The Royal firmans (Public Welfare) in Haryana

The Royal firmans (Public Welfare)


Soon after his accession Jahangir visited Haryana in 1605. Prince Khusrau who had revolted and was on his way to Lahore, baited at Sarai Narela, set its rest house on fire and thereafter reached Panipat. The Faujdar of Panipat fled to Lahore, pursued by the prince. Jahangir who was informed of these developments decided to deal with it personally and accordingly left Agra on April 6, 1606.


Tuzukd-Jahangiri (or the Memoirs of the Emperor) gives a vivid account of Jahangir’s journey in Haryana following the route via Palwal, Faridabad, Delhi Narela etc. It makes elegant reference, to the two battles of Panipat, where Jahangir’s ‘gracious father’ and ‘honoured ancestor’ had won great victories. Between Panipat and Karnal he killed two tigers with a gun ‘that had closed the road to the servants of God’. At the latter place he raised Abi din Khwaja, son of Khwaja Kalan Juyberi, and pirazada (spiritual adviser) son of KhwajaiKhan U2beg,to the rank of 1000, It also mentions the punishment inflicted on Shaikh Nizam Thanesari ‘one of the notorious impostors {Shayyadan) of the age’ for misleading Khusrau. He was given road expenses and ordered to proceed for the pilgrimage to Mecca.- After the rebellion was crushed Jahangir possibly followed the routs via Haryana also in his return march to the capital. From his Memoirs it is further gathered that he assigned the sarkar of Hisar Firuza to Prince Khurram who was now heir — apparent to the throne. Again in the year 1620 while returning from the Kashmir expedition, Jahangir’s camp was pitched on the bank of the river Sarasati (Sarasvatl) in the neighbourhood of the qasaba of Mustafabad. In the year 1622, after his second expedition to Kashmir, he halted at Thanesar and Karnal where Her Singh Deo Bundela and Asaf Khan respectively presented themselves before the emperor.


William Finch, the English traveller who visited this area in A.D. 1611 during Jahangir’s reign informs us about the insecurity of roads. While on his way to Lahore, the traveller saw a Faujdar of Delhi with some of two thousand horses and foot chasing the thieves and putting their houses to fire. At Ganaur and Panipat pillars (manora) were erected with the heads of some hundred thieves Hheir bodies set on stakes a mile in length.’ At Karnal the traveller’s party which had luggage was assi Ited by the thieves. He makes a special mention of the sacred tank at Thanesar, its castle and pagodas ‘much reverenced by all Gentiles (idolators) throughout India’ and also to its salammoniac (ammonium chloride) industry.


Jahangir took drastic measures against the thieves and robbers who infested this region. The royal firman issued in 1605 explicitly states the dastur-ul-amal (rules of conduct) to be observed in all dominions in this matter. It proclaims:


On roads where theft and robberies took place, which roads might be at little distance from habitations, the jagirdars of the neighbourhood should build sarais (public rest-houses), mosques, and dig wells, which might stimulate population and people might settle down in those sarais. If these should be near a khalsa estate (under direct state management), the administrator (mutasaddi) of that place would execute the work.


Jahangir’s public welfare activities also benefitted the people of Haryana. In his firman issued in 1606 he ordered in the whole of the hereditary dominions, both of crown lands and Xhtjagirs ‘the preparation of bulghur-khanas (free-eating-houses) where cooked food might be provided for the poor according to their condition so that residents and travellers both might reap the benefit’. The firman issued in 1619 while referring to the previous measures of planting trees on straight wide roads from Agra to the river Attock (Indus) further orders setting up ‘a pillar (mil) at every kossy to be the sign of a kossy and at every three koss a well, so that way farers might travel in ease and contentment, and not endure hardships from thirst or the heat of the sun The number of sarais y roads and wells which were thus constructed must have substantially benefitted the region.


Jahangir in his Memoirs tells us about a dreadful epidemic which occurred in the 10th year of his accession (1615) It engulfed the parganas of the Punjab, Lahore and then spread to Sirhind and the Doab and finally to Delhi and its surrounding parganas and villages and desolated them. The Emperor enquired from the physicians and learned men about its cause. Some said that ‘it came because there had been drought for two years in succession and little rain fall’; while others explained it due to the ‘corruption of the air which occurred through the drought and scarcity’. The scarcity of rains and the occurrence of famines were also mentioned by Abul Fazl and Badaoni but we do not know whether their accounts relate to Haryana. Thus it would appear that in spite of various works of public welfare undertaken by Mughal administration, the frequent and devastating natural calamities continued to play havoc with the life of the people.


The Safarndmd of Abdul-Latif al’ Abdullah al’ Abbasi, one of the renowned scholars of Gujarat, is an important source for the history of Haryana during the first half of the seventeenth century A.D. Abdul Latif who accompanied his patron Abdul Hassan on their way from Gujarat to Bengal passed through various towns and cities. Their itinerary from Sambhar to Ludhiana and from there back to Delhi via Sirhind covered a number of places in Haryana such as Narnaul, Hisar-i-Firuza Meham, Kaithal, Jind, Sirhind, Samana, Phullor, Thanesar, Panipat and Delhi. In his brief account of Kurukshetra, Lalif makes special mention of Sheikh Jalal Thane- sari and the Hindu faith in the holy Sannihit tank where Hindu from far and wide, came to have a dip and narrates several anecdotes current among them about its ‘miraculous powers such as a place of salvation, giver of progeny, remover of sins and diseases etc. As an orthodox Muslim he disapproves these queer notions of Hindus which according to him were nothing but sheer nonsense (Jdhiland se khydldt)’ Latif refers to the construction of buildings on the bank of the tank ordered by Jahangir. He, however, held a poor opinion of Thanesar which he calls a ‘useless and unblessed place’ for it no longer produced several good people like Sheikh Jalal Thanesari. He found Panipat a small town.


Latif is more elaborate in his description of Nainaul which then formed a part of Agra Subah and was thickly populated. He is full of praise for the people particularly the governor, Shah Quli Khan {Hakim-e-tkarnaul) and his brother Islam Quli Khan, their construction of magnificient mansions, bazaars, hammams (baths), bridges, beautiful lakes, and gardens in the grand city {Shehreast azeem), the wonderful health resort. Among the memorable works of Shah Quli Khan, Latif mentions Hauz-U Kesar and in its midst the Roza-e-Ruzwan (the Garden of Paradise).


To Latif Narnaul had no parallel on the earth. It was the cleanest place from which the whole country benefitted, it was as if the heaven descended upon earth. His three days stay at Narnaul, Latif considers the best part of his life. Shah Quli built another beautiful garden near the tank called Bagh-e-Aram where later on he himself was buried. Islam Quli Khan built a mausoleum for himself in this garden. Latif also visited Sher Shah Sur’s grandfather’s tomb at Narnaul (a fine specimen of Indo- saracenic art), and the tomb of a celebrated Pir nearby.


Emperor Shahjahan took particular care for protecting crops on the roads from Agra to Lahore where the movement of army was frequent. Special officers like daroga, mushrif and amin were appointed for this purpose, and in case damage to crops was reported, compensation was given to the aggrieved party. It is probable that Shahjahan, like his predecessors, visited Thanesar which was on the way from Agra to Lahore and had already developed into a halting station for military purposes. The local tradition associates Shahjahan with the construction of a marble tomb originally built in honour of Sheikh Jalaluddin but where, at the instance of the Sheikh, his disciple Sheikh Chehali, who had died earlier, was cremated. As shown earlier Sheikh Jalaluddin was Akbar’s contemporary (who died in 1581). He cannot be the direct spiritual teacher of Sheikh Chehali, a contemporary of Shahjahan and Dara Shikoh. The construction of this splendid and massive tomb was either the work of Shahjahan or more likely that of his son Dara Shikoh whose great passion was Sufi religion and philosophy. The use of marble and red stone, the massive structure and imposing elegance and style suggest those features which are conspicuous in Shahjahan’s buildings.


The Shdhjahd’idmd informs us that during Shahjahan’s reign, an old canal (running from Khizrabad to Safidon) constructed originally by Firuz Tughlaq but which was disused later on due to shortage of water, was renovated. It had been previously repaired by Shahabuddin Ahmad Khan, the Fauzdar of Delhi during the time of Akbar, and was called then Nahar i-Shahab, Shahjahan ordered for its repairs from Khizrabad to Safidon and its further extension up to the imperial palace. It was renamed Nahar-i-Bihisht} The Badshdhndmd on the other hand, mentions that in the year 1646 during Shahjahan’s reign the scarcity of rains caused famine in the Panjab.


The emperor ordered the establishment of ten kitchens for distributing cooked food in the province, and Sayyid Jalal was appointed to distribute 10,000 rupees among the poor and destitute. The children already sold were ransomed by the government and restored to their parents. Shahjahan sanctioned another 30,000 rupees in February 1647 for relief measures in the Punjab.


The foreign traveller Francois Bernier who visited India during this period (1656-68) gives interesting details about the solar eclipse in 1666, and makes a special mention of Thanesar. The traveller witnessed the eclipse festival on the banks of Jamuna and wrote that it was kept with the same external observances in the Indus, in the Ganges and in the other rivers and talabs (tanks), but above all in that one at Tanaiser (Thanesar), which contained on that occasion more than one hundred and fifty thousand persons assembled from all parts of the empire; its waters being considered on the day of an eclipse more holy and meritorious than those of others.


After the defeat of imperial forces in the war of succession. Data Sikoh fled towards Lahore through this region. It had long been his viceroyalty and was hely by his faithful deputy Sayyid Ghairat Khan. Since March 6, 1935, Hisar-Firuza had been in the possession of Dara. He also used to stay at Palwal where his trusted lieutenant Feroze Khan Mewati lived and where in the village Sultanpur his son Sipahar Shikoh was born.


Niccolao Manucci, the Venetian traveller who was in the service of Dara decided to join his master at Lahore. The traveller who had to pass through this region gives a vivid account of the anarchical conditions — the highway robberies, plunders and murders which prevailed there. Within twenty-four hours Aurangzeb despatched Bahadur Khan with several troops of cavalry to occupy the road to and from Agra on the west. This time the villagers also joined the robbers in plundering travellers on the highways, and slaying them. In these circumstances the travellers had to keep their arms ready. No one dared to travel on the road after sunset. There was some security in the Sarais where the travellers took shelter at night. Every day the travellers halted at noon to feed and rest the animals, and about T in the afternoon they resumed their march so as to reach another Sarai before sunset positively. In course of his journey, Manucci encountered an incident which happened somewhere near Panipat, at a distance of four days journey from Delhi. His cart driver suddenly disappeared, and the convoy left him and set out for the next station. The villagers finding him alone surrounded him and wanted to rob him but could not for he had nothing. The cart driver ultimately turned up and after receiving scolding and beating from Manucci agreed to resume the journey. When they entered a forest in the midway they had the horrible sight of the advance party which was plundered and butchered while passing through that way. Although Manucci wanted to help the wounded the driver did not permit. While on his onward march Manucci met several villagers who, in great surprise inquired how he saved his life. Manucci replied that ‘God knows how to deliver poor men from the hands of scoundrels’. The account further tells us that the party was striken with fear of thieves until they reached the river Biyas where Daud Khan, an officer of Dara met them.


This description shows the chaotic conditions which prevailed in this part of the country during the closing years of Shahjahan’s rein as also the complete failure of the administrative machinery in protecting the lives and property of the people.


It was again through this region that Dara, after his capture by Jiwan Khan, was brought back to Delhi. Manucci also followed the same route on his return march to Delhi. It was at Sirhind that he saw the dead bodies of Jiwan Khan and his men. Aurangzeb had given orders to the governor of the fortress of Sirhind to get them stoned by the people and ‘thus be both rewarded and slain (for his ingratitude to Dara).


Aurangzeb, unlike his predecessors did nothing for this region. His hostility was due to the Mewati and Satnami uprisings and also because the region was strongly attached to Dara. Aurangzeb, therefore, could not but follow only a policy of repression towards the region.


Savaliya Mev, the resident of village Sanhole (on the Sohana-Tawadu road) was the first to rise against Aurangzeb. He had recruited a small force of Mevs but sufficient enough to harass the imperial forces on March. Similarly Hathi Singh Badgujar, a resident of village Dahana (modern Badshahpur), employed a band of Rajputs to carry on raid in the neighbouring area. Aurangzeb decided to deal with this problem diplomatically. He befriended Rao Nand Ram, an influential Ahir leader of village Bolani near Rewari, who helped him in capturing Hath! Singh forcing him to surrender to the emperor. In token of his services the emperor granted Rao Nand Ram the jagir of Rewari along with its surrounding area. This was the beginning of the Rao estate of Rewari.


The emperor later on released Hathi Singh so that he could deal with Savaliya Mev. The policy was successful. Hathi Singh murdered Savaliya for which he received the jagir Ghaseda — comprising of eleven villages. The murder of Savaliya became a signal for widespread uprisings of the Mevs who followed guerilla warfare for some- time but had to bow down ultimately to the all mighty imperial forces. Mewat was freely looted and thousands of its men were brutely murdered, a tragedy which became the subject of a popular folk song


Dilli sahar suhdvano kanchan barase nir

Sabakd kantha todake le gayo Alamgir

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