At Biswak in Bihar, an Urs in memory of Yusuf Shah Chak

Srinagar: Every year on December 24, people assemble in Bihar at the grave of Yusuf Shah Chak, independent Kashmir’s last ruler, and pay him tributes on his death anniversary.

They offer Fateh Khani, recite Quranic verses and throw light on his life. This day, they celebrate Urs to honor Chak, something not done in Kashmir.

Chak died in exile in Bihar after Mughal emperor Akbar annexed Kashmir in 1586 AD. His grave is in village Biswak of Nalanda district.

Some local religious preachers are invited. The graveyard is decorated and eatables are prepared and distributed among the assembled people.

Recently, the locals have themselves build a wall around the cemetery and renovated it.

The people in the adjacent villages narrate exact dates of his birth, death and exile, quoting history of Kashmir.

Quoting historical facts from the books and researches, they said that Chak was a brave, courageous and brilliant ruler of independent Kashmir.

The local care-taker of Chak’s cemetery, Yasir Rashid Khan  said that like generations of his family before him, he is looking after the tomb of Yusuf Shah Chak.

Khan has all the knowledge about Chak and is presently struggling to get the tomb recognized in national heritage list, something that J&K government supposed to do otherwise.

Khan, in the past, had even received death threats for opposing encroachments at the tomb by some land mafia in Bihar. He has long been campaigning for the restoration of the tomb, seeking help from the governments of both Bihar and J&K. His appeals have gone unheard so far.

In 2015, one of the volunteers, Dr Khalid Chak, who is great fan of Yusuf Shah Chak, extended his help to Khan in renovation of tomb and cemetery.

 “There are no curious visitors. In 1977, Sheikh Abdullah had visited the grave along with the historian M Y Taing. There is even a road here named after Sheikh Abdullah after he visited the tomb,” Khan told Greater Kashmir over phone.

 “According to historians, Chak was laid to rest on 23 Rabi-ul-Awal. It is because of this that we observe his death anniversary on this date,” he said.

One historical account says that Chak’s spouse and great poetess of Kashmir, Habba Khatoon is also laid to rest besides Chak in the same cemetery.

 “The poetry of Habba Khatoon is famous and sung in every house of Kashmir. It is unfortunate that the J&K government has failed to pay due respect to its last sovereign ruler and great poetess,” he said.

He said that he had written letters, applications and messages to Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and the late Mufti Sayeed, but to no avail.

 “I have written more than 30 letters but have never received any response from Kashmir. There wasn’t any response even to my invitation for an annual Urs at the tomb which we have been organizing now. Separately, the minister Haseeb Drabu had once said he would speak with the Bihar government about the tomb, but never did,” he said.

He added that recently he had contacted Cultural Academy of J&K. “Mr Aziz Hajni Sahab gave patient hearing but said that situation in Kashmir is not conducive to take any measures for restoration of tomb,” he said.

In 2015, J&K government was contemplating to reclaim the mortal remains Chak.

The Ministry of Culture headed by senior PDP minister, Dr Haseeb Drabu, was working on a proposal to approach Government of Bihar to seek Chak’s mortal remains.

However, the development thereafter is still unknown.

Chak succeeded his father Ali Shah as the last emperor of independent Kashmir.