In this post, I will focus on three little known tribes found in the Pothohar region, namely the Gangal and Ratial. I will ask the region to look at my post on the Budhal and Kanyal tribes, which give some background to the tribal history of this region. An interesting thing about the various tribes in this region 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, such as Kanyal being an aal of the Chauhan tribe, which overtime grew in numbers, leading separation from the parent stock. Both tribes have very similar customs, being historically farmers and speaking the Pothwari language.
I shall start off with the little known tribe known as the Gungal, sometimes spelt Gangal, found throughout this region. As mentioned in my introduction, the tribes in the region have names ending in al, meaning son of or descendent of a named individual. In the case of the Gungal, that would be mean that they are descendent of Gang, or possible Ganga, a common first name among Hindus of all castes. Like most Punjab tribes, there are a number of different traditions as to the origin of this tribe. The Gangal of Gujar Khan, Chakwal and Jhelum claim that they are a section of the Bhatti Rajputs, therefore Gang or Ganga belonged to the Bhatti tribe, a well-known tribe of Rajputs found throughout Punjab. In this region, being Rajput is a matter of status, which can be both gained or lost. If an ancestor took up cultivation, then his descendants would be classified as Jat, or vice versa, if they rose in prominence, they would acquire the status of Rajput. In the latter case, they would restrict marriage with other tribes of Rajput status. Often, a branch of the tribe would call itself Rajput in one village, and in a neighbouring villages, they would be simple cultivators, and be known as Jat. With regards to the Gungal, most of those found in Rawalpindi District call themselves Rajputs, while in Jhelum are Jat, and intermarry with tribes of Jat status.
However, the Gangal of Rawalpindi Tehsil, have a completely different origin myth. Gang according to them was not a Bhatti, but an Awan, therefore according to the Rawalpindi Gangals, they are clan of the Awan tribe. The Rawalpindi Gangal trace their descent from Qutab Shah’s son Muzamal Ali, nicknamed Kalgan. Briefly, according to Awan tribal traditions, their ancestor was a Qutb Shah, who is said to have accompanied and assisted Mahmud of Ghazna in his early eleventh century conquests of what today forms parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Northern India. It is claimed that in recognition of their services and valour, Mahmud bestowed upon Qutb Shah and his sons (who, according to tribal traditions, settled primarily in the Salt Range) the title of Awan, meaning “helper”. Coming back to the Gangal, a descendent of Muzamal Ali named Gohar Shah was their ancestor. This Gohar Shah was nicknamed Ganga, and the Ganga are the aal or descendants of this Ganga. It is interesting to note the Gangal villages in Rawalpindi tehsil are surrounded by the Awan villages, therefore it is possible that they have affiliated themselves with the dominant group, while in Gujarkhan, they maintain links with the Rajput clans, which in turn dominate that region.
With regards to their distribution, in Rawalpindi District, their villages include Gungal, Mujahid Gungal in Rawalpindi Tehsil, Sood Gungal located within the Islamabad Capital Territory. In Gujar Khan tehsil, they are found in number of villages such as Faryal, Gungal, Narali Jabbar and Sui Cheemian. Other Gungal villages in Rawalpindi District include Chakyal near Hardogher, Dhamnoha and Samote in Kallar Syedan Tehsil, and Bimma Gungal in Kahuta Tehsil. In neighbouring Jhelum District, their main village is Gungal, while in Chakwal District their villages include Dhok Vazira, Mak and Mohra Gungal near Kallar Syden. In Attock District, they are found in the village of Gangal in Fateh Jang Tehsil.
Miyal, or sometimes written as Mial, are tribe found mainly in Rawalpindi and Chakwal districts. They are descendants of a Mian, which in there case may not refer to a single common ancestor, but is a term which is often used to describe any holyman or Sufi saint. These is also shown by the fact that different Mial groups have different origin myths. According to 1911 Census of India, about 807 Mial declared themselves as Rajput, while 25 declared themselves as Jats. Some Mial groups also say that they are Qureshi Arabs, while others claim to be Mughals.There main villages include Malluwala in Pindigheb Teshsil and Mial in the Fateh Jang Tehsil of Attock District, the village of Mial in Rawalpindi District, and the villages of Budhial, Mureed, Mial and Warwal in Chakwal District. In addition, Mial settlements are also found in the Gujar Khan Tehsil, such as Sapiali Khinger.
The Ratial are Rajput tribe, found mainly in Rawalpindi District. There customs are similar to neighbouring tribes such as the Bangial and Kanyal. Like other tribes in the region, they have several traditions as to their origin. According to one such tradition, the tribe are descended from Khattar Khan, the ancestor of the Khattar tribe. Khattar Khan had six sons, Jand Khan,Isa Khan, Sarwar Khan, Firoz Khan, Sehra Khan and Pehru Khan. About three generations after his death, the tribe lost Nilab but they took possession of the open country between Rawalpindi and the Indus which became known by the name of Khattar. The descendants of Jand Khan took possession of the district called after them Jandal between Khushhalghar and Nara. From Feroz Khan the Drek family has descended. His great- grandson was Ratnah from whom have descended the clan known as Ratial. The Khattar tribe, like the Awans claim descent from Qutub Shah, which would make the Ratial Alvi Arabs.
However, another tradition makes Ratnah out to be a Manhas Rajput, who left Kangra in the 15th Century and settled in Potohar region, and converted to Islam. His descendants are known the Ratial. A few generations from Ratnah were two brothers Jairo Khan and Bhairo Khan. Jairo is said to have founded the village Jairo Ratial, and his brother Bhairo founded the neighbouring village Bhair Ratial. Almost all the other Ratial’s trace there descent from these two villages. Claims to Minhas ancestry are more widely accepted, certainly by the Ratial’s of Gujarkhan.
The Ratial Minhas rose to some significance as rulers of the large part of the present Rawalpindi District known as Ratala, centred around the village of Ratala in Gujar Khan Tehsil. They were displaced from Ratala by a Janjua chief named Raja Abdullah Khan in the 18th Century, who had himself been displaced by the upheaval of the Sikh conquest of Garjaak and Darapur in Jhelum, and as a result took his remaining army and conquered the region of Ratyal from a Ratial chief who was loyal to the Sikh empire. He defeated the Ratial Chief and although the region remained known Ratala. With this, the Ratial ceased to play any important political role in the region. The Ratial thereafter sunk to the status of farmers, and according to 1911 Census of Punjab, they numbered 549.
Their principle villages are Ratial (near Dina) and Darapur in Jhelum District, and Ratial, Bher Ratial, Jairo Ratial and Puraney Ratial, in the Gujar Khan Tehsil of Rawalpindi District. They also found in Banoti Niar and Chak Beli Khan villages south of Rawalpindi. There are also number of Ratial villages in Attock District.