EXTRAVAGANT LUXURIOUS DOGRA DESPOTS WHO RULED IMPOVERISHED MUSLIM SUBJECTS OF KASHMIR

On 16-03-1846, the British Rulers of India sold the territory of Kashmir with its all dependencies for 75 thousand Nanak Shahi rupees to Maharja Gulab Singh Dogra of Jammu vide infamous Treaty of Amritsar. Considering the total population at that time of “all the hilly or mountainous country”, every living human soul of Kashmir was sold by said sale instrument for 7-7.25 Nanak Shahi rupees. Dogra dynasty was most notorious for its atrocious cruelties inflicted on MUSLIM SUBJECTS of Kashmir right from Gulab Singh (1846-1857)-Ranbir Singh (1857-1885)-Pratap Singh (1885-1925)-Hari Singh (1925-1947) Dogra Hindu rulers.

Apart from their dark despotism, the Dogra rulers have also notoriety in history of JK for the luxurious & extravagant lives they lived. Unlike that of any other prince of British India, they had been squandering away huge part of public exchequer on their vicious & lavish lifestyles. Pratap Singh was not good at studies right from his childhood, although one civil college at Srinagar & one military college at Jammu are after his name. We will mention here of few episodes that depict his both ‘qualities” of lavishly luxurious & funny way of life.

Once Mahraja Pratap Singh decided to play a cricket match against British Residents Eleven. He formed a team among his advisers & officers with himself as caption. He was dwarf. He had worn a very loose Pagdi (turban) on his head. The pagdi was embedded with strings of hanging precious jewels. A good number of multi-colour diamond necklaces worth millions hung around his thick neck. A blue colour English cut-coat upto knees & white colour pantaloon & boats added joker’s look to the decorated Pratap Singh. As he was roly-poly, or thick & short in size & length, he looked quite oddly laughable in that dress when he came to bat on green grass of Amar Singh Club. The “deliberate” SLOW bowing action & style of the bowler of English Residents Eleven Team was something to cause definitely ripples in the spectators’ bodies but for respect to His Highness they had been apparently controlling their cackle or laugh. The bowler was not bowling but throwing bowl too gently towards His Highness as if a toy or a LADOO was directed towards a toddler. But Pratap Singh, the captain batsman, was getting bowled on each “mock-delivery”. Every time, Pratap Singh getting clean bowled, and the umpire raising his finger with LOUD VOICE: NO-BALL, was adding charm to the royal match, as each NO-BALL meant the royal (shahi) score board increasing by one run, every time.

Among the multiple lavish expenditure of Pratap Singh’s royal court was a “Tati-Pun” toilet-charge on Khazana/public exchequer. Three royal court attendants had a duty of washing & cleaning Pratap Singh each time he attended to answer the call of nature in his royal toilet. A very costly muslin cloth of that time called “chatees ki malmal” was used by the court servants for cleaning the “private part” of Pratap Singh. A fresh roll of it used for cleaning & drying. Holding it at its two ends, the roll was unfolded by two servants in the veranda of the palace. After His Highness answered the call of nature, the unfolded roll of “chatees ki malmal” was carefully moved in between two thick legs of His Highness. Third attendant in waiting holding silver gudvi ( lota) in hand would gently pour water at ” exact right spot” that His Highness would make ready for the attendants by bending his body. The two servants holding “chatees ki malmal”/muslin cloth roll at two opposite ends would then move it to & fro like two sawyers ( arikash) till washing & cleaning of His Highness was completely done. Thereafter, the costly but used-muslin cloth was taken by three royal court servants as a free royal gift.

It is also famous that sometimes dewdi-wazir or minister-in-waiting of His Highness was “deliberately” mixing purging croton or jamalgota in milk of his King because he was getting lion’s share in the royal bounty of very costly muslin cloth of those times. He was shrewdly doing it so that His Highness would go to the toilet as many times as possible necessitating storing of maximum stock of muslin cloth rolls at the royal court readily available for the purpose. In this way, all unused & spare muslin cloth rolls were taken by the minister-in-waiting while three attendants were sharing used ones………Sources: Shahabnama by Qudratullah Sahab, Kashmiris-Fight for Freedom by ex-CJ M Y Saraf, of AK.