Jat Population of Punjab According to the 1901 Census of India

In this, my final post on the distribution of castes in Punjab, according to the 1901 Census of India, I 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. The Jats were the largest single caste, numbering 4,941,658, and more then any other caste grouping, the Jat are associated with the Punjab. In this post, I will also discuss the socio-economic and cultural changes that Jat community were undergoing in the first half of the 20th Century.

Punjab 1909.jpg

Colonial Map of Punjab Source Wikepedia

The 1911 Census and the effects of Jats migration to the Canal Colonies

In 1911, the Jats population was 4,956,586,  of which Muslims numbered 2,279,158 (46%), Hindus 1,057,932 (21%) and Sikhs 1,619,408 (33%), the remaining population was either Jain or Christian. In the Jalandhar and Lahore divisions, we were witnessing a steady conversion of Hindus to Sikhism, which will eventually drastically reduce the number of Hindu Sikhs outside what is now Haryana. They were found in almost every district, with the exception of Jubbal (Simla Hill States) being the only district/ state where no Jats were returned. Pandit Harikishan Kaul, author of the 1911 report wrote the following:

Throughout the rest of the Province, the ubiquitous Jat is found in larger or smaller numbers. They are somewhat scarce in the Attock District and the Himalayan Natural Division, the proportion being lowest in Attock, Nahan, Mandi, Suket and Chamba, while the strength is small in Kangra and Simla. The principal Jat tracts are Rohtak (34 per cent.), Ludhiana  (35 per cent.), Mianwali (34 per cent.), Muzaffargarh (36 per cent.), Multan (31 per cent.), Loharu (43 per cent.), Maler Kotla (32 per cent.), Faridkot (36 per cent.), Jind (34 per cent.), Nabha (30 per cent.), and Patiala (29 per cent.). In other words, the Jats are found in abundance on the banks of the Indus and in the east  central tract consisting of the Phulkian States and Ludhiana, the zone spreading out towards Firuzepur and Hissar, on the one hand, and Jalandhar and Amritsar on the other. The central Punjab has a fairly large Jat element, ranging from 27 to 24 per cent, in the Lyallpur, Gujrat, Shahpur, Gujranwala and Sialkot Districts.

In 1901 many Jats from centre and east of the province were settling in canal colonies established by the British. This process began pick after 1901, which was especially the case in the Chenab Colony, which according Pandit Harkishan Kaul was:

the premier canal colony of the Province is that irrigated by the Lower Chenab Canal. It comprises the whole of the Lyallpur and Jhang districts and the Hafizabad and Khangah Dogran Tehsils of the Gujranwala District.

The Chenab Colony was the largest colonisation project in the Punjab, beginning in 1892 and ending in 1905. Jats were the single largest community of migrants, as the 1911 census report points out:

The Jats who represent over 23 percent of the total number of immigrants are the most useful body of peasants. They consist of 57 percent Muhammadans, 40 percent Sikhs and 3 percent Hindus. Most of the Muhammadan Jats (21,377) have come from Sialkot, and the Montgomery, Multan, Shahpur, Gujrat, Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Lahore districts have also furnished large numbers of them. Sikh Jats are chiefly immigrants from Amritsar (15,830); the other units which have sent large numbers being Ambala, Hoshiarpur, Jallandhar, Ludhiana, Gurdaspur, Sialkot and Patiala.Sialkot has also sent in the largest number of Hindu Jats (1,250) and Ambala, Hoshiarpur and Jullundur have contributed about 500 persons each.

In 1901 Census, we can already see that the Chenab Colony was now the 5th highest in terms of number of Jats in the province. The Jhelum Colony, which was settled between 1902 and 1906, was was situated in the Shahpur district, and had its headquarters in the newly founded town of Sargodha. The 1901 census therefore does show this second focus of Jat migration. The 1911 Census report picked up on the Jat migration to the Jhelum canal:

The largest caste among the immigrants is that of Jats who have come chiefly from Sialkot (10,696), Gujrat (10,657), Jhang (6,205), Gujranwala (4,461) and Jhelum(2,898).They are mostly Muhammadans, work as cultivators and cattle-breeders.

In 1901, there number was still around 5 million. In terms of religious make up, a big change that has happened since the 1901 census is the decline of Hinduism in the next decades of the 20th Century in the Majha, Doaba and Malwa regions. Most of these Hindu Jats were followers of Sakhi Sultan Sarwar, a Sufi saint whose shrine is in Dera Ghazi Khan. Almost all these Punjabi speaking Hindu Jats are Sikh now. I would ask the reader to look at the book Spatializing Popular Sufi Shrines in Punjab: Dreams, Memories, Territoriality. which has some good information on the Sultanis. David Gilmartin’s book Blood and Water: The Indus River Basin in Modern History, is an excellent recent history of the settlement of the Bar, in which the Jat played an important role.

Changes in the Socio-religious status of the Jats Between 1901 and 1931

In 1901, the total Jat population of Punjab was 4,941,658, of which Hindus (including Jains and Buddhist) numbered 1,594,876 (32%), while Sikhs numbered 1,389,530 (28%) and Muslim 1,957,252 (40%). The 1931 Census of India was the last one that counted caste, the Jats had increased to 6,070,032. In terms of distribution, the Jat, were found throughout Punjab, except the Punjab Hill States.

As I have said, most Hindu Jat in 1901 belonged to the Sultani sect, which was in decline, as more and more Punjabi speaking Jats converted to Sikhism. We can see the effect of this trend in 1931 census. In that census, Hindu Jats now only numbered 994,309 (16%) in Punjab, most of whom, about 640,101 (65%) lived in the Ambala Division, in which they formed the majority in every district except Ambala itself, and if we add the neighbouring areas of the Phulkian States of Patiala and Jind in what is now Haryana, then the figure was 805,554 (80%). In terms of numbers Rohtak (262,588), Hisar (185,940), Karnal (99,560), the Phulkian States of Jind (87,508) and Patiala State (77,945), Gurgaon (71,388) and Kangra (9,550) were the districts and states with the largest Hindu communities. These communities spoke various dialects of Haryanvi, with the exception of the Jats of Kangra, who spoke Punjabi. There remained clusters of Hindu Jats were in the cis-Himalayan districts of Hoshiarpur (41,069), Sialkot (23,948) Ambala (20,518), Gurdaspur (3,500), and Gujrat (2,299), an area that bordered Hindu dominated regions of Chamba, Kangra and Jammu. These were Punjabi speaking and had strong traditions of intermarriage with the Sikh Jats, and conversion to Sikhism were still on-going. A second group were found in Firuzpur (16,699), which bordered Bikaner State, many of whom spoke the Bagri language, and were an extension of the Jats of Rajputana. Hindu Jats, the majority from Rajputana, also immigrated to the canal colonies established in the Bahawalpur State, and numbered 17,418. While in the canal colonies under direct British control that formed Lyallpur (2,508), Montgomery (2,382), Shahpur (1,430) and Multan (874) districts, the Hindu Jats were immigrants from Haryana or the cis-Himalayan districts.

Sikh Jats now numbered 2,134,598 (35%), making up the majority of the Jat population in central Punjab region. In numbers the largest population was found in the Phulkian State of Patiala (362,581), followed by the districts of Firuzpur (231,532), Ludhiana (211,682), Amritsar (206,751), Jalandhar (160,286), Lahore (122,871), Gurdaspur (100,312),Hoshiarpur (88,263), Ambala (74,927), and the Phulkian State of Nabha (66,897) and the Sikh states of Faridkot (54,699) and Kapurthala (35,757). They also had a large presence in Sialkot (65,630), Sheikhupura (41,812), Gujranwala (35,339), Hisar (33,623), Gujrat (2,722) and in Phulkian State of Jind (22,197). Sikh Jats were actively sought as migrants by the British to settle the canal colonies, and its effect to be seen in 1931 census, with Sikh Jats population in the canal colonies districts as follows: Lyallpur (98,852), Montgomery (29,819), Bahawalpur State (23,476), Multan (16,463) and Shahpur (6,867). Lyallpur in particular was a very important centre of the Sikh Jats by 1931.

The Muslim Jat proportion also increased, now numbering 2,941,395 (49%), but this growth was largely due to a higher birth rate, rather than conversions. The Muslim Jats were found in every region in Punjab, with villages starting east of Peshawar and ending west of Delhi. Muslim Jats were the majority in Bahawalpur State (361,891), Multan (340,584), Gujrat (240,800), Muzaffargarh (207,482), Lyallpur (190,875), Shahpur (174,185), Gujranwala (172,924), Jhang (162,756), Sialkot (147,879), Mianwali (135,204), Dera Ghazi Khan (134,398), Montgomery (118,910), Sheikhupura (101,477), Jhelum (84,361), Rawalpindi (15,722) and Attock (10,081). Muslim Jats also formed a substantial population in the remainder of the old Lahore Division, with the districts of Lahore (77,915), Gurdaspur (54,811), and Amritsar (39,717) also home to large communities. As we moved eastwards, Muslim Jats also had a presence in the Jalandhar Division, with Firuzpur (34,349), Hoshiarpur (24,889), Ludhiana (23,958), Jalandhar (20,879), in states of Kapurthala (12,958) and Faridkot (5,035), and in the Phulkian States of Patiala (17,695) and Nabha (3,366). In the Ambala Division, Muslim Jats were concentrated in Rupar and Kharar tehsil of Ambala District (10,956), who were Punjabi speaking, while in the remaining districts in the Division, starting with Hisar (5,311), Rohtak (4,015), Karnal (3,597) and Gurgaon (433) were home to Haryanvi speaking Muley Jats. They were also found in the states of Jind (848), Kalsia (213), Mandi (103) and Dujana (95). Like Hindu and Sikh Jats, Muslim Jats also migrated to the canal colonies, with Lyallpur (190,875), Shahpur (174,185) and Montgomery (118,910) home to mixture of local Jat tribes and immigrants mainly from the Lahore, Jalandhar and Ambala divisions.

The remaining Jat population of 1,730 was either Christian or Jain.

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 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

6 thoughts on “Jat Population of Punjab According to the 1901 Census of India

  1. In 1881 Census their were 151,107 Jatt Sikhs in Amritsar District. 79,783 Jatt Sikhs in Lahore District. Lahore Jatt Sikhs were extension of Amritsar Jatt Sikhs. Eastern parts of Tehsil Lahore and East Tehsil Kasur were dominant Jatt Sikh. British wrote in 1909, that the Jatt Sikhs of Manjha (Majha) are Tall, strong, erect carriage, strongly marked and Handsome features. They are Good Cultivators and make Fine Soldiers. The Reason there were more Jatt Sikhs in Amritsar and Eastern parts of Lahore District bordering Amritsar is due to huge conversion of them to Sikh Faith from 1600’s and especially during the time of Guru Gobind Singh Jee taking the Pahul and becoming Khalsa, and Sikh Misl Period 1750s and 60s, 80s onwards. British said that the Hardy Jatt Peasants of Manjha (Majha) joined the various Sikh Khalsa Misls.

    1881 Census (Jatt Sikh Population of Manjha (Majha).

    Amritsar District 151,107
    LahoreDistrict 79,783

    Total 230,890

    1. Jatt Sikhs of Manjha as said in 1909 as quote, The Sikhs of the Manjha are of a class given to Dacoity and Elicit Distillation.

      Reference.

    2. Yes the two districts had a large concentrations of Jat Sikhs. However, the conversion really began to pick up after Gurduwara reform campaigns in late 19th. Before that most Punjab Jats were followers of Sakhi Sarwar. Also both Lahore and Amritsar, the Majha region, that included Batala Tehsil of Gurdaspur was home to a large number of Muslim Jats. There was some conversion to Islam after the collapse of Sikh rule in 1848 in this region as well. Sidhu Jats were one-third Muslim, while Sandhu were one-fourth. With the Gill and Dhillon, it was half and half.

      1. What l have read from British Documentation, is that the Majority of Dhillon and Shergill of Amritsar and Lahore were Sikhs. And that the leading man of the Dhillon Jatt tribe is Zaildar Thakur Singh Dhillon of Panjwar (Tarn Taran). Dhillon And Gill Sikhs were more common then the minority Muslim Dhillon and Gills. Although the Muslim Gills were mainly found in the villages of Naag Kalan and Khurd, Sohian Kalan. I also read a document of Amritsar District from 1890s that the Sikh Sandhu are a Majority, quote (Sikh Sandhu are finest Specimans of Manjha Jatt can show). and that the Muslim Sandhu are rarely found.

        They also mention that Tehsil Batala is known as Bangar Region and is not purely Majha.

  2. Sidhu Jatt were dominant Sikhs in District Amritsar and Lahore. Sikh Sardars of Attari, Pandori Sidhwan, Bhilowal, Saurian, Othian, Sidhwan Khalra, Were leading men. In 1865 Griffin said in his book of Punjab Chiefs that, Sardar Sham Singh Attari (Sidhu) was the best representive of Manjha Jatts. Known for their courage and manliness.

  3. This is what I found in the 1911 Census of Dhillon, Sandhu, Gill, Sidhu Jatt Clans.

    Amritsar District

    Sikh Dhillon 15,055
    Sikh Sandhu 24,593
    Sikh Shergill 14,480
    Sikh Sidhu 4,015

    Lahore District

    Sikh Dhillon 5,828
    Sikh Sandhu 36,316
    Sikh Shergill 9,071
    Sikh Sidhu 6,724

    Amritsar District

    Muslim Dhillon 2,298
    Muslim Sandhu 2,054
    Muslim Gill 4,346
    Muslim Sidhu 879

    Lahore District

    Muslim Dhillon 1,706
    Muslim Sandhu 9,965
    Muslim Gill 2,381
    Muslim Sidhu 1,022

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