Saturday, December 31, 2016

Jalal Khan Orakzai

 Excerpts from "Later Mughals" by William Irvine, Volume-I, pp-101-102

(Background : In 1709 Sikh leader Banda Singh Bahadur, the savage successor of Guru Gobind Singh, completely destroyed Sirhind city and sacked vast territory of east Punjab with barbarity as had never an example in India. Banda Singh marched upon Saharanpur (western U.P) with large army where the following events took place)

As soon as Sikh expedition eastward had crossed the Jamuna river , Ali Hamid Khan Qanauji, faujdar of that part of the country, took fright , and in spite of offers by the Afghan and other leading Muhammadans to repair the walls and stand on defensive , that very night marched away from Saharanpur , and took road to Delhi. The Sikhs learning that the imperial officer had abandoned the town, made all haste to to the spot, soon overcame the resistance of the inhabitants , and plundered it as they had done Sarhind. The whole country , far and near, was in a panic. Those people who were rich enough or lucky to obtain means of conveyance , carried of their goods and families. The rest, taking their wives and children by the hand , fled on foot. Women who had rarely been outside the court of their own house , and had never gone one step out of it on foot , were forced to walk distances of thirty and forty miles. Many women threw themselves into wells to avoid outrage. In this way half of the sarkar of Saharanpur fell into the hands of the Sikhs.  

Next the Sikhs wrote to Jalal Khan Orakzai, calling upon him to submit. He lived at a town founded by him, and called Jalalabad ; lies about thirty miles south of Saharanpur and about twenty miles west of Deoband. The town is surrounded by wall , and many Afghan soldiers had homes there. When the Sikh messengers came before Jalal Khan Orakzai, he ordered them to be paraded derisively through the streets and ejected from the town. Immediate preparations were made for its defence. Soon word was brought that the Sikhs had surrounded two large villages , dependent on and situated four or five miles from Jalalabad. The Orakzai chief sent out a strong force to relive these villages , putting at its head Ghulam Muhammad Khan Orakzai, his grandson , Hizbar Khan Orakzai, his cousin. Encouraged by the arrival of the reinforcements, the villagers, four or five hundred men, armed with matchlocks or bows, and a number of their tenantry armed in various ways, many with only slings and stones , came out boldly to disperse the Sikhs. In the fight Hizbar Khan and a number of both Muhammadans and villagers lost their lives. But, in the end , pressed by repeated onslaughts from the Afghans, the Sikhs gave away.

Other contests followed between the Sikhs and Jalal Khan, and the former were repulsed two or three times. In spite of these reverses , Sikhs persisted in their attempts against the town. Seventy to eighty thousands men had collected from all parts. The assailants prepared two or three hundred movable batteries, formed of planks and mounted on cart-wheels. Jalalabad was closely invested When these batteries were brought to the foot of the walls and close to the town gate , the Sikhs showered from them bullets and arrows and stones upon the Afghans, then with cries of Fath daras four or five hundred men , carrying mattocks and other tools , rushed forward , intending to dig through the earthen wall , to affix ladders , and to set fire to the gates. At such moments, the Afghans threw open the gates and, sword in hand , with their shields raised before their faces , made a rush upon the foe. At each sally they cut down two or three hundred of the Sikhs , at the same time losing many lives on their own side. At night-time other sallies were made , when the besiegers were caught unawares and put to the sword. For twenty days the besieged found no proper leisure to eat their food or to take rest. In the end , after losing some thousands of men, the Sikhs withdrew without having been able to take the town.

The Emperor Bahadur Shah received Jalal Khan's report of these events on then 11th July , 1710. For the victory over the Sikhs, Jalal Khan was rewarded by the Nazim of Delhi , on 31st August 1710 AD, with the Faujdari of Saharanpur deserted by Ali Hamid Khan Qanauji. He was raised to the rank of two thousand and five hundred in the reign of Jahandar Shah , with a further promotion during Farrukh Siyar's time. He died in  September 1718 AD. [Muhammad Harisi, Ibrat namah, 82b]

Jalal Khan 's father , Hazar Mir Orakzai of Miranzai Khel, came to India during the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan and obtained the zamindari of certain villages in the Jamuna-Gangetic Doab. After his father's death , Jalal Khan succeeded to the zamindari and obtained, in addition thereto, some more villages in the pargana of Thana Bhawan , near which he built a fortress and founded the town of Jalalabad [Muhammad Harisi, Ibrat namah, 80b]

Some further notes

 1- After the capture of Saharanpur town by Sikhs, the Muslims were subjected to an indiscriminate slaughter and plunder [G.R.C. Williams 'The Sikhs in Upper Doab']

2-  Sikhs put to sword the entire population of peerzadas in the Behat town north of Saharanpur. The victims were executed on the charge of cow-slaughter. [G.R.C. Williams 'The Sikhs in Upper Doab']

3-  The author of  "Siar-ul-Mutakhireen" (contemporary source) says ;
" " He" (Guru Gobind)  was succeeded by Banda,  that butcher-like man .This infernal man having assembled multitudes of desperate fellows, all as enthusiasts, and all  as thirsty of revenge as himself, commenced ravaging the country with such a barbarity as had never had an example in India.They spared no Mohammedan, whether man or woman or child.  Pregnant women had their bellies ripped open, and their children dashed against their faces or against the walls." It is no wonder that the mild Bahadur Shah shuddered on hearing of such atrocious deeds."

4-  "For the space of four days the town (Sirhind) was given up to pillage , the mosques were defiled , the houses burnt , and the Muhammadans slaughtered ; even their women and children were not spared . Some say that unborn children were taken from the womb and killed before their dying mothers' eyes . Hindus even were not respected. ["Later Mughals" by William Irvine, Volume-I, p-96]

Banda Singh and his fanatics