Theft of the Holy Relic from the Hazratbal Shrine

On 27 December 1963 a holy relic, which was believed by many to be a strand from the beard of Muhammad, was stolen from Jammu and Kashmir's Hazratbal Shrine, leading to protests and mass agitation. The relic was recovered on 4 January 1964, but no information about the thieves was disclosed.

History of the Holy RelicEdit

The Hazratbal Shrine in 2010

In 1635 the relic was brought to India by Syed Abdullah to the city of Bijapur. From his son, Syed Hamid, it was passed to a Kashmiri businessman named Nooruddin. When the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb was informed of the relic, it was seized and kept at the Ajmer Sharif Dargah. The Mughal emperor also imprisoned Nooruddin for possessing the relic. Aurangzeb returned the relic in 1700, but by then, Nooruddin had died. The relic was preserved by his descendants and kept in a place that later became the Hazratbal Shrine.[1]


On 27 December 1963 news broke out that the holy relic was stolen from the shrine. Around 50,000 people carrying black flags demonstrated in front of the shrine. According to The Times of India, the SP (superintendent of police) said that he believed that the theft had occurred around 2 am when the custodians of the shrine were sleeping.[2]

The next day, the Prime Minister of the state, Khwaja Shams-ud-Din, reached the shrine and announced an award of one lakh rupees for providing information regarding the theft. On 29 December a curfew was imposed, and police arrested Congress leader Mohammad Shafi Qureshi, Sheikh Rashid. To investigate the theft, on 31 December Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru sent Central Bureau of Investigation chief B.N. Mullick to Kashmir.[2] Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq set up the Sacred Relic Action Committee, of which he was the president.[3]

On 4 January 1964 the relic was recovered, and the Sadr-i-Riyasat, Karan Singh, organised prayers at a Hindu temple to help dispel communal tension.[4] When Mullick informed Nehru about the recovery, Nehru said to Mullick that "you have saved Kashmir for India". In his memoirs, Mullick claims that the information about the investigation was not disclosed. The Home Minister of India, Gulzarilal Nanda, also said in the parliament that the thieves "shall be identified".[5]


Chief Minister Syed Mir Qasim writes that, even though the relic was recovered, its authenticity was not verified.[6]

The incident led to riots in the Indian state of West Bengal and East Pakistan. There was a huge refugee influx in a small time frame of three months period between December 1963 and February 1964 to India as a result of these riots.[7]


  1. ^ Qasim 1992, p. 95.
  2. ^ a b "Hanging By The Relic". Kashmir Life. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  3. ^ "The mystery of Moi-e-Muqqadas theft". Rising Kashmir. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  4. ^ Schofield 2003, p. 103.
  5. ^ "Forgotten probes". Greater Kashmir. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  6. ^ Qasim 1992, p. 96.
  7. ^ Das, Mayurakshi. "Title: Calcutta Cauldron: City-life during the January 1964 Riots". Indian History Congress Proceedings.