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.
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
|Dera Ghazi Khan
1,594,876 (including 16 Jains)