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July 13, 1997

Episode 4: A windows to Northern Areas part 2

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A window to Northern Areas, The Muslim dated July 12, 1997
The last episode from ‘A window to Northern Areas’
Author: Syed Shams ud Din 

The deadly end to Shribadat’s brutal rule was, in fact, a final axing of the Buddhist grip in Brushal, as this proved to be the last nail in the coffin of that dynasty, staged through the allured lady of the family. This however, again served to revive the erstwhile chieftaincies. The famous German scholar Karl Jetmar, while describing the famous localities of the areas in his book titled ‘Bilore and Dardistan’, considers it worthwhile to mention the name of Astore, Chilas and Gilgit. In short, the decline of the great kingdom of Bilore started after 9th century AD caused revival of the erstwhile principalities mushrooming throughout the tracts of Brushal and the adjoining areas.

Brushal was famous during the days of Biloristan as has been discussed earlier. The popularity of ancient Brushal had vanished on the perpetuation of the Buddhist rule for well over three hundred years (from 6th to 8th Century AD). The revamping of the Brushal of the Brushal following the Shribadat’s rule popularised Gilgit for long afterwards, instead of the ancient Brushal which went into insignificance after 1847. This is because of the fact that options changed and priorities renewed with the passage of time.

The tiny States of Hunza and Nagar located parallel in the valley seem to have always remained at daggers drawn since 14th Century AD and the rivalry of their Mirs hectically continued until 1847. The prolific growth of their animosity touched new heights and they would never recognise each other’s sovereignty. This antagonism heightened during the rule of Mir Ghazanfar so much so that obnoxious ‘palace machinations’ became order of the day to root out the other. With all resoluteness in this context however, Mir Ghanzafar of Hunza hit upon the idea of allying himself with the Khushwaqt dynasty of Chitral to outclass his arch rival -  the Mir of Nagar. This approach of the Mir of Hunza provided a golden opportunity for the Khushwaqt rulers to embark upon an expansionist spree eastward during the years that followed.

First, the ruler of Chitral and after that Sulaiman Shah and Gauhar Aman made intermittent intrusions into Gilgit and at last conquered it. Their second target remained the capture of Nagar but they met with no significant progress. However, Mir Ghazanfar arrayed against Azur Khan  -  the ruler of Nagar as the latter proved a stumbling block in Mir Ghazanfar’s passage towards Gilgit. Consequently, the ruler of Gilgit was unable to defend his domi nion which eventually fell to the Khushwaqts paving their way for onward thrust towards Nagar. This apparently forced the rulers of Punyal and Gilgit to  seek assistance from the Sikh Darbar of Srinagar. The Sikhs readily accepted their request and sent reinforcements towards Gilgit ostensibly to help regain the lost dominion of Raja Karim Khan.

The ruler of Gilgit was oblivious of the ulterior moltives of the Sikhs and naively took it as an assistance from an ally. Though assisting Raja Karim Khan in retrieving his lost kingdom, the Sikhs opened up an ominous vista aimed at defeating all the chieftains of the area in the course of the battles that ensued and lastly spearheaded by the Dogras at the instance of the British during the second half of the 19th Century the Sikhs reached for the ostensible assistance of Raja Karim Khan of Gilgit which became yet another source neo-subjugation for all the dominions of the ancient Brushal.

The people of  Brushal then realised their mistakes but the critical juncture at which they stood now necessitated a sagacious manoeuvring overtly in the form of a movement for a revolutionary struggle at an opportune moment. This opportune moment came on  November 1, 1947 to an en masse revolt against the occupation forces in the area.

It will be in the fitness of things to mention the  significance of a few areas in the historical context that served as a junction in the past in serving for a linkage with Baltistan for an easiest access and free passage in the olden days. The name of Hooper-Hisper in Nagar comes first in this regard as this place then served as a junction because of the fact that its present gigantic glacier was at that time, quite hospitable for such an access with Baltistan via Shigar.

This linkage however, seems to have become bedevilled subsequently due to the formidable glacial movement in a cyclical manner to an extent that at present no penetration of the kind except except by sophisticated climbing equipments, is possible. Let us also have a brief discussion on the Nagar at large and how the word attributed to it could have originated.

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