In this post I shall look at three tribes, all of whom are Muslim, that are found mainly within the boundaries of Azad and Indian administered Kashmir. In particular they are found in what was once the Poonch Jagir, an autonomous state ruled by a cadet branch of the royal family of Jammu and Kashmir State. The Poonch Jageer is now divided between the districts of Poonch (Pakistan), with Rawalakot as its capital, Poonch (India), with Poonch city as its capital, Bagh and Sudhnoti districts in Azad Kashmir, and Rajouri and Reasi districts in Indian Kashmir. What thats means in practice is that their homeland is bisected by the line of control, one of the most militarised borders. Perhaps, the most interesting tribe in this region are the Sudhans, and time permitting, I intend to look at them in some details latter. The region in question is extremely mountainous, located right in the middle of the Pir Panjal Mountains. These mountains located in the Inner Himalayan region, run from east-southeast to west-northwest across the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh and the disputed territories comprising Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan administered Azad Kashmir, where the average elevation varies from 1,400 m (4,600 ft) to 4,100 m (13,500 ft). They are traversed by the rivers Chenab and Ravi, with the Chenab also forming a culturally boundary, with tribes located in the east of the Chenab remaining Hindu, while those found in the west have generally converted to Islam. So the Kamlak, a tribe I have looked at in an earlier post, is still Hindu in territories east of the river like Reasi, while largely Muslim in Rajouri. All these tribes speak dialects of western Pahari, which is very close to the Pothohari spoken in north west Punjab. In this blog, I shall look specifically at the Douli, Khan Mughal and Maldiyal. Interestingly, all these tribes now claim Mughal status, which in terms of South Asia, means a claim to Central Asian descent. Although, interestingly both the Douli and Maldiyal had registered themselves as Rajput in the 1911 and 1921 Censuses of India, showing how fluid identities are.
I start this blog my looking at the Douli, who are one of a number of tribes that claim Mughal ancestry, and like the Phaphra and Gheba, they claim to be a clan of the Barlas Mughals. According to tribal traditions, their ancestor was a Nawab-ud-Doula, who said to be descendent of the Barlas warlord Tamerlane. However, some of their traditions make reference in their tribal myths of a Mongol tribe by the name of Douldai, which was settled in Iran and Khorasan (parts of which are now in Afghanistan, the rest in Iran), and Douldai chiefs Ameer Behrma and his son Ameer Mohammad Douldai were effective rulers of the region. Their descendents Ameer Hafiz Douldai, Hafiz Mohammad and Tahir Douldai are said to have accompanied Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babur in his invasion of India. All three fought against Uzbeks and died in that battle. These Douldai are said to have settled in the Poonch region after the establishment of the Mughal empire. Over time, the name Douldai was changed to Douldi. After Babar, Hamayun was the next ruler of the Mughal Empire, was disposed of his throne by the Afghan. Sher Shah Suri. The Afghans, according to the Douli traditions, said about killing any Mughal they would find. As a result of this threat, most of the Douldai in Delhi left and joined their kinsmen in Poonch. After the restoration of Mughal power in India, most Douli remained in their new homeland. Although I cannot find any reference to a Douldai tribe in history, is just about possible that a group of Mughal families settled in this region. However, it is interesting the in 1901 and 1911 Census of India, the Douli declared themselves to Rajputs, and Denzil Ibbetson writing in the 19th Century noticed a tendency among tribal groupings in the Chibhal to make a claim of Mughal ancestry, as being Rajput no longer carried much weight in what is a fairly stratified social region.. The Douli are found mainly along line of control in the villages of Hajira, Dara Sher Khan, Mandhole, Tatrinote, Madarpur, Kakuta, Mehndla, Buttal Dharamsal, Sehra, Abbaspur, Serarra, Punjerra, Sarsawa as well Rawalakot town in Poonch District. Outside Poonch, they are found in the village of Goi in Kotli District, and in Indian administered Kashmir, there villages are found in Tehsil Mendhar in Poonch District, namely Darra Doulian, Chandak, Mankote, Challas, Saloutri, Tarrana, and Surrankot. In the Kashmir valley, they are found in two villages of Tangmarg tehsil: Chak Traren and Chak Ferozepora. Outside Kashmir, the Douli also found in villages near the town of Ghazi in Haripur District of Hazara.
Khan Mughal / Kamangar
The next tribe, the Khan Mughals, who I am going to look at, differs somewhat from the other tribes discussed in this post. They are also known as Kamangars, which is derived from word Kaman Gar which means bow-maker in the Farsi. As a community, they are in essence village artisans, who are now involved mainly in the manufacture of pots and pans. They were originally bow makers, but with the arrival of British rule in the 19th Century, many Kamangar took to wood decorating. The Kamangar are really a sub-group of Tarkhan, the traditional village carpenters of the Punjab and adjoining territories. What historically distinguished the Kamangars from other Tarkhans was that Kamangar specialized in the use of bamboo, manufacturing baskets for example.
However, according to their tribal traditions, they are a clan of the Chughtai Mughals, who were brought over from Central Asia, as they specialized in the manufacture of arms and weapons. There claim to Mughal ancestry is not accepted by other groups of Mughal status discussed in this blog. This is because Mughal status in the Mirpur-Poonch region is restricted to tribes who were zamindar or landowning, and the Kamangar as a non-landowning community of village artisans will always have their claim to be Mughals challenged. It is quite possible that the Kamangar as bowmen could have been troopers in the Mughal armies, rather then soldiers who were Mughal. Whatever their origin, they have now shifted to calling themselves as Khan Mughal, and no longer the word kamangar. They are found in mainly in Bagh, Mirpur and Kotli district, and speak the Pahari language.
Distribution of Kamangar by District According to 1911 Census of Jammu and Kashmir
As the census figures show, the Kamangar were concentrated in Mirpur and Poonch, territories that now form part of Azad Kashmir. It is also worth pointing out that numbers here may be an underestimate, as increasingly numbers of Kamangars had declared themselves as Mughals.
The Maldiyal or sometimes written as Maldial, which in share numbers is the largest clan found in the historic Poonch jagir. The tribe itself claims a Mughal heritage, and has much in common with the Douli tribe described earlier. Like the Doulis, the Maldiyal were registered as Rajputs in 1911 Census of India, although early British authorities did note that a claim to Mughal ancestry was made fairly early on. Also like the Douli, the Maldiyal claim a Barlas origin, being descended from Tamelane, and accompanied Babar when he invaded India. According to their traditions, the Maldiyal are descended form a Mirza Tahir Baig, a Timurid prince, who immigrated form Herat in Afghanistan, and settled in Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir. His son was Mirza Moloud Baig, left Srinagar and settled in Poonch, with the Maldiyal being aal or descendents of Moloud or Mald, who still live in the Bagh area of Poonch. Like the Junhal’s refered to an earlier post, the Maldiyal were effective rulers of a portion of Bagh, with Sudhans occupying a tract north of their territory, and Janhal to the south west. There independence was ended in the early 19th Century, when the Poonch Jageer fell under the rule of the Dogras, and became part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. They have much in common with both the Junhal and Sudhan, with military service forming an important part of their culture. In terms of distribution, the Maldiyal are in majority in eighty four villages in Bagh District, with their main villages being Birpani, Gehlan and Nar Sher Ali Khan . Other villages include Panyali, Kotteri Najam Khan, Chowki, Dharay, Salyian Maldyalan, Naryullah, Kalori, Chitra Topi, Sullot, Kothian, Kharl Maldyalain, Kotehri Tughloo Khan, Kotehrea Mast Khan, Choki, Dhokan Rawali, Noor gala, Maldhara, Saver, Panially, Rawalyi, Bhurka Maira, Khawaja, Ratnoi, Jabbarh, Kotla, Seekot, Bangran, Swang, Samni Kawel Khan, Ramikot Rehra, Dhulli, Chattar Paddar, Shujjaabad, ,Gehalan, Chatra, Polas, Bhount, Namjar (Abbaspur Tehsil), Potha (Abbaspur Tehsil), Khori Channa, Trar Dewan all In Rawalakot, Kakutta and Sehra in Tehsil Hajira, Nawan in Tehsil Sehnsa of Kotli, and Goi in Tehsil Nakial of Kotli District. There are also a number of Maldiyal villages in Mendhar Tehsil of Poonch in Indian administered Kashmir.