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TAZKIRAH-I-SALATlN-I-CHUGHTAI

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TAZKIRAHISALATlNICHUGHTAI, a manuscript dealing with the political history of the Mughal times from the reign of Aurangzib to the third year of Muhammad Shah`s reign, i.e. up to 1722. It is an important document for the history of the Sikhs for^ its sections dealing in detail with the exploits and ultimate suppression of Banda Singh Bahadur. Copies of the manuscript are preserved in National Library, Calcutta, Khuda Bakhsh Library Bankipur (Patna), Maulana Azad Library of Muslim University, Aligarh, and in the Punjab Historical Studies Department of Punjabi University, Patiala.

The author of the manuscript, Muhammad Hadi Kamwar Khan. was a contemporary of Emperor Aurangzib for a considerable portion of his reign and had served for a long time during his Deccan campaign. He was appointed controller of the household of Prince Muhammad Ibrahim and received the title of Kamwar Khan in the second year of the reign of Bahadur Shah. From incidental observations in the pages of this book it appears that the author also was at various times, a diwan, bakhshi, khanisaman ` and daroghah of the treasury.

Besides Tazkirah, he also wrote Haft Gulshani Muhammad Shahi, which gives a general history of India, including many minor dynasties, and Tatimahi Waq iati Jahangiri dealing with "introduction and conclusion of emperor Jahangir`s memoirs." The book narrates the expeditions of emperors Bahadur Shah and Farrukh SIyar against the Sikhs. The former had personally come to the Punjab to supervise military operations against Banda Singh. Kamwar Khan, referring to the sack of Sirhind by the Sikhs, writes that the booty that fell into their hands was estimated at two crores (twenty million) in cash besides goods belonging to Nawab Wazir Khan and some lacs (hundred thousands) from the deserted houses of Suchcha Nand and others.

A large number of Wazir Khan`s men fell to the bullets of the Sikhs at Sirhind. In December 1710, an imperial force was encamped at Sadhaura preliminary to launching an attack on Banda`s retreat of Lohgarh (Mukhlispur) when the Sikhs fell ; upon it and showered arrows and musket balls causing such heavy casualties in the Mughal ranks that for a time it appeared as if they were going to lose. A little later when Banda Singh was besieged in the fort of Lohgarh, he made a determined sally on the night of 1011 December 1710 and breaking through the royal lines made good his escape to the hills of Sirmur to the great discomfiture of the emperor, who summoned Raja Bhup Prakash of Nahan (Sirmur) and imprisoned him on the charge of his inability to move against Banda Singh and rather alleged protection he provided to the rebels.

In order to prove Nahan`s loyalty to the Mughals, the Raja`s mother rounded up a group of 30 Sikhs and sent them to Delhi for execution. Incidentally, Kamwar Khan writes that Rs. 20,00,000 in the form of rupees and as hrafis (gold coins) were dug out by the Mughals from near the Lohgarh fort after the Sikhs had escaped. Writing about the siege of Gurdas Nangal, Kamwar Khan states that a large number of Banda Singh`s followers perished owing to starvation. After his capture with other survivors, the arms that were recovered included about 1000 swords, 200 bows, 173 quivers, ISO jamdhars, and only three muskets (which indicates the poor state of the Sikhs` manpower and armament).

As Banda Singh, in an iron cage, and his companions in buffoon`s caps were taken to the imperial fort in Delhi, the people turned out in such large numbers to see them that traffic got jammed on the roads. The emperor ordered the prisoners to be kept in batches at different places under different officers. Banda Singh and a few of his men were handed over to Ibrahim ud Din Khan, the miriatash (commander of artillery) for confinement in prison inside the fort. His three year old son along with its nurse was entrusted to Darbar Khan, the naziriharamsara (guardian of the harem). Three hundred and ninety four of his followers were made over to Sarbarah Khan. kotwal (police commissioner), for execution at the rate of 100 every day.

Their dead bodies were taken out of the city and hung on trees. Banda Singh, his son and 26 companions were tortured to death later by the Miri Atash himself near Khwaja Qutb udDin`s mausoleum. That the author was contemptuously disposed towards Sikhs is clear from the abusive names and phrases he uses for them, but despite his deep hatred he does not conceal the alarm that the Sikh movement created and the emperor`s concern at the threat they posed for empire`s integrity.

On the first news of Banda Singh`s conquest in the Punjab, Emperor Bahadur Shah called upon his vassals as distant as Moradabad, Allahabad and Oudh as well as the Sayyids of Barah to march towards the Punjab ; and to round up a thousand odd Sikh warriors at Gurdas Nangal, the entire might of Lahore and Jammu provinces had to be marshalled. Kamwar also does not feel shy of recording die heavy losses often suffered by the imperial troops in their encounters with the Sikhs.

References :

1. Kirpal Singh, ed., A Catalogue of Persian and Sanskrit Manuscripts. Amritsar, 1962

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