LOSING KOHINOOR DIAMOND, SAVINGS ONES LIFE
THE ESCAPE OF SHAH SHUJA FROM LAHORE
A remarkable journey of survival
The cunning Maharajah Ranjit Singh watched the fight of the Durranis between themselves with acute awareness that what it meant for his future. Sensing what he should do, he cleverly invited the family of Shah Shuja to Lahore, and gave them much protocol. Knowing Shah Shuja would not be far behind, he also sucked him inside the city. Once entrenched in Lahore, a double game of acquiescence and threats started with the Afghan Chief. The request made by the Sikh ruler was simple, hand over the Kohinoor diamond to him. Shah Shuja resisted the same to a high degree but ultimately caved in to the flattery shown by the Sikh Chieftain. Once the diamond was gone, the family of Shah Shuja as well as Shah Shuja were virtual prisoners in Lahore, with not even provision of adequate food to them.
But the Afghans were not to give up that easily. Full four times the ladies of the harem disguised themselves as commoners and tried to escape the city. No luck. Then at the fifth time, they managed to escape from Lahore. Ranjit Singh was enraged beyond bounds. Heads rolled in Lahore. The Sikh enraged by luck of Shah Shuja, doubled the guards over the Afghan. Eight armed men were placed at the door of his prison, and at night, four of them stood with lighted torches in their hands. Months passed and there was little hope. Then one day the Shah saw the wooden planks under him give away and managed to prie them loose. Raising the wood boards, he managed to squeeze himself in and dropped done below to a lumber room. There were seven other small rooms attached and one of them had a street gutter in it. Shah Shuja sensed what he could do.
A man was placed on the bed of Shah Shuja as he ought be sleeping. Then Shuja dropped down and evicted from the rooms, till he finally crawled on all fours in the street gutter itself. He finally reached the bank of river Ravi, where boatsmen were already waiting, who took him across the river. The Kohinoor was left behind.
Devising various strategies, he went across various cities. Sialkot he reached first, and then to Jummo, where a dyer gave him safety in his hovel of dyed clothes. From one city to another and finally in November 1815, he reached the British Cantonment at Ludhaina, safely and soundly, reunited with his family, who had already reached the place. It is a remarkable tale of survival. The Kohinoor was lost to another dynasty, but the life of Shah Shuja and his family was saved, and actually they got a chance to rule their country again. Few people are lucky as Shah Shuja and we remember him today for his quest for a remarkable survival.