Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Abdul Karim Khan Rohilla of Darbhanga

The earlier Afghan settlers in Allahabad, Darbhanga, Orissa and Slihet, who may be classed as Indo-Afghans, had been replenished in the 17th and first half of the 18th century by a fresh wave of Afghan immigration into Northern India, which was part of a larger Central and West Asiatic penetration of it in those times. Afghan adventurers found military employments in many places either as retainers or as mercenaries, and some of them began to found principalities , and build up spheres of influence of their own, as in Rohilkhand and Farrukhabad. This peaceful Afghan penetration paved the way for, and was conversely assisted and furthered by Afghan invasions from the North-West since 1748, just as in the immediately previous period prolonged Persian influence and penetration culminated in the Persian invasion of 1738-39 AD.

In 1738 when Alivardi Khan was deputy governor of Bihar,  Banjaras had laid the country under contributions and plundered right and left. They created disturbances every where in the region. Alivardi ordered Abdul Karim Khan, the Afghan of Darbhanga , to chastise the rebels. Diwan Chintaman Das and Hidayat Ali Khan were also sent with him. Banjaras on hearing the name of Karim Khan Afghan, fled to the hills of Makmani (Mukwanpur) (in Nepal Terai) which was famous for its strength. Karim Khan was helped, by the Raja of Bettia, in his mission. Karim Khan ascended to the hill forts. The Bangaras took to the flight towards the passes of Makmani, whose Raja was outside the realm of Hindustan. Karim Khan wrote to the Raja and with his connivance he succeeded in taking 20,000 horses and much body. When Karim Khan reached Hajipur, Alivardi crossed the Ganges and took by force a portion of the spoils of Abdul Karim Khan. As for the portion not credited to the state, Karim Khan generously distributed it among all his soldiers. Muzzafarnama (translation of Sir Jadunath Sarkar) describes him as one of the greatest heroes of his times.

The Banjars had, by this time, being aware of the weakening of the central authority , began to come together with other rebel chiefs of the area and in vast horde engaged themselves in creating disturbances. Abdul Karim's force, with 4000 Afghan horsemen, advanced rapidly and gave them no respite.

In 1738, Abdul Karim, the brave Afghan commander of Alivardi, conscious of his own prowess, grew rather insolent and manifested a spirit of independence that spurred at authority. Apprehending that the example of Afghan commander might breed infection among others to the prejudice of his government, Alivardi got him murdered through a clever device when he attended the chilchil satun or Hall of audience at Patna.

According to Muzzafarnama , Alivari summoned Abdul Karim to his audience and posted against him men at two places in his path at the fort with a view to overthrowing him. When Karim arrived at the second post, held by Yaswant Nagar, a Nagar soldier came up from behind and wished to strike him with sword. Abdul Karim looked at him with such angry eyes that his countenance failed. Karim arrived with two attendants in front of Alivardi. The greatest of the heroes, Mirza Dawar Quli Beg, who stood face to face with him ready for fight , struck him with his sword. Karim hit Mirza Dawar Quli so hard that the hilt of the sword with his finger was severed. They fought like Rustam and Asfandiyar. In the end Karim Khan was defeated and slain and his two attendants were wounded. All this time, Alivardi sat down there, watching the scene. When the severed head of Abdul Karim was thrown among his followers , who were standing at the gate of the fort, they helplessly took to flight to save their lives. Thus ended the career of one of the brave Afghan soldiers of his age, whom ambitious Alivardi could not tolerate for good after the work of suppressing of the Banjaras had been achieved. 


Nawab Alivardi Khan, ca. 1750 (made)