Monday, 28 July 2014

Operations in Zhob valley, 1890

In 1890 khidarzai branch of Largha section of sheranis were still in open revolt. The British became determined to bring the unrest in the Zhob Valley to an end and in October 1890 sent out a brigade-sized field force under Major-General Sir George White, against khidarzais who were headed by Murtaza Khan.

It had been originally proposed by Sir Robert Sandeman that the Khiddarzais should be attacked by two forces of equal strength, the one starting from the Punjab and the other from Apozai as bases of operations. The Indian Government, however, decided that only one force should be despatched, and that from the Quetta side, Mr. Bruce, the Commissioner of the Derajat, to join it in the Khiddarzai country in order the more satisfactorily to settle the various points of difference with the tribe in question. In consequence of the continued representations which were made, this decision was subsequently changed, and a detachment of the Punjab frontier force was finally placed by the Government at the disposal of Sir George White to operate against the Sheranis from the direction of the Punjab and the Derajat to the east The Punjab force was
placed under the immediate command of Colonel A. G. Ross, C.B., of the ist Sikh Infantry, and consisted of one troop of the ist Punjab Cavalry, one squadron of the 3rd Punjab Cavalry, four guns of No. 1 (Kohat) Mountain Battery, two guns of No. 7 (Bengal) Mountain Battery, and half a battalion each of the ist and 2nd Sikh Infantry, and of the 2nd Punjab Infantry.
With the Zhob Field Force, 1890 by Albert William
When the troops penetrated the high country in the south of the mountain ranges of the takht-e-sulieman, they were sable to capture and burn the two principle villages of khidarzais . As the force continued its sweep though mountains, several skirmishes took place with khidarzais, and, when these occurred the nearest village was found and destroyed. The captured tribesmen were hanged on spot and their bodies burned. Albert William, who accomapanied the expedition, for example, writes that at Apoza a ghazi "fanatic" fired at Lieutenant Godfrey, the Assistant Political Agent,who his way to Europe on leave under cavalry escort. The ghazi first shot at and then dashed with his sword at Godfrey, but was shot in the hip and disabled. At hanging, before the drop fell, he shouted to the Pathan onlookers to pray for him. In another case the local who shot the Bengal Cavalry was also hanged on the spot of the attack. In both cases the bodies were burned.
War in Afghanistan By Kevin James Baker
With the Zhob Field Force, 1890 page 112

"During this march we saw several of the inhabitants on the hilltops watching us from afar off. It was a wonderful sight to see the natives getting over the rocks. They wore chupplis, a kind of leather sandal, and flew along like goats up, down, or along the hillsides. We often saw them in the distance, but could never get very near them. They appeared to vanish in a marvellous manner, their loose baggy garments flowing about them
as they moved along. They appeared to carry their food grain, dried apricots and
atta — in skins strapped over the shoulder, also water, so being able to live for days
away from villages and habitations."
With the Zhob Field Force, 1890 - Albert William

By these means as November advanced and the colder weather threatened tribesmen and their dependents (families) who were mostly out in open on bleak mountainside, the khidarzai came to terms. In the case of the Sherani tribe generally, the terms imposed were these : (i) that Murtaza Khan and the other refugees, if in the Sherani country, should be surrendered, or, in the event of their having left the country as had been reported, that they should not be permitted to return there ; (2) that a fine of 6000 rupees should be imposed upon the tribe, including 1000 rupees inflicted on individuals for offences committed by them in Dera Ismail Khan and Zhob ; (3) that the Khiddarzai maliks and other refractory members of the tribe who had either surrendered or been taken prisoners should be detained as hostages until all the terms had been fulfilled."

After the Khidarzai expedition of 1890, the tribe was split up, the Bargha Shiranis remaining under the control of the Zhob Political Agency, whilst the Largha Shiranis fell to the Dera Ismail khan.
Balochistan Through the Ages: Tribes

General Sir George Stuart White, the Zhob Field Force was organised under him in September 1890 for subjection and pacification of khidarzai.

Sir George White says :
"This fine has since been paid in full, and Murtaza Khan, who had been for many years an avowed and active enemy of the British Government, surrendered himself to the Commissioner of the Derajat after the troops had been withdrawn from the Sherani Hill — a result, I submit, due entirely to the strong policy of Sir Robert Sandeman in insisting upon the responsibility of the tribe for the acts of its individual representatives, and a conclusive proof that the Sheranis no longer believe in the impregnability of their position to shield them from the long arm of England's power."

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