Friday, April 21, 2017

Zaman Shah Durrani's invasion of India and Tipu Sultan

In the late eighteenth century, the Durrani empire was the only force that could neutralize the increasing influence of the East India Company or support the waning Indian Muslim power. Shah Zaman's frequent attacks on India kept the British in a chronic state of unrest. However, because of his internal problems , he could never advance farther than the Lahore. By the end of 1797,  Muslim rajas and nawabs of India had turned their eyes upon Kabul with a hope that it would save them from the impending yoke of the usurping British. From northern Oudh to southern Mysore , Muslim petty rulers had sent invitations to Zaman Shah Durrani, with large promises of aid in money and men. Wazir Ali and Tipu Sultan had encouraged him to declare jihad against the infidels and lead an army of all the Muslims of India reviving the gallant deeds of his grandfather. The Raja of Jainagar offered him a lac of Rupees as soon as the grand army should enter his state.

 Lord Wellesley, said:-
"Every Muhammadan , even in the remotest region of Deccan , waited with anxious expectation for the advance of the Champion of Islam"  (J.W.Kaye, "History of the War in Afghanistan", Vol-1, p-3)

Sir John Shore wrote to Dundas just before setting off on a trip to Lucknow (January 27th , 1797)  ;
"...He (the Nawab of Awadh) has earnestly solicited me to meet him , alarmed probably by an apprehension of Zaman Shah. I can not yet bring my mind to entertain any fears on this account , but i have taken the same precautions as if i was morally certain of the Shah's approach. If he should reach Delhi , he can have not motive but the plunder of Lucknow.......It has also been suggested that the Shah acts in concert with Tipu and by French intrigues ; I am equally an infidel on this point , but at the same time aware of the influence which his success might have on the resolutions of Tipu and the politics of the Nizam"
Fifteen thousands troops were accordingly stationed along the northern borders until the close of  Zaman Shah's invasion. ("Tiger of Mysore - life and death of Tipu Sultan" , p-244)

For some of the letters exchanged between Zaman Shah and Tipu Sultan refer to the pages from 59 to 68 in the following book available on Google Books in full view;

Official Documents, Relative to the Negotiations Carried on by Tippoo Sultaun, with the French Nation, and Other Foreign States, for Purposes Hostile to the British Nation (printed at the Honorable Company's Press, 1799)

By pitching the Persians against Zaman Shah , the British could forestall his much dreaded invasion of India. It was obvious that while threatened from the west , Zaman Shah could never conduct a successful expedition into India. So, to instigate the Shah of Persia against Zaman Shah, at the end of 1796, Captain Malcolm's mission was sent to Persia to relieve India from the annual alarm of Shah Zaman's invasion. In October 1800, he wrote from Isfahan :-
"That Zaman Shah could do nothing in India before the setting in of the rains of 1801. He has no time if he had the power for such an attempt ; and by the blessing of God he will for some years to come be too much engaged in this quarter to think of any other" (J.W.Kaye, "History of the War in Afghanistan", Vol-1, p-6)
Zaman Shah planned an expedition into India in 1799-1800. The internal strife had exhausted his coffers . He could have led 2,00,000 men into the field if he had money to pay them. Even the Qizalbashes refused to accompany him , apparently on the plea that they needed arms to fight the battles and money to support their wives. In fact they were in league with the King of Persia on whose instructions they tried to weaken the Durrani army. Shah Zaman was continually being deserted at this critical time for the want of sinews of war. His artillery consisted of some twelve brass field guns and five hundreds Zumboorucks or camel guns. There were not more than 500 good horses in his army. Such was the army with which he planned an invasion of India to fight the anti-Islamic forces. The Persian activity in the west and the internal intrigues broke up the Durrani army and kept the Shah at home. Finally the death of Tipu Sultan dampened his designs on India for the time being. ("History of the Pathans" by Haroon Rashid, Vol-1, pp-180-181)

Tipu Sultan aged 30 . Artist: Johann Zoffany, 1780

Zaman Shah Durrani enthroned, circa 1795

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Rohtasgarh or Rohtas fort (Bihar)

The Rohtasgarh Fort or Rohtas Fort is one of the ancient forts of India located in a small town of Rohtas in Bihar. This fort rose to prominence after captured by Sher Shah Suri in 1539 from a Hindu Raja. Sher Shah kept his treasures in this Rohtas Fort, and it was held by garrison of 10,000 matchlock men or troops armed with fire-arms, and the command over them was entrusted to Ikhtiyar Khan Panni, one of his Amirs. The Jami Masjid of Rohtasgarh bears a Persian inscription recording its construction by Azam Humayun Haibat Khan Niazi in 1543.

It is recorded that there were thirty villages on its top ; it was spacious and there was so much cultivation there. There was considerable flow of water from its top. There were fruit-bearing orchards and a single narrow path led up to it which could not be negotiated on horse-back.

As regard the size of the fort of Rohtas , the imperial gazetteer of India records that it remains now occupy a part of the plateau about four miles east to west and five miles from north to south with a circumference of nearly twenty eight miles. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Hemu did not declare himself an independent king

Some of the modern historians have taken the allegations of the prejudiced medieval writers leveled against Hemu seriously without making the critical examination of historical facts. None of the historians, Abu Fazal, Nizamuddin and Badauni, suggests that Hemu set himself up as as independent monarch. They merely state that he assumed the title of Raja Bikramjit and other great names. The title Raja Bikramjit was already given to him by Sultan Adil Shah in Chunar (Tarikh-i-Daudi, p-191). No coin of Hemu has been found any where. Only Ahmad Yadgar states that Hemu declared himself sovereign , struck coins and read khutba in his name. But Ahmad Yadgar himself confesses that Hemu acknowledged Adil Shah as his master even after the conquest of Delhi, October 6, 1556. Hemu, therefore, could only assume the insignia of royalty in the interval of a month between Octb. 6 1556 and the battle of Panipat November 5, 1556. But it is extremely improbable that he would commit to such a hazardous enterprise and alienate the Afghan soldiers at a time when he had to concentrate his whole strength against the Mughals. Surrounded by powerful Afghan nobles , he could not become independent of Adil Shah. The Afghan nobles mentioned in the army of Hemu, Shadi Khan Kakar, Husain Khan Faujdar, Rukn Khan Nuhani, Mian Mahmud Lodi, Mian Khwaja Kakar, Ikhtiyar Khan and Mangali Khan were the highest nobles of Adil Shah Sur. As regard the Hindu nobles, they still constituted comparatively a small portion of the nobility. They were Rajya, son of Hemu's sister and commander of the left wing, Sangram Singh, Teharpal (son of Hemu's brother) and Bagwan Das. Abu Fazal says, "from foresight he preserved the nominal sovereignty of for Adil and waged brave wars against his opponents. Therefore there is hardly an justification for asserting on the sole testimony of Ahmad Yadgar that Hemu cut off the slender tie of allegiance to Adil Shah and seized the throne for himself. (Book references ; 1-  "The Successors of Sher Shah" by Nirod Bhuson Roy, pp-91-92, 2-"Sher Shah and his dynasty" by I.H.Siddiqui, p-211)

The defeat of Hemu at the Second Battle of Panipat, a c. 1590s painting by Kankar from the Akbarnama. Neither Hemu nor Akbar are depicted here suggesting that this might be part of a double-page composition.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Desecration of Pir Roshan's grave and dead body

 By Khan Barmazid

Bayazid Ansari (Pir Roshan) died in 1572 AD .Bayazid was followed by his eldest son, Shaikh Umar. Akhund Darweza , along with his followers , continued his opposition , even after the death of Bayazid. He instigated the Gujjars (The Yousafzai's 'hamsaya') against Shaikh Umar. The Gujjars dug out the dead body of Bayazid. Shaikh Umar got timely information and before the Gujjars could take away the coffin, he reached the graveyard , intercepted the Gujjars, some of whom were able to escape while some were captured. He brought the coffin to his house. On interrogation, the captured Gujjars told them that they are Hamsayas (dependents) of Hamza Khan Akozaey Yousafzai. The followers of Shaikh Umar retaliated and took away the cattle belonging to Hamza Khan Akozaii . Consequently, because of Akhund Darweza's pressures , Shaikh Umar had to quit and cross over into the Mandar's territory. Hamza Khan chased him out to Khanpur. Shaikh Umar carried along his father's body also. He took refuge with the Dilazaks along the river Indus where he was betrayed and killed along with his staunch followers , namely Mullah Zikriya, Mullah Umar Kheshgi , Mullah Meru and Ayub. The Dilazaks threw away Bayazid's coffin in the river Indus. However , it was recovered by some followers of Bayazid.  They informed the surviving son of Pir Roshan Jalaluddin about it (the injured Jalaluddin had escaped Dilazaks by jumping into the river Indus).  Jalaluddin buried his father's coffin in Bhat Pur (Bamaitur) near the grave of Kamal-ud-din (his brother). Reportedly, the bones of Bayazid were recovered and burnt and his widow, to humiliate her, was made to marry a menial drummer (dam). 


1-  "History of the Pathans" by Haroon Rashid, Vol-1, p-446

2-  "Bayazid Ansari" by Sher Afzal Khan Barioti, p-170, pp-172-173

3-  "Rokhanya the Mughalo Tarikyan", by Abdul-Akbar Khan Akbar, pp-35-36

Friday, April 7, 2017

Pashtuns were once principal inhabitants of Mastung (Balochistan)

By Khan Barmazid

Drawing by Charles Masson

According to "Tarikh Nama-Herat" of Saifi Haravi (written in 1318 AD), Mastung was the capital of of the history's first known semi-sovereign state of Afghanistan in 13th century. The source says that an Afghan chieftain of Mastung namely Hurmuz Tarin , supported by 2,000 Afghans from his tribe fought with a commander of Malik Shamsuddin Kurt of Herat (vassal of Mongols) who had invaded Afghanistan in 1252 AD. The source also says that Malik Taj-ud-din, the ruler of Afghanistan, collected 10,000 Afghans from Mastung to confront Kurt-Mongol forces. This shows that Mastung was an abode of Afghans at that time. (Tarikh-nama-Herat, Urdu trans by Sultan Altaf Ali., p-254)

According to Tarikh-i-Balochistan of Hatu Ram, when Rais Khan Tarin, with a band of his clan, came from Kandahar and occupied Kalat , Mastung and adjoining area was then occupied by the other Afghan tribes and there was no trace of the Brahuis or Balochs in the area. On one occasion a Brahui chief , Umar Khan Mirwani, was killed in battle with Rinds. His widow and minor son Bajaru Khan took refuge with Afghans of Mastung. Subsequently Bajaru Khan married the daughter of an Afghan notable of Mastung. With the help of Afghans, Bajaru Khan occupied Kalat. (Rai Hatu Ram, Tarikh-i-Balochistan, p-172).

In 959 H (1543 AD), Mirza Shah Hussain Arghun bestowed the government of Siwi (Sibi) upon Sultan Mahmud Khan Kokaltash. H.G.Raverty says, "His (Kokaltash's)  mother was an Afghan of the Kasi tribe then dwelling in Shal and Mastung , a woman of great energy , whom he was in the habit of consulting. Thus, at the period in question, as those who are acquainted with the Pushtuns or Afghans and their history very well know, the districts here mentioned were then, and had been for a considerable time, in the possession of the Kasis, but since that time they have been nearly all ousted from their possessions , like some other Afghans of the neighboring parts , by Baluch and Brahui interlopers". ("Notes on Afghanistan and part of Baluchistan" by H.G.Raverty, pp-588-589)

Humayun-nama of Gulbadan-Begum (sister of Emperor Humayun) mentions Shal-Mastung to be an abode of Afghans ;
".....The Emperor (Humayun) was stupefied and bewildered , and said : 'What is to be done? where i am to go?' They all consulted together. Tardi Muhammad Khan and Bairam Khan gave it as their opinion that it was impossible to decide to go anywhere but to the north and Shal-Mastun(g), the frontier of Qandahar. 'There are many Afghans in those parts', they said , 'whom we shall draw over to our side." (Humayun-nama, English translation by Anetta.S.Beveridge, p-165) 

According to Ain-i-Akbari, the principal inhabitants of Mastung in late 16th century were Kasi Afghans and Baluchs and the district was liable to furnish 100 horse and 500 foot for the militia purpose. (Ain-i-Akbari, Eng.trans by H.S.Jarret, Vol-II, p-397)

Map of Mastung district

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Lohani dynasty of Bihar

Nuhanis are descended from Isu Khan son of Ismael son of Siani son of Lodi, according to the traditional history. He is said to have been commonly known as Nuh or Nuhan , and his descendants came to be known as Nuhani. They are also known as Lohanis which is corruption of word Nuhani. Nuhanis are divided into four main branches, Marwat, Miya Khel, Daulat Khel and Tatur.

In 1495 AD,  Darya Khan Nuhani, son of Mubarak Khan Nuhani, was appointed governor of Bihar by Sultan Sikander Lodi. On Darya Khan's death, his son assumed independence with the title of Sultan Muhammad Shah during the reign of Sultan Ibrahim Lodi. Thus Bihar turned into a base of Nuhani Afghans. The Nuhanis continued to retain their hold over Bihar with Babur's support till 1530 AD when it was seized by Sher Khan Sur.

Masnad-i-ali Darya Khan Nuhani

Dary Khan's father, Mubarak Khan Nuhani, joined Sultan Bahlol Lodi at the begining of his career and acquired top rank prominence after he came to the throne. His sons Darya Khan and Nasir Khan, had attached themeselves to Prince Nizam Khan (later Sultan Sikander Lodi) during the reign of Bahlol Lodi. In 1490  Darya Khan fought on the side of Sikander Lodi against their own father who had decided to support Prince Barbek Shah for the throne of Bahlul. In 1495-96, Sikander Lodi appointed Darya Khan as muqta (governor) of Bihar. Before posting in Bihar, he held the position of Wazir-i-Mamalik (Prime Minsiter).

Darya Khan Nuhani consolidated Afghan rule in Bihar and lived there permenantly. After depature of Sikander Lodi from Bihar, twenty-two pro-Sharqi nobles and zamindars rose in rebellion and created much confusion. Darya Khan pacified the whole region by either destroying the powerful zamindars or reconciling them to the Afghans rule. He befriended prominent Ulama and saints of Bihar by making large land grants and also showed interest in maintaining their tombs and dargahs. He became so popular among the local people no zamindar of Bihar helped Sultan Hussain Sharqi (former ruler of Bihar before Afghans) when he attacked Bihar after the death of Sultan Sikander Lodi.

In 1519, Darya Khan helped the royal army of Ibrahim Lodi against the rebels in Kara. Despite this, Darya Khan could not maintian good relations with Sultan Ibrahim Lodi. His elder brother Nasir Khan rebelled against the Sultan and also dragged him into the conflict with center. At this time Darya Khan had 30,000 sowars under him. Soon afterwards Darya Khan passed away, leaving his son Bahar Khan as his successor.

Bahar Khan Nuhani, entitled Sultan Muhammad Shah

On the death of his Darya Khan, his son Bahar Khan (also known as Bahadur Khan) declared himself as Sultan Muhammad Shah to attract people dissatisfied with the Lodi Sultan to his side. Many rebel nobles, who escaped from Sultan Ibrahim Lodi, took refuge in Bihar. Having assured of their help as well as cooperation of local elite, Sultan Muhammad Nuhani began to have the Khutba read in his own name and issued coins. His Wazir Mian Buden of Maner was one of the most respected scholar of Bihar. The political developments in Bihar led Sultan Ibrahim Lodi to send large military expedition against Nuhanis. The nobles loyal to Sultan Ibrahim succeeded in freeing from the nobles all the territories from the sarkar of Kannauj and Kara to that of Ghazipur and then entered Bihar for the destruction of Sultan Muhammad Nuhani. The royal army, led by Bayazid Farmuli, could not succeed and their army was routed by Nasir Khan Nuhani.  Bayazid Farmuli retreated to Bhojpur where he got the news of the defeat of Sultan Ibrahim Lodi in the battle of Panipat (1526).

The fall of Lodi Sultan provided Sultan Muhammad Nuhani with an opportunity to build up his power in the eastern region of Lodi empire. He succeeded in creating from the rump of Sultan Ibrahim's defeated army, a large but disorderly formation. He sent 40 or 50 thousands strong army to occupy the eastern region up to Kannauj while he himself remained in Bihar. But the occupation of eastern regions was partial as his allies were unable to get hold of the strong forts there. Therefore the supporters of Sultan Muhammad Nuhani were not in position to hold out against Mughals outside Bihar for long. Upon Humayun's appearance (1527) , his allies were seized with panic and evacuated every place without giving battles to Mughals.

Upon the Mughal expansion towards east, the Nuhani rule was confined to the territory of Bihar. The subjugation of Muhammad Sur of Chaund seems to have the last event of Sultan Muhammad Nuhani's life as he doesnt appear to have survived after 1527.

Prince Jalal Khan Nuhani

On Sultan Muhammad Nuhani's death, his widow and his son Jalal Khan , were deserted by most of his allies. The important Afghan nobles who had aligned themselves with him, joined Prince Mahmud Lodi son of Sikander Lodi, who appeared in Bihar after battle of Khanwa. Jalal Khan, who happened to be a mere boy, was taken away by his mother , Dudu and the faithful followers to Bengal. They returned from Bengal in 1529 when Sultan Mahmud Lodi and his followers were driven away by Babur. Soon later , Dudu negotiated with Babur for peace. Babur agreed to restore Bihar to Jalal Khan on condition that he would rule as his vassal and pay one crore tankas as annual tribute. She accepted Babur's condition and, therefore, Bihar was left with her son , Jalal Khan. But the Nuhanis who had seven or right thousand horsemen at this time could not hold Bihar against the allies of Sultan Mahmud Lodi.

In view of adverse conditions, Dudu asked Sher Khan Sur to run the government of Bihar. But Sher Khan was still a supporter of Sultan Mahmud Lodi. Sher Khan's appointment was soon followed by the sudden death of Dudu. Her death paved the way for Sher Khan's supremacy. His dictatorial postures displeased the Nuhani Afghans who were denied all interference in government affairs. They instigated Prince Jalal Khan to destroy Sher Khan with the help of Mughals. Sher Khan sought help from Biban and Bayazid and laid siege to the fort of Bihar. Being pressed , the Nuhanis fled away to Bengal in 1530.

1772's painting of Mausoleum of Sher Shah Sur By Francis Swain Ward. The Mausoleum is located in Sasaram, Bihar (India)

Book consulted : Mughal Relations with the Ruling Indian Elite by Iqtidar Husain Siddiqui, pp-41-49

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Niazi uprising against the Sikhs (1829-30)

In 1821, Ranjit Singh occupied Mankirah in the Sind Sagar Doab. The conquered Nawab, who was given possession of the trans-Indus territory of Dera Ismail Khan, also held Niazi lands in fief for Ranjit Singh. In 1829 Sher Muhammad Khan, the Nawab of Dera Ismail Khan, asked Ahmad Khan Zaku Khel (Khan of the Isa Khel) to build forts at Isa Khel and Trag, a wealthy village about fifteen kilometers to the North of Isa Khel. Apparently, this occupation of their country by the Nawab's troops did not bother the Niazis one bit, but they also did not care to take measures to protect themselves against other attackers as well. Consequently, the Sikhs occupied their territory. Soon after, Nau Nihal Singh (grandson of Ranjit Singh) marched through the Derajat, visiting Isa Khel en-route. He replaced the Pashtun garrison of Nawab of Dera Ismail Khan with the Sikhs and moved on to Dera Ismail Khan via Panniala. The Niazis were unable to compete with the trained and powerful Khalsa army.

Within a few months,  a dispute between a Mullah and a Sikh soldier in Isa Khel gave the Niazis long sought opportunity of ridding themselves of their detested conquerors. The dispute escalated from words to blows and soon it became a general brawl. The Sikh soldiery , despising their foes, sallied out of the fort to aid their comrades , who were getting seriously mauled in the streets of town. They , regardless of the consequences , fired on the angry crowd of Niazis, who collecting weapons of all sort, attacked the small band, inflicting heavy losses and finally driving them back into the fort. The Niazis pushed on with their successes, and before nightfall, only four men of the Sikh garrison survived and burj of Fateh Singh was a heap of ruins. Elated by these successes, marched onto Trag, but the garrison there, already forewarned , put the river between them and their adversaries by retreating to Attock. The fort , however , shared the same fate as that of Isa Khel and for a while the Niazis rejoiced in their independence.

The following year Raja Suchet Singh and Fateh Singh Mann marched against the Niazis to avenge the rout of the garrison. The Niazis moved to Kotki , a fort on the eastern mouth of Chichali pass and awaited the Khalsa army. Allah Yar Khan of Kalabagh , with the portion of Sikh forces , was sent via the Bulbuli pass to take them on from the rear. The defection of their ally frustrated the Isa khels and they fled to Choantrah  valley and thence to Bannu. After strengthening the Kotki fort , the Sikhs marched on Isa Khel town , ravaging the whole country (which was entirely deserted) and burning all the Niazi villages. The army encamped there, long enough to rebuild the fort and to throw up a formidable tower in the center. They also mounted the guns and left a strong garrison. Ahmad Khan , chief of Isa Khel, took refuge in Bannu with Malik Sohan Khan, chief of Ahmadzai Wazirs.

(Reference: "History of the Pathans, Vol-III, by Haroon Rashid, pp-368-369)

The bank of river Indus, Isakhel