.

The Sikh rule in lands dominated for centuries by Muslim was an exception in the political history of the latter. To be ruled by ‘Kafirs’ was the worst kind of ignominy to befall a Muslim. Before the Sikhs came to Kashmir (1819 CE), the Afghans had ruled it for 67 years. For the Muslims, Sikh rule was the darkest period of the history of the place, while for the Kashmiri Pandits (Hindus) nothing was worse than the Afghan rule.

The Sikh conquest of Kashmir was prompted by an appeal from its Hindu population. The oppressed Hindus had been subjected to forced conversions, their women raped, their temples desecrated, and cows slaughtered.

Efforts by the Sikhs to keep peace in far-flung regions pressed them to close mosques and ban the call to prayer because the Muslim clergy charged the population into a frenzy with a call for ‘Jihad’ at every pretext.

Cow-slaughter (Holy Cow) offended the religious sentiments of the Hindu population and therefore it met with severe punishment in the Sikh empire.

It was the justice of Sikh rule to save the Hindu inhabitants of Kashmir from the Muslim fundamentalists; those were addicted to humiliate the Hindus of Kashmir for centuries.

These measures were taken by the Hari Singh Nalwa, the Governor of Kashmir, keeping in view “the turbulence of the lawless tribes and the geographical and political exigencies of the situation” Hari Singh's methods were more suitable in Kashmir.