Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Ancestral village of Sher Shah Sur in medieval Afghanistan

Sher Shah's father name was Hassan and they belonged to the Shera Khel sept of the Sur tribe. Sher Shah's grandfather, Ibrahim, was a horse-dealer. His ancestral home stood on the rugged hillside of zejzey (Rohri in Seraiki) in Dera Ismail Khan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a detached ridge of Takht-i-Sulieman mountains, on the southern ridge of the upper course of Gomal river. Tarikh-i-SherShahi of Abbas Sawani (written in 1586) records; 
"It was during the period of the rule of Sultan Bahlul, Sher Khan's grandfather, Ibrahim by name, came along with his son Miyan Hasan, father of Sher Khan Sur, (to Hindustan) from Afghanistan , viz., from a place which is called Zhaghri in the Afghan tongue and Rohri in the Multani dialect. It is a ridge which has emerged from the Suleiman mountains and stretched for six or seven kuroh on the banks of the Gomal (river)". (Persian text, p-8, and English trans., pp- 5-6)
Survey of the Suleiman mountains supports the location of Rohri settlement in Dera Ismail Khan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The geographical location of the Rohri place in Dera Ismail Khan agrees fully with the geographical description of Rohri as given by Abbas Khan Sarwani. According to the survey , Rohri is a village , situated on an off-shoot of the Suleiman mountains which is roughly 15 miles long , that is the six or seven kuroh of Abbas Khan Sarwani. This branch of Suleiman mountains is known locally as "Miyan Nur ridge". The river Gomal runs close by Rohri village.(Transition of power from the early Mughals to Sher Shah Suri, by Hussain Khan, pp-80-81)

This tract is hard, harsh, and as unpromising as can well be seen, with scarcely a stunted tree, shrub, or sign of vegetation. Such land in Pashto is called zejzey, meaning "hard", "rough", "stiff', "rigid" etc, which is called "Rohri" in the Seraiki or Multani dialect, by which name it is still known. There is another similar tract between Sakhi Sarwar and the Indus, also called by this name. (Raverty, "Notes on Afghanistan and part of Baluchistan", p-326-27)

This tract on Gomal is nowadays inhabited by Gandapur tribe, but in former times, it was inhabited by Sur tribe. Sur tribe had settled in Rohri in the early 13th century, about the time of Shahab-ud-din Ghori .Their Kinsmen, Prangi and Sarwani tribes also settled in Tank and Darabhan (Dera Ismael Khan) respectively in the same period. In one of the tribal war of Suris with their Sarwani neighbors, thousands were killed on both sides, from which they never recovered. From this settlement in Dera Ismail Khan, many Surs including Ibrahim Khan migrated to Hindustan during the reign of Bahlol Lodi. In mid 16th century, Lohani Afghans defeated and expelled the Suris from Rohri. The surviving Suris migrated to Hindustan and joined their kinsmen there. Khan-i-Zaman, the Daulat Khel Lohani chief, gave this rough tract of country to homeless Gandapurs, in which they still reside.

 According to Kabir Bhittani of 16th century, who wrote Afsana-i-Shah, there was a large market at Gomal in medieval times; 
"And in the beginning in the ancient times in Roh on the banks of the stream Gomal.....there was a market. It yielded one lakh rupees or more than that as profit . And it [the market] still exists" (Hikayat one, Afsana-i-Shahan)

Sur tribe dwelling in the region had monopolized the caravan trade between Ghazni and Multan. Ibrahim Khan Sur had excellent advantages for his profession but as luck would have it, he didnt prosper in trade. So Ibrahim Sur, with his young son Hassan, started for Hindustan in search for employment as a soldier during the latter part of the Bahlol Lodi's reign. (K.Qanungo, "Sher Shah: a critical study", p-2)