Tribes of Attock : The Alpial and Jodhra tribes

This is my second postings on the tribes of Attock Region. Readers are asked to look at my article on the Gheba and Khattar tribes, which give some background to the history of the Attock region. In this post I will look at the Jodhra and Alpial, tribes of Rajput status, who have had a profound affect on the districts history.

Below are a list of tribes classified as Rajput by 1911 Census of India:

Tribe

Attock Tehsil

Pindigheb Tehsil

Fateh Jang Tehsil

Talagang Tehsil

Total

Alpial

8,986

Bhatti

9,956

Chauhan

636

Janjua

1,028

Jodhra

8,085

Other Rajput clans of the district include the Hon, Dhamial, Bhakral, Kahut, Khingar, Chib, Minhas, Mangeal, Johad, Adhial, Kurar, Jhottial, Mair-Minhas, Tuh, Hattar, Chanial, Bhatti-Mehra, Bhatti-Kanjal, Bhatti-Jangle, Bhatti-Badhuer and Bhatti-Shaikh

Jodhra

We now look at the Jodhra, the traditional rulers of the Fattehjang area of Attock, close to the Islamabad boundary. They inhabit the south-east of Pindigheb Tehsil, the valley of the Soan extending on the south to the Tallagang border in Chakwal District, and on the north reaching to the watershed which runs across the Tehsil, and along the Fattehjang boundary running up as far as the railway

According to tribal traditions, the get their name from Jodhra, who was converted to Islam by Mahmud of Ghazni and settled in Jammu. The Muslim descendants of Jodhra were forced to leave Jammu, and settled in Sil valley and founded the town of Pindigheb (then called Dirahti) on the north bank. Due to the river changing its course, they then moved their settlement to the south bank, where the current city of Pindigheb stands. Like other Rajput tribes of the region, the Jodhra have multiple origin myths. According to another tradition, their original home was on the banks of the river Ganges, from where they had to leave on their conversation to Islam. All there myths have one thing in common, as Rajput converts to Islam, they had to leave their homeland.

According to the authors of the Attock District Gazetteer, they first settled in the district about the end of the 15th century as a small band of military adventurers. They conquered the lands located between the Soan and Sil rivers and much of Tallagang, ruling these tracts from Pindigheb. The land at that point was in the possession of the Awans, who were not evicted, but remained on as tenants under the conquering Jodhras. The Jodhras, as Rajputs did not cultivate the land themselves, as this would a breach of their caste rulers. The former owners simply sank to the status of tenants. Ownership of the soil vested in the newcomers who were regarded as independent chieftains paying no revenue to the Sultans of Delhi, other than an occasional present of a horse, mule or hawk by way of tribute, and keeping up large bodies of armed retainers. The Jodhra were close to the Grand Trunk road, and the authorities in Delhi were largely interested in making that the Jodhras did not upset the flow of trade and manpower from Central Asia.The Jodhra were said to have actively developed the resources of the surrounding country, and founded the great majority of the villages in which they possessed rights of various kinds lasting right up to the British period.

With the collapse of the Delhi Sultans, whose nominal rule of the region was ended by the Mughal conqueror Babur in the 16th Century, an attempt was made to exercise control over the Attock tribe. But the Mughals also recognised the Jodhra’s position as semi-independent warlords, and Malik Aulia Khan, was granted an estate by Aurangzeb and held a revenue assignment of Pindigheb, and parts of Chakwal and Fattehjang. This was an attempt by the Aurangzeb to regulate the Attock tribes, but they this did not stop the constant feuding. The Malik ignored central Mughal authority and conquered Tallagang.

With the collapse of Mughal authority after the death of Aurangzeb, the Jodhra under Aulia Khan’s son Malik Amanat Khan reached their zenith.It during his rule that Attock became focus of Sikhs raids. After brief attempt by Ahmed Shah Abdali, the Afghan rule to establish his authority, Attock slipped back into the control of local tribes. By the end of the 18th Century, Sikh superiority was established on the small but warlike tribes of the district, but systematic government was never attempted. The arrival of the Sikh also saw the decline of the Jodhras. At once they lost Tallagang and Chakwal over which they had never really established their authority. Gradually the great power of the Pindigheb family was frittered away. It had always been the centre of the tribe, all the minor families Jodhras claimed descent from a particular malik, and recognized the authority of the Pindigheb Maliks as their feudal overlords. First the Langrial family was allowed to secede. Then the Khunda, Kamlial and Dandi families broke away. Finally with the rise of the Ghebas, the lost control over the Soan river valley.

There are five principal families of the Jodhras. By far the most important is that of Pindigheb. Two branches of the family are recognised as chiefs of the tribe, and at present there are three members of the senior branch and two of the junior. The elder branch are descendants of Aulia Khan, while the second branch descends from Fatteh Khan. The Pindigheb Maliks are closely related by marriage with the Gheba family of Kot. Other then the Pindigheb Maliks, the ther four families are the Maliks of Khunda, Dandi, Kamlial and Langrial.

The Jodhras inhabit the south-eastern portion of the Pindi Gheb Tehsil and the valley of the Swaan River extending, on the south, to the border of Talagang of Chakwal District. Almost all the Jodhra villages are found in Fateh Jang Tehsil of Attock District and Pindi Gheb Tehsil of Attock District, with a few settlements in the Haripur District of Hazara. Their main villages in Pindi Gheb are Khunda, Domial Ahmadal, Ikhlas, Noushehra, Parri, Dandi, Gharibwal, Ganda Kas, Kamrial, Sidrihaal, Kharauba, Kamalpur Sher Jang, Kanat, Mirwal and Saura. In Fatehjang, they are found in Ahmadal, Chauntra, and Langrial, while there also found in the villages of Baldher, Bandi Sherkhan and Akhoon Bandi in Haripur district. The current chief of the tribe is Malik Atta Mohammad Khan of Pindigheb.

Alpial

The Alpial are a Rajput tribe, found mainly in Attock and Rawalpindi districts. According to tribal traditions, the Alpials claim descent from the Manj Rajputs, and their claim to Rajput origin is generally admitted by neighbouring tribes. There ancestor was said to be a Rajah Alp Khan Manj, and the Alpial are the aals or descendents of this Alp Khan of the Manj tribe. I shall now say a little word on the Manj Rajputs. According to the traditions of the Manj, they are in fact Bhatti Rajputs, descended from Raja Salvahan (Salivahana), father of Raja Rasalu, a mythical figure that was said to ruled over much of Punjab, and founded Sialkot. There origin myths also make reference to a Tulsi Das (sometimes called Tulsi Ram), who was converted (to Islam) by the famous Sufi saint, Hazrat Makhdum Shah Jahaniya of Uchh, who died in 1383 A.D. After his conversion to Islam, Tulsi Ram assumed the name Shaikh Chachu, and the Manj had some influence in the valley of the Sutlej, in what is now Ludhiana and Jalandhar districts. Some six hundred years ago (13th Century) Shaikh Chachu and Shaikh Kilchi, are said to haved settled at Hatur in the southwest of Ludhiana, whence their descendants spread into the neighbouring country; and the Jallandhar traditions refer their conquest of the tract to the time of Ala-ud-din Khilji. After the dissolution of the Mughal Empire, the Manj Rais of Talwandi and Raikot ruled over an extensive territory south of the Sutlej, till dispossessed of it by the Ahluwalia Sikhs and later by Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Coming back to the Alpials, they appear to have settled in their present locality about the same time as the Jodhras and Ghebas that is about the 15th Century, having first wandered through the country now contained in the Khushab and Chakwal districts before settling down in the southern corner of Fateh Jang. Thereafter, it seems little contact existed between the parent tribe in the Sutlej and the Alpials. According to 1931 census of India, their approximate population was 4,500. The author of the 1929 Attock District Gazetteer had this to say about them:

“ Hard-working and excellent cultivators, generally tilling their own land and working laboriously on their wells, they have taken only a small part in the more lurid history of the district. Socially they rank high, intermarrying freely with the Mughals. They are a bold, lawless set of men, of fine physique, much given to violent crime, sturdy, independent and wonderfully quarrelsome. ”

The Alpial have produced the land owning Chaudry of Chakri family, who rose to semi-independence with the collapse of Mughal authority. They managed to keep this status by alternately supporting one of the two faction of the Gheba in the Swaan valley, the Malal Ghebas and the Kot family, and lost several members of their family in the strife. However, with the arrival of the Sikhs, the Alpial lost their independence, and were reduced to the status of landlords. During the period of British colonial rule, the Chakri family provided several a Viceregal darbaris such as Chaudri Ahmad Khan.

The Alpials occupy a compact block of villages on both banks of the Swaan River, in the Thana Chountra circle of Rawalpindi Tehsil, Rawalpindi District and the in the Sil Sohan circle of the Fateh Jang Tehsil,Attock District. They own 32 villages in all, the main Alpial villages being Sihal, Chakri, Ghila Kalan, Pind Malhu, Jhandhu Syedan, Dhalwali Mohra, Adhwal, Chak Beli Khan, Chountra, Chak-Dinal, Dhullial, Sangral, Khilri, Malkaal, Parial, Raika Maira, Hakeemal, Koliam Goru, Dhoke Gujri, Lamyran, Ramdev, Tatraal, Jaswal, Dheri Mohra, Kharri Murat, Gangainwala, Kolian Hameed, Chak Majhid, Gangal, Jada, Dhok Chach, Habtal, Bhutral, Dhok Cher, and Jodh.

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Tribes of Attock: Gheba and Khattar tribes

In this post, I shall concentrate on a number of tribes that are found largely in Attock Districtt, a region where Pothohari culture and language gives way to Pashtun cultural norms. The Indus River flows along the western boundary of the district for about 130 Kilometres, dividing the district from the three bordering districts of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa. As such, identification with a tribe, a common feature of Pashtun cultural traditions, is an important source of identity in this border region. The two tribes that I will look at, namely the Gheba, and Khattar, all claim a non-Pashtun origin, either tracing Rajput ancestry or claiming a Mughal identity. I would ask the read to read this post in conjunction with my post on the Jodhra and Alpial tribes. Sources used here include D. Turner’s “The Attock District: A Detailed and Comprehensive Survey Updating Col Gracroft’s Report”, (1891) and Col. C. Gracroft. “Report on the Races and Tribes of the Attock and Rawalpindi Districts”, (1868).

Gheba

The Gheba are also found in the District of Attock, and claim to be Mughal. In fact, the tribe is often referred to the Rawal Mughals of Kot Fateh Khan, which is their most important village.

The origin of the Ghebas, like that of many other tribes in Punjab, is obscure. They themselves claim a Mughal origin. Like the Jodhra and Alpial tribes, the Gheba arrived from eastern Punjab as a small warlike band, overpowering to the Jats, Gujars and Awans who preceded them and established their feudal control over the region. However, Gheba have a number of other origin stories. In one of these traditions, Gheba is simply a nickname applied to them because they live in the Gheb, the region around the town of Pindigheb. According to another one, they are connected to the the Sials of Jhangs and the Tiwanas of Shahpur. Rai Shankar Panwar is said to have had three sons, namely Teu, Seo and Gheo, from whom the Tiwanas, Sials and Ghebas respectively are descended.This assertion contradicts their claim to Mughal origin, and would give the Ghebas as of Pajput Panwar origin. After their arrival in Punjab, the Ghebas converted to Islam at the hands of the Sufi saint Baba Farid of Pakpattan, and eventually settled in Fatehjanj, expelling the Jodhras, and become effective rulers of the region.

According to the author of the 1907 Attock Gazetteer, the Gheba are really a branch of the Jodhra tribe who quarrelled with the others, and took the name Gheba, which till then had been simply a title used in the tribe. The fact that the town of Pindigheb was built, and is still held, by the Jodhras, and not by the Ghebas, lends some support to this statement. Most Gheba clame that they are a clan of Barlas Mughal (see my post of the Phaphras for more information on the Barlas), who get there name from Mirza Gheba Khan a distant cousin of the Mughal Emperor Babar, who came here with his army during the Mughal invasion of India in 15th century with Zaheeruddin Babar. Therefore it was the Ghebas who gave the area of Gheb its name, and not vice versa. A claim of Mughal origin has now been accepted, the family of the Sardars of Kot Fateh Khan play an important role in the politics of Attock District. Prior to the arrival of the Sikhs in early 19th Century, the Ghebas were effectively independent. They are now considered equal in rank with the Jodhras and Alpials, and intermarriage with the Alpials, Jodhras and Khattars is common.

Up to1825 they certainly occupied a position subordinate to the Jodhras of Pindigheb, who were responsible for the revenue of the Gheb. The later years of Sikh rule are the period of Gheba rise first to complete independence, then to equality with the Jodhras. Rae Mohamed Khan of Kot was the first chief to refuse Jodhra overlorship and founded a principality in Fatehjang. The 1907 gazetteer says the following about Rea Mohamed:

“He was a man of much power and energy, so influential that he stood to the Sikhs in the relation of an ally rather than a subject, and so turbulent that the record of his violence and crimes remains”

It was his successor Fatteh Khan, who was the real founder of the Ghebas principality of Kot. Fatteh Khan had started off as owning 13 entire villages, about two-thirds of eight other hereditary villages, and in addition shares in several other villages, which he bought or in other ways acquired. This new consolidated estate, covered much of the country under the west corner of the Khairi Murat. In 1848, the Punjab was conquered by the British, and the Kot Estate came under there direct control. However its worth pointing out that Kot estate was always called the Kot Sarkar under the British, and the administration is the sarkar, while officials of the Government are known but as English officials.” Fatteh Khan died in 1894, when his property with his jagir passed to his brother’s grandson, Mahomed A li Khan, from who the present Sardars of Kot claim descent. Other important Gheba families include the Ghebas of Malal, Dhurnal, and Shahr Rai Sadullah. The three branches of the tribe are Rawal, Bhandial and Silial. The Kot, Dhurnal and Shahr Rai Sadullah families are Rawals. The family of Malal is Bhandial, and the Manjia familyis Sihal. Another important Gheba family is that of Mari. This family calls itself Bhandial, from Rai Bhandi Beg, there ancestor.

Like other tribes of this region, the Gheba are further sub-divided into three main muhis (clans), the Rawal, Bhandial and Sihal. The Sardars of Kot Fateh Khan belong to the Rawal branch of the family, and current Sardar is Sher Ali Khan. The Ghebas are found mainly in the western portion of the Fateh Jang Tehsil of Attock District, where they occupy solid block of villages reaching to the Kala Chita on the north, to Fateh Jang and Sagar to the east, and almost to the Sil river in the south. There main villages are Kot Fateh Khan, Manjia, Dhurnal, Gullial, Malal, Mari, Shahr Rai Saidullah, Sikhwal and Dhari-Rai-Ditta all in Fatehjang Tehsil of Attock District.

 

Khattar

 
The Khattar are perhaps the most interesting in terms of their exact origin. According to the traditions of the tribe, the Khattar were an Arab tribe that enetered in Spain with Tariq ibn Ziyad. The head of the tribe, Abu Al-Khattar was said to be a popular governor of al-Andalusia, Spain. After the downfall of Muslim rule in Spain, the tribe left and moved to Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, India and north west of Pakistan. The bulk of the tribe is now found in the in Attock and Rawalpindi districts. In due course, the Khattars split up into two major sections, the ‘Kala’ (Black) and ‘Chitta’ (White); of which the Kala Khattars were mostly of mixed Muslim and Hindu population whereas the Chitta section were almost entirely Muslims, and married extensively with various Afghan, Turkish and Kashmiri tribes. The Hayat family of Wah village, from which some of the most notable Khattars have descended in recent times, are from the ‘Chitta’ Khattars, though Wah village itself was founded much later c 17th century, originally as ‘Jalal Sar’ village, renamed ‘Wah’ by the Mughal Emperor Jehangir, and a pleasure garden was later built here by the Emperor Shah Jehangir. A small of Khattar also claim descent from Qutub Shah, the supposed ancestor of the Awan tribe, which would give the Khattar an Alawi Arab ancestry.
Other theories of their descent include:

“ The Khattars are generally credited with a Hindu origin,from Khatris but they are divided in belief as to their descent .Some admit Hindu origin , while those who deny it claim an Arab descent , alleging they are closely connected with Awans . ”

“ In order to meet the generally accepted belief that they were originally Hindus , even those who claim a Mussalman origin admit that while at Bagh Nilab they became Hindu and were reconverted ”

“ Khattar wedding rites used to closely resemble those of Hindus , Brahmans even being present , but they are now solemnised according to strict Muhammadan rules . ”

A further claim is that the Khattars are of Turkic ancestry; which is based on two factors: (a) supposed physical features and temperament (b) their later inter-marriages with Pakhtun/Afghan tribes living mainly in North-West Pakistan, in the Attock and Hazara regions. However, this theory neglects the Khattars’ actual and close genealogical links to various neighbouring tribes and blood kin, of Attock (Pakistan) and nearby areas, such as the Ghebas, Jodhras etc. This confusion, as to the origin, is not unique to the Khattars, in a region where many tribes, have multiple theories as to their origin.

The Khattars now occupy a stretch of land, known as Khattar, on both sides of the Kala Chita Range, and runs in a narrow strip east and west from the Indus, and across the district, in Rawalpindi, where they own, fourteen villages. They own twenty nine villages in Attock Tehsil, forty-three in Fateh Jang Tehsil, and a fair number in Pindigheb Tehsil. Their main villages in Attock District include Dhrek, Bahtar, Bhagowi, Kot Shadi, Thatha , Kutbal and Pind Sultan. The town Wah, as already mentioned, was historically an Khattar settlement. In Rawalpindi District, there villages are mostly in the Kharora Circle, in the present Taxila Tehsil, and include Dhok Phor, Pind Nosheri, Garhi Sikander and Usman Khattar. The Khattar are largely a class of feudal landlords, never really forming a majority of the population in their villages, leaving cultivation to groups they consider inferior.