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FAMINES IN THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT, 1500 to 1767
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1540 (b) [to 1542]: Sindh1540 map
Documented causes: scorched earth war
Documented effects: depopulation, cannibalism

Lieut. Col. A.T. Etheridge, "Report on Past Famines in the Bombay Presidency" (1868) [Reports collected by local officials in all districts]
p16 [Scinde, by Commissioner Havelock]: "The next famine occurred in A.D. 1540. Mirza Shah Hunun, the ruler of Scinde, hearing that Shah Hoomagoon, who had been lately defeated by Share Shah at Lahore, was about to invade Scinde, directed that crops should not be grown on either bank of the river. The import of grain was also prohibited. This famine lasted for three years, and is said to have been particularly severe."
Mahomed Masoom, "A History of Sind, embracing the period from A.D. 710 to A.D. 1590" (trans., 1855)
p110: [Mirza Shah Husain, ruler of Sindh, consults his nobles on hearing that the Mughal Emperor, Badshah Humayun, has been defeated in Uttar Pradesh and is retreating westward] "It was decided upon to leave the country, and destroy the cultivation from Ooch to Bukkur on both sides of the river.
When the news of the flight of the king was confirmed, he erected buildings in four gardens at Baburloe, and placing in these all the requisites, with munitions of war, he caused all the country and towns about Bukkur to be entirely deserted."

p111 [as expected, Humayun brings his army into Sindh] "He himself, with much happiness, went to reside in the gardens (Char Bagh) of Baburloe, which have no fellows in verdure and elegance. Previous to this Sultan Mahomed had cleared all the country about, strengthened the fort of Bukkur, underneath which he had collected and secured all the boats. [Requested to hand over the fort to Humayun's army, the Sultan responds that he cannot do so without permission of his overlord Mirza Shah Husain- which the king-emperor accepts.] Grain beginning to become scarce in the imperial camp, Mehtur Ushruf, the Meer Bazar, went to Sultan Mahomed, informing him of this circumstance, who then sent 500 kurwas of grain for the army, and something for the consumption of the king, who approved of this attention."

p112 [While the Sultan keeps Humayun happy in his garden, Husain politely suggests that the army would benefit from a move further west; the king-emperor's advisers quickly detect the underlying strategy, and a siege of Bukkur fortress as a prelude to conquest of Sindh is recommended] "Prior to this, Sultan Mahomed, leaving Meerza Janee Turkhan, and other chiefs of confidence, in charge of Bukkur, had proceeded to Sehwistan, causing that part of the country to be deserted, as the others had been collecting all the grain and other things together under cover of the fort there."

p113: [Humayun's army, some 200,000 strong, beds in around Bukkur after Ramadan 947 AH (1540 CE)] From the presence of the royal army, and other circumstances, grain became very dear in the cold season of that year about Bukkur, so much so, that the people gave up their lives in the search for bread; hearing of which, the king gave much money from the treasury to his sepoys. One thin bread (Chupatee) cost 1 Miskal, i.e. 4 Mashas and 3 Ruttees, or about 6 annas. When grain had become so scarce as not to be procured in the Lushkur, Hoomayoon sent Meerza Hindal towards Pattur, he himself remaining at Char Bagh " [however, he is forced eventually to get his hungry army on the move, in a wide circuit through the countryside, until, well into 1541, they have stripped the landscape bare] "When all the grain and supplies were consumed, the king again turned the bridle of his intention towards Bukkur. From not obtaining grain, much distress fell upon the troops."

p115: [Humayun moves to besiege Sehwistan, leaving a small force under Mirza Yadgar Nasir to blockade Bukkur, which has some success against a foray from the fort, causing Shah Husain, when the news reaches him, to offer Yadgar a partnership in a proposed invasion of Gujarat] "Meerza Yadgar Nasir from this deceit of Shah Hoossain, becoming misled, turned his heart in enmity towards Hoomayoon, who, seeing the ruinous state of his army, had sent many successive times to call him; but he always sent back the messengers with some excuse or other. When the news of his enmity reached the king, he at once left Sehwistan {where the siege had by this time lasted some seven months], proceeding towards Bukkur, and on the way Kunbur Beg Urghoon, leaving him, returned to Sehwistan, and many sepoys, from getting nothing to eat, quitted the royal army. Hoomayoon, arriving at Roree [=Rohri, the city in which Bukkur island is located], encamped there. Meerza Yadgar Nasir, being helpless, paid his respects to the king, giving up to him all the grain he had; but this was not sufficient to satisfy the cravings of the royal host. When the extremity of hunger came upon them, the king sent some of his confidential people to Sultan Mahomed, who came in front to meet them, giving Khilats to servants of the king, and presenting money and grain to the attendants After the departure of these chiefs, the nobles of Meerza Shah Hoosain, assembling in the reception-room, discoursed on the scarcity of grain in the royal camp, each saying what he thought. Sultan Mahomed afterwards sent 300 Kurwas of grain for the use of the royal household; but the people [i.e. the common soldiers], from getting nothing, left the king's camp, dispersing over Sind. Many of these parties followed one route, numbers perishing from hunger. "

p116: [we're now into 1542] "The king, on account of the absence of grain, determined to leave that place " [and as luck would have it, he received an invitation from the Rajah of Jodhpur, inviting him and his entire army to pay a visit, so off they went ]

pp117-8: "When Shah Hoosain heard that Badshah Hoomayoon had marched upon Ooch, he came with great speed to Bukkur. The nobles went out to meet him, and on the 24th Mohurrum he entered the fort. He became very much displeased with Sultan Mahomed Khan, for having given away his grain; he hung Moolla Durwesh Mahomed Anbardur, superintendent of grain, in front of his (Sultan Mahomed's) house, and he skinned alive Haluh and Omur Shar, between the two gates of (in the centre of) Sukkur."
Sir H.M. Elliot (compiler) "The history of India, as told by its own historians" (vol. 1, 1867)
pp280-81: [extract from the "Tarikh-i-Tahiri", in which a later ruler of Sindh, the miserly and cruel Mirza Muhammad Baki (aka Baqi), reminds his courtiers of the real definition of food] "Have you not heard how, when Humayun came into this country, and Mirza Shah Husain Arghun laid waste the whole land, and gave orders for the sowing of grain, what hunger and misery were endured; how raw hides and old skins were cooked in hot water and eaten?"
[The author adds:] " It is indeed related that, at the time of the Emperor's flight and the devastation of the country by the Mirza, extreme misery drove the men of Sind to eat their own kind." [Here he quotes the story of two young men whose mother asked them to cook and eat her]
[Footnote: "The author has previously given an account of this famine at page 61 of the original " Sadly, not one of the extracts included in this translated volume]

Postscript: the fate of the lovely garden
Mahomed Masoom, "A History of Sind, embracing the period from A.D. 710 to A.D. 1590" (trans., 1855)
p140: [Biography of Sultan Mahomed Khan of Bukkur; events of late 966 AH (1559 CE)] "This year he heard that Hirum Khan intended to go to Mecca by Bukkur, therefore he destroyed the Char Bagh at Baburloe, thinking 'that on account of the happiness Hoomayoon Badshah enjoyed there he remained so long, that grain became so scarce that pearls were given for jowaree; numbers had perished from hunger, and with affairs in this state, his heart had still no disposition to leave the place. God forbid that this place should so please Hirum Khan that he should remain in this manner!' Hirum Khan, hearing of what had taken place, went to Mecca via Puttun."
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