In this post, I will look at two tribes, namely the Phaphra and Lilla, who live in close proximity to each other in the Pind Dadan Khan region of Jhelum. Both of them have been called Jat, and here I wish to make a point. Both these tribes claim to an extra sub-continental descent, the Phaphra claim to be Mughal, while the Lilla Qureshi. Yet, the definition of Jat is elastic enough in this region for both these tribes to be included in the Jat category. What makes someone a Jat here is whether other tribes of Jat status will intermarry with them. I would also ask the reader to look at my article on the Jalap, which gives some background on the Jats of the Jhelum region.
Phaphra is small tribe of Mughal status, also found in Pind Dadan Khan plains located north of the river Jhelum.
The tribe claims to be Barlas Mughals, and get its name from an ancestor named Phaphra, who settled in the district in the 15th Century. So who exactly are the Barlas, and I shall briefly look at this group of medieval Mongols. According to the Secret History of the Mongols, written during the reign of Ögedei Khan [r. 1229-1241], the Barlas shared ancestry with the Borjigin, the imperial clan of Genghis Khan and his successors, and other Mongol clans. The leading clan of the Barlas traced its origin to Qarchar Barlas, head of one of Chagatai’s regiments. Qarchar Barlas was a descendant of the legendary Mongol warlord Bodonchir (Bodon Achir; Bodon’ar Mungqaq), who was also considered a direct ancestor of Genghis Khan. Due to extensive contacts with the native population of Central Asia, the tribe had adopted the religion of Islam, and the Chagatai language, a Turkic language of the Qarluq branch, which was heavily influenced by Arabic and Persian. Timur, the ancestor of the Mughal dynasty belonged to the Barlas clan, and therefore that would connect the Paphra with the Mughals.
As their little historic evidence to connect the Phaphra with the Mughals, there is some scepticism as to their claim of Mughal ancestry. British settlement documents from the late 19th and early 20th Century refer refer to them as a “semi-Jat tribe”. As I have already mentioned, the word Jat in the Jhelum region often means a cultivator. The fact that the Phaphra often intermarry with neighbouring tribes such as the Lilla and Gondal, who are considered as Jat often reinforces the perception that the Phaphra are Jat.
According to Phaphra traditions, they came to this district from the direction of Faridkot, in what is now in East Punjab India. They settled in India around 15th Century, slightly earlier then the Mughal takeover of the Punjab. The Phaphra settled here as agriculturists, getting their name from their leader at that time Phaphra. However some other traditions claim he was called Nittharan. According to a family tree kept by Chaudharies of Gharibwal, the largest landowners among the tribe, gives their genealogy as follows:
Harbans or Shah Ibrahim (a descendent of Timur), Tilochar, Shah, Mal, Phaphra, Pheru, Vatra, Jatri, Harsh or Arif, Tulla, Nado, Hardev, Mahpal, and finally Nittharan.
Nittharan is said to have five sons namely; Gharib, (descendants in Gharibwal), Samman (Sammanwal), Ichhcin (son’s name Sau, descendants in Sauwal), Rao (Rawal), and Dhudhi (Dhudhi, and Qadarpur). Some of the earlier names are clearly Hindu, although this does not itself preclude their claim to Barlas ancestry. But there position in Jhelum society was more akin that of the Jats then the Mughals. Their headmen use the title Chaudhary, and their customs are very similar to the Gondals, the largest Jat tribe in their vicinity. The Phaphra are now divided into two rival clans, the Dhudhial, from the village of Dhudhi Paphra and Sadowalia from those who belong to the village of Sadowal.
The Paphra occupy a compact area of about 25 square miles at the foot of the Salt Range, east of Pind Dadan Khan in Jhelum District .The main Mughals Phaphra villages are Chak Danial, Chak Shadi, Chakri Karam Khan, Dewanpur, Dhudi Paphra, Ghareebwal, Jutana, Karimpur, Kaslian, Kot Phaphra, Kot Shumali, Rawal, Sidhandi, Sammanwal, Sadowal, Saowall, Shah Kamir, Qadirpur, Thil, Warnali, and Warra Phaphra, all in Pind Dadan Khan Tehsil of Jhelum District. In Chakwal District they are found in Dhok Virk and Jotana. Mohra Phaphra is a lone Phaphra village in Rawalpindi District. Across the Jhelum, in Mandi Bahauddin District the Paphra are also found in villages of Phaphra, Chak No 29 and Nurpur Piran.
The next tribe I will look are the Lila, who are also found above the Jhelum in Pind Dadan Khan District.
According to their tribal traditions, they originally located in Arabia, being relations of the Prophet on his mother’s side. This would make the Lila’s Qureshi by origin. They then left Arabia under the leadership of an individual named Haris, who migrated to India, with a band of 160 men and settled at a place called Masnad in Hindustan, which they say still exists as a small town or village, though its exact situation is not known. This happened in the time of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni. However, the Lilla did not stay long in Masnad, and moved to Multan. There they became disciples of the pir Ghaus Shah. The Pir warned them that they would prosper as long as they remained united, but that any disagreements within the tribe would lead to their ruin.
Accompanied by Ghaus Shah, the tribe settled in Shahidiwalian, near present day Gujranwala. After they had been settled there for some time the locals of the place began to get tired of the trouble they caused, and made complaint to the Emperor at: Delhi, who ordered that they should be moved on.
The local governor was ordered to expel them and succeeded in dividing the tribe into two factions, which fought a pitched battle. The defeated party dispersed and its descendants are now found near the Chenab, mainly in what’s now Mandi Bahaudin District, while the others, weakened by the struggle, migrated to the Pind Dadan Khan plain, led by Lilla Buzurg, whose is considered the ancestor by all the present Lillas. When Lilla arrived at their present location, the tract was then occupied a tribe of Hal Jats. As I have already mentioned in the section on the Hal, the Lillas proceeded exterminated this tribe, barring one pregnant woman, who had managed to escape. According to the tribal traditions of the Awan, who villages border those of the Lilla, they were first settle the area by the Jhelum, which was a swamp.Despite the claim to Qureshi ancestry, the Lilla are considered as Jats by their neighbours and intermarry with other tribes of Jat status such as the Gondal, Jethal, Phaphra and Wariaches.
The four ancestral villages of the tribe are Lilla Bhera (also known as Mainowana), Lilla Bharwana, Lilla Hindwana, and Lilla Guj, which are said to be named after their founders, Maino, Bharo, Hindo, and Guj. Each of these villages are named after their founders, Maino, Bharo, Hindo, and Guj. The tribe holds about 40 square miles of territory between Pind Dadan Khan town and the Salt Range in the Jhelum District, and form the majority in the villages of Chak Hameed, Jalalpur Sharif, Lilla Handwana, Lilla Goj, Lilla Bhera (also known as Mainowana) and Rawal in Pind Dadan Khan Tehsil. There also a second cluster of Lilla villages on the banks of the Jhelum River in Khushab District, such as Kotla Jagir, Mohibpur and Waheer. While in Mandi Bahauddin District, they are found in Bohat, and further south in Sargodha District, they are found in Bhikhi Khurd, descendants of the second group of Lillas who dispersed to the Chenab.