Saturday, August 9, 2014

Ghulam Qadir Rohilla

Zabita Khan was succeeded by his son Ghulam Qadir Khan,  a man of great determination, a cruel disposition and an ungovernable temper. His first act was to seize the lands of his relatives, among them those of his uncle, Afzal Khan. He then regained all the territories held by his grandfather Najib-ud-daula, including the Dun, and strongely fortified his castle of Ghausgarh. His activity made him respectable by the Sikhs , and for the first time for many years the land had peace. The period of his rule, though eventful ,was brief. In 1787 taking advantage of the death of Najaf Khan , he led his forces down the Doab to Delhi, the Marathas being then engaged elsewhere , as Sindhia was fighting with the Raja of Jaipur , and Mansur Ali Khan, who was in charge of the palace , urged Ghulam Qadir to seize the vacant office of Amir-ul-umra. The Maratha commandant sent a small force to oppose the Rohillas, who defeated the enemy with great slaughter, and Ghulam Qadir thus gained the possession of the capital. He was checked, however, by the determined attitude of the Begam Somru of Sardhana , by her advance Rohillas withdrew across the Jamuna. Soon afterwards Ghulam Qadir returned to the attack , and though Najaf Quli Khan came to the assistance of emperor, he stood his ground. He next proceeded to take possession of the Doab as far as Aligarh, when a reconciliation was effected and the Amir-ul-umra returned in triumph to Saharanpur. The next year Ghulam Qadir again descended on Delhi , bent on plundering the imperial palace , as Shah Alam had roused his wrath by calling on the Marathas for his assistance. Having gained access to the fort by treachery, he seized the emperor and proceeded to loot the women's apartments; but dissatisfied with the result he vented his rage on the Shah Alam and blinded him. The approach of Marathas was now imminent, and Ghulam Qadir fled to Meerut. Cutting his way through the besiegers of that city  , he attempted to escape to Saharanpur , but was captured and put to death by slow torture.(Saharanpur - A Gazetteer , 1909, p.193-194)

Blind Emperor Shah Alam II, 1797's painting

Allama Iqbal has written a poem "Ghulam Qadir Ruhela" about it , the English translation of which is ;
"How cruel, tyrant and vindictive the Ruhilah was
He blinded the Mughal Emperor with the point of his dagger

 The tyrant ordered members of the royal household to dance
This tyranny was no less than the Judgment Day’s signal

For the delicate ladies of the royal household it was
Utterly impossible to comply with this shameless order

Ah! The merciless one made them the means of pleasure
Whose beauty had been veiled from sun’s, moon’s and stars

The feeble hearts were throbbing, the feet were forced to move
A river of blood was flowing from the wet eyes of the princesses

For some time his eyes remained thus absorbed in seeing
In confusion he freed his head from the load of Mighfar

He untied the deadly, fire‐spitting sword from the waist
Whose sharpness was a source of luminescence to the stars

He put the dagger in front, and lied down in some thought
Sleep was demanding rest from the red eyes so to say

The water of sleep extinguished the embers of his eyes
The tyrant’s sight became ashamed of the painful spectacle!

He got up and started saying this to Taimur’s household
 “You should have no complaint against your fate”

My sleeping in the couch was a mere show, an affectation
Because stupor is foreign to the dignity of fighters

It was my intention that some daughter of Taimur
Considering me unconscious might kill me with my own dagger,

But at last this secret has dawned to the whole world
Concern for honor has departed from Taimur’s household.”