BY AUTAR MOTA
Magrays belong to a hilly Rajput tribe who were known in the social hierarchy as THAKKARS. They lived in almost all hills surrounding various entry and exit passes to Kashmir valley. That is the reason you find them all over in Kashmir and also in PoK areas as well. This community became active during the period of Medieval sultans and by which time they had already embraced Islam.
Kalhana makes mention of some communities who were assigned the task of Dwarpatis and Margpatis (by kashmirian kings ) of various passes and entry or exit routes to Kashmir valley. Magray word comes from Margpatis ( Lords of the Roads ) , a title given to this group by Kashmirian kings . Surely these Thakkar Rajputs of hills surrounding kashmir continued to use the title Margpati even after their conversion to Islam and later adopting other professions . With the passage of time , Margpati became Magray or Magri in Kashmir.
Jonaraja makes mentions them as Thakkars. I quote
“As the breeze carries with it the scent of flowers , even the prince was accompanied by all the THAKKARS who were the lords of the country as he went out of kashmira . Left by the THAKKARS , the army of MADRA descended into kashmira in peace like a river without alligators.” (Page 72 The Rajatarangini of Jonaraja . M,adra corresponds to hilly area of present day Jammu.)
Srivara also calls them Margapatis and Margeshas in his Rajatarangini.
Apart from protecting the Roads and passes to Kashmir , Magrays also joined Infantry of kashmirian kings more essentially the Sultans. .Some Magrays also rose to become commanders of infantry during the rule of sultans .Muhammad Magray and Malik Masud Thakkar were the commanders in the army of Sultan Zain ul Abdin when the Tibetean operation was launched by him.
History also informs us that Ibrahim Magray was a powerful Person during the administrative rule of Musa Raina sometime around 1501 AD . History also informs that MAGRAYS even went to meet Babur .I quote Baharistan i Shahi.
“In agreement and collaboration with Ibrahim Magray, Musa raina took control of the domain of Kashmir and undertook its governance.”
Page 11-61 Baharistaan I Shahi subhead 11.41 MUSA RAINA.
“Malik Abdal Magray went to Babur Paadshah to seek his help … who issued commands to sheikh Ali beg and Muhammad khan to help him.Forthwith they proceeded to Kashmir. In 1528 AD with a group of Magrays in collaboration with Malik Ali and Regi Chak and Babur’s troops , entered Kashmir via *HAVAL . Malik Kazi Chak learnt about this advancing columns and marched to meet them.”
Haval is a village in Shopian District of Kashmir .
Page 12-74 Baharistaan I Shahi subhead 12.21 MAGRAY’S SEEK BABUR’S HELP.
I also found Magrays presently inhabiting , Banihal , Doda , Ramban, shopian ,Handwara , Anantnag and almost all places in Kashmir valley and adjoining hilly areas . They are now a part of the kashmiri society . They have fair complexion and sharp features. They are educated and most of them are doing well in Government jobs , trade and other professions .Some of them are conscious of their past history . So long so much.
I end this post with lines from a poem of urdu poet Ali sardar Jafri…
Naksh e Maayusi mein Bhar detaa huun Umeedon ka Rang
Me Ataa Kartaa Huun Shaakh e Aarzoo ko Barg o Baar …
Chunn Liye Hain Baag e Insaani se Armaanon ke phool
Jo mehakatay hi Raheingay Meinay Goonthhay hain woh haar…
Autar Mota is a columnist and writes for national papers and magazines.