Iftikhar Khan

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Iftikhar Khan was the Mughal governor of Kashmir during the period 1671 to 1675. He was a harsh man and was forcible converting many thousands of non-Muslims to Islam.

It was during this period that the Kashmiri Brahmins asked Guru for a solution to the repression by these Mughal rulers. When the Kashmiri pandits asked the Guru for help to stop this repressive behaviour and assist the Hindu masses, Guru replied "Such activities can only be stopped by a sacrifice of a great person".

Just then 8 years old son of Guru Tegh Bahadar, Gobind Rai (Later Gobind Singh) walked into the meeting to find his father lost deep in thoughts. He enquired about the reason for his serious and thoughtful state. Subsequently, he offered a possible solution by saying "who else is greater then you, O father".

From this reply, Guru Tegh Bahadar knew immediately that his mission was at an end and that his son, Gobind Rai was ready to take on the responsibility of Guruship. The Guru told the Kashmiri Brahmins, Go tell Aurungzeb that if they can convert your Guru to Islam then you will all become Muslims. Kirpa Ram obliged and Aurungzeb issued a summons for Guru ji.

The rest as they say is history - Read more about the Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur here.

Quotes about Iftikhar Khan

S.M.Latif, in his History of Punjab says:

"Aurangzeb sent Iftikhar Khan as Governor of Kashmir in 1671. Iftikhar carried out the fanatical policies of Aurangzeb with great zeal. Aurangzeb's motives in persecuting the Brahmins were obvious. The Brahmins both presented and propagated the Hindu religion and tradition. Their whole-sale conversion to Islam would have definitely helped in bringing the rest of the Hindus into the fold of Islam. The Brahmins of Kashmir were renowned for their learning and orthodoxy. The Valley of Kashmir surrounded as it was by the Muslim lands, could easily be assimilated with the rest of the Muslim India across the Attock river, North Western province, Afghanistan and Persia."

During the 49 years of Aurangzeb's reign, Kashmir was administered by 14 Governors. Iftikhar Khan was most cruel of all these. The Sikh tradition speaks of the atrocities against the Brahmins of Kashmir and the visits of their deputation under the leadership of Pandit Kripa Ram Dutt of Mattan to Anandpur Sahib. Seva Singh, the author of Shahid Bilas has stated:

Sorrow stricken Brahmins came to Anandpur and said: "Protect us, O Lord, the son of Guru Hargobind. Hear our pathetic pleas. Guru Tegh Bahadur - protector of the poor and the cows, you are the Prophet of the Almighty in the kalyuga. We have none to go for help. Our condition is most pitiable. protect us the way Lord Krishna protected Draupadi. We have gone from pillar to post. You are the Lord Krishna of the present age. We have no other hope. We seek refuge at thy feet. O Lord!"

It might surprise many a amateur person to realize that the history of the Kashmiri Brahmins is significantly linked to the Sikh history. During the governership of Iftikar Khan (1672-1675 A.D.) in the reign of Aurangzeb the Kashmiri Brahmins were treated in a harsh manner. Aurangzeb was convinced that if he could convert the Brahmins of Kashmir, Varanasi, Prayag, Hardwar etc., to Islam the conversion of the rest of the people of India would be a trivial task.

According to the famous expert on Sikhs Max Arthur Macauliffe, "The experiment of conversion was first tried in Kashmir. There were two reasons for this. In the first place, the Kashmiri Pandits were supposed to be educated, and it was thought, if they were converted, the inhabitants of Hindustan would readily follow their example. Secondly, Peshawar and Kabul, Muhammadan countries , were near, and if the Kashmiris offered any resistance to their conversion, the Muhammadans might declare a religious war and overpower and destroy them".

Like everything else the thinking of Aurangzeb was simple and practical on this subject. Iftikar Khan being a fanatic Muslim himself was more than delighted to have been selected for this purpose. He used the method of persuasion coupled with the might of the sword for the conversion of Kashmiri Pandits.

Kashmiri Pandits were renowned for their learning and orthodoxy. When the Mughal emperor turned his eyes towards them, he encountered stiff resistance. During 49 years of his reign, Kashmir was administered by 14 governors. Iftikhar Khan was the most fanatic and bigoted of these. He ruled Kashmir from 1671 to 1675. He was using force ruthlessly to convert Pandits to Islam. Faced with an ultimatum, many of them began to flee Kashmir. Those who stayed back and refused to accept Islam were put to sword. Some Kashmiri Pandits met under the leadership of Pandit Kripa Ram of Mattan and decided to go to the Swami Amarnath cave temple and invoke the mercy of Lord Shiva. At the holy cave temple, one of them saw Lord Shiva in a dream Who told him to go to Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Guru of Sikhs, and ask for help to save the Hindu religion. He spoke to his companions about the revelation and they all decided to appeal him. Chaman Lal Gadoo

These articles deal with Mughal Empire

Babur (1526-30) -|- Humayun (1530-56) -|- Akbar (1556-1605) -|- Jahangir (1605-27) -|- Shah Jahan (1627-58) -|- Aurangzeb (1658-1707)