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The Khaljis And The Expansion Of The Sultanate To The South
Undue Influence of Kafur
As unscrupulous as his master, Kafur now tried to establish his influence as the supreme authority in the State. On the second day after the death of ‘Ala-ud-din, he produced a will of the deceased Sultan, which, if authentic, had been secured from him through undue pressure, disinheriting Khizr Khan and giving the throne to Shihab-ud-din ‘Umar, a child of his master, five or six years old. The minor son was enthroned, Kafur being his regent and the virtual dictator of the State. Goaded on by the ambition of seizing the throne, Kafur perpetrated most horrible crimes. He caused the elder sons of ‘AIa-ud-din, Khizr Khan and Shadi Khan, to be blinded, and the queen-mother was deprived of her wealth and imprisoned. He also kept Mubarak, the third son of ‘Ala-ud-din, in confinement in the Hazar Sutun (the palace of a thousand pillars) and intended to deprive him of his eyesight. The youth, however, managed to escape. Kafur further sought to remove all the nobles and slaves who were supporters of the Khaljis. But he was soon paid back in his own coin for his atrocities by being murdered, after a “criminal rule” of thirty-five days, by some attendants of the late Sultan ‘Ala-ud-din. The nobles then brought Mubarak out of his confinement and made him the regent of his minor brother. But after sixty-four days of regency, Mubarak blinded the child in April, 1316, and ascended the throne under the title of Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Shah.
The early years of the new ruler’s reign were marked by success, and he rescinded the harsher edicts of his father. Political prisoners were set free, some of the lands and endowments confiscated by the late Sultan were restored to their original grantees and the compulsory tariff was removed. This no doubt gave satisfaction to the people, but, as Barni writes, “all fear and awe of royal authority disappeared “. Further, the Sultan soon plunged himself into a life of pleasure, which naturally made him indolent to the great prejudice of the interests of the State. His example affected the people also. ” During his reign of four years and four months,” writes Barni, “the Sultan attended to nothing but drinking, listening to music, pleasure, and scattering gifts.” He fell completely under the influence of a low-caste (Parwari) convert from Gujarat, whom he styled Khusrav Khan and made the chief minister of his kingdom. This favourite shamelessly pandered to the low tastes of his master with the ulterior motive of seizing the throne for himself.
Fortunately for Hindustan, the Mongols made no attempt to invade it, nor was there any serious disturbance in any quarter, during this reign. There broke out only two rebellions, one in Gujarat and the other in Devagiri (in the Deccan). The Gujarat revolt was effectively suppressed by ‘Ain-ul-Mulk, and the Sultan’s father-in-law, who had received from him the title of Zafar Khan, was placed as governor there. The Sultan marched in person at the head of a large army against Devagiri. Harapala Deva of Devagiri fled away on the Sultan’s approach, but he was pursued, captured, and flayed alive. Thus the whole kingdom of the Yadavas fell under the control of the Muslims and the Sultan appointed Malik Yaklaki governor of Devagiri. He also deputed Khusrav Khan to lead an expedition to Telingana, which was attended with success. After one year’s stay at Devagiri, where the Sultan built a great mosque, he marched back to Delhi.
These triumphs made Mubarak worse than before. Many members of the imperial family were killed. Mubarak made a departure from the practice of the preceding Sultans of Delhi by shaking off the allegiance to the Khalifat and proclaiming himself ” the supreme head of the religion of Islam, the Khalifah of the Lord of Heaven and Earth”, and assumed the pontifical title of al-Wasiq-billah.
The regime of this ruler did not, however, last long. Khusrav planned his overthrow, but out of excessive infatuation for him the Sultan did not listen to the warning of his friends. He soon fell a victim to the conspiracy of Khusrav, one of whose Parwari associates stabbed him to death on a night of April, A.D. 1320. Such was the end of the dynasty of the Khaljis after it had ruled for about thirty years.
Khusrav then ascended the throne of Delhi under the title of Nasir-ud-din Khusrav Shah and distributed honours and rewards among his relatives and tribesmen, who had helped him in the accomplishment of his design. He squandered away the wealth of the State in trying to conciliate those nobles who had been forced to acquiesce in his usurpation. He inaugurated a veritable reign of terror by massacring the friends and personal attendants of the late Sultan and by putting the members of his family to disgrace.
According to Barni Yahiya bin Ahmad Sarhindi and Ibn Batutah, Khusrav favoured the Hindus, and his brief regime of four months and a few days was marked by the ascendancy of the Hindus. Whatever it might have been, the conduct of Khusrav was enough to offend the ‘Alai nobles, who soon found a leader in Ghazi Malik, the faithful Warden of the Marches. Marching from Dipalpur, Ghazi Malik, with the support of all the nobles except ‘Ain-ul-Mulk, the governor of Multan, who bore a personal grudge against him, defeated Khusrav at Delhi on the 5th September, 1320.
Khusrav was beheaded and his followers were either killed or routed. Though master of the situation, Ghazi Malik did not occupy the throne at once. Rather, he at first made “a decent profession of reluctance”. But as no male descendant of ‘Ala-ud-din was living, the nobles persuaded him to accept the throne in September, 1320, under the title of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughluq. It is significant to note that the Muslim nobles, without manifesting any jealousy towards Ghazi Malik, who had been equal to them in rank, now welcomed him to the throne of Delhi.