Description of Major Muslim Communities in Uttar Pradesh: The Rayeen

In this post, I will look at the Rayeen, sometimes pronounced  as Rai, another community that is found in the Doab and Rohilkhand regions of western Uttar Pradesh. Like other group such as the Bhatti and Kamboh, which I have looked in my other blogs, the Rayeen have roots in the Punjab. Early British ethnologists, such as William Crook took the position that the Rayeen were one and the same as the Arain community of Punjab. Briefly I will raise an issue of some sensitivity, the use of the term Rayeen by members of the Kunjra community. The Kunjra are a widespread group of Muslims, traditionally associated with vegetable growing and selling, who are found throughout North India. The Rayeen, who are found mainly in Bareilly, Pilibhit, Udhamsingh Nagar are much smaller group, and have rejected the claim of the Kunjra to be called Arain. According to the 1901 Census of Uttar Pradesh, there were 14,698, found in the regions I have just mentioned, and much larger group of Kunjra 85,738, with a much larger geographic distribution. It does seem from the records, that at least right up to the mid-20th Century, both groups maintained a distinct identity.

The Rayeen of Uttar Pradesh are clearly the same community as the Arain of Punjab. There circumstances of migration relate the Chalisa famine of the 1780s in Punjab. The effect of the Chalisa famines was to depopulate many regions of India, especially the semi-arid of the Ghaghar valley, the original homeland of the Rayeen community. The Ghaggar valley is now situated in what is Sirsa District of Haryana. One of among many of the tribal tradition of the Sirsa Rayeen was that they were originally Hindu Rajputs, expelled from Uchh, near Multan, by their enemies and escaped by abandoning their military rank and took to market gardening, the tribal occupation of their neighbours the true Arains. Therefore, the Sirsawal Arains are distinct from the Arains of the Sutlej, who were found largely in the central districts of Punjab, like Jallandhar, Amritsar and Lahore.

After leaving Ucch, they settled on the banks of the Ghaggar, where the tribe was remained for the next four hundred years. Then the famine of 1783 A.D occurred, at which according to early British sources they held the whole of the Ghaggar valley from Bhatner (present day Hanumangarh) up to Tohana in Fatehabad. The famine combined with the attacks of the marauding Bhatti Rajputs, weakened their hold on the land, and they finally broke before the Chalisa famine of 1783 A.D. and many of them emigrated to Bareilly, Pihbhit, and Rampur in what is now Uttar Pradesh.
William Crook, the colonial ethnographer claimed that they are by origin Kambohs:

Mr. Ibbetson says: The Satlaj Arains in Sirsa say that they are, like the Arains of Lahore and Montgomery, connected by origin with the Hindu Kambohs. Mr. Wilson thinks it probable that both classes are really Kambohs who have become Muslims, and that the Ghaggar Arains emigrated in a body from Multan, while the others moved gradually up the Sutlej into their present place.

Another British account, this time by Horace Arthur Rose also makes reference to the distinction between the Sultluj and Ghaghar Arains in Punjab.

In Sirsa the Sutlej Arains meet those of the Ghaggar. The two do not intermarry, but the Arains of the Ghaggar valley say they were Rajputs living on the Panjnad near Multan who were ejected some four centuries ago by Saiyad Jalal-ul-din of Uch. They claim some sort of connection with Jaisalmer. Till the great famines of 1759 and 1783 A. D. they are said to have held all the lower valleys of the Choya and Ghaggar, but after the latter date the Bhattis harassed the Sumnis, the country became disturbed, and many of the Arains emigrated across the Ganges and settled near Bareli and Rampur. They marry only with the Ghaggar and Bareli Arains.

It is interesting to note, that Rose mentions that Ghaghar Arain had still maintained intermarage with those of Pilibhit and Bareilly. While Crook’s point that Arain and Kamboh have a common origin is hard to prove, but it is worth mentioning that the settlement area of both the Rayeen and Kamboh overlaps to some degree, with a substantial presence in Rohilkhand and the Doab. But what mitigates against the theory of common origin is the fact the two communities, despite a close proximity, consider themselves as quite distinct.

Among the Pilibhit Rayeen, there is a traditions that they Arabs, and get their name from the Rayee mountains, located somewhere in Arabia. This probably picks of the tradition among the Punjab Arain, that there name is distortion of Araheeai, which means a resident of Ariha, better known as the city of Jericho in the West Bank. According to this tradition, a group of Arabs soldiers from Jericho accompanied Mohammad Bin Qassim in his conquest of Sindh. From here, they then spread to Ucch. Its interesting there are references to the city of Ucch in almost all the accounts of the Rayeen community. It is very likely, a group of cultivators left the Sutlej valley and settled in the Ghaggar. From the tribal myths, we have some fairly consistent information, the Chalisa famine and attacks by the Bhattis forcing them leave Haryana and move across to Uttar Pradesh. In the 19th Century, the Rayeen were the early colonist in the Nainital Terai region, where they cleared the jungles and built their villages. The majority of the community are still found in the Terai region.

 

Distribution of Rayeen in the United Provinces by District According to 1901 Census of India

 

District Population
Pilibhit 4,807
Nainital 3,927
Bareilly 2,908
Saharanpur 1,258
Muzaffarnagar 528
Rampur 459
Moradabad 392
Bijnor 214
Dehra Dun 90
Meerut 44
Other districts 161
Total Population 14,698

Looking at the Census returns, it is clear that majority of the Rayeen population were found in the Rohilkhand region, with a second cluster found in Saharanpur and Muzzafarnagar in the Doab.
The Rayeen are still largely found in Bareilly, Pilibhit, Udham Singh Nagar (carved out of Nainital), Nainital, Rampur and Saharanpur districts of Uttar Pradesh.

Villages in Pilibhit District

Starting with Pilibhit District, they are found in the villages of Amariya, Barhepura, Bhainsaha, Dheram, Dang, Dhundhari, Gaibojh, Harraypur, Karghaina, Madhopur,  Nurpur, Patti, Turkania, Sardarnagar, Sirsi,  Sukatia, and Udaipur. There are also several villages located north of the town of Bisalpur including Khameria, and near Jahanabad.

Villages in Bareilly District

In Bareilly District,they occupied several villages near the town of Baheri like Arsiabojh, Dayyabojh, Dhakia, Ekgrah, Fardi Rayeen, Gunah Jawahar, GuleriaMundia Nabibakhsh, Mundia Nasir, Mundia Jageer, Pipra, Paiga, and Suketia.

Villages in Udham Singh Nagar (formerly part of Nainital District)

In Udham Singh Nagar District they are settled in the towns of Kichha , Rudrapur and Sitarganj, and in the villages of Bandia, Baroda, Kachhi Khamaria, Lalpur, Malpura, Naugwan, Sisai, Pipelia and Sirauoli.

Villages in Bijnor District

In Bijnor District they are settled in the town of Najibabad (Mohalla Rampura), Kiratpur, Jalalabad, and Sahanpur Estate specially in the village of Alipura, Chukhapur, Chandanpur, Chilkiya, Ghawaryi(Khadar), Mojampur Tulsi, Puranpur, Rammanwala, Rasulpur and Taharpur.

Rampur District

In Rampur they are present in Mandanpur and Bhaisodi.

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Languages, Religion, Tribes and Castes of the Hazara Region

In this post, I will examine the 1931 Census of what was then the Hazara District of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), which is now the Hazara Division. Ethnologically this region is interesting, in that forms a transition zone between the Pashtun dominated areas in the west, the very diverse regions of Kohistan and Gilgit to the north, and the Lahnda speaking areas of Pakistani Kashmir and Punjab to the south and east. I would also ask the reader to look at my post on the 1931 Census of Mirpur District, a region that shares many culture similarities with Hazara.

 

Hazara is bounded on the north and east by the Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir. To the south are the Islamabad Capital Territory and the province of Punjab, whilst to the west lies the rest of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). The river Indus runs through the division in a north-south line, forming much of the western border of the division. The total area of Hazara is 18,013 km². The region is a classic in-between place, which is influenced by both the tribal Pashtun society as well the more settled village based structure of the Punjab and mountainous culture of the Chibhal. Indeed, Hazara has probably the closest linkages with Chibhal, the Hindko language almost merges into Chibhali. Certain castes such as the Dhund and Gakhar are found in equal numbers in both regions. In this post, I analyse the results of the 1931 Census of India. At that time the region had not seen substantial migration of Pashtuns from other regions of the KPK. Most of the population spoke Hindko, which in 1931 was included in the Lahnda category. I have split the post into three categories, the first bit will give an overview of the languages spoken, the second on religion and finally on caste identity.

 

Languages

 

Language Population Percentage
Lahnda 625,268 93%
Pashto 29,375  4%
Punjabi 5,436  0.8
Nepali 4,993
Hindi/Hindustani/Urdu 4,113
Gojri 287
Kashmiri 96
Kohistani 79
Others 464
Total 670,117 100%

As these results show, the majority of the population spoke a language called Lahnda in 1931 Census. Its worth mentioning Lahnda itself is an exonyms and even in 1931 was not used by the speakers themselves.The emerging languages of this dialect area are Saraiki, Hindko and Pothohari. Lahnda means “western” in Punjabi, and was a term coined by William St. Clair Tisdall (in the form Lahindā) probably around 1890 and later adopted by a number of linguists — notably George Abraham Grierson — for a dialect group that had no general local name. Locally, the term to describe the language, at least from the late 19th Century is Hindko, and its speakers are known as Hindkowan, literally in Farsi those who speak the Hindko language. Hindko almost merges seamlessly into Chibhali, the two languages acquiring their own unique identity, largely because each was spoken in distinct political units. In the case of Chibhali, it was spoken in the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir and came under the influence of Punjabi and Kashmiri. Dhundi-Kairali, spoken by the Dhund and Karlal tribes of eastern Hazara and western Poonch is an intermediate dialect between Chibhali and Hindko. This dialect is now spoken largely in Abbottabad District, and the adjoining Murree Hills and Galyat areas.

The other two languages that are indigenous to the region are Pashto and Gojri. Briefly about Pashto, it was largely spoken in the  Kala Dhaka region,  home to five major tribes, Bassi khel, Mada khel, Akazai, Hassanzai, and Nasrat khel, all of whom were clans of the Yousafzai. Some Swati clans also continued to speak Pashto. It is worth pointing out most of the Pathans belonging to the larger tribes such as the Jadoon, Tareen and Dilazak were Hindko speaking. In Hazara tribal and linguistic identity often did not match. The other indigenous language was Gojri, which had 287 speakers. As the language of the Gujjar caste, who numbered 98,599, the figure of 987 is extremely small. It is very likely, that the number of Gojri speakers have been undercounted, as many were Gujars at that time were nomadic, this was especially the case in the Kaghan Valley.

Religion

 

Religion Population Percentage
Muslim 636,794  95%
Hindu 24,543 4%
Sikh 7,630
Christian 432
Others 718
Total 670,117 100%

In terms of religion, the Hazara region was largely Islamized by the 1931 census. The region was home to a Hindu minority, many of whom belonged Khatri, Arora and Brahman castes. The region was uniquely home to the Muhial community, traditionally landowning Brahmans.

Tribes and Castes

 

Religion Caste or Tribe Sub-Caste Population
Muslims
Awan 106,931
Gujjar 98,599
Pathan 54,544
 Jadoon 19,070
   Tareen 935
   Dilazak 906
   Utman Khel 585
   Yousafzai 321
   Bangash 199
   Khattak 140
 Durrani 81
   Afridi 57
   Mohmand 31
   Other Tribes 32,216
Swati 44,511
Dhund 38,983
Sayyad 27,629
Karral (Sardar) 27,117
Julaha (Bafinda)  

13,564

Kashmiri 13,218
Mughal 11,843
Tarkhan 10,201
Sarrara 9,984
Lohar 9,593
Mochi 9,082
Nai 7,173
Qureshi 6,415
Gakhar 6,017
Mishwani 5,361
Malyar 5,204
Kumhar 5,041
Rajput 5,016
Turk 4,486
Teli 2,811
Shaikh 2,455
Dhobi 2,387
Mirasi 1,799
Mussali  1,142
Khoja (Punjabi Sheikh) 934
Darzi 846
Jhinwar (Jheer) 758
Sonar 383
Qassab 284
Mallaah 250
Paracha 185
Baluch 166
Arain 132
Chamar 120
Jat 58
Penja 49
Rangrez 30
Baghban 25
Bhatiara 18
Other Muslims 18,038
 Hindus
Khatri 8,890
Gurkha 4,173
Brahman 3,306
Arora 2,036
Rajput 689
Bhatia  193
Sonar 44
Chuhra 40
Dhobi 31
Gakhar 28
Jat 13
Kumhar 13
Jhinwar 10
Lohar 7
Mochi 4
Nai 3
Tarkhan 2
Other Hindus 5,779
Sikh
Brahman 1,693
Khatri 486
Arora 336
Jat 282
Rajput 177
Bhatia 69
Sonar 31
Kumhar 6
Other Sikhs 4,542
 
Others  1,150
Total Population 670,117

With regards to caste grouping, the British Administration had divided the population by the Land Alienation Act into those who could own land, and those who were ineligible.The tribes of the District, that were notified as agricultural under the Punjab Alienation Act, were the Awans, Bambas, Bibs, Dhunds, Dilazaks, Gakhars, Gujars, Karrals, Malliars, Mishwanis, Mughals, Pathans, Qureshis, Rajputs, Sararas, Swathis, Sayeds, Tareens, Tanaolis, and Turks. The large non-agriculturalist groups included Julaha (Bafinda), Tarkhan, Lohar, Mochi and Nai groups, who were often referred to by the derogatory term kami. The number of kami castes had fallen over the period, as many of families were absorbed into agricultural castes.Below is a brief description of the largest grouping by population.

Major Muslim Groups

The Awans and Bibs

The Awans made up one-sixth of the total population in Hazara, and were found almost everywhere other then the Kala-Dhaka. I will not go into too much detail as to there origin, other then to say they claim descent from Qutab Shah, an Arab, and a descendent of Ali, who arrived in the region with Mahmud of Ghazni. The Awans were are entirely Hindko speaking group, and connected with the Awans of the Pothohar region of neighbouring Punjab. Closely connected to the Awans are the Bib who are small  tribe found Abbotabad District, occupying two villages between the Rash plains and Thandiani range. They claim a common origin with the Awans, and in 1931 were not counted separately but included within the Awans.

The Gujjars

The Gujars are among the oldest inhabitants of the region, and make up the second largest ethnic group in Hazara. They were in occupation of the  Hazara plain before the Dilazaks, Utmanzais, and Tareens  migrated there. In Mansehra, the Kathana Gujars of Kot Najibullah and in Haripur the Jagal Gujars are most prominent families. The Kaghan Valley right up to the Babusar pass is entirely inhabited by the Gujjars. The Kaghan Gujjars are largely Gojri speaking, while those in the southern part of Hazara are now largely Hindko speaking.

The Pathans and Mashwani

In Hazara, as in most cis-Indus regions, the Pashtun tribes describe themselves as Pathan, with the exception of those from the Kala Dhaka, speaking the Yousafzai dialect, call themselves Pakhtoon. In 1931, the total Pathan population, including the Kala Dhaka tribes was 54,544, about 8% of the total population. After Independence in 1947, the Pathan population has increased considerable, as migrants from other parts of KPK have settled there. Related to the Pathans were the Mishwanis, who numbered 5,361, and inhabit the villages of Sirikot, Kundi, Amarkhana, and Gadwalian at the north-east end of the Gandgar range. The Mishwani claim to be  Saiads in origin, Mishwani, their ancestor, being one of the four sons of the Sufi Saiad Muhammad-i-Gisu Daraz. He is said to have married a daughter or granddaughter of  Kakar, and to have been adopted by Danai, Kakar’s father. In customs, the Mishwanis had much in common with the other Pathans tribes such as the Jadoons and Tareens. However, on account of their Sayed ancestry, they were seperately enumerated.

The Swatis

The Swatis were the fourth largest group in the region. They claim to be Pathans,  and to be connected with the Yusafzais. or rather with  the Ranazais, from whom the Yusafzais are derived from. When the Swat valley was invaded by the Yusafzais, the Swati fled eastward in northern Hazara. They are divided into two main sections — the Ghabri or Utli  (Upper) Pakhli, and the Mamiali-Mitrawi or Tarli (Lower) Pakhli. The former occupy the Kagan, Balakot, Garhi Habibullah, Mansehra, Shinkiari, Bhogarmang, and Konsh valley. The Konshi Swatis are the most distinct and in the earlier censuses were seperately enumerated. Most Swatis are Hindko speaking except for a few communities in Shinkiari who speak Pashto.

The Dhunds

British colonial ethnologist believed tha the Dhunds were of converted Hindus in origin. But they have always claimed to be of Abbasi origin. Like the Karrals, they were for a time subservient to the Gakhars until the Sikh occupation in the early 19th Century. They occupy the Bakot tract between the Dunga Gali range up to the Jhelum river, and the country on either side of the eastern or Dhund branch of the Harroh before its junction with the Karral branch. They also extend across the border to the hills round Murree, and also found in the Poonch region. The Dhund and the Karlal speak their own version of Hindko called Dhundi-Kairali, which is closer to the Chibhali language then standard Hindko.

The Sayyads

All Sayyads claim descent from the Prophet Mohammad. In the District they number 27,629 , and belong to the Bukhari, Tarimzai, Mashadi, Bakri, and Gilani sections. They are scattered all over the region. The Sayyads of the Kaghan valley  stand somewhat apart from the rest. Descendants of  Jalal Baba, who led the Swathi invasion into Hazara, they for long remained virtually independent masters of the upper end of the valley. They are entirely Hindko speaking.

The Karal or Karlal

The Karrals, sometimes pronounced as Karlal, numbered 127,117 in 1931. They are found mainly in the Nara tract between the Rajoia plain and the Dunga Gali range, but are also found in the Boi hills. They claim to be Mughals, who came from Kian in Iran. Their ancestor, Kallar Shah, was, they say, was in the service of an Emperor of Delhi, with whom he went to Kashmir. On his return he took the Nara hills and the Bakot tract from the Gakhars. They are closely connected to the Dhunds, and speak the Dhundi-Kairali dialect.

The Julaha or Bafinda

The Julaha or as they are locally known as Bafinda were the weavers of the Hazara region. They were probably under counted, as many had regitered themselves either as Awan or Pathan, inflating the numbers of those castes. As non-agricultural tribe, the Bafinda were not allowed to own land. Although large, and in the 1901 Census they outnumbered the Sayyad and Karlal, the Bafinda are one of the most marganalized community in Hazara. This tragically has remained the case. They are entirely Hindko speaking.

The Kashmiris

By 1931, the Hazara region was home to 13,218, many settled in the town of Abbotabad. They had arrived later in the 19th Century, and included some Chibhali groups. Largely an urban community of petty traders. Almost all spoke to Hindko by 1931.

The Tarkhan and Lohar

Although seperately counted, both groups were close and intermarried. Like the Bafinda, British policy meant they could not buy land. As a result, both groups were entirely tennants. Increasingly, these groups were making claims to a Mughal origin, so that they could own land. The figures for the Mughal were therefore very likely to be inflated. The traditional occupation of the Tarkhan is carpentry and Lohar were smiths.

The Sarrara

Like the Dhunds, the Sararas claim to be a branch of the Abbasi tribe,with whom they intermarry. According to their traditions, the Sarraras came from Pakpattan in Punjab. It is possible that, like the Dhunds and Karrals, they may be Hindus in origin. It is noticeable that with all three tribes the names of the subsections terminate in ‘al,’ like those of the Jat and Rajput tribes of the Chibhal and Pothohar regions. In 1931, they lived almost exclusively in the Boi tract between the Thandiani range and the Kunhar river.

The Mughals

Mostly found in the urban areas, mainly in Mansehra. As already said, a large number of Tarkhans and Lohars had made claims to Mughal ancestry, and the boundary between the three castes was less then clear.

The Mochi

Mochi means cobbler, and those who followed this occupation were the most marganalized group in the region. Working with leather had a stigma, and Mochi neighbourhoods in villages in the Hazara region were always found some distance from the main centre of the village. It is probable, that they are converts from the Hindu Chamar caste. Largely found in Gakhar, Awan, Jadoon or Tareen Pathan villages, rarely found in villages of mountain tribes such as the Karlal, Dhund or Sarraras.

The Nai

Like the Mochi, the Nai or barbers were also very stigmatised. Some groups claimed Janjua Rajput origin, others an Awan origin. This may be the case, but in 1931, the Nai formed a distinct community, although they were less marganalized then the Mochi. In Hazara in 1931, the landowning castes were ascendent, and sadly this has remained the case.

The Gakhar

Unlike the previous two tribes, the Gakhars have dominated the history of the District. They trace their descent from Nausherwan, King of Iran, and his grandson Yazdgurd, Kiani, said to be an ancestor of Mahmud of Ghazni. According to their traditions, Yazdgurd’s son, Firoz Shah, went to China in the seventh century a.d., was made commander of the Emperor’s Bodyguard, and given Tibet to rule over. In the ninth century, having been converted to Islam, his descendants left Tibet for Kabul. After remaining there 200 years, they moved to Ghazni. They came to India about a.d. 1,000 with Mahmud of Ghazni, who made the Sind Sagar Doab over to them. They returned to Ghazni with Mahmud, but continued to take tribute from the conquered territory. On the break-up of Mahmud’s dynasty the Kashmiris took possession of the Doab, but in the fifteenth century Malik Kad Gakhar recovered it from them. This much is tradition only, but we now come to historical facts. In a.d. 1519 the Emperor Babar came into contact with the tribe, and found them ruled by two chiefs who wore cousins, and named Tatar and Hati respectively. While the Emperor was in their country, Hati attacked Tatar, killed him, and took possession of liis territory. Babar’s force thereupon marched against Hati, and captured his stronghold. Hati fled, but afterwards made his submission. In Akbar’s time, according bo the ‘ Ain-ul-Akbari,’ the Gakhar chiefs were Sultan Sarang and his brother Adam. The Hazara Gakhars are descended from Fateh Khan, son of Sultan Said Khan, who founded Khanpur about the end of the sixteenth century. The tract made over to him by his grandfather, Sultan Sarang Khan, included the Karral and Dhund hills, as well as those of Khanpur, but during the decline of the Moghal dynasty the Karrals and Dhunds, as above stated, managed to assert their independence. Under the Durani rule the Gakhars of Hazara were tributary rulers, given the lower portions of Hazara to adminster, until the arrival of the Sikhs which ended their independence. Most Gakhars were found in Haripur region.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lilla and Phaphra

In this post, I will look at two tribes, namely the Phaphra and Lilla, who live in close proximity to each other in the Pind Dadan Khan region of Jhelum. Both of them have been called Jat, and here I wish to make a point. Both these tribes claim to an extra sub-continental descent, the Phaphra claim to be Mughal, while the Lilla Qureshi. Yet, the definition of Jat is elastic enough in this region for both these tribes to be included in the Jat category. What makes someone a Jat here is whether other tribes of Jat status will intermarry with them. I would also ask the reader to look at my article on the Jalap, which gives some background on the Jats of the Jhelum region.

Phaphra

Phaphra is small tribe of Mughal status, also found in Pind Dadan Khan plains located north of the river Jhelum.

The tribe claims to be Barlas Mughals, and get its name from an ancestor named Phaphra, who settled in the district in the 15th Century. So who exactly are the Barlas, and I shall briefly look at this group of medieval Mongols. According to the Secret History of the Mongols, written during the reign of Ögedei Khan [r. 1229-1241], the Barlas shared ancestry with the Borjigin, the imperial clan of Genghis Khan and his successors, and other Mongol clans. The leading clan of the Barlas traced its origin to Qarchar Barlas, head of one of Chagatai’s regiments. Qarchar Barlas was a descendant of the legendary Mongol warlord Bodonchir (Bodon Achir; Bodon’ar Mungqaq), who was also considered a direct ancestor of Genghis Khan. Due to extensive contacts with the native population of Central Asia, the tribe had adopted the religion of Islam, and the Chagatai language, a Turkic language of the Qarluq branch, which was heavily influenced by Arabic and Persian. Timur, the ancestor of the Mughal dynasty belonged to the Barlas clan, and therefore that would connect the Paphra with the Mughals.

As their little historic evidence to connect the Phaphra with the Mughals, there is some scepticism as to their claim of Mughal ancestry. British settlement documents from the late 19th and early 20th Century refer refer to them as a “semi-Jat tribe”. As I have already mentioned, the word Jat in the Jhelum region often means a cultivator. The fact that the Phaphra often intermarry with neighbouring tribes such as the Lilla and Gondal, who are considered as Jat often reinforces the perception that the Phaphra are Jat.

According to Phaphra traditions, they came to this district from the direction of Faridkot, in what is now in East Punjab India. They settled in India around 15th Century, slightly earlier then the Mughal takeover of the Punjab. The Phaphra settled here as agriculturists, getting their name from their leader at that time Phaphra. However some other traditions claim he was called Nittharan. According to a family tree kept by Chaudharies of Gharibwal, the largest landowners among the tribe, gives their genealogy as follows:
Harbans or Shah Ibrahim (a descendent of Timur), Tilochar, Shah, Mal, Phaphra, Pheru, Vatra, Jatri, Harsh or Arif, Tulla, Nado, Hardev, Mahpal, and finally Nittharan.

Nittharan is said to have five sons namely; Gharib, (descendants in Gharibwal), Samman (Sammanwal), Ichhcin (son’s name Sau, descendants in Sauwal), Rao (Rawal), and Dhudhi (Dhudhi, and Qadarpur). Some of the earlier names are clearly Hindu, although this does not itself preclude their claim to Barlas ancestry. But there position in Jhelum society was more akin that of the Jats then the Mughals. Their headmen use the title Chaudhary, and their customs are very similar to the Gondals, the largest Jat tribe in their vicinity. The Phaphra are now divided into two rival clans, the Dhudhial, from the village of Dhudhi Paphra and Sadowalia from those who belong to the village of Sadowal.

The Paphra occupy a compact area of about 25 square miles at the foot of the Salt Range, east of Pind Dadan Khan in Jhelum District .The main Mughals Phaphra villages are Chak Danial, Chak Shadi, Chakri Karam Khan, Dewanpur, Dhudi Paphra, Ghareebwal, Jutana, Karimpur, Kaslian, Kot Phaphra, Kot Shumali, Rawal, Sidhandi, Sammanwal, Sadowal, Saowall, Shah Kamir, Qadirpur, Thil, Warnali, and Warra Phaphra, all in Pind Dadan Khan Tehsil of Jhelum District. In Chakwal District they are found in Dhok Virk and Jotana. Mohra Phaphra is a lone Phaphra village in Rawalpindi District. Across the Jhelum, in Mandi Bahauddin District the Paphra are also found in villages of Phaphra, Chak No 29 and Nurpur Piran.

Lila

The next tribe I will look are the Lila, who are also found above the Jhelum in Pind Dadan Khan District.

According to their tribal traditions, they originally located in Arabia, being relations of the Prophet on his mother’s side. This would make the Lila’s Qureshi by origin. They then left Arabia under the leadership of an individual named Haris, who migrated to India, with a band of 160 men and settled at a place called Masnad in Hindustan, which they say still exists as a small town or village, though its exact situation is not known. This happened in the time of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni. However, the Lilla did not stay long in Masnad, and moved to Multan. There they became disciples of the pir Ghaus Shah. The Pir warned them that they would prosper as long as they remained united, but that any disagreements within the tribe would lead to their ruin.

Accompanied by Ghaus Shah, the tribe settled in Shahidiwalian, near present day Gujranwala. After they had been settled there for some time the locals of the place began to get tired of the trouble they caused, and made complaint to the Emperor at: Delhi, who ordered that they should be moved on.

The local governor was ordered to expel them and succeeded in dividing the tribe into two factions, which fought a pitched battle. The defeated party dispersed and its descendants are now found near the Chenab, mainly in what’s now Mandi Bahaudin District, while the others, weakened by the struggle, migrated to the Pind Dadan Khan plain, led by Lilla Buzurg, whose is considered the ancestor by all the present Lillas. When Lilla arrived at their present location, the tract was then occupied a tribe of Hal Jats. As I have already mentioned in the section on the Hal, the Lillas proceeded exterminated this tribe, barring one pregnant woman, who had managed to escape. According to the tribal traditions of the Awan, who villages border those of the Lilla, they were first settle the area by the Jhelum, which was a swamp.Despite the claim to Qureshi ancestry, the Lilla are considered as Jats by their neighbours and intermarry with other tribes of Jat status such as the Gondal, Jethal, Phaphra and Wariaches.

The four ancestral villages of the tribe are Lilla Bhera (also known as Mainowana), Lilla Bharwana, Lilla Hindwana, and Lilla Guj, which are said to be named after their founders, Maino, Bharo, Hindo, and Guj. Each of these villages are named after their founders, Maino, Bharo, Hindo, and Guj. The tribe holds about 40 square miles of territory between Pind Dadan Khan town and the Salt Range in the Jhelum District, and form the majority in the villages of Chak Hameed, Jalalpur Sharif, Lilla Handwana, Lilla Goj, Lilla Bhera (also known as Mainowana) and Rawal in Pind Dadan Khan Tehsil. There also a second cluster of Lilla villages on the banks of the Jhelum River in Khushab District, such as Kotla Jagir, Mohibpur and Waheer. While in Mandi Bahauddin District, they are found in Bohat, and further south in Sargodha District, they are found in Bhikhi Khurd, descendants of the second group of Lillas who dispersed to the Chenab.

Gungal/ Gangal, Miyal/Mial and Ratial tribes

In this post, I will focus on three little known tribes found in the Pothohar region, namely the Gangal and Ratial. I will ask the region to look at my post on the Budhal and Kanyal tribes, which give some background to the tribal history of this region. An interesting thing about the various tribes in this region is that there name often ends in al, which is patronymic, for example, the sons of Kals, are the Kalyal and so on, very similar to the Arabic Bin or Slavic ovich or ov. The aals started off as clans of a larger tribe, such as Kanyal being an aal of the Chauhan tribe, which overtime grew in numbers, leading separation from the parent stock. Both tribes have very similar customs, being historically farmers and speaking the Pothwari language.

Gangal

I shall start off with the little known tribe known as the Gungal, sometimes spelt Gangal, found throughout this region. As mentioned in my introduction, the tribes in the region have names ending in al, meaning son of or descendent of a named individual. In the case of the Gungal, that would be mean that they are descendent of Gang, or possible Ganga, a common first name among Hindus of all castes. Like most Punjab tribes, there are a number of different traditions as to the origin of this tribe. The Gangal of Gujar Khan, Chakwal and Jhelum claim that they are a section of the Bhatti Rajputs, therefore Gang or Ganga belonged to the Bhatti tribe, a well-known tribe of Rajputs found throughout Punjab. In this region, being Rajput is a matter of status, which can be both gained or lost. If an ancestor took up cultivation, then his descendants would be classified as Jat, or vice versa, if they rose in prominence, they would acquire the status of Rajput. In the latter case, they would restrict marriage with other tribes of Rajput status. Often, a branch of the tribe would call itself Rajput in one village, and in a neighbouring villages, they would be simple cultivators, and be known as Jat. With regards to the Gungal, most of those found in Rawalpindi District call themselves Rajputs, while in Jhelum are Jat, and intermarry with tribes of Jat status.

However, the Gangal of Rawalpindi Tehsil, have a completely different origin myth. Gang according to them was not a Bhatti, but an Awan, therefore according to the Rawalpindi Gangals, they are clan of the Awan tribe. The Rawalpindi Gangal trace their descent from Qutab Shah’s son Muzamal Ali, nicknamed Kalgan. Briefly, according to Awan tribal traditions, their ancestor was a Qutb Shah, who is said to have accompanied and assisted Mahmud of Ghazna in his early eleventh century conquests of what today forms parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Northern India. It is claimed that in recognition of their services and valour, Mahmud bestowed upon Qutb Shah and his sons (who, according to tribal traditions, settled primarily in the Salt Range) the title of Awan, meaning “helper”. Coming back to the Gangal, a descendent of Muzamal Ali named Gohar Shah was their ancestor. This Gohar Shah was nicknamed Ganga, and the Ganga are the aal or descendants of this Ganga. It is interesting to note the Gangal villages in Rawalpindi tehsil are surrounded by the Awan villages, therefore it is possible that they have affiliated themselves with the dominant group, while in Gujarkhan, they maintain links with the Rajput clans, which in turn dominate that region.

With regards to their distribution, in Rawalpindi District, their villages include Gungal, Mujahid Gungal in Rawalpindi Tehsil, Sood Gungal located within the Islamabad Capital Territory. In Gujar Khan tehsil, they are found in number of villages such as Faryal, Gungal, Narali Jabbar and Sui Cheemian. Other Gungal villages in Rawalpindi District include Chakyal near Hardogher, Dhamnoha and Samote in Kallar Syedan Tehsil, and Bimma Gungal in Kahuta Tehsil. In neighbouring Jhelum District, their main village is Gungal, while in Chakwal District their villages include Dhok Vazira, Mak and Mohra Gungal near Kallar Syden. In Attock District, they are found in the village of Gangal in Fateh Jang Tehsil.

Miyal

Miyal, or sometimes written as Mial, are tribe found mainly in Rawalpindi and Chakwal districts. They are descendants of a Mian, which in there case may not refer to a single common ancestor, but is a term which is often used to describe any holyman or Sufi saint. These is also shown by the fact that different Mial groups have different origin myths. According to 1911 Census of India, about 807 Mial declared themselves as Rajput, while 25 declared themselves as Jats. Some Mial groups also say that they are Qureshi Arabs, while others claim to be Mughals.There main villages include Malluwala in Pindigheb Teshsil and Mial in the Fateh Jang Tehsil of Attock District, the village of Mial in Rawalpindi District, and the villages of Budhial, Mureed, Mial and Warwal in Chakwal District. In addition, Mial settlements are also found in the Gujar Khan Tehsil, such as Sapiali Khinger.

Ratial

The Ratial are Rajput tribe, found mainly in Rawalpindi District. There customs are similar to neighbouring tribes such as the Bangial and Kanyal. Like other tribes in the region, they have several traditions as to their origin. According to one such tradition, the tribe are descended from Khattar Khan, the ancestor of the Khattar tribe. Khattar Khan had six sons, Jand Khan,Isa Khan, Sarwar Khan, Firoz Khan, Sehra Khan and Pehru Khan. About three generations after his death, the tribe lost Nilab but they took possession of the open country between Rawalpindi and the Indus which became known by the name of Khattar. The descendants of Jand Khan took possession of the district called after them Jandal between Khushhalghar and Nara. From Feroz Khan the Drek family has descended. His great- grandson was Ratnah from whom have descended the clan known as Ratial. The Khattar tribe, like the Awans claim descent from Qutub Shah, which would make the Ratial Alvi Arabs.

However, another tradition makes Ratnah out to be a Manhas Rajput, who left Kangra in the 15th Century and settled in Potohar region, and converted to Islam. His descendants are known the Ratial. A few generations from Ratnah were two brothers Jairo Khan and Bhairo Khan. Jairo is said to have founded the village Jairo Ratial, and his brother Bhairo founded the neighbouring village Bhair Ratial. Almost all the other Ratial’s trace there descent from these two villages. Claims to Minhas ancestry are more widely accepted, certainly by the Ratial’s of Gujarkhan.

The Ratial Minhas rose to some significance as rulers of the large part of the present Rawalpindi District known as Ratala, centred around the village of Ratala in Gujar Khan Tehsil. They were displaced from Ratala by a Janjua chief named Raja Abdullah Khan in the 18th Century, who had himself been displaced by the upheaval of the Sikh conquest of Garjaak and Darapur in Jhelum, and as a result took his remaining army and conquered the region of Ratyal from a Ratial chief who was loyal to the Sikh empire. He defeated the Ratial Chief and although the region remained known Ratala. With this, the Ratial ceased to play any important political role in the region. The Ratial thereafter sunk to the status of farmers, and according to 1911 Census of Punjab, they numbered 549.
Their principle villages are Ratial (near Dina) and Darapur in Jhelum District, and Ratial, Bher Ratial, Jairo Ratial and Puraney Ratial, in the Gujar Khan Tehsil of Rawalpindi District. They also found in Banoti Niar and Chak Beli Khan villages south of Rawalpindi. There are also number of Ratial villages in Attock District.