Pachhada

In this post, I will look at a Muslim community called the Pachhada historically found in what is now the state of Haryana in India. Their ancestral homeland was the Ghagar River Valley and the semi-desert territory that now forms part of the Sirsa, Fatehabad, Hissar and Mahendragarh districts of Haryana, and the Ganganagar district of Rajasthan. They were a nomadic and pastoral community and are closely related to the Rath community of Rajasthan. Most reared the local Rathi cattle breed and would migrate with flocks to the rivers Sutlej and Ravi, and as such were also known as Rathi. In neighbouring Rajasthan, Muslim pastoral nomads of Bikaner and Ganganagar are still known as Rath, which literally means a charioteer.

The  term  Pachhada  was historically  applied  collectively  to  miscellaneous  Muslim  tribes  that  inhabited  the  Ghaggar  valley  and  villages  adjacent thereto  in  what were the  Sirsa  and  Fatehabad  Tehsils of the erstwhile Hissar District.  The  word  is  derived from the Punjabi “pachham,”  meaning  west,  and  da meaning from, so literally westerners, and was used by the Jats and Ranghars to describe tribes which had settled in the region after the famous chalisa famine. The Chalisa famine of 1783–84 in the Indian subcontinent followed unusual El Niño events that began in 1780 and caused droughts throughout the region. Chalisa (literally, “of the fortieth” in Hindustani) refers to the Vikram Samvat calendar year 1840 (1783). This led to the depopulation of the Ghaghar valleys as pastoralists such as the Bhatti moved further west. As things settled, a number of clans moved from Sutlej valley, in what is modern day Pakistani Punjab and settled in the region. In terms of their dialect of Punjabi, it was very close to that to that spoken in the Neeli Bar region. The tribes never used the term Pachhada to describe themselves as the author of the Hissar District gazetteer notes:

Neither the name Pachhada, nor the name Rath is used by these people when speaking of themselves, unless, indeed, the  person who calls himself a Pachhada is a man  of low caste such as a  Mochi or a Lohar, in which case the  name Pachhada is used to conceal  the real caste. The majority of the persons called Pachhadas claim to be Rajputs,  and  when  asked  their  caste  usually  answer “Pachhada sadaunde,” they call us Pachhadas.

The tribes themselves have called themselves Rajputs, and had intermarried with long settled Rajputs of the Ghaghar such as the Bhatti and Chauhan. Groups that were sometimes included within the Pacchada category included the Wattu , Joiya and  Kharal, however the term was strictly used to refer to four tribes, namely:

Tribes Origin Stories
Sohu Traditionally, the Sohu claim to be Chauhan Rajputs, but the they have a number of traditions as to their origin. The Sohus of the village of Bhirrana, the head-quarters of the clan, stated that at the turn of the 20th Century that their  ancestor  came  some  eight  generations  ago  from Rawalpindi,  under  a  leader  named  Jatu, via Bhatner  and Rania, to Bhirrana: Jatu returned to Rawalpindi, while Lal, his  son,  remained  as  leader,  and  he  is  regarded  as the  founder of the present Sohu clan.

Another version is that the Sohus are Chauhans who came via Delhi from Jilopattan near Jaipur, and settled on the  Ravi, whence they again migrated to Sirsa.

 Sukheras They claim descent from the Tunwar  Rajputs  of  Bahuna.  Thirpal,  a  Tomar  of  that place, married a Jatni, and was in consequencv outcasted. Thirpal  is  said  to  have  settled  in  Basti  Bhiman  near Fatehabad,  and  his  descendants  subsequently  spread into Sirsa  and  as  far  as  Abohar.  They  were,  however,  driven backagain  and  settled  in  Begar;  it  and  Basi  Bhiman  was their chief  villages.  They  take  their  name  from  Sukha,  the son of Thirpal.
Hinjraon This clan  claimed  descent  from  the  Siroha Rajputs, and was said to have migrated from the banks of the  Ravi into this district. Their principal ·village was Hinjraon  in the Fatehabad  Tehsil of the then Hissar District. However, according to other traditions, they are infact Hanjra Jatts who arrived from the banks of the Ravi, in present day Okara.
Chotias or Bhanekas According to their tribal traditions, they  were originally Chauhan Rajputs,  but they appear in reality to be  Dandiwal  Jats,  who  were  converted  to  Islam  a  few generations ago. The Dandiwals themselves claim to have been originally  Chauhans,  and  state  that  they  emigrated  from Delhi via Jaisalmer to Sirsa

From the origin myths of these tribes, it is clear the Pachhada sat on the boundary between Jat and Rajputs, and at time intermarried with both groups.

 

The Pachhada were of among a number of Rajput pastoralist groups found the Ghaghar valley and north Rajasthan, and were often closely identified with the Ranghar and Bhatti communities, who have similar customs and traditions. With the establishment of British rule in the early 19th Century, the new authorities took the view that all pastoral nomads in the Ghaghar valley were a threat to their newly established control, and took stringent measures against all the nomad groups of the region such as the Ranghar, Johiya and Bhatti. Land was allocated to peasant settlers, and an attempt was made to forcibly settle the Pachhada. As a result of these policies, the Pacchada played an important role in the attack on Sirsa in the 1857 Indian War of Independence.

After the reestablishment of British colonial authority, the Pacchada were severely punished by British. There were considerable confiscations of land, and the Pachhada were forcibly settled. By the early 20thcCentury, the Pachhada were settled agriculturists, although animal husbandry remained an important subsidiary occupation. At the time of the partition of India in 1947, the Hissar District fell within the territory of India, and all the Pachhada immigrated to Pakistan.In their new homeland in Pakistani Punjab, mainly in Okara, Sahiwal, Muzaffargarh and Layyah districts, the Pacchada maintain their distinct identity. Many still speak the Haryanvi language. The Pacchada are entirely Sunni, and their customs are similar to other Haryana Muslims settled in Pakistan such as the Ranghar and Meo.

Pacchada Population According to the 1901 Census of India

District Population
Hissar 30,484
Other Districts 633
Total Population 31,117

The Pachhada were essentially a tribe of the Hissar region, the Pachhadas in other districts were either soldiers serving in the army or migrant labourers.

Khichi Chauhans of Punjab

In this post, I will look at the clan of the Khichi Chauhans, a tribe that was centred and still found in the Neeli Bar region. The Neeli Bar is a geographical region in Punjab, Pakistan. It consists of the uplands between the rivers Ravi and Satluj. “Bar” is the name given to areas in Punjab which were thick forests before the arrival of the modern canal irrigation system. Its soil is very fertile, as this plain is formed by the mud that has been collected by rivers flowing from the Himalayas. This region consists of the districts Sahiwal, Okara and Pakpattan . In my post on the Kathia, I give a bit more on the conditions and history of the tribal communities found in this region of Punjab. The Khichi family of Mailsi, are often referred to as the classic feudals of Punjab, having dominated local politics of Mailsi for the last seventy years since independence from the British. The current Member of the Punjab Assembly is for Mailsi is Muhammad Jahanzeb Khan Khichi. However, most present day Khichi are largely farmers.

Khichi, sometimes spelt Khichee, are a branch of the Chauhan clan of Agnivanshi Rajputs (please look at posting on Tribes of Potohar for a definition of Rajput). I shall start off by giving some brief information on the Chauhans. The Chauhan kingdom became the leading Rajput state in Northern India under Prithviraj III (1165–1192), also known as Prithviraj Chauhan or Rai Pithora . The Chauhan state collapsed after Prithviraj was defeated by Mohammed of Ghor in 1192 at the Second Battle of Tarain, but the Chauhans remained in Ajmer as feudatories of Mohammed of Ghor and the Sultans of Delhi until 1365, when Ajmer was captured by the rulers of Mewar, finally ending Chauhan rule. This also led to the dispersal of the Chauhans, with some migrating towards Punjab. The Chauhan kingdom collapsed after Prithviraj was defeated by Mohammed of Ghor in 1192 at the Second Battle of Tarain, but the Chauhans remained in Ajmer as feudatories of Mohammed of Ghor and the Sultans of Delhi until 1365, when Ajmer was captured by the rulers of Mewar. According to Khichi tribal traditions, the descend from Manak Rai, a semi-mythical Chauhan ruler of Ajmer. Manik Rai was said to be the brother of Dula Rai, the Chauhan king of Ajmer. In 684 CE, he fled from Ajmer after Dula Rai was killed by their enemies, and regained control managed of the area around Sambhar Lake with the blessings of the goddess Shakambh. The Khichi claim descent from Ajai Rao, the second son of Manik Rai, the legendry seventh century ruler of Sambhar in Rajasthan.

While the main Chauhan state was extinguished by 1365, cadet branches such as the Khichi, split up, some groups nmoving to the central Indian region of Malwa such as Asalgarh in Nimar. After being driven from Asalgarh, the Malwa Khichi founded the principality of Khilchipur, which lasted till the end of British rule in India and formed part of the Bhopal Agency under the administration of the Central India Agency. Another branch moved to Gagraun, in central Rajasthan, where they became tributaries of the Jhala Rajputs. The Khichi of Chota Udaipur state claim descent from this branch of the Khichis.

The Khichi of Punjab have slightly different origin story. According to their traditions, they claim descent from a Khichi ruler of Ajmer. Driven out of Delhi by one of the Sultan of Delhi, his descendants Sisan and Vidar migrated to Multan. The Khichis then fought with the Joiyas, then paramount in the region, expelling them from the Sutlej valley near the where the town of Mailsi is located. At sometime following their settlement in the Neeli Bar, the tribe converted to Islam. According to tribal traditions, they founded the villages of Shitab Garh, Sargana, Sheer Garh, Haleem Khichi, Aliwah, Tarki, Omar Khichi, Dhoda, and Fadda. One of their tradition refers to their conversion at the hands of the Sufi Bahaudin Zakaria of Multan. They then established a state based in the town of Mailsi, which finally conquered by the Sikhs in the 18th Century. Another branch established a state near the town of Gugera. Mailsi however remains the centre of the tribe. In addition to Punjab, branches of the Khichi tribe are still found in Rajasthan, especially in Jaisalmer, in India, who have remained Hindu, and have very similar origin stories as the Khichi of Punjab.

Groups of Khichi began migrating northwards, and the largest concentration of the Khichi are found in the Bhera Bar, a portion of the Kirana Bar located near the town of Bhera in Sargodha District. Khichi villages include Khichi Jagir, and Daulutpur Khichi in the Sahiwal Tehsil of Sargodha District, Khichi in the Talagang Tehsil and Khichi in Chakwal Tehsil of Chakwal District, and Khichi in Pind Dadan Khan Tehsil of Jhelum District. According to the 1901 Census of India, the Khichi were distributed in the following districts.

Khichi Rajput Population According to the 1901 Census of India

District Population
Chenab Colony 1,870
Multan 1,563
Montgomery 1,342
Bahawalpur 921
Shahpur 838
Jhang 733
Firuzpur 717
Mianwali 514
Other Districts 1,632
Total Population 10,130

Most of the Khichi population is still concentrated in the regions where they were found in 1901. The Khichi of Multan District were found near the town of Mailsi, which is now in Vehari, while the bulk of the Mianwali Khichi were found in the Bhakkar Tehsil, which is now a separate district.
Major Khichi Villages By District

Bhakkar District

1) Basti Cheena,

2) Chah Khichi

3) Khichi Kalan,

4) Khichi Khurd

5) Jhok Khichi

6) Wadhay Wali

Layyah District

1) Chak 459 TDA

2) Chak 465 TDA

Chiniot District

Chani Khichi

Faisalabad District

Chak106JB Khichian,

Shakeel Ahmed Khichi,

Chak 275 Mudooana

Hafizabad District.

Dera Mian Ali Khichi

Khanewal District

Khichiwala

Mandi Bahauddin District

1) Chakori

2) Sanda

Sargodha District

Chak No. 132 NB (Silanwali Tehsil),

Chak No. 139 SB (Silanwali Tehsil)

Okara District

Dholi Khichi,

Jawaya Khich

Nota Khichi

Sialkot District

Rahimpur Khichian

Khichi of Mailsi Region

But the greatest number of Khichi villages are still found in Mailsi region of Vehari District and include Sargana, Aliwah, Fadah, Halim Khichi, Umar Khichi, Shergarh, Shatabgarh, Tarki, Kilanj, Dhamakki, Dhodan and Jiwan Khichi. The Khichi have dominated the local politics in Vehari District, providing many of the members of the National Assembly.

Khanzada Caste: The Bisen

In this I will look at a community of Khanzadeh found in historic Awadh region of Uttar Pradesh. I will ask the reader to look at my article on the Ahbans which gives a historic background to the very interesting Khanzadeh.

The Bisen Khanzadeh are the Muslim branch of the Bisen Thakur caste. According to tribal traditions of the Bisen Thakurs, there ancestor was an individual by the name of Mayura Bhatta. He was said to have been a descendant of Jamadagni Rishi of the race of Bhrigu. According to Hindu legends, Jamadagni (or Jamdagni, Sanskrit: जमदग्नि) is one of the Saptarishis (Seven Great Sages Rishi) in the seventh, current Manvantara. He is the father of Parashurama, the sixth incarnation of Vishnu.

Tribal legends are vague as to the origin of Mayura Bhatta. Some say he came from Hastinapur and was the son of one Ashwathama; others that he was an emigrant from Maharashtra, He read Sanskrit for a while at Benares, and became a proficient in astrology. Quitting that city at last under a divine impulse he settled at Kakradih, a village located near Sikandarpur, of Azamgarh. The whole of that Pargana came gradually under his authority. His domestic arrangements illustrate a period when the bonds of caste, ae we know them, were unknown. He is said to have had three wives,- firsts a Brahman’ named Nagseni ; the second Surajprabha, a Surajbansi Rajput ;’ the third Heakumari, a Gautam Bhumihar. By his wife Surajprabha he had a son, Biswa or Bisen Sen, who was the ancestor of the Bisen Thakurs. Like most Awadh Thakurs, they have traditions that land was under the control of the Bhars, whom he expelled, and established Bisen control over what is now Barabanki and Faizabad regions of Awadh. After Biswa Sen established his kingdom, he went on a pilgrimage to the Himalaya, where he died. He was said to be followed by 79 kings who all bore the surname Sen. The two important Bisen Thakur states were that of Majhauli (currently in Deoria District of Uttar Pradesh) and Deorhi.

The history of the Bisen Khanzada starts with the taluqdar families of Usamanpur. I would once again ask the read to look at my article on the Ahbans, which gives some background as to the status of status of Taluqdars. The base of the family is the village of Usmanpur, located in the historic Sidhaur pargana, about a mile from the road that connects Bara Banki to Haidargarh. This Usmanpur estate was founded by one Koushal Singh (also known as Raja Khushhal Singh), who obtained an estate as a reward for military service against the Bhar tribe in the region under the Tughlaq Sultan in the 13th Century. Raja Koushal Singh was the younger brother of Bisen Raja of Manjhouli. The Rajah is said to have lacked an heir, and on a tour of his estate came across a Sufi by the name of Syed Ashraf Jahangir Samnani (his Shrine is located in Kichoucha Sharif, in Ambedkar Nagar District of UP.), who blessed him and told that you will have two sons but you have to give me the eldest of them. In this way Raja blessed with two sons Lakhan Singh and Bhikhan Singh. Keeping his promise Raja Koushal Singh gave his eldest son Lakhu Singh to the Syed, who converted him to Islam and gave him the name Lakhu Khan. Almost all the Bisen Khanzada trace their descent to Lakhu Khan. On his death, Raja Koushal Singh divided his kingdom into two equal parts and divided among his two sons.

An estate was confered upon Rajah Lakhu Khan by the Mughal Emperor Humayun (26 December 1530 to 17 May 1540 and 22 February 1555 to 27 January 1556). Raja Lakhu Khan then divided his estate into three Taluqas among his three sons, Lakhupur, Kothi and Usmanpur. Kothi going to Thakur Haibat Khan, Usmanpur to Thakur Ahmad Khan and Lakhupur to Thakur Dawood Khan.

The Usmanpur estates consisted of three villages located in three Mahals in Sidhaur and one mahal in Satrikh. The Rajahs of Usmanpur were considered the chiefs of the all the Bisen Khanzada. In addition to the Rajah of Usmanpur, prominent Bisen families are also found in Balrampur District, where the zamindars of Mahua and Burhapara were substantial landowners. Indeed the single largests number of Bisen Khanzada are found in that district, which was historically part of British Gonda.

The Bisen are found in the districts of Basti, Azamgarh, Sitapur, Faizabad, Barabanki, Sultanpur and Balrampur. They are generally Sunni, and speak Awadhi and Urdu.

Bisen Khanzada Population According to the 1901 Census of India

District Population
Gonda 2,463
Basti 2,084
Faizabad 1,765
Sitapur 1,292
Gorakphur 1,153
Bahraich 666
Barabanki 408
Azamgarh 346
Sultanpur 312
Rae Bareli 159
Unao 130
Other Districts 92
Total Population 10,870

 

Jat Population of Punjab According to the 1901 Census of India

In this, my final on the distribution of castes in Punjab, according to the 1901 Census of India, will look at the distribution of the Jats. I would ask the reader to look at my post on the Major Muslim Jat clans, which gives some more background on the caste in Punjab.

District / States

Muslim

Hindu

Sikh

Total

Patiala State 19,794

 

206,658 258,718 485,170

 

Sialkot 162,403
61,243

 

32,497 256,143

 

Firuzpur 29,393

 

 39,357 179,021 247,771

 

Ludhiana  25,890  76,886  131,963 234,739

 

Chenab Colony 150,602

 

19,139 60,518  230,259
Amritsar 38,545 10,101 179,675  228,321

 

Rohtak 1,913 215,126 59  217,098

 

Gujranwala 155,416 22,481 27,970 205,867

 

Hissar 4,540 166,448 24,171  195,159

 

Gujrat 192,000 2,545 530  195,075

 

Bahawalpur State 176,630 13,252 3,258 193,140

 

Lahore 84,568 5,321 101,629 191,518

 

Jalandhar 20,077 84,343 80,824 185,244

 

Hoshiarpur 25,828 92,129 34,655 152,612

 

Gurdaspur 45,528 36,268 60,956 142,752

 

Multan 137,717 325 2,272 140,314

 

Mianwali 137,665  137,665

 

Ambala 11,754 76,049 37,322 125,125

 

Karnal 2,869 109,098 7,558 119,525

 

Dera Ghazi Khan

 

118,701 142 118,843
Muzaffargarh 117,362 117,362

 

Delhi 2,885 110,571 102 113,558

 

Jind State

 

703 71,118 23,394 95,215
Gurgaon

 

921 75,782 50 76,753
Jhelum

 

72,863 146 355 73,364
Nabha State

 

3,592 30,060 34,419 68,071
Shahpur

 

63,650 141 86 63,877
Jhang

 

50,596 20 152 50,768
Kapurthala State

 

13,895 15,142 19,727 48,764
Rawalpindi

 

43,853 320 1,888 46,061
Faridkot State

 

3,581 794 42,085 46,460
Montgomery

 

41,158 674 3,904 45,736
Malerkotla State

 

137 17,078 8,453 25,668
Kangra

 

183 10,964 211 11,358
Kalsia

 

247 6,110 4,280 10,637
Loharu

 

3,014 6,619 6,619
Nahan

 

19 161 3,194
Dujana

 

174 2,458 2,632
Bilaspur

 

25 1,325 254 1,604
Pataudi

 

1,594 1,594
Nalargarh

 

19 804 45 868
Suket

 

245 245

Other Districts

Total

1,957,252

 1,594,876 (including 16 Jains)

1,389,530 4,941,658