Mahadeep Singh Jamwal
Our know-how of making the J&K State is narrow to the folio as: Jammu ruled by Raja Gulab Singh, who acquired Kashmir under ‘Treaty of Amritsar’ for seventy five thousand rupees in 1846, making Jammu and Kashmir a single identity, that integrated into union of India under ‘The Instrument of Accession’ a legal document executed by Maharaja Hari Singh, ruler of the princely State of Jammu and Kashmir, on 26 October 1947. A review of yesteryear of this State brings us close to the evolution of J&K State that was composed of three distinct divisions, two provinces of Jammu and Kashmir, and the frontier areas of Ladakh and Gilgit. All these divisions were politically sovereign of each other before 1846 AD The communication between all the three divisions and within each of them also was very painful. The first tarred road fit for wheeled traffic between Kashmir and the Punjab was built as late as 1889, that between Kashmir and Gilgit in 1893, while Kashmir and Jammu were linked by a through road only in 1922. An outline of early history of all the three divisions till falling to the Sikh rulers and integrating as one identity, will delve into the expertise of settlers.
1. Ladakh: Squeezed between the India, Kashmir, Baltistan and Tibet, Ladakh originally formed one of the provinces of the last named kingdom. It was in respect of spiritual matters that the Grand Lama of Lhasa exercised over it supreme control whiles in temporal affairs it was governed by an independent ruler. In fifteenth century A.D. Ladakh became completely independent. Later it extended its hegemony over the neighboring territories, which included Nubra, Dras, Guge, Purang, Rudok, Spiti, Lahul and Zanskar. In the time of Aurangzeb (1658-1707), the Mughal emperor of India, it was invaded by Kalmak Tartars. The ruler of Ladakh obtained help from Mughal Governor of Kashmir Ibrahim Khan with the condition to renounce Buddhism by the Ladakh ruler. He regained kingdom but with the name as Iqbal Mahmud, thus was Ladakh made a tributary to the Mughals, although son and successor of him reverted to his original faith. From 1752 onwards, when the Afghans conquered Kashmir, the Ladakh began to pay tribute to them. By the beginning of the 19th century, the Mughal Empire had collapsed, and Sikh rule had been established in Punjab and Kashmir. In 1834, the Zorawar Singh, a General of Maharaja Ranjit Singh invaded and annexed Ladakh to the Sikh Empire. After the Sikh ruler, Britons took control of Ladakh and made it a part of Jammu and Kashmir under the control of the Maharaja of Kashmir.
2. Kashmir: The ‘Rajatarangini’ by ‘Kalhan’ enlighten us about early history of Kashmir. It formed a part of the ‘Mauryan’ and ‘Kushan’ empires of India and it was in the time of Asoka/Ashoka, that the city of Srinagar was founded and ‘Budhism’ introduced in Kashmir. The beginning of seventh century, Kashmir came to be ruled by ‘Karkota’ dynasty. ‘Avantivarnan founded the rule of ‘Utpala’ dynasty in 855 A.D. Two women ‘Sughanda’ (902-04) and ‘Didda’ (980-1003) also find their mention as rulers of Kashmir. After the death of ‘Didda, the Kashmir was ruled approximately for three centuries by ‘Lohara’ dynasties. Somewhere in 1339, Shah Mir seized power and with him commenced Muslim rule in Kashmir. The frequent and rapid changes in successions during the past years, brought ‘Mughal’ Empire of India to Kashmir in 1586, when great the Akbar was on Delhi thrown but the ‘Afghans’ conquered Kashmir in 1752 and ruled it till 1819, when ‘Sikhs’ pushed out Afghanis from the scene.
3. Jammu: A local tradition speaks of early history of Jammu to be founded by Jambu Lochan, over three thousand years ago. According to the history entitled Waqiat-i-Kashmir also known Tarikh-i-Azami written by Khwaja Muhammad Azam Kaul, a sufi Kashmiri writer, published in Persian in 1747, Jammu came into existence around 900 A.D. It is almost about this time we come across the earliest reference to ‘Durgara Desh’ (from which, the terms ‘Duggar’ and ‘Dogra are derived). The memoirs of ‘Timur’, who sacked Jammu in the course of his Indian invasion (1398-99), speak of this town as focal point of local power, defeated by ‘Timur’ and their ruler was coerced to embrace Islam. After the decline of the Mughal power in the 18th century, the Sikhs became the virtual masters of the Punjab. However they were divided into a number of confederacies known as ‘Misls’. The Jammu state under Raja Dhruv Dev, of the Jamwal family, asserted its supremacy among the Dugar states. Its ascent reached its peak under his successor Raja Ranjit Dev (1728-1780), who was widely respected among the hill states. Towards the end of Ranjit Dev’s rule, the Sikh Misls gained ascendency, and Jammu began to be contested by the Bhangi, Kanhaiya and Sukerchakia Misls. The Bhangi Misl Gujjar Singh raided Jammu in 1756, Bhamma Singh in 1761 and Hari Singh in1762, who forced Ranjit Dev to become a tributary. Subsequently Jai Singh and Hakikat Singh of Kanhaya Misl attacked Jammu and obtained huge amount of rupees one lakh and twenty-five thousand from Ranjit Dev, ruler of Jammu. Jammu remained occupied in warfare with the rulers of the Punjab for a long time. Jammu attracted the attention of Punjab ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1800 A.D. and his advancement towards Jammu was halted by offering him rupees twenty thousand and an elephant by Raja Jammu Ajit Singh. But some pages of bygone days point out that Raja Ajit Singh being weak and in competent, he lost the whip hand, and real power began to be wielded by his ambitious queen Bandrall, who antagonised Mian Mota Singh (Minister) and freezed him out to live in Purmandal. Mian was a valuable person for Maharaja Ranjit Singh on hill affairs. Believed to be offended by this act of Raja Ajit Singh and Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s expansion policy, in 1808, Jammu itself was annexed to the Sikh Empire by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. One of the Chiefs of Maharaja, Hukma Singh Chimni marched on Jammu. But Raja Jammu along with Mian Mota Singh presented them before Maharaja Ranjit Singh with peace treaty and agreeing to pay an annual tribute of rupees seventy three thousand. This way Jammu state became tributary of Sikh rulers. A moving further into the pages of the history of Jammu and Kashmir by M.L. Kapur, we come across that in 1812, Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s son Kharrak Singh along with his mother returning from pilgrimage of ‘Jawala Mukhi’ (HP) with large retinue of 2,600 troops was greeted by Raja Jammu Ajit Singh and Mian Mota at Purmandal.
(To be Continued)
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