Description of Major Muslim Communities in India: The Khokhar

In this post I return to the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), and look at one of the lesser known communities, that of the Khokhar. There are in fact two distinct communities of Khokhars in UP, those of Sambhal and Kot. While the Khokhar of Punjab are well known, very little has been written about the Khokhars of UP, and this post will try to provide some information. These two settlements are quite distant from each other, the distance between Sambhal and Kot being almost 500 kilometres. Each group of Khokhars have their own origin stories and I will treat them separate. The Sambhal Khokhar are really a sub-group within Ranghar community of western Uttar Pradesh. Just a brief note about the Khokhars, they are a well known tribe from the Punjab, whose homeland is the the Salt Range

As in common among Punjabi tribal groupings, the Khokhar have a number of origin stories. According to one of tradition, the Khokhars are connected with the Awans, making Khokhar one of Qutub Shah’s sons, the semi-mythical ancestor of the Awn tribe. Many Khokhar groups in the Salt Range now call themselves Khokhar Qutb Shahis, literally descendants of Qutub Shah. Another Khokhar tradition makes them descended from Zahhak , a mythical figure from ancient Iran, who’s descendent Rustam Raja arrived in Punjab sometime in the beginning of the Common Era and was nicknamed Khokhar. What is clear is by the arrival of Mohammad Ghori, the Khokhars were in possession of the Salt Range, and when Ghori tried to conquer the region he was murdered by them. The Khokhars remained rebellious throughout the Delhi Sultanate period, and it is very likely both the colonies of Khokhar now present in UP are result of deportations from the Punjab. I will first look at the Khokhar of Sambhal, who accept a Punjabi origin.

Denzil Ibbetson, the 19th Century colonial scholar of Punjab, commenting on the returns of 1881 Census of Punjab, noted the following in connection with the Khokhars:

Under the head Khokhar only represent a fraction of the Khokhars in the Panjab. The Khokhars are ordinarily considered a Rajput tribe, and most of the Khokhars of the districts have so returned themselves. Many of the Khokhars of western districts again, and all those of the frontier, have been re turned as Jats; while only in the Rawalpindi and Multan divisions are separate figures shown for the Khokhar caste. How far this inclusion is due to Khokhars having actually returned themselves as Rajput or Jat by caste and Khokhar by tribe, and how far to the action of the divisional offices, I cannot say exactly till the detailed clan tables are ready.

Its clear that the Khokhar of Punjab are a quasi-Rajput tribe, their historic homeland is located between the valleys of the Chenab and Jhelum, home such tribes as the Bandial, Ghanjera and Rehan, all of whom are clans of the Khokhar, and I have looked at elsewhere. The most important Khokhar family is that of the Rajahs of Ahmedabad, located in Jhelum District. It is this family that produced the famous Muslim League leader Rajah Ghazanfar Ali Khan.

The use of the tem Pathan in the Fatehpur region where Kot is located often also covers Rajput and quasi-Rajput groups. So the use of the term by the Khokhars of Kot must seen in that way.

Khokhar of Sambhal

The city of Sambhal, now a district headquarters is long associated with the Khokhar tribe, who were substantial landowners throughout the late Mughal and Rohila rule of the region. According to tribal traditions, the Khokhars of Sambhal are said to who have come from the Bulandshahr District and to have settled near Sambhal in the days of the Mughal emperor Babar. The Khokhars first arrived in Bulandshahr, at the invitation of Sikander Lodhi, who was the Sultan of Delhi between 1489 and 1517 It said that these Khokhars came from Koh-Jud, a name used for the Salt Range in medieval Muslim writing in India. Interestingly, Sambhal was one of the capitals of Sikander Lodhi. With overthrow of the Lodhi, there ancestor was given the jagir of Sambhal by the Mughal Emperor Babur. This came with the title of Chadhary, which was hereditary in the family till end of British rule in India in 1947. The Khokhars of Sambhal have always had close relations with the Lalkhani Rajputs of Bulandshar and Aligarh. They are said to have been guest of the Lalkhanis in Bulandshar during their stay there before moving to Sambhal.

Khokhar of Kot

The Khokhars of Kot, a town in Fatehpur District have a very different origin myth. First of all the Khokhars of Kot have been in UP for much longer, according to their traditions, the tribe settled in Kot during the rule of Allaudin Khilji ( r . 1296–1316). They are said to be descended from four brothers, of whom the eldest was Malik Bhil or Babar, who were granted the estate of Kot, which at that time was held by a Bhar Raja. In this eastern region, the Bhar, a local ethnic group were the local rulers. The Khokhars were sent by Ala.-ud-din to supress the Bhars, which they did. The dispute is to the origin of these Khokhars. Unlike the Sambhal branch, the Khokhars of Kot have no tradition of a Punjabi origin. At the beginning of the 20th Century, the Khokhars made strong claims of a Pashtun origin. However, more recently, a small number of Khokhar are claiming an Uzbek origin. What’s interesting is the author of the Gazetteer of Fatehpur makes reference to an inscription making reference to the Khokhar conquest to 590 Hijra (1203/1204 CE). This would be mean that the Khokhars arrived in the region around the reign of Shahabuddin Mohammad Ghori. If we accept either of the traditions, the Khokhars of Kot have long been settled in the Fatehpur region. They were effectively the local rulers, but by the arrival of the British, they landholdings were extremely small. The Khokhars of Kot call themselves Pathans, which in eastern Uttar Pradesh does not donate a ethnicity, rather a status. What is interesting is that over the almost millennia in India, they have maintained the name Khokhar, which is clearly associated with the Salt Range region of Punjab. It is very likely, they are Punjabi Muslim tribe, who served in either in the army of Shahabuddin Mohammad Ghori or Allaudin Khilji. Once settled in eastern UP, as they became large landowners, they acquired the status of being Pathans.
Outside Kot, they are found in the villages of Arhaiya, Urha, Shahnagar, Rahmatpur, Sheopuri, Kali, Ghazipur and Parwezpur.

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Bharai Caste

In this post I shall look at the Bharain, also known as Shaikh Sarwari, an interesting community found mainly in the Punjab. Bharain started off as followers of Syed Ahmad Sultan, popularly known as Sakhi Sarwar. He was a 12th-century Sufi saint of the Punjab region, and is also known by various other appellations such as Sultan (king), Lakhdata (bestower of millions), Lalanvala (master of rubies), Nigahia Pir (the saint of Nigaha) and Rohianvala (lord of the forests). Sakhi Sarwar is said to have migrated from Baghdad, Iraq, and settled in Shahkot near Multan in 1120 AD. He settled in Dera Ghazi Khan, where he was killed on 1181 AD and buried at the place now known as Sakhi Sarwar. Strictly speaking the Bharais do not form a caste, but are an occupational group or spiritual brotherhood. The Bharain are a therefore what are referred to as a sectarian caste, where membership is based on a devotion of to a saint, and not by birth. Horace Rose, the early 20th Century ethnologist of the Punjab made reference to several castes such as the Dogar, Habri, Rawat, Dom, Rajput, Mochi, Gujar, Tarkhan and last, but not least, Jat joining the Bharai brotherhood. However, after a few generations, most sectarian castes start to take on the characteristics of a regular caste. After a generation or two, marriages only occur within the caste. And this is exactly what has happened to the Bharai.

The Bharai were traditionally priests of the Sultani sect, a syncretic sect with combined elements of Hinduism and Islam, with Sakhi Sarwar traditionally said to have founded the sect. Most Sultanis were members of the Hindu Jat community, but the Bharai were always Muslim, and belonged largely to the Muslim Jat or Muslim Rajput castes. The term Bharai itself is said to be derived from the Punjabi words chauhi bharnā, literally to keep a vigil in the memory of Sakhi Sarwar. The Jat Bharai in central Punjab claim descent from one Garba Jat, a Hindu attendant at Sakhi Sarwar’s shrine, who was in a dream was asked by the saint to embrace Islam. On his conversion he was called Shaikh Garba. The Jat Bharais have several gots: — Dhillon, Deo, Rewal Garewal, Man, Randhawa, Jham, Karhi and Badecha, all very well-known Jat tribes. However, by the beginning of the 20th Century, the Sultani sect saw a severe decline. As a result, many Bharai have been reduced to poverty. The decline of Sultani is very much connected with the sharpening religious tensions in the Punjab, which eventually led to partition of the region. Most Bharai are now day labourers, and heavily stigmatised. There remains a presence of Bharai in Indian Punjab, which is unique for a Muslim community.

There are various theories as to the origin of the word Bharai. Horace Rose, refers to the following legend:

One Bukan Jat was a devotee of Sakhi Sarwar who one day said to him tujhe piri di, ‘the saint’s mouth has fallen on thee’, whence the name Pirhai. Another account says that after leaving Dhaunkal, Sakhi Sayyid Ahmad went to Multan and rested for a while at Parahin, a place south of Shahkot, which was the home of his mother’s ancestors, Rihan Jats by caste. At Multan an Afghan chief had a daughter to whose hand many of the Shahkot youths aspired, but none were deemed worthy. One day, however, the Afghan invited Sayyid Ahmad to a feast and begged him to accept his daughter in marriage. This offer the saint accepted, and the sihra below, which was composed on this occasion, is still sung with great reverence. The mirasi, however, neglected to attend the wedding punctually, and when he did appear, rejected the saint’s present of a piece of blue cloth, 1-1/4 yards in length, at the instigation of the Jats and Pathans, saying it was of no use to him. Hearing this the Sayyid gave it to Shaikh Buddha, a Jat who had been brought up with him, saying: “This is a bindi (badge), tie it round your head, and beat a drum. We need no mirasi, and when yon are in any difficulty remember me in these words: — Daimji Rabdia sawāria, bohar Kali Kakki-wādlia — Help me in time of trouble, thou owner of Kali Kakki ! You and your descendants have come under our protection, panāh, and you shall be called pāndhi.” This term became corrupted into Parahin in time”.

In addition to the story narrated here, there are also several other traditions as to the origin of the Bharai. According of these stories, Sayyid Ahmed incurred the enmity of the Jats and Pathans of Shahkot and left that place for Afghanistan, accompanied by Bibi Bai, Rānā Mian, and his younger brother. Twenty-five miles from Dera Ghazi Khan as they had run out of water. The Sayyid mounted his mare Kali Kakki and at every step she took water came up. His pursuers, however, were close at hand, and when they overtook him the Sakhi was slain, and buried where he fell. The spot is known as Nigaha and a site of a spring in what is otherwise an arid region.

Years later Isa, a merchant of Bukhara, and a devotee of Sakhi Sarwar, was voyaging in the Indian Ocean when a storm arose. Isa asked for the saint’s aid and the ship was saved. On his arrival in India, Isa journeyed to Multan, where he learnt that the saint had been killed. On reaching Nigaha he found no traces of his tomb, but no fire could be kindled on the spot, and in the morning as they loaded the camels their legs broke. Sakhi Sarwar descended from the hill on his mare, holding a spear in his hand, and warned the merchant that he had desecrated his tomb and must rebuild it at a cost of 1-1/4 lakhs Rupees. He was then to bring a blind man, a leper, and a eunuch from Bukhara and entrust its supervision to them. One day when the blind man stumbled near the tomb he saved himself by clutching at some kahi grass where-upon his sight was restored and his descendants are still known as the Kahi. The eunuch was also cured and his descendants are called Shaikh. The leper too recovered, and his descendants, the Kalang, are still found in Nigaha. To commemorate their cures all three beat a drum, and Sakhi Sarwar appeared to them, saying; “He who is my follower will ever beat the drum and remain barahi (sound) nor will he ever lack anything.” Hence the pilgrims to Nigaha became known as Bharais.

Recent scholarship in rural Punjab, for example by Nicolas Martin has shown how marginal the present position of the Bharai is. Most are now in an extremely poor position, and suffer from discrimination.

Badhan / Wadhan, Hayal, Kanjial and Rachyal tribes

In this post, I will look at three tribes, namely the Badhan, Hayal, Kunjial and Rachyal, who are found mainly in the southern region of Azad Kashmir, and neighbouring districts of Punjab namely Rawalpindi, Jhelum, Gujrat and Sialkot. In Indian administered Kashmir, there are concentration in Rajouri and the Mendhar Tehsil of Poonch. I will use this post to give a brief description of the Jat population within the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Most of the Jat population was found either in the Duggar Region, about 15% or in the Chibhal Region the remaining 85%. Although the Chibhal region, took its name from the Chib clan of the Rajputs who were the traditional rulers of this area, the Jat population was almost twice that of the Rajputs. The Chibs converted to Islam in mid-17th Century, and other Rajput sub-castes followed suit. It is very likely that most of the Jat also converted at that time. However it is worth pointing out that the Jat and Rajput tribes tended to have a common origin, with CLAIMS TO Rajputhood based mostly on whether a clan had achieved political power or not. Outside Mirpur and Bhimber tehsils, there were several Jat communities in Rajouri (then part of Reasi) and Poonch. Separate from these, were the Jats of the Jammu and Kathua (Duggar) region, who were Punjabi speaking, belonging mainly to the Badhan, Bajwa, Kahlown, Nagra and Randhawa clans, and were really an overspill of the Jats of Sialkot and Gurdaspur. Most of the Muslim Jat villages were located in Ranbir Singh Pura and Bishnah tehsils of Jammu and Samba districts. Below is a breakdown of the total Jat population according to the 1931 Census:

District

Muslim

Hindu

Sikh

Total

Jammu

9,258

7,014

506 16,778

Kathua

175

1,549

47

 1,771

Udhampur

100

152

   252

Reeasi

2,443

27

12

 2,482

Mirpur

103,095

14,460

4,951

122,506

Poonch Jagir

4,808

65

   4,873

Other Districts

204

131

103

438

Total

120,083

23,371

5,619

149,073

As the 1931 census shows, most of the Jat population numbering about 122,506, of whatever religion were found in the old Mirpur District, where the Jats formed more than a third of the total population of 344,747. Most of these areas now forms part of Azad Kashmir, except the area around Nawshera, traditionally part of Bhimber Tehsil, which is now under Indian administration. Most of the Hindu and Sikh Jat population was found in the Deva-Batala area, now part of the modern day district of Bhimber. The division of the Chibhal region in 1948 led to the migration of the Hindu and Sikh population, while the Muslim Jats left the area around Nowshera that came under Indian control. Similarly, the Muslim Jats of Jammu and Kathua also immigrated to Pakistan. There is still a small Muslim Jat population in Rajouri and Mendhar in Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir.

The Jat of Jammu and Kashmir are further sub-divided into numerous clans called gots or gotras. Technically members of a Jat got are supposed to be descended from a traditional common ancestor by agnatic descent, i.e. through male line only. Another interesting thing about the various Jat tribes in Chibhal 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, so the Kanjial are a branch of the Janjua, who have now evolved into a separate tribe. Unlike the Jats of the Punjab plains, where one large clan often has several villages, in the Chibhal we have numerous clans often occupying the same village. In my other posts, I have looked at and posted about Jat tribes that have a presence in the Chibhal, such as the Bangyal, Gujjral,, Kanyal, Kalyal, Bhakral (or Pakhreel), Matyal, Nagyal and Thathaal.

Badhan

I start off this post by looking at the Badhan, sometimes pronounced as Wadhan, also known as Pakhai, who are generally considered as a Jat tribe, but have also claimed to be Rajput. Like many Punjabi tribes, there are several traditions as to the origin of the tribe. There are in fact two origin stories, one connected with eastern Badhan, those found in Gujrat, Sialkot/Narowal, and historically in Jammu and Gurdaspur, and the western group found in Sudhnoti, Kotli, Jhelum and Rawalpindi (mainly Kahuta). Under the various censuses carried by the British in the early 20th Century, the Badhan of central Punjab generally registered them themselves as Jats, and this included those of Jammu, while in Pothohar and Mirpur/Poonch, most Badhan registered themselves as Rajputs.
I shall off by looking at the traditions of the eastern Badhan first. Among many Sialkot Badhans, Jats, that they were a branch of the mythical Saroa Rajputs and descended from Kala, a resident of Jammu. However, a more common traditions was that the Badhan, there ancestor was descended from of Gillpal (Gilpal), son of a Rajput King, Pirthipal, Raja of Garh Mithila and a Waria (Baryah) Rajput by a Bhular Jat wife. This would make the Badhan a branch of the Gill tribe, and indeed the Sikh Badhan Jatts of Gurdaspur and Jammu do not marry the Gills, as they consider themselves to be a branch of the Gills. Judge or Juj was the second son of Gillpal, was the ancestor of Badhan Gills. The tribe gets its name from Badhan, the great grandson of Juj.
The western Badhan have an entirely different tradition. According to them, there ancestor Badhan was a Janjua Rajput of Kahuta, who settled among the Sudhans. In fact, in the Sudhnoti region of Poonch, the Badhan are often confused with the Sudhans, and a few Badhans actually claim themselves to be a branch of the Sudhans. In Sudhnoti, the occupy several villages near the Jhelum river. A smaller section also claims to be Qutabshahi Awans. What is clear is that in this western region, the Badhan occupy a quasi-Jat status, while among the eastern group, a claim to be Jat is generally accepted.

 

In Rawalpindi, there are several Badhan villages such as Parhali (in Tehsil Kahuta) and Rawat. In Sudhnuti, important Badhan villages include Basari, Rakar, Neeryan, Sahr Kakota, Noursa, Hamrata, and Kohala.

Distribution of Badhan in Jammu and Kashmir by District According to 1911 Census of India

The bulk of the Badhan population was found in the Poonch Jagir. However, the figures for Mirpur are slightly misleading, as many of Badhan in Mirpur registered themselves as Jats.

District Population
Reeasi 79
Mirpur 1,393
Poonch Jagir 4,607
Muzafarabad 505
Total Population 6,596

 

Distribution of Badhan who declared themselves as Jat in Punjab by District According to 1901 Census of India

 

District Population
Rawalpindi 246
Jhelum 248
Total Population 494

 

Hayal

The Hayal are little known tribe, found entirely in Kallar Syedan Tehsil, who claim Chaughtai Mughal ancestry. They are found in the villages of Burra Haya, Hayal Pindoral and Mohra Hayal. In Mirpur District, Hayyal, who classify themselves as Jats, are found in the villages of Kangra and Chappar.

Kanjial

The Kanjial are found mainly in Gujrat, Bhimber, Mirpur and Jhelum districts. According to tribal traditions, there ancestor was a Ghalla, a Janjua Rajput, who had three sons, Bhakari, their ancestor, Natha (ancestor of the Nathial) and Kunjah (ancestor of the Kunjial). However, some traditions make Rai Kunjah to be a Bhatti.
In Mirpur, Kanjial villages include Andrah Kalan, Khandora and other villages in the Islamgarh Tehsil of Mirpur.

Rachyal

Finally, I will look at the Rachyal, sometimes spelt Richyal, who are a Jat tribe, found mainly in the Kotli and Mirpur districts of Azad Kashmir. Like the Kahlotra already mentioned, the Rachyal are a clan of Dogras, whose roots like in the Chamba region of what is now Himachal Pradesh. There ancestor was a Ranchan Dev, a Hindu Rajput of the Kashyap gotra, who said to have converted to Islam in the 16th Century. Generally, among the Rajputs of the Himachal region, each clan was connected with a Hindu rishi, who was traditional spiritual ancestor. Looking at Kashyapa, he is one of Saptarishi, the seven famed rishis and considered to be author of many hymns and verses of the Rigveda (1500-1200 BCE). It is likely that the Rachyal are branch of the Katoch Rajputs, as they belonged to the Kashyap gotra.

According to tribal folklore, once the Rachyals converted to Islam they were forced out of Chamba and its surroundings and we see them migrating to Sialkot, Sheikhupura, and Jhang areas of Punjab in Pakistan. The tribe then re-entered the Jammu state via Dhuki village through Sarai-Alamgir (near Kharian, Punjab, Pakistan) which lies in district of Mirpur around three hundred years ago. They then moved to Mangla and eventually to a place called Ladna near now Chakswari. From here the Rachyals spread farther west and the estate of Panyam came into existence. Most of the Rachyal are still found either in Chakswari or Panyam, where several of their villages are found such as Pothi,and Chamba. Some Rachyals villages are found further north near Naar, Rajdhani, Poonch and Rajouri.

Description of Major Muslim Communities in India: Muslim Kamboh

In this post, I return to the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), and the Muslim communities that inhabit it. In particular, I will look at the Muslim Kambohs, a Muslim community that is part of the wider Kamboh ethnic group of South Asia. They are also known as Zubairi. The Muslim Kamboh are found mainly in the Rohilkhand and Doab region. They are largely Sunni, although Amroha is home to a smaller Shia population, and speak Urdu. They are fairly small community, but played a major role in the history of Western Uttar Pradesh. Like the Gujjar and Bhattis discussed in my earlier posts, they are likely to have been immigrants from the Punjab.

Origin

There are a number of different traditions as to the origin of the Kamboh. Some Kamboh claim Afghan origin, others claim Arab origin, while others simply claim to be Muslim converts from the Hindu Kamboh caste.

• Those who claim Indian ancestry claim descent from Raja Sodakhsh of Kamboja, an ancient Indian kingdom. The Rajah was a descendent of the god Chandra Verman, and the Kambojas are referred to in the Mahabharata. They are said to have inhabited Afghanistan, which was known as Kamboja desa, or land of the Kamboh.

• Those who claim Afghan origin, claim to belong to the famous Kayani dynasty of ancient Iran. The word Kamboh is said to be a compound of the word Kai Ambo, after an ancestor. The descendents of this king were known as the Kamboh, and Ghazni in Afghanistan was a centre of their power.

• Those who claim Arab ancestry claim descent from Zubayr ibn al-Awam, the first cousin of the Prophet Mohammad. According to this tradition, the original homeland of the Kamboh was Multan and not Afghanistan.

It seems clear is that most Uttar Pradesh Kamboh have strong traditions of migrating from Punjab. Some groups, such as those of Bareilly claim that they were part of the army of Shahbaz Khan Kamboh, a general in the army of the Mughal Emperor Jehangir. He was asked to pacify a rebellion in Assam, and said to have come from Jalandhar in Punjab. Many in his army were Punjabi Kamboh, who instead of returning to Punjab settled in various locations in western Uttar Pradesh.

The exact circumstances of the Kamboh migration to Uttar Pradesh are unclear. However, towards the end of the Delhi Sultanate (1206–1526), we hear increasing references to the Kamboh as playing an important role in the politics. During the Lodhi and Moghul rule. Miyan Jumman Khan Kamboh was “Hajib-i-Khas” (Special Lord of Bed Chamber),Umar Khan Kamboh was Amir-i-Akhur (Minister of Cavalry department)[ and Miyan Ladan Khan Kamboh was an Imam and Royal Nadim of Sikandar Lodhi, Shaikh Itmad-ul-Malik Sambhal was Amir-i-Arz (Paymaster General) and then Prime Minister of Sher Shah Suri. Numerous other Kamboj are known to have occupied very key military and civil positions during Lodhi, Pashtun and the Moghul reign in India. Irfan Habib writes:

The Sayyids and the Kambohs among the Indian Muslims were specially favoured for high military and civil positions during Moghul rule”.
The Kambo, Indian Shaikhzadas and local Saiyid nobles rose to prominence during the period under review” (i.e. Lodi dynasty of Delhi).

According to the historian Muhammad Umar writes:

“The (Muslim) Kamboh distinguished themselves by their courage, generosity and high spirits. They were famous for their excellent manners and were particularly gifted with wisdom and nobility….In terms of social stratification, the Kambohs were counted among the Shaikhs…..Among the Indian Muslims, the Kambohs were regarded as the noblest of all. However, perhaps with a view to maintaining the purity of their descent, or because of pride of nobility, they confined their matrimonial relationships within their own groups and did not establish marriage connections with other Muslim groups including even the Saiyids and the Mughals. Some members of this clan like Shahbaz Khan Kamboh, Nawab Abu Muhammad Khan, Bahadur Khan and Nawab Khair Andesh Khan rose to high positions during the reign of Mughals”

Hindu origin

The tradition of a Hindu origin seems more prevalent among the Kamboh of Saharanpur District. According to tribal myths, they originally  lived about Mathura and were Kshatriyas. When Parasu Rama was slaughtering the Kshatriyas, he found their ancestor Bhup  Rae armed and ready resist. He, therefore, proposed  slaying him; and on Bhup Rae saying that he was not a Kshatriya,Parasu Ram is said to have replied that he was demenour was that of a  Kshatriyas. Bhup Rae at once objected that he was not qaim buu (of any fixed  odour) at all and was saved. He was afterwards was known as Qaimbn,
which gradually got changed into Kamboh. This legend was recorded in the late 19th Century by the ethnologist William Crooke, at the time most Hindu and Sikh Kamboh were making claims to Kshatriya.  What was clear was that both in Punjab, where the majority of Kambohs lived, and in western UP, they were seem by their neighbours as quasi-kshatriya.

 

Those who claim a Hindu origin, claim their conversion to Islam occurred during the early years of Islam in India, one of the groups of this clan embraced Islam at the instance of Shaikh Bahauddin Zakariya Suhrawardi (of Multan) and his son Shaikh Sadruddin. Their tradition refers to their migration from Multan to Saharanpur under during the rule of the Lodhi dynasty. It is interesting that Saharanpur District is also home to a large community of Hindu Kambohs. These Kamboh have largely remained affiliated with agriculture. In this district, they are believed to be one of sub caste of Jatts. This region may be the site of their earliest settlement in Uttar Pradesh.

 

Arab origin

The tradition of an Arab origin is more common among the Kamboh of Etah and Bareilly districts. They generally now prefer to be known as Zubairi. Zubairi literally means in Arabic a descendant of Zubair, and the Zubairi Kamboh claim descent Zubair ibn al-Awam. Zubair ibn al-Awam was the first cousin of the Prophet but was also one of his closest companions. He was known for his valor and bravery and is remembered as the conqueror of Egypt in 19 AH, and embraced martyrdom in 36 AH. Zubair was laid to rest in Basra, near the borders of Kuwait and Iraq. This town was named as Al-Zubair. Zubair had twelve sons and nine daughters. Three of his famous sons were Abdullah, Musab and Urwah. Abdullah was a Muslim caliph at Makkah, Musab was the governor of Kufa in 73 AH and Urwa was the first Muslim historian.

After almost fifty years of the conquest of Sindh by Muhammad Bin Qasim, Zuberis started migrating from Makkah and Medina towards Sindh. Most of them settled at place near modern Dadu. By the end of 4th century AH, Zuberis started migrating from Sindh to Multan. During 14th century AD, portion of Zuberi clan migrated to Delhi. Sheikh Samauddin Zuberi was a famous Sufi who led this migration. Afterwards Zuberi family flourished in Lahore, Panipat, Delhi and Sambhal. During the regime of Mughal Emperor Akbar, Zuberis also settled in Meerut.

Kamboh of Marehra, Etah District

The Kambohs of Marehra in Etah District claim to be Arab descent, and often call themselves Zubairi. There ancestor was Shaikh
Khwajah Imad-ud-din Muhammad , a native of Multan, who was a courtier of the first Mughal Emperor Babur (20 April 1526 – 26 December 1530). Babur appointed him amil (administrator) of Marehra around 1527.In 1542, during the reign of Sher Shah, the Khwaja’s two sons were appointed to the offices of chaudary and kanunjo of the pargana (lowest administrative unit), when theses post were created. These posts remained with the descendants of the original holders until the occupation of country by the British, when the office of was abolished.The Mughal Emperor Akbar conferred the proprietary rights on Marehra to Fateh Khan and Umar Khan, grandsons of the Khwaja. The town was divided into eleven muhallas or wards, the most noteworthy of which was the Kamboh muhalla.

Kamboh of Meerut District

The Muslim Kambohs of Meerut, in Uttar Pradesh have a tradition that they belonged to a distinguished Kamboh family of Ghazni which had come to India in early eleventh century in the invading army of Sulatn Mahmud of Ghazni (rule: 997 AD – 1030 AD). According to their own accounts the name “Kamboh” of the family is derived from that of their original home, Kamboja, the ancient name for Afghanistan. The Muslaman Kambohs of Meerut stated that that one of their ancestors, Hasan Mahmudi Kamboh was the Wazir (minister) of Sultan Mahmud Ghazni and came to India in first decade of eleventh century AD in the army of the Sultan. Their ancestors succeeded in capturing the city of Meerut from Raja Mai of Meerut Hassan Mahmudi Kamboh built the Jama Masjid in the city and around it stand buried the Kamboh heroes from Ghazni who fell in the attack on Meerut. The Masjid was later repaired in 16th century during the rule of Mughal Emperor Humayun. The early members of the Kamboh family built the Sangi Mahal which was later known as Permit House and another elegant palace known as Rangi Mahal– the remains of both these once-elegant palaces are still in existence.

Kamboh of Amroha and Moradabad

The Kambohs of Amroha all claim to come from Afghanistan. They traditionally resided in two mohallahs, the Saddu muhalla Kamboh who were Shia and those of Badshahi Chabutra wo were Sunni. The Saddu muhalla Kambohs claimed descent from from Hakim Imam-ud-din Khan, who arrived in Amroha the end of the eighteenth century from Meerut . The Sunni Kambohs claim descent from Muhtashim Khan, who came to Amroha at a somewhat earlier date. This family is related to the Sunni Kambohs of Moradabad, whose ancestor, Karim Bakhsh arrived in Moradabad from Dehli , during the rule of the Awadh Nawab Asaf-ud-daula. The Awadhi authorities appointed him chakladar . When Awadh rule was replaced by the British in the beginning of the 19th Century, he was made tehsildar. These Moradabad Kambohs were substantial landowners. In addition to the Muslim Kambohs, the old district of Moradabad (now Amroha, Moradabad and Sambhal) was also home to a large community of Hindu Kambohs.

Distribution of Muslim Kamboh in Uttar Pradesh by District According to 1891 Census of India

 

District Hindu Muslim
Saharanpur  3,271  689
Muzaffarnagar  920  8
Dehra Dun 290 5
Meerut 760 480
Bulandshahr  11
 Aligarh  38
 Agra  1
 Farrukhabad  67
 Mainpuri  2
 Etawah  2
Etah 437
 Bijnor  274  16
 Badaun  11
 Moradabad  308  294
Shahjahanpur  19
Kanpur  7
Fatehpur 62
Banda 17
Hamirpur 2
Allahabad  50
 Jhansi  24
 Jalaun  23
 Ghazipur  8
 Gorakhpur  6
 Basti  13
 Nainital  309
 Lucknow  9
 Sitapur  10
 Barabanki  2
 Bahraich  9
Total Population in UP 6,222 2,322

As the census showed, the bulk of the Muslim Kamboh population was found in four pockets, the agrarian community of Saharanpur, which shared much in common with the Muslim Jats and Rajput neighbours, the urban groups found in Meerut, Aligarh, Bareilly, Amroha and Marehra, who were very similar to the other Ashraf Muslims, found in western Uttar Pradesh.

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

District Population
Saharanpur 710
Meerut 430
Etah 378
Aligarh 306
Moradabad 224
Muzaffarnagar 214
Bareilly 178
Dehra Dun 28
Other districts 133
Total Population 2,601

The main difference between the two census is the omission of the Kamboh of Bareilly, who were an important community. The Kamboh of Aligarh were largely recent immigrants from other historic centres of the tribe, gravitating towards the city on account of the university.

Description of Major Muslim Communities in India: Muslim Bhumihar / Kamsar Pathan

In this post, I look another major Indian Muslim community, found mainly in eastern Uttar Pradesh and parts of north western Bihar. There preferred self-designation now is Kamsari Pathan, although history they were known as Muslim Babhan, or Muslim Bhumihar. The Kamsari are a community of rural Muslims, who are descended from the Hindu Bhumihar community.

To start off with, I will briefly discuss the origin of the Bhumihar community, from whom the Kamsar trace their descent. The Bhumihars claim Brahmin status, and are also referred to as Bhumihar Brahmin. In Bihar, they are also known as Babhan and they have also been called Bhuinhar. The word Bhumihar is itself of relatively recent origin, first used in the records of United Provinces of Agra and Oudh in 1865. It derives from the word bhoomi (“land”), referring to the caste’s landowner status. The term Bhumihar Brahmin was adopted by the community in the late-19th century to emphasize their claim of belonging to the priestly Brahmin class. The alternate name “Babhan” has been described as a distorted colloquial term for “Brahmin. As with many castes in India, there are numerous myths regarding the origins of the Bhumihar community. One legend claims that their ancestors were Brahmins who were set up to take the place of the Kshatriyas slain by Parashurama but some non-Bhumihars have implied that they are the mixed-race offspring of Brahmin men and Kshatriya women. Other legends state that they are the offspring of a union between Rajput men and Brahmin women, or that they derive from Brahman-Buddhists who lost their high position in Hindu society.

With regards to Ghazipur District, the terms Bhumihar and Rajput are somewhat elastic, since the line of demarcation between these two communities is often extremely vague, both claiming a common origin in several instances, such as the case of the Kamsar Pathans. The Kamsar Pathans, who are found mainly in the Ghazipur District of eastern Uttar Pradesh. According to tribal traditions, they ancestor was a Kam Deo, a Sikarwar Rajput who came from the region of Agra. According to tribal traditions, Kam Deo served in force led by his brother Dham Deo, a leader of four thousand troops and fought alongside Rana Sanga of Mewar, who led a large Rajput alliance against the Mughal Emperor in the battle of Khanwa, a place near Agra in 1527. The Mughals were victorious and the Rajput army was scattered. Dham Deo and his elder brother Kam Deo came down to Ghazipur with their families and followers. The refuges are said to have settled in a territory between Karmnasha and Ganges in what is now Ghazipur district, Dham Deo and his followers settled in Gahmar, while Kam Deo settled in Zamania. Kam Deo’s descendants intermarried with other settled Bhumihars in the region, and founded the clan of Kinwar Bhumihars.
Subsequent to their arrival, both brothers and their followers entered into the service of Tikam Deo, the Cheru tribal chieftain of Birpur and eventually overthrew him, seizing his capital and occupying his estate At the time of the arrival of the refugees, the Cheru were said to be the rulers of most of Ghazipur. After a couple of generation, the community split into three main branches; after the founders Rajdhar Rai, Mukund Rai, and Pithaur Rai. Rajdhar Rai captured Birpur and one of his subdivisions settled in the Bara taluka of Zamania, and converted to Islam. There is however some dispute as to when the conversion to Islam. According to some traditions, the conversion occurred during the period of Lodhi rule over Ghazipur district, while others traditions point to a much later date during the rule of Sher Shah Suri. The first to convert to Islam was a Narhar Dev, later called Narhar Khan after his accepting of Islam.

The Kamsari are now mainly a community of peasant cultivators, but historically were in possession of most of the Bara of Ghazipur District. They speak Bhojpuri, although most also understand Urdu. The Kamsar now occupy a compact territory near the town of Bara, between the Ganges river and the Bihar state border. The most important settlement in Kamsar region of Dildarnagar Kamsar. Each of their settlement contains an informal caste council known as a panchayat, which enforces communal norms as well as resolving intra-community disputes. This region is also known as Kamsar-O-Bar, and the following villages Usia, Rakasaha, Tajpur Kurrah, Gorasara, Mania, Khajuri, Kusi, Bhaksi, Jaburna, Dewaitha, Fufuao, Bahuara, Saraila, Chitarkoni, Akhini come in the Bar sub region. Other then the Kamsar, there are several lineages of Muslim Bhumihar found in Munger and Muzaffarpur of Bihar, where they are called as Diwani Pathan.

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

 

District Population
Ghazipur 2,365
Mirzapur 36
Other districts 605
Total Population 3,006

 

Census of Delhi Province 1931

The population breakdown by religion, caste and community of the Province of Delhi in British India, now the National Capital Territory of Delhi, in the 1931 Census of India.

 

Religion-wise

 

Religion Population Percentage
Hindu 399,863 63%
Muslim 206,960 33%
Sikh 6,437  1%
Jain 5,345 0.8%
Christian 16,989 3%
Others 652
Total 636,246 100%

 

 

Caste-wise

 

 

Religion Caste or tribe Population
Hindus 399,863
Aggarwal 25,383
Ahir 13,039
Bawaria 32
Brahmin 65,434
Chamar 65,738
Chirimar 270
Chura (Bhangi) 17,905
Dagi and Koli 6,928
Dhanak 1,321
Dhobi 3,172
Faqir 43
Gaderia 2,413
Gujar 14,291
Jat 50,609
Jhinwar 12,654
Julaha 8,616
Kayastha 10,569
Khatik 3,522
Khatri 13,780
Kumhar 9,259
Kurmi 556
Lodha 1,207
Lohar 1,599
Mali 12,886
Nai 4,433
Rahgar 7,175
Rajput 30,664
Sansiya 227
Taga 1,043
Tarkhan 4,046
Teli 1,457
Tank Kshatriya 107
Dhiman Brahmin 5
Not Declared 1,096
Muslims 206,960
Arain 3,330
Brahmin 48
Chamar 11
Chura 345
Dhobi 1,022
Faqir 2.870
Gujar 331
Jat Muslim 1,245
Jhinwar 24
Julaha 800
Khatik 5
Khatri 5
Kumhar 92
Lodha 8
Lohar 711
Mali 15
Meo 5,253
Mughal 6,420
Nai 807
Pathan 26,387
Rajput Muslim 5,736
Sayyid 18,257
Shaikh 118,079
Taga Muslim 3,402
Tarkhan 319
Teli 1,852
Others  9,586
Sikh 6,437
Brahmin 36
Chura (Bhangi) 35
Jat Sikh 1,517
Jhinwar 37
Khatik 64
Khatri 497
Lohar 13
Rajput 186
Tarkhan 1,123
Tank Kshatriya 188
Others  2,815
Jain 5,345
Aggrawal 3,052
Brahmin 15
Others  2,278
Christian 16,989
Chamar 2,744
Chura (Bhangi) 2,863
Others  11,382
Others 652
Total 636,246

 

 

Source

Census of India 1931 Delhi Volume XVI Imperial tables, XVII

Description of Major Muslim Communities in India: Bhale Sultan

In this post, I stick with the state of Uttar Pradesh, and look at the Bhale Sultans, a community of Khanzadas found in Uttar Pradesh. There name is a combinationation of the Sanskrit, Bhala, a kind of arrow or spear and the Arabic word Sultan meaning lord. The Bhala in medieval India was a type of spear given only to army commanders, and possession signified leadership. So technically, any army commander was a Bhale Sultan, but the title is now restricted to a specific community of Hindu Thakurs and Muslim Khanzadas found in the Awadh region and Bulandshahr district of Uttar Pradesh. In fact, when we talk of the Bhale Sultan, we are really talking about two distinct communities, those of Bulandshahr and those of Awadh, each with their own origin myths. In the introduction to my article on the Ahbans, I discuss the exact meaning of the word Khanzada, and I ask the reader to look at that post.

Bhale Sultan of Bulandshahr

In Bulandshahr, the Bhale Sultans are found mainly in villages around the ancient town of Khurja. According to tribal traditions, there ancestor was Sidhrao Jai Sinh, a Solanki Rajput of Anhilwada Pattan in what is now Gujarat. A descendent of Sidhrao, Sarang Deo, a nephew of the then Solanki Raja of Gujarat, settled in the ancient city of Baran (now known as Bulandshahr), which was then part of a principality ruled by the Dor clan of Rajputs. These Solanki were then granted an estate of eight villages by Prithvi Raj Chauhan, as a reward for services rendered during the Mahoba war. Most of the country was inhabited by the Meo community, who Sarang Deo and his followers conquered. His grandson, Hamir Singh, obtained from Shah ab-ud-din Ghori the title of Bhala Sultan or lord of the lance.” From then on the clan became known as Bhale Sultan. Kirat Singh was seventh in descent from Hamir Singh, and his descendant, Khan Chand, seven generations later, converted to Islam during the rule of Khizr Khan and took the name of Malha Khan. His son, Lad Khan and his nephew, Narpat Singh, who divided the property between them, moved from their homes at Arniyan and Kakaur to Khurja during the reign of Akbar and received the office of Chaudhri. Over time, the Bhale Sultan, both the Muslim branch descended from Lad Khan and Hindu branch descended from Narpat Singh became effective rulers of Khurja. At their height, the Muslim branch owned forty-four villages and the Hindus of the same clan thirty-two villages and-a-half. However, with rise of Kheshgi Pathans of Khurja, the Bhale Sultan power declined, with further losses when the British conquered the Doab in the early 19th Century.

Bhale Sultan of Awadh

In Awadh, there are several communities of Bhale Sultans, each with their own origin myths. The most important are those communities found in Faizabad and Sultanpur.

Among the Bhala Sultan of Sultanpur, there is a tradition that four hundred years ago Rai Barar, son of Amba Rai, brother of the then Raja of Morarmau, commanded a troop of cavalry recruited entirely from the Bais clan in the service of the Mughals, and was deputed to exterminate the trouble sum Bhars (an indigenous community) in the Isauli Pargana in present day Sultanpur District. Having accomplished his task, he returned to Delhi and presented himself at the head of his troop before the Emperor, who, struck with their manly bearing, exclaimed, “Aao, Bhale Sultan” meaning “come, spear of the Sultan”. Palhan Deo, great grandson of Rai Barar, is said to have been converted to Islam during the rule of Sher Shah Suri. From this branch of the Bhale Sultan descended the taluqdar families of Deogaon, Mahona and Unchgaon. In addition, the more minor Muslim Bhale Sultan formed the main landowning group in the north-west corner of Sultanpur district, then forming the parganas of Isauli, Musafirkhana and Jagdispur

In Faizabad, the Bhale Sultan claim descent from Rao Mardan Sinh, who is said to be a Bais Rajput, of Dundiya Khera, who was a horse-dealer by profession. During a visit Gajanpur, in Isauli Pargana, of the Sultanpur District, where there was a fort of the Rajbhars, which the Thakur is said to have captured. His son, Rao Barar, entered the service of the Sultan of Delhi, and as he was a good horseman and clever spearman, he obtained the title of Bhale Sultan. One of his descendants, Baram Deo, obtained the title Khanzada from a Sultan of Delhi, and from that period his descendants have been called Khanzada.

While a little known tradition, in Rae Bareli claims that they were Ahirs who were raised to the rank of Rajputs by Tilok Chand, a legendary figure in Awadh history.

Distribution of Bhale Sultans by District According to 1891 Census of India

District Hindu Muslim
 Saharanpur  17  27
 Meerut  20
 Bulandshahr  6,370  4,790
 Agra  59  3
 Farrukhabad  9  6
 Mainpuri  36
 Badaun  11
 Shahjahanpur  9
 Pilibhit  19  4
 Kanpur  11  75
 Fatehpur  3
 Banda  1
 Allahabad  824 18
 Lalitpur  2  2
 Benaras  15  86
 Jaunpur  25  3
 Ghazipur  7
 Gorakhpur  35  64
 Basti  155  53
 Azamgarh  122  29
 Lucknow  17  283
 Unnao  5  38
 Rae Bareli  377  372
Sitapur 20 23
 Lakhimpur Kheri  3  108
 Faizabad  757  687
 Gonda  406  352
 Bahraich  108  271
 Sultanpur  8,016  4,607
 Partapgarh  49  17
 Barabanki  329  735
Total Population in UP  17,320  12,670

 

Description of Major Muslim Communities in India : Behlim and Nagar

In this post, I return to the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), and the Muslim communities that inhabit it. In particular, I will look at the Behlim and Nagar Muslims, both of whom fall within the category of Shaikh. Briefly, the word sheikh is an honorific in the Arabic language that literally means “elder.” It is commonly used to designate an elder of a tribe, a revered wise man, or an Islamic scholar. In the South asian context, Shaikh is a title used by the descendants of Arab and other Muslim immigrants who were said to have arrived from the Middle East or Central Asia, although it was also extended to converts from Hinduism, generally those who came from the Brahman or Vaishya category. What I want to make clear about the term Shaikh, it does not denote a single identity, but contains within a multiple and complex groupings. In some parts such as Bihar and West Bengal/ Bangladesh, the term Shaikh refers to Muslim who practices farming, while in UP Shaikh is invariably an urban group. The two groups I am looking at in this post, namely the Behlim and Nagar display this diversity of origin, with former claiming a Central Asian origin, while the Nagars claiming to be a Muslim branch of the Nagar Brahman caste.

Behlim

I will start off by looking at the Behlim, who are actually two distinct communities. We have infact two distinct communities of Behlim, those of UP and those of Gujarat. I shall start of by looking at the UP Behlims.

According to tribal tradition, the Behlim trace their descent the Sufi Salar Masud Ghaz (1015 –1032 AD), and the word is said to be a corruption of the word ba-ilm, meaning those who are knowledgeable in Arabic. Masud was a Ghaznavid army general and the nephew of Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi. Masud was son of Ghazi Salar Sahu, a descendant of Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah, son of Hazrat Ali, and Sitr-i-Mu’alla, who was sister of Ghaznavi. Salar Masud came along with his uncle Salar Saifudin and teacher Syed Ibrahim Mashadi Bara Hazari (Salar-i-Azam of Ghaznavi) in early 11th century to the South Asia for propagation of Islam. According Sufi traditions associated with Salar Masud, he was killed in battle fighting local Hindu forces in what is now the Awadh region of UP. As Ghazna dynasty were of Central Asian Turk origin, this would make the Behlim to be partly of Turkish origin. In another origin story, the Behlim claim to be descended from Central Asian Turkish troopers, having arrived in India during the time Iltutmish (reigned: 1211–36). This would mean there arrival was a good two centuries after the Salar Masud. What does seem to be certain is that Behlim have been in UP for fairly long time, and are likely to of Central Asian Turkish origin.

The Behlim families of the city of Bulandshahr played an important role in the history of that city. Other Behlim are found mainly in the neighbouring districts of Meerut and Muzaffarnagar. In addition of the Behlim of the Doab, there are two other settlements in Gonda District and Basti District in eastern Uttar Pradesh. These Behlim have little or no connection with those of western Uttar Pradesh. Both the Behlim communities speak Urdu, and as a largely urban community very rarely speak any of the local dialects of Hindi. They are largely Sunni, although there is a small Shia minority.

Separate from the UP Behlims, are those of Gujarat, who are found mainly in Mehsana and Banaskantha districts. These Behlim are an agrarian community, found mostly in north Gujarat. According to some traditions, they were once Rajputs, and their customs are similar to other Muslim Rajput communities, such as the Maliks. The Behlim intermarry with other Gujarati Muslim communities of similar status such as Pathan, Shaikh and Molesalam Rajputs. Unlike other Gujarati Muslims, they have no caste association, and generally are allied to other Rajput landholding classes. They speak Gujarati and are Sunni Muslims.


Nagar

I now look at the Nagar, who are now found entirely in Bulandshahr District, who particular in and around the town of Ahar.

The Nagar are Muslim converts from the larger Nagar Brahmin community who were said to have ruled the Ahar pargana of Bulandshahr District, prior to the Muslim conquest of the region in the 11th Century. These Nagar are widespread Brahmin sub-caste, who have always been connected with the Doab, the region in which Bulandshahr District is situated. The town of Ahar lies along the banks of the Ganges river, a site which also considered sacred to Hindus.

Before the Muslim invasion this part of the country was known as the Chaurasi of the Nagar Brahmans, who still hold a few villages. According to local folklore, the name Ahar is locally derived from’ ahi’ and ‘har,’ the killing of the serpent, and the present town is said to be the place where Janamejaiya performed the great snake sacrifice, and rewarded the Nagar Brahmans who assisted him with. Janamejaiya, in Hindu mythology, was a Kuru king who reigned during the Middle Vedic period (12th or 11th century BCE). Along with his predecessor Parikshit, he played a decisive role in the consolidation of the Kuru state, the arrangement of Vedic hymns into collections, and the development of the orthodox srauta ritual, transforming the Kuru realm into the dominant political and cultural center of northern /Iron_Age_India. From these legends and myths, we can ascertain that the Nagar have long been established in this region, were the effective local rulers.

The Nagars were said to have converted during the period of rule of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb (reign 1658-1707). Aurangzeb is said to have begun a campaign in the hinterland of Delhi to suppress all the minor principalities that had maintained their autonomy. When he decided to end the Nagar control of Ahar, one of his advisors convinced him that it was inexpedient to allow all of the members of the Chaudhri’s family of that town to exercise the functions of their hereditary office. Aurangzeb is said to have agreed but on the condition that only two of them should be recognised as Chaudhri He them chose two members of the clan that had just been converted to Islam to the Chaudhri’s position. The principality of Ahar thus passed into the control of the Muslim Nagars, and town itself also converted, with the Muslims presently making 70% of the population.

As Mughal authority declined, the Nagar Muslim became important power in the Doab region, in particular in Bulandhshar District. With the arrival of the British in beginning of the 19th Century, the Nagar Muslims were confirmed their estates. In 1857, during the War of Independence, the Nagars were led by their Chaudri Sohrab Khan, who set himself up as the independent ruler, taking advantage of the collapse of British authority. However when British authority was re-established, the Nagars lost all their estates

The Nagar are Sunni Muslims, and largely Barelvi. Their customs are similar to other Shaikh communities in the Doab region. The Nagar generally speak standard Urdu. Most Nagar stil;l reside in Ahar and four villages nearby.

List and Population of Jat clans of the Rawalpindi Division According 1901 Census of India

Below is a list of Muslim Jat clans and their population in the Rawalpindi Division of Punjab, drawn up for 1901 Census of India. Please also read my introduction for the 1911 Census on the Jat clans to give you some background. Almost all the population that professed to be Jat were Muslim, with exception of Kharian Tehsil of Gujrat District, which was home several Hindu Wariach Jats.

Rawalpindi District

The total Jat population in 1901 was 46,061, of which 43,853 (95%) were Muslim. Below is a list of the major clans:

Tribe Total
Aura 1,660
Badhan 246
Baghial 647
Bains 1,388
Bhagiara 270
Chatha 130
Chhina 653
Dhamial 2,203
Dhamtal 695
Gangal 325
Gill 373
Gondal 958
Hanial 155
Harial 194
Hattial 222
Heer 428
Hindan 489
Jatal 395
Jodhra 5,157
Kalial 1,791
Kanial 954
Kassar 105
Khalis 102
Khatril 1,578
Khor 389
Langrial 120
Lodhra 134
Magial 596
Magrial 486
Mangral 226
Matyal 314
Mial 599
Mundra 150
Phira 164
Phul 135
Salhal 215
Sandhu 99
Sangal 427
Sial 618
Sudhan 1,765
Tama 231
Thathaal 534
Walana 112
Wariach 347

Jhelum District

The total Jat population in 1901 was 73,364, of which 72,763 (99%) were Muslim. Below is a list of the major clans:

Tribe Total
Badhan 248
Bains 962
Bhakral 585
Bhatti 2,053
Bhutta 678
Chadhar 121
Chauhan 224
Dhudhi 352
Gondal 879
Harral 460
Heer 243
Janjua 120
Jhammat 929
Kanial 1,990
Kassar 111
Langah 482
Mahil 320
Minhas 824
Ranjha 236
Sahi 445
Sial 126
Tarar 758
Thaheem 139
Wariach 388

Gujrat District

The total Jat population in 1901 was 198,075, of which 192,000 (97%) were Muslim. Below is a list of the major clans:

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Tribe Total
Bains 478
Bajwa 532
Bhullar 106
Bhutta 373
Chatha 812
Cheema 2,923
Chhina 287
Dhariwal 388
Dhillon 568
Dhotar 1,513
Ghumman 739
Gill 503
Goraya 148
Harral 158
Heer 1,654
Hanjra 2,338
Jakhar 235
Kang 1,183
Langrial 3,702
Mangat 1,031
Marral 168
Pannun 242
Randhawa 298
Sahi 4,498
Sandhu 228
Sarai 661
Sidhu 2,157
Sipra 1,259
Sohal 374
Tarar 14,531
Virk 775
Wariach 37,805

Shahpur District

The total Jat population in 1901 was 63,876, of which 63,649 (99%) were Muslim. Below is a list of the major clans:

Tribe Total
Aulakh 103
Bains 613
Bhachar 166
Bhatti 3,864
Bhutta 1,298
Burana 657
Chadhar 3,303
Chhina 538
Hanjra 528
Harral 1,849
Heer 553
Hurgan 236
Jhawari 1,092
Jora 718
Lak 2,197
Lali 531
Lala 357
Langah 604
Mahil 181
Mangat 226
Marath 548
Nissowana 518
Panjootha 966
Rehan 1,567
Sahi 164
Sidhu 100
Sipra 1,382
Tarar 1,223
Thaheem 288
Tulla 1,403
Virk 318
Wariach 445

Mianwali District

The total Jat population in 1901 was 137,665, all of whom were Muslim. Below is a list of the major clans:

Tribe Total
Aheer 843
Asar 1,377
Atar Khel 181
Atra 652
Aulakh 1,887
Aura 232
Autrah 1,075
Bains 353
Bedha 472
Bhachar 1.422
Bhadwal 1,207
Bhatti 1,880
Bhullar 483
Bhumla 793
Bhutta 778
Birkan 130
Budhwana 366
Chadhar 1,226
Chandhar 235
Chhajra 367
Chhina 1,580
Dab 103
Deo 915
Des 158
Dhandla 286
Dharal 419
Dhariwal 184
Dhillon 949
Dhudhi 335
Dumra 585
Gandhi 1,288
Ghallu 818
Gill 190
Goraya 365
Gorchar 807
Hanbi 336
Hans 498
Harral 347
Heer 603
Janjua 573
Jatal 164
Jakhar 1,229
Jhammat 507
Joiya 670
Kahlon 442
Kalasra 918
Kallu 1,301
Kallu Khel 147
Khandoa 1,278
Khera 176
Kohawer 1,020
Lak 452
Langah 704
Langrial 222
Lohanch 676
Mallana 454
Naul 229
Pala Khel 169
Rawana 215
Saggu 434
Sahgra 321
Sahi 963
Samtia 1,007
Saandh 948
Sandhila 701
Saandi 410
Sarai 150
Sawag 460
Srb 1,144
Sial 2,945
Sohal 435
Soomra 930
Talokar 1,096
Thaheem 352
Turkhel 1,344
Turk 1,499
Waghora 173
Wawana 258

Description of Major Muslim Communities in India : Bhatti

In this fifth post of mine on Muslim communities in India, I shall stick with the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP). The state is home to 38,519,225, who make up 19.3% of the total population. This population is not only large, but very diverse, home to perhaps as much as two hundred odd groups, castes and sects, speaking various dialects, as well as standard Urdu. In this post, I shall look the Bhatti community, which has traditions of migration from the Punjab, in particular from the Sirsa Rania region that is now divided between Haryana and Indian Punjab. Several Bhatti groups claim that there migration to UP was the result of the Chalisa Famine of 1783-84, the affected the territories south of Sultjej river, which were prior to the famine rich grassland. As the Bhatti were pastoral groups relying heavily on cattle rearing, and the Chalisa effectively wiped out these grasslands. However, as I shall discuss in this post, various groups of Bhattis have different and complex origin myths.

In Uttar Pradesh, the Bhatti are an extremely diverse set of communities, many with quite different origin myths. I shall initially give a brief background to the origin myths of the Bhatti, the migration history of the some of these groups and finally look briefly the Bhatti Taluqdars of Bara Banki, who were perhaps the most prominent family among Bhattis of UP. Just a point of clarification, the name is pronounced as Bhatti in UP, Haryana and Punjab, and Bhati in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Sindh. In terms of distribution, the Bhatti are fairly widespread, but there main concentrations are in Bulandshahr, Budaun, Kasganj, Farrukhabad, Barreilly, Pratapgarh and Barabanki districts.

Origin

According to tribal legends, the Bhatis were initially Yadavas, claiming descent from Krishna as an avatar of Vishnu, and thus identify themselves as a Chandravanshi Kshatriya. The Yadava homeland was the territory of Braj, roughly what is now Agra, Mathura and the adjoining areas of Rajasthan such as Bharatpur, from they were driven out by Paras Ram and fled to the Thar desert area of Jangladesh. Jangladesh was infertile and there was a constant scarcity of water throughout this region. The people had to wander from one place to another in search of water and food. These people were known as the Bhati. The word “Bhati” is therefore derived from the Hindi word, ‘Bhatakna’ (“to wander”). What is interesting about this legend is that it makes oblique reference to the most desert dwellers of the Jangaldesh acquired the name Bhati, which probably suggest a mixed origin. It is also interesting most Bhati of this region, now divided between Rajasthan and Sindh, remain herdsmen.

James Todd the colonial historian makes reference to another origin myth, involving a Mamnenez, the king of Khorasan, who drove out King Shal Bahan from Ghazni. He then established his capital at Sialkot. One of his sons was Rao Bhati and his descendants came to be called Bhatis. In Punjab, Rajah Risalu, the founder of Sialkot is often said to a Bhatti, and in that province, at least a third of those who called themselves were of the Bhatti clan. In Punjab, the Bhatti story also talks about a period of exile to Ghazni, followed by their return.

I now return to the Jangaldesh, the present regions of Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Mallani (split now between Umerkot in Pakistan and Barmer) and an individual named Jaisal. Jaisal is said to have founded the city of Jaisalmer in 1156 AD. The new fort that he built was on a hill called Trikuta. The state of Jaisalmer was positioned right on the route from Afghanistan to Delhi. Taking advantage of this strategic position, the Bhatis levied taxes on the passing caravans. At the height of Bhati power, it covered a large part of what is now the Bahawalpur Division of Pakistan, Bikaner extending into southern Haryana. With the arrival of the Rathore in Bikaner in 1504, the traditional homeland of the Bhatti split, with the northern region becoming known as Bhatiana.

Bhatiana

Almost all the tribal traditions connect the Bhati Rajputs to Bhatnair or Bhatner (present-day Hanumangarh in northern Rajasthan. Bhatner was historically important as it was situated on the route of invaders from Central Asia to India. Whether the Bhati Rajputs initially spread from Bhatner and Bhattiana or these were their final abodes is unclear. It might be the case that the drying up of the Ghaggar forced them to migrate to the plains of Punjab. However, its worth pointing out that most Bhattiana Bhattis trace their history to the desert principality of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, in the border villages of Bikaner and some tehsils of Jodhpur (Osian and Shergarh). Sirsa in the heart of Bhattiana became home to a Muslim Bhatti principality, which survived until the arrival of the British in the 19th Century. Most of the local Rajput tribes, such as the Bhatti and Joiya had become Muslim with the arrival of the Mughals (early 16th Century) and led a pastoral life. However, with the Chalisa famine of 1783-84, almost the entire ecosystem was destroyed, forcing significant Bhatti migration into the Doaba region of Uttar Pradesh. The Awadh Bhattis have slightly different story to their migration, and I will look at that latter in the article.

Migration to UP – Traditions of the Bhatti of the Doab and Rohilkhand

Various groups of Bhatti in the Doab have different traditions as to their origin and migration. In terms of distribution, the Bhatti in the Doab are found mainly in Bullandshar, in Etah District mainly in Azamnagar tehsil, with Bhargain being their most important settlement, and in Kakrala in Badaun and Thriya Nizamat Khan in Bareilly. Most Bhatti settlements like along the banks of the Kali Nadi between Bullandshahr and Etah. Many of these Kali Nadi Bhattis have origin myths suggest that they predate the Chalisa migration. It is of course quite possible a number of waves of Bhatti arrived in UP over different times. They say they came to Bulandshahr under Kansal, or as others say, Deo and Kare, in the time of Prithivi Raj Chauhan (1149–1192 CE), and drove out or more likely subdued the Meos. The clan then divided into two branches, the Bhatti and Jaiswar. Interestingly, looking at colonial censuses of UP shows that most Jaiswars are Hindu, and Bhatti Muslim. It should also be noted that Hindu Jaiswar and Bhatti do not intermarry, under the rules of clan exogamy, considering themselves to be the same clan. Conversion to Islam is said to have taken place during the times of Qutubudin Aibak (1150–1210) and Alaudin Khilji (ruled 1296 to 1316). This would make them some of the earliest converts to Islam. In Bulandshahr, most Hindu Bhattis consider themselves as Gujjars, while the Muslims groups are now known as Ranghar, a term used to describe any Muslim Muslim Rajput. They are said to be over a 150 Bhatti villages in the Noida, Bulandshahr and Meerut region, most of whom are Muslim. Important villages include Til Begumpur, Hirnoti, Vellana, Vair ,Rabupura and Bakaswa.

The Bhatti of Til Begumpur

The most important Bhatti settlement in the Bullandshar / Greater Noida region is village of Til Begumpur. It was a site of an independent Bhatti Muslim principality until 1857. According to tribal traditions, the ancestors of the Bhattis are said to have come to Til Begumpur from Bbattiana, in the t.ime of Prithvi Raja of Dehli, and to settled here after expelling the Meos. The Bhatti are said to have founded two villages Ghodi Bachchera and Til Begumpur, now located on the outskirts of Greater Noida. The founders of these two villages were said to be two brothers. During 16th Century, Gujjars began immigrate from across the Yamuna, thereby reducing the Bhatti principality to a few villages. According to tribal tradition, Til was established by Rao Kasan Singh, who after defeat at the hands of a Allauddin Khilji was converted to Islamic . Kasan Singh was renamed himself Rao Qasim Ali Khan after conversion. While the village Ghodi was established by Kasan Singh’s younger brother Ranbir Singh who lived and died a Bhati Rajput. One of the brothers was also supposed to have fathered Bhati Gujjars after marriage with a Gujjar girl. The Bhattis in Til and other villages – Dhaula, Andhel, Mandpa, Kaumra and Jalalpur – all claim descent from Rao Qasim.

The Til Begumpur Bhatti’s played an important role in the 1857 War of Independence, and after the reestablishment of British rule, the estate was confiscated for their rebellion. The lands were handed over to the Skinner Estate, which was created by Colonel James Skinner CB (1778 – 4 December 1841) was an Anglo-Indian military adventurer in India, who became known as Sikandar Sahib later in life. The town of Sikanderabad near Tilla is named after Skinner. The Skinner family remain proprietors of Tilla until the independence of India in 1947.

The Bhatti of Bhargain

However, the Bhargain Bhattis have strong traditions of migration during the Chalisa, and as I have already said, this probably shows a steady flow of Bhatti migrants from the arid region of Bhattiana. According to the Bhargain tradition, two brothers named Khawaj Khan and Mehmood Khan came and settled in the region fertile region between the Bhurhi Ganga and Kali Nadi river. They are said to be fleeing the Chalisa famine and found the area occupied by Ahir groups, whom they displaced. The brothers are said to have founded the village of Bhargain during the later part of 18th century. From their various sons descend most of sub-clans of the Bhagain Bhattis. The region where the Bhattis settled was in a vacuum, and they became effectively independent, sometimes fighting with their neighbours the Pathans of Kasganj, and sometimes allied with them. Two descendants of Khawaj Khan, Dillu Khan and Sharabu Khan moved to Badaun and founded Kakrala. Most Kasganj, Badaun and Farrukhabad Bhattis claim some connection with the brothers Khawaj and Mahmood. Other then Bhargain, there are several villages in Azamnagar tehsil.

The Bhatti of Kakrala

The Kakrala Bhattis however have a slightly different story to their origin. According to one of their traditions in 1610 AD, the Bhattis were settled in Agra, when they seized Noorjahaan, the wife of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir, as she was travelling from Bengal to Delhi. When Jehangir came to know of this, he sent a force against them, forcing them to flee to the country of the Meos, lying east of their homeland in Agra. Their the Bhattis converted to Islam, and remained until the death of Jahangir. Their circumstances changed, when Noorjahaan wanted her son-in-law to be enthroned. She needed allies and the Bhatti came in support. They were then granted lands that became settlement of Kakrala. If this legend is to be believed then, Kakrala was founded a century before Bhargain, and the connection between the two Bhatti communities becomes weaker. The Kakrala Bhatti state was absorbed into the Rohilla state in early 18th Century, and the Bhattis also played a part in 1857. Closely connected to the Kakrala Bhattis are those of the town of Thirya Nizamat Khan in Bareilly, which said to have been founded by migrants from Kakra. In additions, there are also several Bhatti villages near Baheri in Bareilly District.

The Bhatti Khanzada

I now move to Awadh, and look at the very interesting community of the Bhatti of Barabanki. The Bhatti Khanzada of Awadh are a sub-group within the larger Khanzada community of Awadh. However, unlike other Khanzadas, the Bhattis are now closely associated with the Qidwai Shaikhs, with whom they intermarry.
There is also a distinct community of Bhattis found in the village of Yahiapur in Pratapgarh district. The Awadh region covers most of the eastern areas of Uttar Pradesh, and is home to a distinct culture with the extensive use of the Awadhi language.

The Awadh Bhatti also claim to orignate from Bhatner in Haryana, and the Bhattis were some of the earliest converts of Islam. According to tribal traditons, there ancestors Zabar Khan and his brother, Mustafa Khan, accompanied the governor Tatar Khan to Awadh at the time of the first Muslim conquest. In return for his services Zabar Khan received the parganas
of Mawai and Basorhi. He and his brother were the disciple of the saint, Saiyid Shah Jalal, whose tomb is at Basorhi, and in consequence of an insult offered to the holy man they exterminated the Brahmans of Mawai. Zabar Khan’s descendants
held the land for several generations, and then Kale Khan and Munna Jan divided their estates, taking Basorhi and Mawai respectively.
From the former springs the Neora house, which takes its name from a village in the south of Basorhi.

The two Bhatti taluqdars of Barauli and Neora in Barabanki district, and are closely related to the Qidwai Shaikhs, a neighbouring Muslim community through intermarriage. Other then the taluqdar families, the majority of the Barabanki Bhatti are small to medium sized farmers. With the abolishment of zamindari system of feudal ownership, has had a strong impact on the large landowning families, as much of their land has been redistributed. Bhattis are found mainly in and around the town of Mawai, with important villages include Makhdumpur, Neora and Basorhi.


Bhatti of Yahyapur in District Pratapgarh

The village of Yahyapur in Pratapgarh District has quite a unique history. The village is located on the north bank of the river Sai, near its junction with the Paraya stream, about seven miles from Partapgarh city. Located within the village is the famous temple of Bilkhar Nath, which stands among the ruins of Kot Bilkhar, the ancient fort of Ghaibar Sah, a Dikhit Rajput of Bisauli in Banda District. This man was sent by the Emperor of Dehli to exterminate the Bhars, and settling here founded the family of Bilkharia Thakurs, who ruled the pargana till the days of Raja Ramdev Singh. Ramdev Singh was defeated and slain some 650 years ago by Bariar Singh, the ancestor of the Bachgoti clan. On the division of the Baohgoti property the fort fell to the lot of Dingur Singh, the ancestor of the present taluqdar of Dalippur. It was destroyed by the forces of the Nawab of Awadh in 1773 after the defeat of Rai Maharban Singh. The ruins stand on the river bank on a plateau surrounded on three sides by ravines and covered with scrub jungle. The Awadh rulers then settled a colony of Bhattis, who now make up the majority of the population. However the shrine of Bilkbar Nath in the village has remained an important site of Hindu pilgramage.

Distribution of Bhattis by District According to 1891 Census of India
 

District
Hindu Muslim
Barreilly 3,763
Bulandshahr 3,482 2,455
Etah 80 2,671
Pratabgarh 1,652
Barabanki 1,353
Farrukhabad 10 1,177
Ghazipur 854
Aligarh 5 576
Moradabad 514
Saharanpur 37 443
Muzaffarnagar 80 343
Bahraich 267
Hardoi 198
Lakhimpur Kheri 195
Sultanpur 127
Unao 112
Gorakhpur 125 66
Mathura 49
Badaun 587
Meerut 180
Total Population in UP 4,619 17,170