Sunday, 16 August 2015

When Jats desecrated Akbar's mausoleum

(......part of the history of Mughal Empire series)

In 1685, Rajaram, a Jat zamindar at Sisini eight kilometers west of Agra strengthened fortress of hardened mud. Shileded by difficult terrain and bomboo/scrub forests these forts could beat off all  but the most determined assaults. Already refusing to pay the revenue , Rajaram led his Jat clansmen to plunder traffic on Royal road. They even attempted to enter Sikandra to despoil Akbar’s tomb, but were driven back by the faujdar. Soon the overland route to Deccan was virtually closed. Even great nobles traveling with their entourages were not safe. In 1686, a Turani amir, Aghar Khan , who was marching from Kabul to Bijapur with his troops and household , tried to pursue the Jats who had plundered his baggage train. Outside the Jat fort he was killed along with his son-in-law and eighty of his followers.

In the late 1687 , Aurangzeb sent Bidar Bakht , his young grandson , north with troops to suppress the Jats. In the interim the newly appointed governor of the Punjab, Mahabat Khan, a former Hyderabad officer, had encamped near Sikandra on the Yamuna river. The Jats boldly attacked his camp in force and only retired after losing four hundred casualties.

Rajaram’s Jats outmaneuvered the local imperial forces and occupied Sikandra where they succeeded in looting Akbar’s tomb. According to Manucci,

“Already angered by the demands of the governors and faujdars for revenue , a great number of them (Jats) assembled and marched mausoleum of that great conqueror Akbar. Against him living  they could effect nothing ; they therefore wreaked vengeance on his sepulchre. They began their pillage by breaking in the great gates of bronze which it had , robbing the valuable precious stones and plates…. of gold and silver , and destroying what they were not able to carry away. Dragging out the bones of Akbar, they threw them angrily into the fire and burnt them.”

The  desecration of tomb was the greatest affront possible to the house and linage of Timur. After this incident Rajaram , the Jat leader , was killed by Mughal musketeer in a subsequent clash , but the Jat stronghold at Sinsini was untouched.

Aurangzeb responded to these events by commissioning the young Raja Bishun Singh Kachhwaha of Amber (Jaipur) as faujdar of Mathura and as jagirdar of Sinsai , the Jat stronghold. The new commander and his Rajput troops marched directly to the Jat stronghold and besieged it. After a four months siege, the Mughal troops laid a mine successfully , opened a breach and stormed the small fort. Fifteen hundreds Jats defenders died. Another small fortress at Sogar fell to the Mughals. By January 1691, the Jat revolt around Agra was suppressed.


The New Cambridge History of India, The Mughal Empire ,page 250-51

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