Katoch, Malik, Thakkar and Safial tribes

In this post I shall look at four Chibhali tribes, namely the Katoch, Malik, Thakkar and Safiaal. While Katoch and Rathore are clearly of Rajput origin, the status of the Maliks, and their sub-group the Safial is more complicated. Finally, the Thakkar actual form a distinct caste, which can be called quasi-Rajput. What unite all these tribes is traditions of migration during the Mughal period, i.e. between the 16th and 18th Centuries to the Pir Panjal region. I will ask the reader to look at my post on the Sohlan and Kahlotra to get a further background on the Chibhali community.



In this post, I will start off by looking at the Katoch, and more specifically the Muslim Katoch of the Banihal and Doda regions of Jammu. The clans of the Chibhal like the Chib and Bhawpal are also branches of the Katoch clan, but the Chibhali are separated from Muslim Katoch by the Pir Panjaal mountains. Unlike the Chibhali groups who have strongly been influenced by Punjabi culture, the Muslim Katoch of Doda have strong Kashmiri influence.

The name Katoch is possibly derived from the words kot and ouch, meaning high status defenders of forts. Katoch themselves claim to belong to the Chandravanshi kshatriya lineage. Their traditional area of residence was the Trigarta Kingdom, the modern Jalandhar. The dynasty is considered to be one of the oldest surviving royal dynasty in the world. They first find mention in the mythological Hindu epic, Mahabharata and references are found is in the recorded history of Alexander the Great’s war records. According to clan traditions, it was in in 4300 BC when Rajanaka Bhumi Chand founded Katoch dynasty and he also made famous Jawalaji Temple. The state of Kangra in Himachal Pradesh was founded circa 1390 by Megh Chand. Other branches of the Katoch as the Jaswal and Guleria provided several petty rulers in Himachal Pradesh.
Groups of Katoch emigrated from the Kangra region during the rule of Aurengzeb. This migration was largely as a result of continuous conflict between the Mughals and the Hill Rajahs. The Katoch initially settled in Bhaderwah in Doda region. Conflict with rulers of Bhaderwah led to migration to Banihal and Doda. Most of these then converted to Islam in the 18th Century, as they had settled in a region which is largely Muslim. Most Muslim Katoch are bilingual, speaking both Bhaderwahi and Kashmiri language. Like most Muslims in Doda, Kashmiri culture has had a deep impact on the Katoch.


The Malik are a large tribal cluster found mainly along the slopes of the Pir Panjal, with a large concentration in the Darhal valley in Rajouri.

The Malik describe themselves as soldiers having been brought into Poonch region by the Mughal Emperor Akbar to guard the passes into Kashmir from the Punjab. These soldiers were probably of fairly diverse origin, with those of the Darhal valley claiming to be Rajput. According to tribal traditions, there name Malik was given to them as title by Akbar. They were required to defend the passes that led into Kashmir, and appear in the field for the Emperor whenever required. In return they were given villages and lands.


Malik, literally meaning a king was one of the used by local aristocrats throughout North India, more formally known as Zamindars under both the Mughals and the British. The earliest form of the name Malka was used to denote a prince or chieftain in the East Semitic Akkadian language of the Mesopotamian states of Akkad, Assyria, Babylonia and Chaldea. The Northwest Semitic mlk was the title of the rulers of the primarily Amorite, Sutean, Canaanite, Phoenician and Aramean city-states of the Levant and Canaan from the Late Bronze Age. Eventual derivatives include the Aramaic, Neo-Assyrian, Mandic and Arabic forms: Malik, Malek, Mallick, Malkha, Malka, Malkai and the Hebrew form Melek.

The Malik as a tribe are now found mainly in the Darhal Valley with scattered settlements in Poonch (both Indian & Pakistani administerd), Jammu and few are also found in the Kotli and Mirpur Districts of Azad Kashmir. According to the 1931 census, their male population numbered 19,000.


The next community I am going to look at are the Muslim Thakkars. They are found mainly in Reasi, Rajouri, Udhampur and Kishtwar districts of Indian administered Kashmir. In Reasi and Rajouri, the Muslim Thakkar prefer the self-designation Nagvanshi or Nagi. The word Thakkar really is simply the Pahari version of the word Thakur, which can mean lord, god or master.


The Dogra Rajput population of the Jammu region is divided into hypergamous clans. Their position in the hierarchy is an outcome of the history of the region. Throughout the middle ages, the Duggar (Jammu) region saw conflicts between the Devs and Khokhars and then between the Jammu Devs and Bahu Devs, both left their marks on the order among Jammu’s Rajput clans. Today, at the top of the Rajput hierarchy are the descendants of Jammu Devs and their close allies: Jamwals of Jammu (city), Mankotias of Mankot (Ramnagar), Sambyals of Samba and Jasrotias of Jasrota. Most of the Muslim Thakkars claim descent from Sambyal Dogras.

In the foothills of the Pir Panjaal, the term Thakkar used to describe a group of clans that were at the lowest level within the system of marriage hypergamy that existed within the Rajputs of the Duggar and Chibhal. They were also connected with tilling the land, which supposedly made them the lowest of the Jammu Rajputs. The community known as the Thakkar came about because the Hindu Rajputs of the Himalaya follow a system known as hypergamy, namely the act or practice of a woman marrying a man of higher caste or social status than herself. For example, those clans designated as Rajputs may exchange wives, while Thakkars groups can give girls in marriage from those of Rajput status, but may not take from. In Himachal Pradesh, a particularly complex system of hypergamy existed, with Thakkars giving girls to Rathi, and Rathi to Kannet. The line between Thakar and Rathi was roughly said to consist in the fact that Rathis did and Thakkars did not ordinarily practise widow-marriage; though the term Rathi was commonly applied by Rajputs of the ruling houses the princely states of what is now Himachal Pradesh and Jammu to all below them.

In Udhampur, Kishtwar and Reasi, the Thakkars over time began to form a distinct caste now, generally intermarrying with themselves. It is among these western Thakkars, that conversion to Islam took place. These communities are found north of the Chibhali groups, and their customs are similar to those of Kashmiri Muslims. Most Thakkar groups give their clan as Nagi or Nagvanshi. Other important Thakkar clans are the Katoch and Sambyal, with the former found mainly in Kishtwar and the latter in Reasi.


In the Rajouri-Reaasi region, almost all of the Thakkars groups converted to Islam, forming a distinct community of Thakkar Muslims. According to their tribal traditions, the Thakkars are said to have come from Samba, a tehsil of Jammu district, as such are really Sambyal and not Thakkars. The last census that counted the Muslim Thakkar was that of 1911, and they numbered 10,451. In Rajouri, the Thakkars are settled in Budhal, Saj and some other villages of Rajouri and Poonch.




The Safiaal Rajputs, also spelled Sufial and Sufiaal, are sub-group found within the Malik community, found mainly in the Darhal valley of Rajouri. According to their tribal traditions, they are of Malkana Rajput stock, who like other Malik groups came to the Pir Panjaal during the period of Akbar’s rule. The question then is who are or were the Malkana Rajputs.


The Malkana are a well known Rajput found mainly in the Agra region of western Uttar Pradesh. The Malkana claimed descent from a number of Hindu castes. Those of Kiraoli, where they occupy five villages, claim descent from a Jat. Other Malkana families in the district claim descent from Panwar, Chauhan, Parihar and Sikarwar Rajputs. In Hathras District, they were found mainly near the town of Sadabad. They belonged to Jat and Gaurwa communities that had converted to Islam. At the term of the 20th Century, the Malkana were a community that was on the religious faultline, as there customs were a mixture of Hindu and Muslim traditions. They kept Hindu names, used the salutation Ram Ram, and were endogamous. But the community buried their dead, practiced circumcision, and visited mosques on special occasions. This eclectic nature of the community led to attempts by both Hindu and Muslim revivalist to target them.

Coming back to the Safiaal, they now have much in common with otherChibhali groups, now speaking the Pahari language, and practices alpine agriculture.

List and Population of Muslim Rajput clans of Ambala Division According to the 1911 Census of India

Below is a list of Muslim Rajput clans and their population in the Ambala Division of Punjab, drawn up for 1911 Census of India. This region now forms part of the modern state of Haryana in India. These clans referred to themselves as Ranghars. In 1911, the Ambala Division consisted of four districts, Ambala, Hissar, Rohtak, and Gurgaon.

The appearance of a particular tribe as Rajput in the list does not in itself confirm that the tribe is Rajput or otherwise. Identity may change with time, and some groups in the list may nolonger identify themselves as Rajputs. This list simply gives an historical distribution of Muslim Rajput tribes in thehistoric British colonial province of Punjab, a number of years prior to the partition of Punjab. As Muslims, the Ranghar community immigrated to Pakistan at partition. I would ask the reader to look at the Youtube channel of Muhammad Alamgir, which has interviews with members of the Ranghar community and their experience of partition in 1947.

Ambala District

The main Muslim Rajput clans of Ambala District were as follows:


Tribe Ambala Tehsil Kharar Tehsil Rupar Tehsil Naraingarh Tehsil Jagadhri Tehsil Total
Bhatti 839 183 109 138 147 1,416
Chauhan 8,529 779 493 6,381 6,151 22,833
Dahya 79 1,991 1,462 71 17 3,620
Ghorewaha 51 955 1,889 48 6 2,949
Jadaun 43 1 2 46
Mandahar 354 7 164 525
Naru 396 33 117 15 561
Pundir 101 164 265
Raghubansi 168 314 40 1,549 64 2,135
Taoni 1,015 4,711 1,348 1,212 245 8,531
Tonwar 576 55 184 182 200 1,197
Varya 839 183 109 138 147 1,416

Gurgaon District

The main Muslim Rajput clans were as follows:

Tribe Gurgaon Tehsil Rewari Tehsil Palwal Tehsil Nuh Tehsil Firuzpur Tehsil Total
Bargujar 303 159 314 27 2 805
Chauhan 1,092 2,873 179 74 3 4,221
Gaurwa 475 475
Khanzada 3,439
Jadaun 119 119
Jatu 125 333 12 12 482
Panwar 221 463 80 86 850
Tonwar 17 2 5 241 265

Hissar District

The main Muslim Rajput clans of Hissar District were as follows:


Tribe Hissar Tehsil Hansi Tehsil Bhiwani Tehsil Fatehabad Tehsil Sirsa Tehsil Total
Bhatti 308 177 244 1,374 4,991 7,094
Chauhan 1,709 2,769 2,140 1,191 3,120 10,929
Jatu 1,951 4,759 2,245 679 10 9,644
Johiya 589 46 77 236 3,837 4,785
Jora 10 2 822 834
Kharal 2 64 774 840
Mandahar 68 314 108 127 617
Mahaar 8 6 2 776 792
Qaimkhani 973 412 602 178 55 2,020
Panwar 365 1,350 1,523 178 2,820 6,236
Rathore 39 5 484 6 534
Satraola 4 503 35 6 544
Sakhri 8 74 661 743
Tonwar 276 57 304 637
Wattu 88 2,761 2,849
Warha 664 664
Varya 43 61 459 26 589

Rohtak District

Here are the main Muslim Rajput clans of Rohtak District:


Tribe Rohtak Tehsil Jhajjar Tehsil Gohana Tehsil Total
Chauhan 4,597 603 1,345 6,545
Jatu 1,146 350 515 2,011
Panwar 9,868 173 5,689 15,730
Tonwar 29 29

Karnal District

Here are the main Muslim Rajput clans of Karnal District

Tribe Karnal Tehsil Panipat Tehsil Kaithal Tehsil Thanesar Tehsil Total
Bhatti 105 40 163 180 488
Chauhan 15,401 1,054 4,894 5,967 27,316
Jatu 303 159 314 29 805
Mandahar 8,877 2,593 8,823 564 20,857
Panwar 771 282 302 144 1,499
Pundir 555 165 720
Taoni 15 223 504 742
Tonwar 827 743 2
Varya 136

1901 Census of Delhi

The population breakdown by religioncaste and community of the Delhi District in the Punjab Province of British India, now the National Capital Territory of Delhi, in the 1901 Census of India.




Religion Population Percentage
Hindu 510,537    74%
Muslim 167,200    24%
Sikh 294  
Jain 7,726    1%
Christian 3,158 0.5%
Others 115  
Total 689,030 100%






Religion Caste or tribe Population
Hindus 510,537
Agari 2,135
Ahir 13,969
Baiaragi 4,371
Bania 38,932
Banjara 1,124
Barwala 298
Bharbhuja 1,275
Bhat 714
Brahmin 65,434
Chamar 65,738
Chirimar 123
Chura 26,910
Dagi and Koli 1,280
Darzi 391
Gaderia 2,236
Ghai 1,339
Ghosi 315
Gosain 941
Gujar 25,761
Jaiswara 805
Jat 102,571
Jhinwar 12,907
Jogi and Rawal 4,674
Julaha 8,737
Kachhi 1,333
Kalal 666
Kayastha 4,438
Khatik 2,494
Khatri 6,069
Kori 1,305
Kumhar 13,788
Kurmi 166
Lodha 3,850
Mali 12,886
Mallaah 378
Maniar 531
Maratha 151
Nai 10,021
Nat 741
Pasi 108
Penja 112
Purbia 440
Raj 229
Rajput 19,498
Rebari 260
Gaderia 2,236
Reya 2,881
Ror 651
Sadh 194
Saini 2,213
Sansiya 591
Sapela 276
Saqailgar 177
Sonar 4,544
Taga 6,083
Tarkhan 8,123
Teli 1,674
Others 18,450
Muslims 167,200
Arain 1,948
Baloch 1,243
Banjara 307
Bharbhunja 122
Bhatiara 396
Bhishti 4,229
Chura 231
Darzi 328
Dhobi 1,982
Faqir 7,889
Gaddi 153
Ghosi 526
Gujar 2,559
Jat Muslim 2,885
Julaha 1,025
Kanchan 235
Kalal 45
Kumhar 330
Kunjra 650
Lohar 2,173
Mallaah 134
Mali 51
Maniar 221
Meo 8,262
Mirasi 1,642
Mughal 5,782
Nai 1,300
Nat Muslim 302
Penja 176
Qassab 6,133
Pathan 17,763
Raj 10
Rajput Muslim 4,218
Rangrez 1,032
Sayyid 9,176
Shaikh 71,464
Sonar 77
Taga Muslim 2,690
Tarkhan 1,239
Teli 5,242
Others 1,030
Sikh 294
Jat Sikh 102
Kalal 24
Khatri 47
Tarkhan 52
Others 69
Jain 7,726
Bania Jain 7,646
Lohar 15
Others 65
Christian 3,158
Others 115
Total 689,030




Census of India 1901 [Vol 17A] Imperial tables, I-VIII, X-XV, XVII and XVIII for the Punjab, with the native states under the political control of the Punjab Government, and for the North-west Frontier Province Table XIII Part II A – The Castes and Tribes of the Punjab by Districts and States