Thursday, July 21, 2016

Diler Khan Daudzai

Nawab Diler Khan Daudzai. Painting by Mihir Chand in 1770 A,D, placed in the Chester Beatty Dublin.

His real name was Jalal Khan, and he was younger brother of Bahadur Khan Daudzai alias Rohilla [1] and son of Darya Khan Daudzai, a prominent noble in the court of Jahangir. Jalal Khan alias Diler Khan belonged to the Azkhel sub-clan of Baqarzai clan of Daudzai tribe. He was born in the village of Barbar which is situated at a distance of about six miles to the north of Peshawar city. Their grandfather Ibrahim was the leader of his clan and live on horse trading and agriculture [2]. Darya Khan along with his sons and brothers moved to Hind during Emperor Jahangir's reign [3]

Bahadur Khan and Diler Khan received many marks of imperial favour, although their father had taken a prominent part in the rebellion of Khan Jahan Lodi. In 1637 A.D, Bahadur Khan was deputed by Emperor Shah Jahan to end the menace of the Katehari Rajputs who had created impossible conditions in the regions of Shahabad, Bareilly, Rampur and Anola. He sent his brother Diler Khan, who routed the Rajputs in the pitched battles. For continued peace in this region, villages were granted to Bahadur Khan in jagir which the latter placed under the charge of his brother Diler Khan. It was here that Diler Khan laid the foundation of Shahjahanpur in 1647 A.D. Bahadur Khan , who was campaigning in Balkh, persuaded the Afghans of the Roh to migrate to Shahjahanpur district. Soon it became a strong Afghan settlement. The Afghan historian Mahabat Khan writes that the Afghan settlers of Rohilkhand, numbering 9,000,  belonged to 52 different tribes and each tribe had a separate Mohallah in the city of Shahjahanpur ; many quarters of the city being to this day called after Afghan clans.[4]. Diler Khan's rank was 1000 with 1000 horse and he had the present of an elephant.[5]

Despite the growing number of Afghan settlements in in Katiher , the Katehriyas do not seem to have ceased their struggle against Imperial authority. One of their leaders, Sita Singh, a zamindar, put off stiff resistance against Diler Khan , who wanted to assert his authority as jagirdar in the vicinity of Bareilly. Consequently , the zamindari of Sita Singh was confiscated and given to Diler Khan, who laid the foundations of an Afghan settlement at Jalalnagar named after himself [6].

Shahabad (Hardoi district) was granted by Aurangzeb to Diler Khan as a reward for destroying the power of the turbulent Pandes of Angnai Khera , Pargana Pali, Sarkar Khairabad, who are said to have once even plundered royal treasure. Aurangzeb granted him thirty seven villages in inam altamgha where Diler Khan laid the foundations of Shahabad in 1677 on the pattern of Shahjahanpur. The settlement thus had separate Mohallas for each tribe and occupation. [7]

In 26th November 1656 Emperor Shah Jahan sanctioned the invasion of Bijapur and gave Prince Aurangzeb a free hand to settle the affairs of Bijapur. Diler Khan was sent to the Deccan along with Mir Jumla to join  Aurangzeb (Sarkar , vol-1, p-236). One day during the siege of the fort of the Kaliani, the Prince drew up his forces and marched out to engage the enemy. The sons of Bahlul Khan Miyana, Afghan general of Bijapur, who were in the vanguard engaged the imperial vanguard led by Mir Jumla and Diler Khan. Diler Khan fought valiantly and received sword-blows but as he had armour so he suffered no harm.[8]

Role in the Mughal Succession War of 1658

 On 30th November 1658, Diler Khan went with Suileman Shikoh (son of Dara Shikoh) to oppose Shah Shuja who had declared himself a King and was advancing from Bengal.[9]The command of young Suleiman Shikoh was nominal, the real power lay in the hands of his associates, Diler Khan Daudzai and Rajput chief Jai Singh [10]. Shah Shuja fled to Patna without fight. Suileman Shikh pursued him , and Diler Khan received an increase of 1000 with 1000 horse in honour of victory , and had the rank of 3,000 with 3,000 horse. Afterwards Suleiman Shikoh was summoned by his grandfather and father to Agra. Near the village of Karra, he received the news of the defeat of defeat of Dara Shikoh and his flight towards Lahore. This disconcerted him , and Jai Singh, guardian and manager of the army,  openly refused to follow the losing side ; he would go away with his troops and join the new Emperor. Suleiman Shikoh in his distress summoned Diler Khan and asked his advice. Diler Khan advised him to cross the Ganges at Allahabad , go to Shahjahanpur, the home of a large Afghan colony, and there raising an army of his clansmen wait for fresh developments. Only on such conditions was he willing to accompany the Prince. Suleiman Shikoh agreed.[11]

A Portrait depicting Diler Khan Daudzai

When Jai Singh heard of this and perceived that Diler Khan from rawness and inexperience had not distinguished between his loss and gain and has made a wrong throw, he , out of friendship, gave him advice and convinced him of the folly of such unselfish devotion. He made him join him in the design of going to Aurangzeb. These two generals with their contingents parted company with the prince at Kora, and so also did all the imperial officers whose home was in this doab country[12]. Diler Khan three or four days before Raja Jai Singh waited upon Aurangzeb between Selimpur and Mathura , received an increase of 1000 with 1000 horse, so that his rank became 5,000 with 5,000 horse. Hence it appears that after the defeat of Shuja , when his rank was 3,000, he had received another 1000. [13]

In short , Diler Khan , together with Shaikh Mir was sent off from Multan, with a corpse of 9,000 men, to pursue Dara Shikoh. [14].

In the battle of Deorai at Ajmer (March 1659),  Diler Khan was on the right side of the artillery. When Dara's men boldly advanced beyond their trenches and engaged the enemy, Diler Khan mounted his horse and with his Afghans galloped into the fray. Shaikh Mir and Diler Khan together advanced on Shah Nawaz Khan's trenches in reckless valour. The two men entered the entrenchment and there was hot engagement. Shaikh Mir was killed and Diler Khan was wounded in the arm by a bullet. But the fight continued.  The devotion of the Shaikh Mir and the valour of Diler Khan's Afghans carried the day. The Imperial banners were planted in the trenches. Meanwhile other troops came up and Dara Shikoh lost courage and fled.

After that Diler Khan was sent by the Emperor with a contingent of 2,500 Afghans to reinforce the Mir Jumla's army to oust Shah Shuja from Bengal. He crossed the Ganges on 9th January 1660 and joined Daud Khan, the governor of Bihar, who was also sent to assist Mir Jumla. Diler Khan united with Mir Jumla's force on 5th April. Mir Jumla brought his army to the bank of river with the intention of crossing the Mahanadi ___ the enemy who had made batteries on the other side , proceeded to discharge cannons etc. Diler Khan , in the first place , entered the river along with other leaders on elephants and they were fired upon by the enemy in that position. In the rush of so many men and beasts , the water was thrown into waves , the sand was kicked away , the two lines of sticks which marked the borders of the ford were knocked off , and the right track was lost. The smoke of gunpowder darkened the sky. Swimming was impossible for mail-clad troopers on barbed horses. More than a thousand brave soldiers were drowned.....Fateh Khan, the son of Diler Khan, a heroic Afghan youth of 20 , being among them [15]...When Diler Khan had crossed , he drove off the enemy and got possession of all their guns .

Role in conquest of Assam, campaigns against Ahoms

In January 1662, Mughal forces under Mir Jumla invaded Assam after conquering Koch Bihar. Diler Khan was in the vanguard of  Mir Jumla's army for conquest of Assam. According to Mathir-ul-Umara's author ; "in every place he was an associate of victory". When the royal forces crossed the Brahmaputra river, they came to the fort of Simla-garh which was a stronghold that lay in the path to Garhgaon, the capital of Ahoms. Sir Jadunath Sarkar writes ;" On 25th February Simla-garh was most gallantly stormed by Diler Khan , and his feat struck such terror into the hearts of the Ahoms that they fled from the most impregnable fort of Samdhara (located at the mouth of Bharali river on the opposite side of Simla-garh) without waiting for an attack. [16]. The Mughal army reached the capital Garhgoan on 17th century March, its King Jaya-dhwaj had fled away, abandoning his capital and all his property. On another occasion, when Mughal war-boats under Sarandaz Khan and Muhammad Murad , which were sent by Mir Jumla to recover Ganjpur post, were attacked by the Ahoms on 23rd May 1662, they fled in a panic losing all ships and materials to Ahoms. Only the boats of Diler Khan and his Afghans forced a way through the enemy's lines and reached Dewalgaon safely. [17]

In June 1662 , the King of Ahoms came out of Namrup and appointed Baduli Phukan as prime minister and commander-in-chief , and sent him to destroy the invaders. Orders were issued to all the nobles and people of the kingdom to assist and obey him implicitly. But a severe defeat at the hands of Diler Khan put an end to night attacks of Baduli Phukan on Mathurpur [18]. The Ahoms were failed to take Mathurpur. In August 1662, a terrible epidemic broke out at Mathurpur. In the Mughal camp fever and flux carried off hundreds daily. Diler Khan's corps was reduced from 1,500 troopers to about 450. [19]

Tipam, Assam

On 10th December , on his march to Tipam, Mir Jumla had a severe attack of an illness. Still he persisted in advancing and reached Tipam on the 18th. But the entire army refused to enter Namrup , whose very air was said to be fatal to all forms of life and where no provisions could come from outside by land or water. The soldiers and officers alike plotted to desert their general and return home. But Diler Khan quieted them and at the same time counseled Mir Jumla to give up on his purpose. Meantime the Ahom King and nobles despairing of resistance, had been making overtures of peace. And now Mir Jumla listened to them , and through Diler Khan's mediation a treaty was signed in which Ahom King agreed to pay War indemnity , sending his daughter to Mughal court, an annual tribute, annexation of half of the Darrang province (rich in elephants) to Mughal empire etc. [20]

In Deccan, campaign against Marathas under Shivaji

After death of Mir Jumla, Diler Khan came to the court. In 1665 he was sent off with Raja Jai Singh to extirpate Shivaji Bhonsle who had established himself in the Deccan and was making disturbance by brigandage. When the Raja in the 8th year set himself to take the forts of Shivaji and went off from Poona to take the forts of Purandhar and Rudarmal , Diler Khan who was in the vanguard, passed through the defile of Sanwar and was about to encamp near those places , when suddenly a Maratha army made its appearance and there was a fight. The enemy could not stand the shock of the horses and fled to a hill on the top of which the two forts were. Diler Khan fought on and came to the hill , and killed many and set fire to the town which was in the waist of the hill and was called Maci , and then proceeded to besiege the forts.[21]

A Portrait depicting Diler Khan

When the garrisons of the two forts discharged cannons and muskets, Diler Khan did not withdraw but bravely came near the fort of Purandhar and hastily erected a battery. Diler Khan sat down before Purandar like grim death, his men doing in a day what could not be achieved elsewhere in a month". When some time had passed in besieging the two forts , one bastion of the fort of Rudarmal was thrown down by the repeated blows of cannon-balls and Diler Khan urged on his Afghan troopers and got to the top of this bastion. The besieged asked for a quarter ,and Shivaji who perceived that the energy of the assailants would soon result in the taking of Purandhar , where many of his relatives and officers were shut up , made acquaintance with Raja Jai Singh and had an interview with him , and presented the forts as tribute. As Diler Khan was still at the foot of the fort , Jai Singh sent Shivaji to him , and he after the interview presented him with two horses with gold trappings and decorated accouterments and two sets of nine pieces of silks. Marathas surrendered 23 forts to the Mughals [22]. Shivaji lost two thirds of his domains and was reduced to the rank of an obedient vassal. After this work had been completed, Diler Khan led the vanguard of Jai Singh in devastating the territory of Bijapur. When he finished that work, he and many other leaders were summoned to the court on account of the affair of Shah Abbas , the Shah of Persia, who was mediating a dispatch of an army to the borders of India. Diler Khan went off rapidly and had crossed the Narbada when he heard the news of death of Shah Abbas , and returned.

Ruins of Purandar fort, India

Appointment in Chanda and Deogarh (Madhya Pradesh)

In A.D. 1667, Diler Khan, by the orders of Aurangzeb, proceeded first to Chanda and then to Deogarh . Manji Mullar , the landowner of Chanda submitted to him and promised a krore of Rupees in fine , in cash and goods, and presented to Diler Khan , as a thanks-giving offering, five lakh of Rupees. He also agreed to pay 2 lakh Rupees as annual tribute and that he would dismantle the fort of Manikdrug. Within the course of two months, 77 lakhs of Rupees had been realized as tribute. The zamindar of Deograh also became submissive and three lakhs of Rupees were imposed on him as fine and one lakh was fixed as his annual tribute.[23]

From 1672 to 1683 (Details of his various campaigns in Deccan are skipped)

About this time, an order came to Diler Khan stating that it was desired that the Bijapur territory should once more be devastated, and that he should repair to Aurangabad, and place himself under the orders of Prince Muhammad Muazzam. In the battle in which Khan Jahan Kokaltash fought with the Bijapur troops on the other side of the Bhimra, Diler Khan was in the vanguard and did great deeds , and was applauded by friend and foe.

As the fort of Salher which belonged to Baglana had fallen into the hands of the enemy , Diler Khan proceeded to take it but in spite of his efforts he did not succeed , and the bad climate of the district caused many deaths. By the orders of Emperor , he was obliged to return without effecting his purpose. In the 18th year he presented himself at the court , and in succession to Abid Khan, he was made governor of Multan. In the 19th year, that province was given in fief to Muhammad Azim Shah. Diler Khan came to the court and was sent off to Deccan campaign.  In the 20th year he was acting governor of Deccan till the arrival of the governor. In the 21st year, a severe engagement took place with haiderabadi troops. In the 23rd year, he took the fort of Mangalsipra from the possession of Shivaji Bhonsle. In the 26th year, when Aurangzeb came to Aurangabad , Diler Khan was appointed , along with others, to the Bijapur campaign , but remained at court till the arrival of Muhammad Azim Shah. At this ime he fell very ill and and in the beginning of 1683, he died. Diler Khan was described to be a man of great physical strength and had a great sway over his tribe.[24]. According to contemporary source Tarikh-i-Dilkusha ,"He surpassed and excelled all the contemporary nobles in the arts of swordsmanship and leadership." [26]

Circumstances of his death

The circumstances of his death are shrouded in mystery.  According to Khafi Khan, Diler Khan met his death suddenly. He further says that after the news that Prince Azam Shah had secretly visited Diler Khan , reached the Emperor, Diler Khan poisoned himself to death. However , according to Manucci, Diler Khan was poisoned to death by his own son-in-law Azil Khan , at the instance of Prince Azam Shah, because he had refused to associate himself with the treasonable activities of the Prince against the Emperor. Shah Nawaz Khan, the author of Maasir-ul-Umara, states that Aurangzeb got Diler Khan poisoned on suspicion of treason, but later on he did not find the charge substantiated. A close perusal of Diler Khan's activities leads us to believe that the Khan was in fact not rebellious and that he had became the target of a conspiracy of the court nobles. [25]

Tomb of Diler Khan in Shahabad


1-  Maasir-ul-Umara, Vol.1, p-494
2-  Nama-i-Muzaffar by Munshi Muzaffar Hussain, p-454
3-  History of the Pathans, by Haroon Rashid, Vol-III, p-29.
4-  "Afghan nobility and the Mughals", Rita Joshi, pp-128-129
5-  Maasir-ul-Umara, Vol.1, p-495
6-  Rise and fall of Rohilla chieftancies, Iqbal Hussain, p-10
7-  Ibid, p-11
8-  Maasir-ul-Umara, Vol.1, p-494
9-  History of Aurangzib, by Jadunath Sarkar ,Vol-1 & Vol.2, p-283
10-  Ibid, p-467
11-  Ibid, p-552, and Mathir-ul-Umara, Vol.1 p-496
12- History of Aurangzib, by Jadunath Sarkar ,Vol-1 & Vol.2, p-552.
13-  Maasir-ul-Umara, Vol.1, p-497
14-   Maasir-ul-Umara, Vol.1, p-496
15-  Ibid, p-498, and History of Aurangzib, by Jadunath Sarkar ,Vol-1 & Vol.2, p-602
16- History of Aurangzib, by Jadunath Sarkar ,Vol-3, p-161
17- Ibid, p-165
18- Ibid, p-168.
19- Ibid, p-171
20- Ibid. p-177
21-  Maasir-ul-Umara, Vol.1, p-501
22-  History of Aurangzib, by Jadunath Sarkar ,Vol-4, p-67
23-  Maasir-ul-Umara, Vol.1, p-502
24- Ibid, p-502
25-  "Afghan nobility and the Mughals", Rita Joshi, p-174
26- Tarikh-i-Dilkusha, Bhimsen, Vol-III, p-69
28- Aurangzeb and his times, p-