Kids’ Org.: Hemu gets the title of ‘Samrat’
Abul Fazal says that Islam Shah held Hemu in great esteem. In 1550, Hemu accompanied Islam Shah to the Punjab where he was deputed along with other high officers to receive Mirza Kamran in the fort of Rohtas. He consulted Hemu on a variety of matters . After serving as Sahang-i-Bazar for some time Hemu was given another very important assignment by Islam Shah. He was made the Chief of Intelligence or Daroga-i-Chowki (Superintendent of Post) . Hemu held this position till October 30, 1553, when Islam Shah died.
After the victory of the Mughal ruler Humanyun over Sikander Sur, Mughal rule was re-established in Punjab, Delhi and Agra after a gap of 15 years on July 23, 1555. Humanyun’s sudden death on January 26th, 1556, however, gave Hemu an opportunity to claim power for himself. By then he had won several battles spanning the entire North India. He was in Bengal at that time where he had defeated and killed the rebel Bengal Ruler Muhammad Shah. Hemu was determined to drive the Mughals out of India and restore the Hinduraj. He made known his decision to his Afghan and Hindu commanders that he would capture power for himself in Delhi. He started a winning march from Bengal through present day Bihar, Eastern UP and Madhya Pradesh. Brave Mughal Fauzdars evacuated their positions and fled in panic of the mighty Hemu. Hemu marched to Agra, an important Mughal stronghold. But the commander of Mughal forces, representative of Akbar, Iskander Khan Uzbeg ran away from Agra hearing about Hemu’s invasion leaving Hemu winner without a fight. Itawa, Kalpi, Bayana all came under Hemu’s rule. Hemu got an enormous treasure and equipment.
Islam Shah was succeeded by his minor son Firoz Khan, 12 years of age. Killing the child king, his uncle, Adil Shah Suri took command of most of North India. The new king Adil was indolent, pleasure-seeker, drunkard and debauch. Adil Shah faced revolts all around . He also took Hemu as his Chief Advisor and entrusted all his work to him. Now Hemu became chief of army of Afghan Forces and prime minister . After some time, Adil Shah became insane and Hemu became very powerful and began to rule like a king.
Hemu went to various states in North India to crush rebellion. Ibrahim Khan, Sultan Muhhamad Khan, Taj Karrani, Rukh Khan Nurani and several other Afghan rebellion officers were killed one by one by Hemu . Hemu fought, in all, twenty two battles from Punjab to Bengal, wining all of them. At the battle of Chhapparghatta in December 1555, Hemu routed Bengal forces under Muhammad Shah, who was killed in the battle. These continuous victories in entire North India, and victories over Akbar’s strong holds like Agra and Delhi in September – October 1556 earned him the Hindu title of ‘Samrat’ and at his coronation at Delhi all his army commanders, Afghans as well as Rajputs bestowed him the title ‘Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya’.
Hemu Chandra Vikramaditya, is flanked by his Afghan as well as Hindu Generals. Samrat is a Hindi word meaning unchallengeable warrior-one who has won all the battles fought. On the basis of being a Samrat, he re-established Hindu Kingdom and Vikramaditya Dynasty, in North India with all the authority and command.
Reason for Hemu’s success was that, Hemu could muster the support of both Hindus and Afghans against the Mughal invaders. Akbar, writes Vincent A. Smith , was a foreigner in India. He had not a drop of Indian blood in his veins. Hemu was a true nationalist and patriot who fought bravely for freedom of the country . Hemu was very popular among Hindus as well as Afghans. Afghans considered themselves to be native Indians, and Hemu also considered Afghans as Indians. Unity of Hindus and Afghans had created a formidable force to take on the Mughals, considered to be the foreign invaders. This shows that Nationalism and Secularism was the common cause for Afghans and Hindus. It also indicates that the Hindu-Raj which Hemu established was not against Muslims but only pro-India.
Sudhir Bhargava (To be concluded )