Category Archives: Law

The famous Jehangir Justice – An old woman demands justice

Emperor Jahangir

Emperor Jahangir

Jehangir was particular about justice being delivered in his empire. This incident occurred when the Emperor was still a prince in 1590s. In those times the army which won looted the defeated kingdom and killed or captured its citizens. The women especially were in biggest trouble as they were abducted and used as slaves by the winning army. The Emperor(Prince Salim then) had told his army to not abduct or misbehave with any defeated kingdom citizens especially women. But he got constant complaints that his soldiers were abducting women and girls after the kingdoms defeat. But no defeated kingdoms citizen dared to come and give an official complaint. Once the emperor was out on tour in his province(where he was governor). An old lady landed in his travelling cantonment and demanded to meet the Prince. The soldiers refused her audience with the Prince Salim on some pertex. Luckily for the old lady the Prince was returning from a sight seeing expedition just at that time. The old lady went to the Prince and started crying. The mughal army had defeated a Rajputhana kingdom few months back. The mughal army raided the city and abducted many young girls, this old lady’s grand daughter was one of them. The old lady begged the Prince to return her grand daughter to her as she had no one but her as family.

Jehangir took a parade of all army man who participated in the war. The old woman was called to the parade and told to identify the person who abducted her grand daughter. The old woman identified a commander as the man who had abducted her grad daughter. His house was searched and the girl was found in his house and reunited with the old woman. Jehangir realized despite his several warnings his soldiers and commanders are not listening to his orders to not abduct or touch defeated kingdoms woman and girls. Hence to set an exemplary punishment he had the commander flayed alive to death in public. That ensured that mughal soldiers under him did not misbehave or abduct girls of opposing kingdoms after a war. He also compensated the old woman and the girl.

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Malika-I-Jahan – Chief Consort of Alahuddin Khilji

Meherunissa Malika-I-Jahan was first wife of Alahuddin Khilji and daughter of Khilji empire founder Jalaluddin Khilji. Meherunissa was the first cousin of Alahuddin Khilji and was married to him at a young age before Jalaluddin Khilji founded the Khilji empire in 1290. Once Alahuddin Khilji became an Sultan of Delhi in 1296 he made Meherunissa his chief consort and gave her title of Malika-I-Jahan. Though their relationship was not great yet till Alahuddin’s death she remained his chief consort.

Malika-I-Jahan had hot temper and would try to dominate and command over Alahuddin Khilji himself. She also had pride that she was Jalaluddin Khilji’s daughter and wanted her husband to listen to her whims and fancy. That led to lots of issues between the couple. Malika-I-Jahan was highly jealous of Alahuddin’s second wife Alp Khan’s sister Maharu. Once she attacked Maharu in the Mherauli garden, Delhi when Alahuddin Khilji and Maharu were sitting alone and Alahuddin had to threaten her with his sword looking at Maharu’s plight.

Meherunissa’s mother openly sided with her daughter and would humiliate Alahuddin Khilji. Meherunissa’s mother would poison Jalaluddin Khilji’s mind against Alahuddin saying he was trying to upsure his throne etc. That brought a strain between Jalaluddin and Alahuddin’s relationship. Alahuddin kept quiet through all these issues only because may be he had no options, he and his siblings were orphaned at a young age and Jalaluddin Khilji had sheltered them.

After Jallauddin’s murder if Alahuddin assumed his wife was going to give him some respite, nothing of that happened and Meherunissa continued her haughty ways and never forgave him for killer her father. Yet Alahuddin maintained her position as Chief Queen. Her power was so complete that Malik kafur after killing Alahuddin Khilji imprisoned her and took away all her property.

Alahuddin may be a great conqueror and cruel emperor but in house he was a much troubled man at hands of his mother in law and wives like Meherunissa and Maharu. Historical writer Bharani states that Alahuddin Khilji started losing his health and mind in last few years of his life. He died young at age 50 years. His health detoriating was not only due to slow poison fed by Malik Kafur but also due to family strifes that never left him in peace.

Alahuddin Khilji Reforms

Alahuddin khilji was not a much educated man but he ensured many reforms in taxation and markets that were followed by later day rulers. In his book Tarikh-i-Firozshahi Zia-ud-din Barani laments, helped the Ajlaf (men of low birth) rise to positions of power while the Ashraf (men of noble birth) lost their status and authority.

  • Setting up markets : He set up markets in Delhi in Delhi, one for food grains, oil, ghee etc commodities, second for clothes and third for cattle and horses. People and farmers could sell their produce here

 

  • Food procurement system: Khilji appointed trade merchants to procure the grains and other commodities from farmers and artisans and sell it in markets set up at Delhi.

 

  • Setting up large storage system: Khilji set up market stoage in Delhi so the goods procured can be stored safely. This ensured traders did not hoard essential items to increase its price. Also it helped during famine and low monsoon as food stock of previous yuears was stored safely for use.

 

  • Food price control: Khilji set up minimum price for goods and essential items so that farmers are not cheated by traders and consumers get essential items in affordable cost. This also brought down wages and more people got employments etc

 

  • Cloth market reforms: Khilji promoted clothe manufacturing in the empire by providing 10 million tankas(silver coins) to manufacture clothes units. He gave royal patronage to merchants who could sell their wares in designated places allocated by Delhi sultanate. The prices of these clothe material was determined by the Delhi sultanate and all merchants who brought their wares had to follow rules and regulations.

 

  • Taxation System: Khilji imposed taxation at rate 50% of the produce from the land. Khots and Chaudhary and Rajpuths etc( rich land owners, people of ruling class etc )had been exempt from paying house tax and cattle tax from their pockets. They would extract money from cultivators (smaller farmers) and pad to the state. Khilji abolished this system and told the Khots and Chaudhary to pay tax from their earnings only. This agitated rich land owners as they had to produce in their fields and pay labour on market rates instead of past where free bonded labour was prevelant.

 

  • Abolished land grants: Khilji consficated government lands illegally used by landlords and grants of land given to both religious and other men in power. This land was than given to lower level farmers to cultivate so that tax base would increase. This highly agitated the rich and religious men including Muslim clerics and Sufi’s. He abolished grants of land and money given to religious and rich people.

 

  • Salary to soldiers: Khilji was one of the first Indian emperor to pay the soldiers salary. He abolished the Jagir system(mansabdar) and paid salary. He had three grade of soldiers. The foot soldier was paid 156 tankas(silver coins), the cavalary(horsemen) were paid 234 tankas and the others 312 tankas. This salary was very high and even in 17th century Indian soldiers(Mughal, British) got less than that. This ensured the loyalty of soldiers.

 

  • Garrison for soldiers: Khilji had set up garrison for soldiers in major city like Delhi, Lahore etc so that he can have centralized power over them and not depend on governors etc to suplly army during war

 

  • Strict punishment for cheaters: The law was implemented very strictly and any trader who cheated in weight and measurements was punished by cutting off equal weight from their body. The punishment sounded gross but that ensured that no cheating occurred which was ramapant

 

He did many more reforms that ensured corruption reduced and lower level citizens were benefitted in long term. This is not an exhaustive list of reforms done by Khilji.

 

Malik Kafur – Allahuddn Khilji’s general

Malik Kafur was the slave cum general of Alahuddin Khilji. In 1298 when Alahuddin Khilji’s general Nustrat Khan attacked Gujarat, he looted the rich Surat city and took with him two prisoners to his master Alahuddin Khilji. Both these people were of great importance in Alahuddin Khilji’s life, one was Queen Kamal Devi, the third wife of Alahuddin Khilji. The second was Malik Kafur, his slave cum army general and close confidant of Khilji. Indeed Malik Kafur became so powerful that he was second in command of Khilji empire and in abscence of Alahuddin Khilji made all decisions on his behalf. Malik Kafur also is said to be Alahuddin Khilji’s lover but historians have no proof of this fact. But it cannot be denied that Malik Kafur was very close to Alahuddin Khilji and Khilji listened to his advice on every matter be it personal or state matters.

Malik Kafur was captured in the port city of Khambhat by Alahuddin’s general Nusrat Khan. Malik Kafur was a hindu and a slave of Khwaja of Khambat, a rich muslim trader. Nusrat Khan converted him to Islam and presented him to Alahuddin Khilji. Malik Kafur was said to be extremely intelligent and quick witted and rose the ranks of the Khilji court fast. Kafur became a chamberlain for Alahuddin Khilji and later Administrator of Khilji’s court and a army commander and finally a governor. He was second most powerful man in Khilji empire. Malik Kafur was called “hazar dinari” meaning his original master had brought him paying 1000 dinars. Kafur led many campaigns in South India against kingdoms like Yadavas(Andhra Pradesh), Hoysalas(Karnataka) and Pandyas(Tamil Nadu). He even defeated Mongols once in war in Punjab.

Malik Kafur was a highly very opportunist and ambitious person who could please his master and used every small opportunity to go up in the court and get into the eyes of Alahuddin Khilji. Abdul Malik Ismail a historian of 14th century wrote that Alahuddin Khilji liked Malik Kafur’s advice and counsel as it poved appropriate on seceral occasions. Ziauddin Bharani states that “In the last 4-5 years when Alahuddin Khilji was losing his memory and senses, in his love for Malik Kafur he had entrusted all government and palace controls to this useless, ungrateful, ingratitude and sodomite”. But Bharani need not be taken in figurative words as he used to hate Malik Kafur who was an Hindu slave who rose to power of position in Khilji Delhi court. Also Alahuddin Khilji had infuriated the rich muslims and hindu traders of India by bringing policies that impacted their business like minimum fair price for all goods etc.

Malik Kafur ensured that all powerful people in Khilji’s family and court would be imprisoned when Alahuddin Khilji was in his last days of life. The governor of Multan and Gujarath, Alp Khan who was brother of Alahuddin Khilji’s second wife Maharu, Maharu and Khizir Khan were accused of trying to kill Alahuddin Khilji. Alahuddijn Khilji ordered the imprisonment of Alp Khan, Khizir Khan and his brother Shadi Khan. But this conspiracy may have been a story planted by Malik Kafur to remove Alp Khan and Khizir Khan from his path of becoming a Sultan. He instead installed 6 year old Shihabuddin, the son of Jhatyapali the Hindu Yadava wife of Alahuddin Khilji. To secure his position he even married Jhatyapalli. He imprisoned Alahuddin Khilji’s first wife Malika-i-Jahan in Gwalior fort and ordered blinding of Khizir Khan and Shadi Khan. Alp Khan was murdered in Gujarath.

On February 1316, three former body gaurds of Alahuddin Khilji decided to kill Malik Kafur and entered his private chambers and killed him and made Mubarak Shah the regent of young Shihabuddin. The tomb of Malik Kafur existed in Delhi in 14-15th century but today its location is unknown.