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.
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.
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|
|Khoja (Punjabi Sheikh)||934|
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.
Major Muslim Groups
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 two much detail as there origin, other then to say they claim descent from Qutiub Shah, an arab, and a descendent of Ali, who arrived in the region with Mahmud of Ghazni.