Thursday, July 21, 2016

Diler Khan Daudzai

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

A Daudzai Afghan, whose proper name was Jalal Khan. He was the younger brother of Bahadur Khan Rohila, and one of the best and bravest generals of tho emperor 'Alamgir. He hold the rank of 5000, and died in the year 1683 A. D., 1094 A. H., in the Dakhan. ["The Oriental Biographical Dictionary" by Thomas William Beale, 1881, p-82]

Diler Khan and Bahadur Khan were the sons of a Daudzai trader named Darya Khan, a soldier of fortune in the service of Jahangir. Darya Khan belonged to the Baqalzai (or Baqarzai) branch of the Daudzai Pashtuns, and was born in the small village of Barbar in the present tehsil and district of Peshawar. Barbar is situated at a distance of about six miles to the north of Peshawar City, and is attached to the Mathra Police Station. His father's name was Ibrahim Khan. Darya Khan had to go to India in connection with horse trade or as an adventurer to seek better livelihood, in the beginning of the reign of the Emperor Jahangir. ["On a Foreign Approach to Khushhal", Dost Muhammad Khan Kamil, p-14]

Bahadur Khan and Jalal Khan entered into the Mughal service like their father. In 1637 Diler Khan ,as a deputy of his brother Bahadur Khan, defeated the Katehari Rajputs in various pitched battles and restored peace to the regions of Shahabad, Bareilly, Rampur and Anola. 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 Pashtuns of the Roh to migrate to Shahjahanpur district. Soon it became a strong Pashtun settlement. Diler Khan also laid the foundations of a Pashtun settlement at Jalalnagar named after himself. In later years , Shahabad (Hardoi district) was granted by Aurangzeb to Diler Khan as a reward for destroying the power of the turbulent Pandes. Aurangzeb granted him thirty seven villages in inam altamgha where Diler Khan laid the foundations of Shahabad in 1677 on the pattern of Shahjahanpur.

Diler Khan was described to be a man of great physical strength and had a great sway over his tribe.. According to Tarikh-i-Dilkusha ,"He surpassed and excelled all the contemporary nobles in the arts of swordsmanship and leadership." He held the rank of 5,000 zat during the reign of Emperor Aurangzeb and led a contingent of 5,000 horsemen who members of his own Daudzai tribe

Role in the Mughal Succession War of 1658

During the war of succession that broke out between son of Emperor Shah Jahan, Diler Khan was sent with Suileman Shikoh (son of Dara Shikoh) as his associate on 30th November 1658, to oppose Prince Shah Shuja (son of Shah Jahan) who had declared himself a King and was advancing from Bengal. 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 . Shah Shuja fled to Patna without fight. Suileman Shikh pursued him , and Diler Khan received an increase in the rank. 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 Pashtun 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.

But when Jai Singh heard of this, he convinced his friend Diler Khan of the folly of such unselfish devotion. These two generals with their contingents parted company with the prince at a place called Kora. Diler Khan three or four days before Raja Jai Singh waited upon Aurangzeb between Selimpur and Mathura , and received an increase of the mansab. Aurangzeb sent Diler Khan, together with Shaikh Mir , to Multan, with a corpse of 9,000 men, to pursue Dara Shikoh.

Diler Khan made a name for himself 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 Pashtuns 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 Pashtuns 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 Pashtuns 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 Pashtun youth of 20 , being among them ...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. . 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 Pashtuns forced a way through the enemy's lines and reached Dewalgaon safely.

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 . 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.

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.

In Deccan, campaign against Marathas led by 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.

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 Pashtun 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 . 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. [To be continued]

Tomb of Diler Khan in Shahabad

A Portrait depicting Diler Khan


1-  Maasir-ul-Umara, Vol.1,
2-  History of the Pathans, by Haroon Rashid, Vol-III
3-  "Afghan nobility and the Mughals", Rita Joshi
4-  Rise and fall of Rohilla chieftancies, Iqbal Hussain, p-10
5-  History of Aurangzib, by Jadunath Sarkar ,Vol-1 & Vol.2, p-283

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