Thursday, March 15, 2018

Tafazzul Husain Khan, Nawab of Farrukhabad, 1857

Major Raverty (author of "Selections from the Poetry of the Afghans") saw Nawab Taffazul Hussain Khan and gives the following description of him ;

" Little did I imagine, whilst stationed in the Punjab a few years since, that I should behold the last of the Nawabs of Farrukhabad, escorted by a party of my own regiment, conducted, on foot, with fetters on his legs, through the streets of Nassick, in Western India (where I then was stationed in command of a detachment), on his way to undergo perpetual banishment at Makka, for the share he took in the massacre at Farrukhabad, during the late rebellion in India. He had been sentenced to death; but his punishment was commuted to perpetual exile, in any place he might select. He chose Makka in Arabia, where, I have since heard, he subsists on alms. I spoke a few words to the wretched man at Nassick; the first he had heard in kindness, he said, for many long days. He appeared to be any thing but what one might expect, from all that has been proved against him. He was rather fair, slightly made, and about thirty years of age. To me, he appeared very wretched and heart-broken. He was only an Afghan in name: the centuries of admixture of Indian blood, by intermarriage with the people of the country, had left little of the Afghan blood remaining."

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Nawab Zahid Khan Saddozai of Multan

Nawab Zahid Khan Afghan (Saddozai) seated on a terrace with an attendant , circa 1740-45. He served as governor of Multan province of the Mughal empire from 1738 to 1748. He was a Maudud Khel Saddozai.

In 1748 Ahmad Shah Durrani wrote a letter to Nawab Zahid Khan, asking him to forget the old rivalry between Khizr Khel and Maudud Khel branches of Saddozai tribe and cooperate with him for the establishment of an Afghan state in India. Nawab Zahid Khan not only spurned his offer but also used derogatory remarks against him. He decided to remain loyal to the Mughal empire. [Tazkirat-ul-mulk as cited by "Multan under the Afghans, 1752-1818" by Ashiq Muhammad Khan Durrani]

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

"Chup sha, Hari Singh raghlay"

On twitter i saw Lahori/Punjabi writer Salman Rashid ((Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society) ) gloating over a bombast by his Sikh kinsmen ;

Salman Rashid is declaring it a "historical truth" in his tweets, claiming that he himself has heard it from mouths of Pashtun mothers. But it is just a metaphorical expression, just like "the wolf drinking at the same fountain as the goat" or "the lion lying down with the lamb". You will find this expression of mothers hushing their childern with names in literature all around the world ; for example
"In Palestine, which was the scene of Richard's greatest deeds, his name became a terror to all for ages. The Saracen mothers would hush their children into silence by raising the threatening finger and whispering, " Be still, King Richard will come." [Romance of Biography, Illustrated in the Lives of Historic Personages, 1855, p-299]
"It is said that his character [ Sir John Talbot] became far and wide so formidable to the French, owing to the constant success which attended his expeditions, that mothers used to hush their children into silence by pronouncing the name of the "great Doggc Talbot" ["History of Cheadle, in Staffordshire, and Neighboring Places", 1885, p-202]

You will find the usage of same metaphorical expression in several Mughal sources.. For example Zakhiratul Khawanin, a biographical dictionary of Mughal nobility of early 17th century says that a Turkman Quch Ali terrorized Panni Afghans of Sibi so much that their mothers used to utter "Qoje Ali raghle" to silence a crying child ;
"Quch Ali governed well in the hilly tract inhabited by Baluchis and Afghans; killed so many men that if a child were to cry, the Afghans would say (to him) in their dialect, Quch- ali raghali (i.e. Quch-ali has come); the child would immediately stop crying out of terror. He had two large iron pans (karah) filled with water and fire kindled beneath them. Any thief or a culprit, he would tie his hand and feet and throw him into that pan; he would immediately get roasted in that boiling water" ["The Dhakhiratul-khawanin", English translation, Vol-II, p-141]

But historical evidence shows that Panni Afghans were not exactly in awe and terror of Quch Ali. According to Tarikh Mazhar-i-Shah Jehani in the year 1610 AD, Panni Afghans rebelled against Quche Ali and besieged him in the Siwi fort. When the alarming news reached king Jehangir, he ordered Taj Khan , the jagirdar of Bakkar and Abdul Baqa, the feudatory of Gandawah, to rush to the aid of Quch Ali. This was done and the besieged Mughal feudatory was relieved. In 1617 AD, the Panni Afghans rebelled again, against Shaikh Bole, the Mughal governor of Siwi at that time, and killed him.

Sikhs also could not terrorize Pashtuns into subjugation. Pashtun tribesmen declined to pay any kind of taxes to them. Sikhs had to fight Pashtun villagers on regular basis to collect the revenues. They had to buy local chieftains to assist them in ruling Peshawar valley and fighting the turbulent and refractory chiefs. For example Sikhs gave in contract Daulatzai and Ismailzai tappas to Malik Mir Babu of Chargulai who promised to collect the Sikh revenue for them. The allowance enjoyed by Mir Babu amounted to Rs.2,000. When Mir Babu proceeded to Garhi Kapura to collect the revenues which were then due,  he was opposed by Hasan Khan and Nasrullah Khan. A couple of Sikh soldiers were slain in the encounter that took place ["Selections from the records of the government of the Punjab and its dependencies", 1875, p-14] . Hari Singh's European-trained army with Napoleonic officers shined against small rag tag bands of ill-equipped, untrained Pashtun villagers who had no discipline , did not possess any artillery and had no forts for defence in their plain areas. The only time Hari Singh Nalwa, as general, faced a regular army equipped with artillery, was at battle of Jamrud 1837 in which he was thoroughly defeated and lost his life. In fact this Hari Singh, claimed to be among "Top 10 greatest conquerors of the world" by Sikhs, was even struggling against small bands of Pashtun villagers of plain areas. In 1824 a small band of Mashwani and Saidkhani Pashtuns defeated Hari Singh and his 8,000 troops. The overconfident Hari Singh barely survived. According to Hazara Gazetter 1907 ;

"In 1824 A.D Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa, the famous general of Ranjeet Singh, decided to chastise Muhammad Khan Tarin and a number of other recalcitrant chiefs who had taken refuge at Gandgar hills. In 1822 the Sikhs, after winning a hard-fought battle at Sari at the base of range, had been defeated in an endeavor to reduce Srikot, the village of Mashwani Afghans. They now in 1824, again made the attempt , and again failed. At Nara which stands at the mouth of a path leading up to Srikot, the Mashwanis and Saidkhani Utmanzais made a gallant stand, repulsed the Sikh force , which was 8,000 strong and sent it back to Haripur with a loss of 500 men. Hari Singh himself was struck down by a stone hurled from the walls of the village , and rolled into the ravine below , where he lay for a long time senseless and undiscovered. It was reported , indeed , that he was dead, but in short time , having recovered from his wounds, he confuted the rumour by surprising the village of Bagra, where number of rebels had collected , and putting to the sword every armed man that he found there."

From Farrukh Husain's book "Afghanistan in the Age of Empires: the great game for South and Central Asia" ;
"Peshawar was a quagmire for Runjeet Singh, but to give it up would be to admit defeat, in return for which the Sikhs had lost many able men and expended a great deal of money. It was the classic dilemma faced by those that occupy Afghan territory. Runjeet Singh himself called Peshawar a necklace of knives hung around my throat by Hari Singh. "

Hari Singh Nalwa

Monday, March 12, 2018

Mir Dast Afridi

Subedar Mir Dast Qambarkhel Afridi, a recipient of the Victoria Cross, on a Royal Pavilion balcony, 1915

Mir Dast was born in Maiden, Tirah, on 3 December 1874, son of Mada Mir, an Afridi. Enlisting in 1/55th Coke's Rifles, Frontier Force, in December 1894, he served at Tochi Valley on the north-west frontier of India during 1897-8, receiving the Indian General Service Medal and bar. Promoted Naik (sergeant) in 1901, Mir Dast again saw service on the north-west frontier during 1901-2, on this occasion receiving the Waziristan bar to add to his General Service Medal. Further promotion followed in 1904 when he was made Havilar (sergeant) and in 1908, when fighting in the Mohmand Campaign at Khan Khar Kueg, he was awarded the Indian Order of Merit 2nd Class for gallantry in action, in addition to the then new Indian General Service Medal and bar. No Indian troops qualified for the Victoria Cross until 1911, the IOM being the highest award for bravery attainable by them. Promoted to Jemadar (the equivalent of lieutenant) the following year, this experienced Indian officer first saw service in France on 19 January 1915, when attached to 57th Wilde's Rifles. This battalion was in reserve for the battle of Neuve Chapelle and though moving up to the front line trenches on 12 March 1915, played little part in the fighting. Following his gallantry near Ypres, Subadar Mir Dast continued to serve with his regiment until June, when he was again wounded; his injuries, combined with the effects of his earlier gas poisoning, resulted in him being sent for treatment at the Indian Hospital, Royal Pavilion, Brighton. His Victoria Cross was announced in the London Gazette of 29 June 1915. ["VCs of the First World War: the Western Front, 1915" - Page 78]

Note: Mir Dast was awarded Victoria Cross three months after defection of his brother Mir Mast to German/Turkey side. Mir Mast deserted in France, was awarded the Iron Cross ((the highest military award of Germany) and sent back with a Turkish mission to the Tirah to stir an uprising against the British . It appears the British awarded the Victoria Cross to Mir Dast in retaliation to his brother's actions.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Amir Khan of Tonk

A portrait of Amir Khan of Tonk (r.1806-1834) on a dappled horse, with an escort. Watercolour painting, Jodhpur, ca.1820 (made)

"The ruling family of Tonk (Rajasthan, India) were descendants of Salarzai Bunerwals . In the reign of Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah (r.1719-1748), one Taleh Khan son of Kale Khan (طالع خان بن کالے خان) left his home in the Johar village of Buner country (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan)) and took service in Rohilkhand (U.P, India) with Ali Muhammad Khan Rohilla [Ref. Amir-nama, c.1824, Eng.translation, p-7].

"Taleh Khan's son, Haiyat Khan, became possessed of some landed property in Moradabad, and to him in 1768 was born Amir Khan, the founder of the Tonk State. Beginning life as a petty mercenary leader, he rose in 1798 to be the commander of a large army in the service of Jaswant Rao Holkar , and was employed in the campaigns against Sindhia, the Peshwa, and the British, and in assisting to levy the contributions exacted from Rajputana and Malwa. It was one of the terms of the union between Amir Khan and Holkar that they should share equally in all future plunder and conquest, and accordingly in 1798 Amir Khan received the district of Sironj. To this Tonk and Pirawa were added in 1806, Nimbahera in 1809, and Chhabra in 1816. On the entrance of the British into Malwa, Amir Khan made overtures to be admitted to protection ; but the conditions he proposed were too extravagant to be acceded to. He received, however, the offer of a guarantee of all the lands he held under grants from Holkar, on condition of his abandoning the predatory system, disbanding his army of fifty-two battalions of disciplined infantry and a numerous body of Pathan cavalry, and surrendering his artillery, with the exception of forty guns, to the British at a valuation. His request to be confirmed in lands obtained from different Rajput States under every circumstance of violence and extortion was positively rejected. To these terms Amir Khan agreed, and they were embodied in a treaty in November, 181 7. To the territories thus guaranteed (the five districts above mentioned) the fort and pargana of Rampura, now called Aligarh, were added by the British Government as a free grant, and a loan of 3 lakhs, afterwards converted into a gift, was made to him. Nawab Amir Khan died in 1834. [Imperial gazetteer of India, Vol.23, pp.48-49]

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Tomb of Panju Khan Hamimzai Khajjak

Tomb of Panju Khan Hamimzai, Khajjak chief (Sibi district , Baluchistan). He was a contemporary of Timur Shah Durrani.

"Three Khajjak headmen of the time- Sardar Panju Khan Hamimzai, Jangi Khan Doulatzai, Itabar Khan Umarzai - are mentioned in a royal Afghan farman which is dated 1179 A H /1782 A.D. In this farman each of them has been granted one Pao of water along with the proportionate agricultural lands in Siwi area in addition to their ancestral share in the common tribal property. Sardar Panju Khan was son of Qaim Khan son of Nihal Khan son of Azmat Khan son of Mir Khan son of Hamim Khan son of Khajak." ["Afghans of the Frontier Passes", A. Aziz Luni , Volume 2, p-200]

"In Sibi tehsil (now a district), the Pathans have adapted themselves to local conditions and have forgotten even their language and they mostly speak Sindhi. Only Khajjaks living in the village of the same name speak Pushto and Sindhi both" [Population Census of Pakistan, 1961]..... "The Khajaks of Sibi speak Pashto which has a mixture of Sindi words and the Panri Afghans speak Sindi in their homes" [Baluchistan District Gazetteer Series: Sibi, 1907 - Page 49].

"The Khajaks were originally located in Mekhtar, which is now held by the Hamzazai Kakars. Expelled thence, they settled in the Siwi district, where they were assigned land and water by their kinsmen. Afterwards, however, they picked a quarrel with the Barozais and other Panis, in the course of which they got the upper hand. In consequence they considered themselves without rivals in those parts, and hence their proverb: "Although the Kakars may coquette in the hill tracts, the Khajaks lord it in the plains." [Census of India, 1901, Parts 1-2, p-93]

" ln March, 1841, Mr. Ross Bell, the Political Agent in Upper Sind sent Colonel Wilson of the Bombay Cavalry to collect the arrears of revenue due from the Khajjaks of Sibi, on behalf of Shah Shuja. On Khajjaks refusal, the British army attacked the town, but were repulsed with heavy loss, losing fifty- three men killed and wounded and four officers including Colonel Wilson. Reinforcements from Bhag were sent under General Brooks but before they could arrive, the Khajjaks abandoned their town, the defences of which were then demolished. The Khajjaks were permitted to return during the following year and the town was rebuilt. The power of the Khajjaks was thus weakened, and shortly afterwards the Marris acquired a footing in the Sibi district. They dispossessed the Pannis of Badra and Quat-Mandai and overran Sangan." ["Baluchistan District Gazetteer Series: Sibi, 1907, p-26 and p-63]