Shivaji had left Sambhaji and several other people in Agra on 22 July. Sambhaji was nine years of age at that time. Niraji Raoji had taken the place of Shivaji. Niraji's son, Pralhad, age 12 years, was also there. He must have come as a trainee (in those days a 12 year-old was considered adult!) and also as a companion to Sambhaji. Niraji and Pralhad made Sambhaji comfortable. It seems that the disappearence of Shivaji was not detected!
But how did Sambhaji escape? Read it here!
After Shivaji left Agra, Niraji kept a low profile and did not make any important move in the Mughal darbar lest he attracted attention of the emperor. The news of unrest from the north-west frontier made his task easier.
On the morning of 16th August 1666, Thursday, Niraji Raoji (in the guise of Shivaji) called Hiroji Farzand to the inner room and asked him to put on Shivaji's dress and some ornaments including a bracelet, and to sleep on Shivaji's bed. He also gave him some further instructions. Niraji the took Sambhaji and his son Pralhad out of the haveli and went to a messenger's house he was acquainted with. There he changed Sambhaji's dress to that of a brahmin boy! Then, along with another brahmin officer, Trambakpant Dabir, they all started off to Mathura, 33 miles north of Agra. They reached Mathura by evening. Krishnaji, A relative of Moropant Pingle, Shivaji's high officer was staying at Mathura for many years. Niraji went to his house, made arrangements for Sambhaji and Pralhad to stay there for some time and asked Krishnaji to come to Shivaji's kingdom to hand over Sambhaji. Niraji and Tryambakpant stayed at Mathura on 17th August and returned to Agra on 18th evening. By that time, all hell had broken lose in Agra!
On 16th August, Aurangzeb ordered Ramsingh that Shivaji has been appointed to north-west frontier and he should immediately prepare to leave for Kabul, Afghanistan. Ramsingh tried to protest invain. He realized that the emperor would not listen to him. The message was conveyed to Shivaji's residence where actually Hiroji had taken the place of Shivaji! When Hiroji got to know of this order, he panicked! He went to the residence of Ramsingh in the guise of Shivaji to take help of Ramsingh to decide further course of action, because the two brahmin pandits who could have guided him were absent. However, Ramsingh did not meet "Shivaji"! And asked him to go back to his haveli. Hiroji returned. It should be noted here that the written guarantee about Shivaji given by Ramsingh had been cancelled at the request of Ramsingh in the month of June!
The next day was 17th August, Friday, a holiday for the Mughal darbar. In the morning, Hiroji changed to his normal, regular clothes and arranged some pillows on Shivaji's bed so that it looked like Shivji was sleeping there! Then, Hiroji went out of the house claiming to be on an errand to bring medicines for Shivaji! He did not return. A couple of servants of Shivaji's entourage also left the premises! All of Shivaji's men had cleared off the dangerous zone!
On the morning of 18th August 1666, at the time of change of guard duty, it was discovered that Shivaji was missing from his room! There was no movement in his room. This was reported to Ramsingh as well as Fauladkhan, in charge of the guards on Shivaji. They both went to Moghul darbar and through other mansabdar, gave the bad news to Aurangzeb. He ordered Fauladkhan to go to the haveli and investigate. He returned with the report that Shivaji and all his personnel had escaped. A couple of palanquins (palakhis) and some camels were on the haveli premises! Aurangzeb got angry. He issued strict orders to guard and search all his emipre's roads and gates to identify and arrest Shivaji and his men. These orders are very detailed. The events at the darbar on 18th August are available in full detail through the akhabar (news report / record) of that day. A thorough search of Agra town was ordered. Each and every house was searched during the next 2 - 3 days. Niraji and Tryambakpant had reached Agra on 18th evening. When they reached their residence (a messenger's house) they knew of Aurangzeb's orders. They could not leave the city, so they remained hidden in that house. On 20th August, both of them were arrested during the search operations!
READ MORE DETAILS OF THE RETUR OF SAMBHAJI AND NIRAJI RAOJI IN THE BOOK!!
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