Saturday, 25 October 2014

Mir Chakar Rind : fact and fiction

(Extract from "Afghans of The Frontier Passes" by Abdul Aziz Luni)

It will now be appropriate to clarify the fact and fiction about Mir Chakar Rind having or not having ruled Siwi between 1450 and 1550 AD, the period assigned to his life by the Baloch historians. On the other hand all authentic books dealing with the history of Siwi during the 15th and 16th centuries fail to make any mention even of the name of this legendary hero. Not only this, these histories show that Siwi, during the period in question, was ruled by different other rulers including those of Mongoloid Turk extraction. Nor is there any graveyard in the vicinity of Siwi to show that some of the legendary Rind and Lashar heroes or their companions , killed in frequent battles , lie buried in the area where they are said to have lived, fought and died. In this connection the reader may refer to Babur nama, Tarike Masumi, Tarike-Mazhare-Shah-Jehani, Tuhfa-i-Akbar-Shahi, Ain-i-Akbari , Akbar nama, and Major Raverty's notes on Afghanistan. About a dozen Baloch historians who have written on the subject, also do not agree with each other, either about the specific dates , the period or details of the events in respect of the life and activities of Mir Chakar Rind. They have all based their accounts , not on historical records, but on legends. However Mulla Muhammad Saddozai's manuscript compiled in 1766 A.D does not mention Mir Chakar Rind. The statements of the elders of the Talli village , recorded during the British time land settlements operations of 1899-1901 also contains a reference to the effect that on the arrival of Silachis from Kandahar in Siwi area under their leader named Shah Wrand , they first joined the Tuman or the party of Mir Chakar Rind but, deserting it subsequently, decided to build a village of their area - perhaps of Talli of today. But the Silachis do not refer to Chakar as ruler of Siwi. According to them, he was Tumandar which means a Sardar with a tribe whose numerical strength is ten thousands or more.

Even if the contents of the references to Chakar in the above two accounts are believed to be correct, one may only say that Mir Chakar Rind was at best, head of a roaming nomadic party of Baloch in the general area of Siwi and Dhadar - and that too for a short while. He had, therefore, nothing to do either with the rule over Siwi or with the construction of the present Siwi fort. Since legend is not history, the Chakar episode must await further research into the disputed questions relating to the past of Siwi and Dhadar in the 15th and 16th centuries A.D.

The British histrorian Major Raverty maintains that Mir Chakar lived, fought and died , not in Siwi, but over a hundred miles north of Multan and that too as an ordinary zamindar under the supremacy of Suri and his subordinate Niazi Afghans. The same author also quotes an article by Longworth Dames published in the “Journal of the Bengal Asiatic society”| For the year 1880 in which the author had himself doubted the contention that the old Siwi fort was ever built by Mir Chakar Rind. On the contrary Dames thought Shah Baig Arghun really built the fort of Siwi.

Some Baloch scholars believe that the well-known Tarikh-i-Ferishta compiled in 1612 A.D, contains the proof of the exploits of the Mir Chakar Rind in the Siwi-Dhadar area. This too is incorrect. I have consulted ,

1- Two volume Urdu translation of Tarikh-i-Ferishta made from original Persian by Khwaja Abdul Hai M.A in November 1962 (Vol.1 pages 708, 709 and 710).

2- English translation of Tarikh-i-Ferishta titled "History of the rise of the Mohammedan power in India ' by John Briggs (Volume II pages 74, 75)

 3-Indo-Muslim polity (Turko-Afghan period) by Yusuf Khan. Indian institute of advanced study, SIMLA, 1971.

4- Tarikh-i-Sher Shahi or Tuhfa-i-Akbar Shahi by Abbas Khan Sarwani complied in 1579 (Manuscript.219 in the Catalogue of Persian manuscripts in the library of India office, London.

 The first two of the above noted-texts contain nothing about the so called Rind-Lashar wars and the legendary Baloch heroes of the Siwi-Dhadar area. There is, however, a mention of Ismail Khan, Ghazi Khan and Fateh Khan, the chiefs of the Dodai Balochs , having waited on Sher Shah Suri some where in the present Punjab area. This happened at a time when the vanquished King Humayun fled in the direction of Sindh and the victor Sher Shah had assumed formally the title of King of India. At another place the following account has been recorded -

"Meanwhile Heibat Khan (Neazy) was sent to wrest Mooltan out of the hands of the Balochies who had occupied it , Futteh Khan Baloch was in consequence attacked and expelled and the whole country submitted to the army of Dilhy, Heibat Khan received the title of 'Azam Hoomayun' and the government of Mooltan"

In the book of Yusuf Khan, on page 194, 195, following interesting details occur -

 "The method of measurement was the general practice throughout the kingdom , the only exception being the country round Multan which suffered greatly from the disorders. Sher Shah ordered Haibat Khan to expel the Balochs who had plundered and taken possession of those parts of the country during the time of Mongol raids. Haibat Khan defeated the Mongol chiefs and restored the country to its former state"

In Tarikh-i-Shershahi/Tuhfai-Akbar-Shahi by Abbas Khan Sarwani there is a mention in Multan area of one “Chakar Rind”. He has been shown to be an ordinary hakim of Satgarah (place in Okara, Punjab) and on one occasion is ordered by Haibar Khan Niazi to prepare himself for the visit and review of his armed men by Niazi. This sudden news greatly upsets Chakar Rind who is shown, in the manuscript, to have thereby thrown in panic,

The relevant lines on page 92 and 93 read as follows,

“When Sher Shah had laid siege to the fort of Raisin, he received a letter from Khawwas khan saying that he and Niazi had developed some differences between themselves. “The letter contained a request that Sher Shah should, therefore , summon one of the two. Having gone through the letters of Khawwas , Sher Shah summoned khawwas khan, Isa Khan Niazi and Haseeb khan. Then he conferred the country of Punjab on Haibat Khan Niazi and ordered him to rescue and rehabilitate Multan which had been usurped by the Balochs. He was also to chastise Fateh Khan Jat of Qabula, who had been, during the Mughal period, laying waste to the country upto Panipat. As soon as Haibat khan received these orders , he summoned the representative of Chakar Rind – The hakim of Satgarah . The representative was told to go and inform Chakar Rind that Haibat khan Niazi was going to tour those areas . Chakar should be prepared to present his contingent for parade/review. One who related the story that he had heard it from Wakil Fateh khan kanbo that when he went to Chakar Rind and disclosed to him what Haibat Khan Niazi has said, the former was thrown in panic, he had no time either to a reception or to put together the ‘lashkar’ as demanded. At this time Haibat khan Niazi was merely two day’s distance away. Next morning the news came that Haibat khan Niazi had already arrived. Hearing this, Chakar became nervous, although he did manage to get on his horseand to go out to receive the dignity.”

 There is no mention to the effect that Chakar Rind came to Multan either from Siwi or even from a place in Balochistan. A careful reading of the relevant Persian text suggests that Chakar Rrind was not even ‘Mir’ Chakar Rind, a title conferred on him by his well-wishers posthumously. He was one of the several ordinary subordinate “Hakims” under the general command of Afghan forces viz Haibat khan Niazi – operating against the Balochs of Multan under the orders of Sher Shah Suri. Besides , far from being a hero of balochs, Chakar is shown bothy by legend as well as history , as a notable who was subordinate of Suri and Niazi Afghans.

We have the testimony of  fairly reliable records like Al-Beruni's India, Tarikh-Namah Herat, Tarikhe Mazkhane Afghani, Tarikhe-Ferishta and Ain-i-Akbari etc which say that in the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th 15th and 16th centuries, the whole of the Koh-i-Sulyiman  area down to the valley of Sind was inhabited by Afghans.

 According to Tarikh-nama-Herat of Saif Harvi , in the 13th century, the tract of land from Mastung to Quetta to Duki (Through Sibi) to Rojhun Mazari was an integral part of the history’s first semi-sovereign state of Afghanistan, of which capital was at Mastung. At that time the Afghan tribes Nahars and Kungs or Kangs were powerful predatory tribes in the Siwi to Rujhan area because it is stated in the said book the Kurt/Mughal forces attacked these “Afghan thieves” in a place situated 70 Farsakhs (about 20 miles) south of Duki. According to Col.H.S.Jerrets English translation of Ain-i-Akbari Vol.II (page 336) and also according to Cambridge history of India Vol.III (page 503) Rai Sahra of the Afghan clan of Langahs used to rule Siwi immediately before 1440 A.D. In the same year he is stated to have captured Multan from his son-in-law Shiekh Yusuf Qureshi. The Shiekh went to Delhi and sought refuge with Sultan Behlol lodhi whereas Rai Sahra assuming the title of Sultan Qutubuddin ruled Multan for the next 16 years until he died in 1456 A.D and was succeeded by his son Sultan Hussain I. This Langah ( Afghan) rule of Siwi in the 15th century is the least known episode although it has the effect of further eroding the authenticity of that part of Baloch epic poetry which assign the same period in the plains of Siwi and Dhadar to its own legendary of the Rind and Lashar tribes.

Marris who are stated to be Rinds of Mir Chakar’s party actually obtained Kahan , Mawand and Kohlu area from Nahars , Hasni Tarins and Zarkuns with the military assistance of Mir Naseer Khan of kalat in the 18th century. Some details of these events havc been provided in Mr. O.T Duke’s report on Thal-Chotili and Harnai district, compiled in 1883 A.D. Rai Bahadur Hitu Ram on page 681 of his Tarikh Balochistan has recorded that in a Leghari Barkhan there is a mosque which has, affixed to it, an inscription in a stone. According to this inscription , the mosque was built in 770 A.H i.e 1368 A.D by one Malik Boya Musiani Tarin – indicating that Tarins were there in western Dera Ghazi khan as far back as 14th century. It may be recalled that According to Tarikh-Namah Heart, compiled by Saifi, the area of later day Quetta , Loralai and Sibi divisions was known as “Afghanistan” in 1249 A.D.

Baloch domination of Gandawah to Dhadar to Kahan , Kohlu and Kwat-Mundahi area , is comparatively of recent origin. In fact, according to Tarikhi Sindh (volume vi part one page 392) of Ghulam Rasool Mehr, the Dhahdar area was in possession of Barozais, with Malik Kala khan Barozai listed as owner of land thereof , upto the times of Mian Nur Muhammad Kalhora (1719-1753 A.D). Graves of Panni notables such as Junaid Khan Barozai , Mirza Khan Barozai, and well known Mullah Misri Afghan are present in Dhadar. The town of Dhadar formed the first capital of the Panni tribe of Afghans on their arrivals in the plains. It was also the place where Dara Shikoh, the Mughal prince, visited Juanid khan, the first Barozai chief and in the vicinity of which many of the famous Baruhi Afghan battles were fought towards the end of seventeenth century A.D.

Over a dozen or so Baloch historians writing on the exploits of Mir Chakar’s exploits in the Sibi-Dhadar plains have relied almost entirely on legendary tales. It is only fair to expect them to conduct further research to see how much of the fiction contained in the Baloch epic poetry may be accepted as authentic history and for what reasons. Beside , said Baloch historians, when their works are studied critically , do not agree with one another, on the specific dates of the life, events and activities of the legendary heroes.

Both the legend as well as the history of Chakar Rind career at Multan make out Chakar as an ally and an instrument of the military strategy of Afghans rather than a Baloch national hero. Last not the least. In March 1992 Chakar khan Baloch , editor of monthly magazine “Balochi Douya Multan” called upon the Baloch historians to come up with solid historical evidence to prove Chakar Rind’s existence in Siwi. No one has ever responded to his clarion call.

Sibi fort

Towards the end of 15th and in the beginning of 16th century A.D, Siwi fort was ruled by Bahadur Khan of Sindh and then by one sultan Purdil Barlas whose forces were thrown out by the forces of Shah Baig son of Zannun Beg Arghun. In 1543 A.D Siwi fort was visited by the fugitive Mughal King Humayun along with his infant son Akbar, the future great Mughal and the emperor of India. The father and the son found the Arghuns in the possession of the fort . Mullah Mehmud Jiskani, the author of Tazkir-ul-bar, assigns 15th century for the occupation of Siwi by the Pannis. According to the Akbar-nama of Abul fazal and Akbar-nama of Faizi Sirhindi , by 1575 A.D Panni Afghans were already in control of Siwi fort. They, therefore must have been present in the general area of Siwi much before that date since it is likely that their conquest of Sibi or Siwi would have taken some considerable time.

It is therefore historically incorrect to claim that the Siwi fort was either built or was ever ruled by the legendary Baloch Hero Mir Chakar Rind . He is said by the Baloch historians to have lived and fought between 1450-1550 A.D whereas Siwi town as well as Siwi fort existed centuries before this period and were ruled in turn by epic Hindu kings Brahmuns, Buddhists, Persians, Turks, Mughals and Afghans. In the latter case Afghan presence in Siwi, which may have commenced in Al-Beruni times, continued right upto May 1879 when it gave way to the British supremacy over Sibi, Duki, Loralai and Pishin in accordance with stipulations of the treaty of Gandmak. As a matter of fact the Baloch people had not even entered the upper Sindh plains till about 1580 A.D. The Ain-i-Akbari clearly describes the amount of land revenue as well as the Afghan land owners of Duki, Harnai and Siwi tract. At that time in the whole length of this plain either there were no Baloch land owners at all or, as Major Raverty states, only one Mahal near Sukkar/Bhakkar by the name of “Jatoi: contained people belonging to the Baloch race. This is the reason that word Balochistan , first used by Abu Fazal , applied to the northern locality of Sukkar in Sindh rather than to any area covered by the present day Sibi , Quetta, Zhob divisions.

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