In this post, I will look at two communities of Punjabi Muslims, namely the Naipal and Wattu, that were found along the banks of the Sutlej, in what is now Okara, Kasur and Bahawalnagar districts in Pakistan, and Ferozepur in India. After the partition of Punjab in 1947, the Wattu and Naipal of Ferozepur immigrated to Pakistan. Both these tribes connect themselves to the Bhatti, and like them were largely pastoral until the arrival of the British in the 19th Century.
I start with the very localized tribe of the Naipal, who were found entirely Ferozepur District. The Naipal clan get their name from Naipal, son of Bhuni, who belonged to the Bhatti tribe, were historically found on the Sutlej just north of the city Ferozepur. They came from Sirsa in the reign of Muhammad Shah (ruler 1719-1748), and once held the river valley as far down as that town, but were driven higher up by the Dogars, and in the Naipal in turn expelled the Gujars. Sometime during the middle of the 18th Century, the Naipals occupied the Makhu ilaqa, then probably a complete waste. It is said to have been named Makkah by a faqir, one Muhammad, who had been there, but its name was corrupted into Makhu. Like their neighbours, the Dogar, Gujjar and Wattu, they were largely pastoral.
By middle of the 18th Century, Mugha1 authority had collapsed in the Sutlej valley and the Naipals became independent until Jassa Singh, the Ahluwalia (1718-1783), chief of Kapurthala took possession of their territory around 1770, and established a thana at Makhu and created the ilaqa of that name. By the early 19th Century, Ahluwalia rule was replaced by the British. Groups of the Naipal began to immigrate to the Ahluwalia ruled Kapurthala State, establishing their settlement in 1857. The Naipal were almost independent under the Ahluwalia rulers, and to have paid a small rent in kind only when the kardar was strong enough to compel them to it, which has not often the case.
By the mid 19th Century, the Naipal were settled as farmers, and began to intermarry neighbouring Muslim Jat tribes such as the Sidhu. They have lost more of their Hindu origin than either the Dogars or Gujars, and in their marriage connections they follow the Muslim law, near blood relations being permitted to enter into the marriage. Most Naipals were owner cultivators, almost every member of the tribe holding land in ownership, and not cultivating it under a few tribal chiefs as tenants, like their neighbours the Dogars.
At the time of partition in 1947, the Naipal territory was allocated to India, leading to the migration of the entire tribe to Pakistan Punjab.
The Wattoo, sometines writen as Wattu, are one of the main Rajput tribes of the Sutlej valley, who are closely connected to the Bhatti. Their historic homeland lay adjacent to Bhattiana, the region that now forms parts of Hissar, Sirsa and Ferozpur. Like other Punjabi tribes, the Watto have several origin myths.
In the old Sirsa territory, modern day western Haryana, the Wattoo traditions refer to a Raja Junher, a descendant of the Bhatti Raja Salvahan of Sialkot, was settled in Bhatner, wher he had two sons Achal and Batera, who were.was settled in Bhatner. The descendants of Batera include the Sidhu and Barar Jats. The former again had two sons Jaipal and Raipal, of whom Jaipal was the ancestor of the Bhatti proper, and Raipal of the Wattoo. The Wattoo are said to have been converted to Islam by Baba Farid, during the rule of their chief Khiwa, who ruled at Haveli in Okara, and was succeeded by the famous Wattu chief, Lakhe Khan. Wattoo territory at the beginning of the 19th Century included lands on both banks of the Sutlej in the Sirsa district, and the adjoining parts of Montgomery and Bahawalpur state, from Baggehi 16 miles above Fazilka, to Phulahi 70 miles below it. Above them was the territory of the Dogars, below them the Joiya. In the late 18th Century, after the Chalissa famine, the Wattoo left what is now Okara and settled in the lands of Sirsa and Rania, which was ruled by Bhatti Nawabs. This migration occurred under the leadership Fazil Dalel Rana. Another branch moved into what is Bahawalnagar District. In the Sutlej valley, the Wattoo were the most important group of Hitharis. Other groups also began to move into the Ravi river valley clashing with both the Kharals and Bhattis of the Bhatiore.
Another Wattoo traditions makes them descendants of Rajah Salvahan son Pital, who quarrelled with hie brothers and went th Bhatner (now known as Hanumangarh) in Rajasthan. Twelve generatione later Adham, owing to a feud with tho Panwar Rajputs, immigrated into the
Punjab and earned his title of Wattoo by subduing the pride of that race.The word watt or vat has various meanings, and Wattoo very likely meens a borderer. The Wattoos have a number of clans (muhins), e.g. Ladhoka, Bazidke,
Salim-Shahi, etc, all named after a particular ancestor.The principal clans of the Wattoos in Bahawalpur are:
i) Salim-ke (I) Qaim-ke, (2) Amruke, (3) Bare-ke.
ii. Sahru, with a sub-sept Darweshke.
iii. Gaddhoke, (1) Ratte-ke, (2) Bithe-ke, (3) Dhaddi-ke, (4) Daddd-ke.
The Wattoo were pastoralist par excellence, and this shown by a quote by the colonial ethnographer W.E. Purser:
priding themselves upon their politeness and hospitality. They are of only moderate industry, profuse in expenditure on special occasions, indifferent to education and exceedingly fond of cattle
In Bahhwalpur they have a different origin, with the Wattoos originally coming from Jaisalmeer and settled in the Punjab, advancing as far as Batala, which according to this tradition they founded. They then dispersed along both banks of the Sutlej. Their conversion to Islam occurred during the rule of Firoz Shah Tughlak (1351 to 1388) after which period they were incorporated into the Sultanate of Delhi. With the collapse of Muslim rule, the Wattoo suffered greatly at the hands of Sidhu-Bar Sikhs to whom they remained tributary until Nawab Muhammad Bahawal Khan II (4 June 1772 – 13 August 1809) expelled the Sidhu-Barars from the Wattu territory and annexed it to Bahawalpur.
Prior to the partition of India, there were sizeable colonies in Fazilka in what is now Punjab, India and Sirsa in what is now Haryana. All of these communities migrated to Pakistan in 1947.
The Wattoo tribe is now found in the following districts; Okara District, Pakpattan District, Bahawalnagar District, Shekhupura District, Multan District, and Nankana Sahib District.