Sunday, July 16, 2017

Jihad of Haji Sahib of Turangzai and the Mohmand blockade during the First World War



Haji Sahib of Turangzai, after his migration to the Tribal territory, started his Jihad movement against the British. In June 1915 with a lashkar 4,000 strong , he invaded British territory on the north-eastern border of Peshawar. In August 1915, he had raised a laskar in Buner and fought against the British forces at Pirozai, Malandri and Ambela passes while his eldest son Badshah Gul-I was then busy organizing Mohmands against the British. Haji Sahib moved to Swat, Bajaur and finally settled in the Mohmand territory. His religio-spirtual reputation enabled him to raise Mohmand lashkars against the British many a time. British troops were rushed again and again to Shabqadar , at the main approach to Mohmand territory.

In August 1915, Mohmands fought a  fierce battle with the British forces at Michini-Abazai near Shabqadar. Both sides suffered heavily. The Mohmands lost 400 killed and 1,000 wounded. This did not deter them. They in October 1915, once again attacked the British force , with a lashkar of about 9,000 men. The Babra Mullah Sahib of Bajaur led a 1,000 strong tribal lashkar against Shabqadar in September , 1915, and 3,000 in October, 1915. The Bajauris had also brought lashkars to attack the Dir Levy posts in August , September and October , and the Swat Levy post of Kalonji and Kot Totai in November , 1915.

A blockade of the Mohmands against the upper section of the tribe had been ordered in August 1915. Negotiations led to a settlement in April, 1915. Once again a close blockade of the offending sections, the Halimzai, the Tarakzai and Pindiali Mohmands, was ordered. A barbed wire fence was raised , with alive wire charged with electric current on the Mohmand side of it ; nevertheless the tribal lashkars continued to carry out raids on the British territory. On the 15th November , 1917, Haji Sahib,  assisted by the Babra Mullah Sahib and Doda Jan of Bajaur , fought valiantly against the British troops. The tribal lashkar on this occasion was 6,000 strong but only about 1,000 soldiers could be deployed in the field.  



Sources:

1- "The life and times of Haji Sahib of Turangzai" by Muhammad Fahim Khan,  Islamic Studies, Vol. 16, No. 1 (Spring 1977), pp. 329-341

2- "History of the Pathans" by Haroon Rashid, Volume-2



No.12 Blockhouse on the Mohmand Blockade

‘Live wire’ on the Mohmand Blockade Line c.1917
The Mohmand Blockade

The 2/4 Border Regiment constructing the Mohmand Blockade line

The Mohmand Blockade - note the armoured car.

Haji Sahib of Turnagzai