Saturday, April 4, 2015

Muhammad Khan Bangash


In 1665 there was born at Mau-Rashidabad an Afghan named Muhammad Khan Bangash [1] who was destined to play a very important part in the affairs of the Mughal empire and to found what almost became an independent local dynasty. . At the age of about twenty Muhammad Khan joined the bands of Afghan freebooters who resorted yearly to Bundelkhand and hired themselves out to the rajas of that province, and his courage and ability very soon brought him to the front as a distinguished leader of bandit-ti. But it was not until 1712, when he was 48 years old, that the opportunity came to display his talents on a wider stage. In that year Farrukhsiyar, on his way to contest the empire with his cousin Jahandur Shah, sent an invitation to him from Khajuha in the Fatehpur district. Muhammad Khan joined him with 12,000 men, and at the conclusive battlo of Samogar in Agra, fought on the 1st January 1713, when Jahandar Shah was routed, Muhammad Khan greatly distinguished himself in the vanguard commanded by Saiyid Abdullah Khan Qutb-ul-mulk. For his services ho was rewarded with the title of Nawab and grants of land in Bundelkhand and Farrukhabad district.

After successfully commanding expeditions against the raja of Anupshahr and Raja Mod a, and joining in the campaign against Girdhar Bahadur at Allahabad, he obtained leave to return to his home. Here ho occupied himself with founding the towns of Kaimganj an Muhammadabad. The first, named after the Nawab's eldest son, is not far from Mau-Rashidabad; its site lying within the lands of Ghalauli, Mau-liashidabad, Kuborpur and Subhanpur. Muhammadabad, about fourteen miles from Farrukhabad, includes portions of fivo villages : Kilmapur, Kabirpur, Rohila, Muhammadpur and Takipur. On a high mound called Kal-ka-khera, the Nawab built a fort, of which only the ruins remain, while the highest point has been used as a station of the Trigonometrical Survey. It is said that Farrukhsiyar was annoyed at Muhammad Khun's presumption in naming a town after himself. To appease his wrath, tho Nawab announced his intention of founding another and naming it after the emperor. About this time his father-in-law, Kasim Khan Bangash, while on his way to Man, was set upon and killed by A party of Bamtela marauders at the village of Jamalpur, now called Kasim Bagh, three miles east of the city of Farrukhabad. Using this event as a pretext, Muhammad Khan asked for and obtained a grant of fifty-two Bamtela villages as tho site of a new city. The foundations were laid in 1714.

             Nawab Muhammad Khan Bangash, ca 1730, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris


 So far as is known, Muhammad Khan took little or no part in that struggle between the Barha Saiyids and the Turani faction which resulted in the deposition and death of Farrukhsiyar and the elevation of  Muhammad Shah to the throne. But in 1720, when  the emperor and Saiyid Husain Ali set out for the Deccan, the Nawab seems to have made some pretence of joining.  He held aloof, however, till after the assassination of husnin Ali on the  30th   September 1720,  when, in   spite of  Saiyid Abdullah Khan's overtures, he declared for Muhammad Shah. At  the battle of Husanpur,   in the Agra  district, on the  4th and 5th November 1720, Muhammad Khan took part in the defeat of Saiyid   Abdullah, who   was made prisoner.  He  was rewarded with an increase of rank, the title ghazanfar-i-jang (Lion of Fight), seven lakhs of rupees in cash, and a grant of parganas Bhojpur and Shamsabad in addition to his former fiefs. In 1722 and 1723 he took part  in the  campaigns against Churaman Jat and in Ajmerc, and in July of the latter year  was  ordered  to Bundelkhand, where Chhatarsal Bundela had for several   years   been  in   open   revolt.   He  was, however,  recalled   to  oppose  a  Maratha attack on Giwalior, and held that fortress  for seven  months.  On  his way back to Farrukhabad  in 1726,  he assisted the agent of Khan Dauran Khan, who then held Talgram and Bhongaon, to reduce to submission the  Chauhan   Raja of Mainpuri.  The tradition is that the raja, having failed to make his obeisance, fell dead by the Nawab's own arrow.   In  1720 Muhammad Khan had been  appointed governor of  tho  Allahabad subah, to which was subordinate that of Bundelkhand.  He also held large fiefs in Bundelkhand, which had for some time been maintained  with difficulty  against the Bundelas.

                                                       Tomb of Muhammad Khan Bangash

  In 1727 express orders were issued from Delhi for an advance into Bundelkhand, and to meet the expenditure necessary a grant was made of the chakla of Kora in Fatehpur.    Two and a half years of fighting followed, at the end of which Muhammad Khan, mainly owing to lack of support from Delhi, was compelled to evacuate   Bundelkhand  and  bind  himself  never  to invade it again.    On his return to Delhi at the end of 1729 he was deprived of his  government  of Allahabad, which was conferred on Saiyid Sarbuland Khan, Mubariz-ul-mulk, but he  succeeded  in gaining appointment  to  tho governorship of Malwa  in September 1730. During the next two years he was engaged in  constant  warfare with the Marathas and in the attempt to introduce order into his new province.    His forces were, however, insufficient, and his resources exhausted. The country yielded no revenue mid no help came from Delhi. The holders of revenue-free .grants, mostly great nobles of the court, secretly thwarted his efforts to remoey the prevailing disorder, and the rajas and lesser men kept wholly aloof. When, therefore, at the end of 1731, he was called upon to meet at Sironj a Marath aarmy of 200,000 horse, he was compelled to submit and make terms. Apparently his enemies now found their opportunity, and he was recalled to Agra, where he arrived on the 6th December 1732. During the next four, years Muhammad Khan served in several campaigns against the Marathas, and in june 1733 he look part in the attack on Bhgwant Rai. As a reward for these services he was restored to the governorship of Allahabad, but again removed after a few months. On the invasion of India by Nadir Shah in 1739, Muhammad Khan attended at Delhi, but played no important part in the events which then occurred. In the same year he left court in disgust because tho government of Allahabad had been conferred on another, He was followed by some imperial officers who had orders to eject him from his possessions. They were met and defeated at Kao-ka-Sikandra in Aligarh by Muhammad Khan's third son Akbar Khan. Muhammad Khan died in 1743  at the advanced age of eighty years, and at his death his dominions were popularly stated to embrace the whole Doab from Koil in the north to Kora in the south apparently including the whole of the Farrukhabad district, tho western half of Cawnpore, the whole of Etah with the exception of two small parganas in the north-western corner, two parganas of Budaun, one of  Shahjahanpur, and parts of Aligarh and Etawah. But his possessions varied very much from time to time. Kanauj, for instance, which in 1720 belonged to his son Qaim Khan, was afterwards bestowed on several Hindus in succession, but recovered in 1736 on his raising the objection that it was too near his home to be left in the hands of an infidel.

1. Muhammad Khan Bangash belonged to the Kaghzai line of Bangash . He could trace his descent more than four generations back to one Daulat Khan. alias Haji Bahadur of the Haider Khel ( The Rise of the Indo-Afghan Empire: C. 1710-1780 by By Jos J. L. Gommans)

Sources:

1-The Bangash Nawabs of Farrukhabad, by W. Irwino, J.A.8.B., 1878, 1879.
2- Gazetteer of Farrukhabad, 1916