Tribes and Castes of Mirpur District, Azad Kashmir

In this post, I will give the breakdown of the population of the old Mirpur District of the princely state Jammu and Kashmir, roughly covering the current districts of Mirpur, Bhimber, Kotli, as well as a portion of Bhimber Tehsil which now forms part of the Nowshera Tehsil of Rajouri in Indian administered Kashmir. The results are from the Census of 1931. Ethnologically, Mirpur region has much in common with neighbouring Pothohar, in particular the Gujar Khan Region, with Jat cultivators, a smaller Rajput aristocracy and a group of castes connected with particular occupation often derogatorily refereed to as Kammi. Traditionally, landownership was associated with particular groups, such as the Jat, while the kammi were largely landless. Almost all the population, including the large ethnic Kashmiri population spoke Mirpur Punjabi, aalso referred to as Pahari or Pothwari. This language is extremely close to the Pothwari spoken in Gujarkhan.

The old district formed the heart of the Chibhal region, with the Manawar Tawi, an important source of the Chenab, forming the eastern portion and Jhelum the west, Punjab in the south and Poonch and the Pir Panjaal in the north. This region formed the easiest route into the Kashmir valley along the Bhimber, Rajouri and Shopian route, also known as the Mughal Road. Over 80% of the population was Muslim, and most of the population spoke Pahari. After the first Indo-Pak War of 1948, the district was divided by the armistice line that later became known as Line of Control. There was also an exchange of population, with Nawshera now about 90% Hindu and Sikh, while the Mirpur Division is now entirely Muslim. About one third of the district was Jat, who belonged to all three religions. Most of the larger clans such as the Kalial, Nagyal and Thathaal had sections which belonged to all three religion.

Brief Description of the Muslim Groups

Jats

As I have said more then 80% of the population in the district was Muslim, of whom the Jat formed almost 40% of the districts Muslim population. In Mirpur, Jats still reside in their traditional heartlands of Chakswari, Dadyal, the city of Mirpur and the countryside surrounding Mirpur, which is overwhelmingly Jat. The main Jat villages near Mirpur are Ban Khurma, Chitterpury, Balah-Gala, Kas Kalyal, Khambal, Khroota, Purkhan, Sangot and Dheri Thothal as well as many villages around the Khari Sharif area.The Jat population was in term divided into numerous clans, all claiming descent from a common ancestor. Among the larger clans were Aasar, Bangial, Badhan, Dhamial, Kalyal, Kanjial, Kanyal, Karyal, Khabal, Manjaal, Matyal, Nagyal, Nathyal, Rachyal, Ranyal, Rupyal, Thathaal, Pakhreel and Punyal.

Rajputs

The second largest group were the Rajputs, almost 13% of the total Muslim population. The Chibs were the dominant clan in Bhimber, while the Gakhars (including Sakhaal sub-clan)  in Mirpur and the Mangral in Kotli. Other important clans were the Jaral in Bhimber, Narma and Thakyal in Kotli and the Sahu in Mirpur. Along the Punjab border, next to Jhelum and Gujrat, there were several communities of Bhao, Panwar and Sohlan. The Minhas and Sahoo were largely concentrated in Mirpur tehsil. Included within the Rajputs were the Bains, who were heavily concentrated in the Mirpur tehsil, most of which now forms part the Mirpur District. The Bhatti, who were closer to the Jat in customs, as they tended to be owner-cultivators were seperately enumerated, and in 1931 numbered 1,664. Another quasi-Rajput group were the Badhan, who numbered 532. In the case of the Badhan, it is very likely among them many would have declared themselves as Jats. In neigbhouring Gujrat and Jhelum Districts, the Badhan are simply a Jat tribe.

Major Clans

The 1931 Census of India was the last one that collected information on the various clans of the Rajput community. Below is a list of clans belonging to the Muslim Rajputs:

Tribe Population
Chib 7,376
Mangral 6,827
Ghakkar 5,085
Jaral 3,470
Narma 2,048
Manhas 1,161
Khokhar 1,009
Sao / Sahoo 834
Bains 678
Bhao 569
Chauhan 279
Janjua 218
Salehria/Sulehri 45
Bomba 7
Other Clans 836

 

Gujars

The Gujjars came third, making up almost 10% of the population. Most of these Gujjars were connected with those of northern Punjab, speaking Pothwari and not Gojri, the language spoken by the Gujjars of the rest of the state, including the Kashmir valley. Among the larger Gujjar clans we find the Banya, Bagri, Bajar, Bhumbla, Bjarh, Chandpuri, Chauhan, Chechi, Gorsi, Hans, Kallas, Kasana, Khatana, Khepar, Poswal and Meelu. Important Gujjar villages include Pramekot, Rahimkot, Riat, Dadyal, Bhalot Chowk (Mirpur), Mandi Village (Dadyal),Sahalia (Dadyal) Saliah (Dadyal), Kund (Dadyal), Khoi Ratta, Anderla Kothera, Shaheen Abad, Dakkhana, Phalini, Khor, Ghayeen, Kerjai, Barali Gala, and Nidi Sohana, all in Kotli District.

Bafinda

The Bafinda, whose traditional activity was weaving, differ from the previous three, in that they were not traditionally landowners. The name Bafinda, or Bafand, is derived from the Persian word baften, meaning cotton dresser. When cotton cultivation stopped in Kashmir with the advent of foreign-made fabrics, they largely shifted to carpet weaving but now are engaged in many vocations. In 1931, they were still village artisans, practising there traditional occupation of weaving. There was not a single village in the Mirpur region that did not contain a few houses.

Other Agriculturists

The other large groups associated with agriculture were the Awan, Arain, Maliks and Sudhans, the last two groups were found only in Kotli. The Arain population of Jammu and Kashmir were equally divided between Jammu and Mirpur regions, and they were usually found in most Rajput villages, often working as tenants. The Awan villages such as Mohra Malkan and Ghaseetpur Awan were found mainly near the Jhelum, while a similar number were found in Kotli. While Maliks were found in eastern most part of Kotli, and were said to have been settled in the region on the orders of Emperor Akbar. Finaly, the Sudhan were found along the border with Poonch District, many of whom were claiming a Pathan origin. It is possible that some Sudhan would have declared themselves as Pathan in 1931 Census, thereby inflating the figure for that caste.

Kashmiri Muslims

By the early 20th Century, the district was home to a substantial community of Kashmiri Muslims. By 1931 they numbered 8,554, and in the Mirpur region now formed a distinct caste, in status slightly above the artisan groups, but below the landowning community. Most of them had switched to speaking Pahari, as this was the language of the dominant Rajputs. Its interesting to note that in 1931, only 759 people in the district spoke the Kashmiri language.

Major Clans of the Kashmiri Muslims

The 1931 Census of India also collected information on Kashmir Muslim castes. In Mirpur District, by 1931 these divisions were getting blurred, as there was a high degree of intermarriage between various groups of Kashmiri.

Tribe Population
Mir 2,463
Bhat 1,616
Dar 994
Lone 677
Shaikh 338
Rather 205
Wyene 138
Ganai 111
Paray 76
Magre 41
Tantre 40
Hajjam / Khalifa 14
Khwaja 13
Pandit 8
Other Clans / Kashmiri Miscellaneous 1,820

 

Artisan Castes

About 20% of the district population was made up of castes that were associated with certain occupations such as Tarkhan (carpenters), Jogi (labourers), Lohar (smiths), Nai (barbers), Jheer (water carriers), Darzi (taylors), Khatik (butchers), and Machi (bakers). Slightly seperate from these kammi groups were the Mussali (2,068) and Mirasi (1,235), who like the Chamars and Meghs among the Hindus, were communities of outcastes.

The Bazigar, were an interesting tribe of peripatetic nomads provided entertainment to settled village communities. They were probably undercounted on account of there nomadic lifestyles.

Other Groups

In addition to the groups described, the district was home to castes such as the Sayads and Mughals, traditionally associated with land holding and the Khojas or Punjabi Shaikhs, who were converts from the Hindu Khatri caste. Like the Kashmiri, the Khoja were largely traders and merchants. One final Muslim group that deserves a brief note are the Domaal, a Rajput caste traditionally associated with Poonch. Finally, the Pathans in the district were largely migrants, about 117 in 1931 still spoke Pashto, although the figure was probably higher. Unlike the Kashmiri, the Pathan groups had only recently established themselves in the district. Some of those who resgistered themselves Pathans maybe members of the Sudhan tribe.In 1932, the numbered 1,239.

Major Hindu Communities

Among the Hindus of Mirpur, the Jat, formed a significant elements, with the larger clans being the Aasar, Aassle, Bhatti, Bhangre, Chahal, Gill, Dhoor, Jhal, Kjaal, Nagyals, Nathyal, Ranyal, Pajhaal, Smotra, Thathaal, and Tohre. The Rajputs, mainly Bhao, Charak, Chib and Minhas formed an important element in Bhimber. Three interesting communities that were only found in the region were the Basith, Mahajan and Muhial. The Basith claimed a Rajput status, were generally cultivators and outside Mirpur were only found in Poonch. After the 1948 War, the Basith community was made refugees. The Mahajan or Pahari Mahajan were found in the all the towns such as Koti, Mirpur and Nawshera, and were largely traders. The Mahajan of Mirpur town were a particularly wealthy community. The Muhial Brahmans were the landowners and soldiers of the Pothohar region, and a substantial section found in the Mirpur region. In addition, the district was home to two large Dalit communities, the Megh (weavers) and Chamars.

Major Clans of the Hindu Rajputs

Bellow is the population of the Hindu Rajput clans in the district. The majority belonged to Chib tribe, as was the case among Muslim Rajputs.

Tribe Population
Chib 6,118
Manhas 387
Narma 49
Charak 33
Bhao 17
Chauhan 10
Salehria/Sulehri 10
Jaral 6
Other Clans 836

 

Major Sikh Communities

Mirpur was the western most region that was inhabited by Jatt Sikhs. The Jatt Sikhs and Jat Hindus shared the same clans, and intermarried with each other. The Sikh population of Mirpur differed considerably from those of Poonch and the Kashmir valley, who are largely Brahman. In Mirpur, the Sikhs were divided almost evenly between the Jatts and the Khatri/Arora castes, who were traditionally associated with trade.

 

Religion-wise

 

Religion Population Percentage
Muslim 277,631 80.5%
Hindu 57,594 16.7%
Sikh 9,432 3%
Christian 82
Jain 8
Total 344,747 100%

 

Caste-wise

 

 

Religion Caste or tribe Population
Muslims
Jat 103,096
Rajput 35,534
Gujjar 26,414
Bafinda 9,958
Kashmiri 8,554
Malik 7,512
Awan 6,507
Mughal 6,467
Tarkhan 6,340
Arain 5,776
Sayyid 5,074
Lohar 4,675
Machhi 4,551
Kumhar (Ghumiar) 4,493
Teli 3,988
Hajjam (Nai) 3,783
Sudhan 2,521
Shaikh 2,106
Mussali (Muslim Shaikh) 2,068
Darzi 1,889
Bhatti 1,664
Jhinwar (Jheer) 1,635
Jogi 1,328
Pathan 1,239
Mirasi 1,235
Dhobi 589
Badhan 532
Rangrez 514
Bazigar 345
Sonar 127
Domaal 97
Khatik 94
Khoja 81
Bharai 61
Dervesh 45
Mochi 45
Qalandar 33
Bakarwal 29
Safiada 9
Turk 7
Banjara 3
Other Muslims 6,928
Hindus
Jat 14,460
Brahman 11,685
Rajput 7,475
Chamar 6,014
Khatri 3,641
Mahajan 3,365
Basith (Vashith Rajput) 2,817
Megh 1,573
Brahman Muhial 1,565
Barwala 695
Sonar (Soni) 629
Jhinwar (Jheer) 483
Tarkhan 446
Lohar 291
Kumhar (Ghumiar) 239
Gorkha 234
Sadhu 157
Dom 151
Jogi 143
Arora 129
Labana 127
Nai 106
Chhimba 91
Gardi 51
Chuhra 40
Others 931
Sikh
Jat 4,951
Arora 1,168
Khatri 1,045
Sonar (Soni) 145
Rajput 93
Brahman 68
Kumhar (Ghumiar) 41
Tarkhan 23
Mahajan 16
Jhinwar (Jheer) 11
Megh 10
Christians 82
Jains 8
Total 344,747

 

Sources

Census of Jammu and Kashmir State 1931

Gujjral, Matyal, Nagyal and Thathaal tribes

In this post, I shall look at four tribes, who are generally of Jat status in Jhelum and Mirpur districts, but are considered Rajput in Rawalpindi. They are all aals, or clans of larger tribal groupings. The Gujjral are Bhattis, the Matyal are Thakkars, Nagyals are Minhas and Thathaals are Suryavanshi. Unlike the Bar tribes in my last post, they have no recent tradition of pastoralism. In fact, these Chibhalis are in essence mountain farmers, but in Jhelum, both the Chibhalis and Bar groups have intermarried, producing a distinct Jhelumi Jat culture. This is especially true in the Pind Dadan Khan plains, where the Chibhali groups like the Nagyal and Thathaal are found in close proximity to Gondal, Tarar and Ranjha who are all Bar nomads.

 

Gujjral


I shall start off by looking at the Gujjral, a clan of Jat status found in Jhelum and Gujrat districts. Just to clarify, these Gujjral Jats, as far as I know have no connection with a Khatri clan, also called Gujjral, which incidentally was historically also found in the same region. In my earlier postings, I made reference to the fact that the various tribes in Pothohar and the Jhelum valey have 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. So the Gujjral are the descendents of Gujjar, which itself opens a number of questions. For the Gujjar is a well known tribe found through out Punjab, with a large presence in the Jhelum valley, who do not and are not considered as Jat. So how did these sons of Gujjar evolve in the a Jat tribe. The answer lies in the traditions of the tribe, which states their ancestor was a Bhatti Rajput, who was suckled by a Gujar foster mother, and given the name Gujar. Despite this close relationship with the Gujjars, the Gujjral intermarry with clans such as the Gondal and Lilla, who are of Jat status, and not with groups that fall within the Gujjar category. Outside Chakwal, they are found in the village of Dhok Gujral near the town of Dina in Jhelum District, Mohra Heeran near Choa Khalsa in Rawalpindi District and the village of Pind Jattan in Bhimber District (Azad Kashmir) is an important tribal settlement.

Matyal

I next look at the Matyal, sometimes pronounced as Mathyal, a tribe largely found in Jhelum and Rawalpindi districts. Like other tribes of the Pothohar region, the Matyal have a good many traditions as to their origin, often these being quite contradictory. According to one of there traditions, the Matyal get their name from the Hindu goddess mata, the Matyal being the devotees of Mata. The goddess mata is popular incarnation of Devi and one of the main forms of the Goddess Shakti, a deity closely associated with kshatriya groups in North India. These devotees of mata were members of Thakhar caste, a group of quasi-Rajputs found in the Jammu hills. This would mean that like the Kanyal, and Nagyal, the Matyal are immigrants from the country known as the Chibhal. However, another tradition makes the Matyal a clan of the Tanolis, a tribe of Barlas Mughal origin found in the hills of the Hazara division of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Tanolis have two divisions, the Hindwal and Pallal, of which the Pallal are further divided in twelve clans, these being Bhujal, Rains, Ansal, Tekral, Baigal, Judhal, Sadhal, Dairal, Bainkaryal, Matyal and Lanhya. According to this tradition, the Matyals left their Hazara home in the thirteenth century, and settled in Malot There is still a hamlet or dhoke near the town of Malot called Dhoke Matyal or hamlet of the Matyal. Most of the Jat Matyal add suffix Chaudhry to their names, but some Matyal in the Pothohar region ( Sohawa and Gujar Khan) prefer to add Raja to their names.

In terms of distribution, the Matyal are found mainly in Chakwal, Jhelum and Rawalpindi districts of Punjab, as well as the adjoining Mirpur and Bhimber Districts of Azad Kashmir. They are also found in the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad. According to the census of India 1911, they numbered 1,147 in Jhelum District.

Villages in Punjab

In Punjab, important Matial villages include Aheer, Budhial, Dhok Matyal near Sasral, Lilla, Mohra Kaley Khan, Matial, Sasral, Sukho, Pothi and Punjgran Kalan in Gujar Khan tehsil of Rawalpindi District, Matial, Ranja Mattial, Bhondna, Pandori, Chak Balian and Maira Matial (Ranjha Maira) in Jhelum District, Pinwal in Chakwal District and Matyal in Attock District.

Villages in Islamabad Territory

In the Islamabad Capital Territory, the center of Matyals is the village of Gagri situated on the Soan River.

Villages in Azad Kashmir

Their villages include Matyal near Gangesar, Matyal in Kotli District, Ghura Matyal and Nar Matyal in Bhimbar District and Jatlan and Mohra Matyal in Mirpur District.

Nagyal

We now look at the Nagyal, or Nagial sometimes pronounced Nangyal, with n sound hardly stressed, a tribe of Jat and Rajput status. Unlike the tribes already made reference who tend to localised, being concentrated along the Jhelum River, the Nagyal are very widespread in the Pothohar and neighbouring Chibhal region. In customs and traditions, they have more in common with the tribes referred to in my earlier posts such as Bangyal and Dhamial. They are distinct from Nagrial and Nagrawal, who are clans of the Bhatti Rajputs, with whom the Nagyal are often confused with.

So who are the Nagyals, and short answer is that they are a clan of the Minhas tribe of Jammu. They claim descent from a Nag Singh, a Jamwal Minhas, who is said to left his homeland migrated to Akhnur. But it quite possible the Nagyal have some connection with a ancient people called the Nagas. The Nagas were mentioned as an snake-worshipping tribe of ancient India, and Puranic legends have constructed the genealogy of the Nagavanshis as a sub-clan of the Suryavansha. Interestingly, the snake was used as a tribal totem among the peoples of Himalayas. Like Matyals mentioned in my earlier post, who are said to be worshipers of Mata, we may conjecture that the Nagyals were somehow connected with the snake cult.

According to their own tribal traditions, the tribe came to be called Nagyal due to an event that took place. The mother of the ancestor of the tribe left her son in a cradle asleep. She had gone out to visit someone, and shortly she came back and saw that her son was awake and happily playing with a cobra. She was shocked to see that the wild venomous snake had not bitten the child but, in fact, was trying to protect. .From there onwards she and her family vowed not to kill snakes, and hence the child and its descendents were referred to as Nagyals. This legend itself indicates that at one point in their history, the Nagyal were followers of the cult of the Nag.

Like other Chibhalis groups referred to such as the Kanyal, once the Nagyal lefts the hills of the Chibhal and arrived in the Pothohar plateau, a process of conversion to Islam occurs. Different Nagyal groups have different tradition is to their history of settlement. The Ghik, a clan of the Nagyal, now settled in Gujar Khan Tehsil, have a tradition that they descend from four brothers that came to settle in this region during the rule of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. One of the brothers settled at Ghik Badhal, from whom descend the Ghik Rajputs, second brother settled in Dhok Nagyal, from whom descend the Nagyals of that village, third brother settled in Bagwal and fourth brother settled at Qutbal. So it seems small groups of Nagyal left the hills and settled land that must have been lightly settled.

Presently, the Nagyal are found in Jhelum, Mirpur and Rawalpindi districts, with those of Rawalpindi generally being acknowledged to be of Rajput status, while those of Jhelum and Mirpur considering themselves as Jats. Starting off with the Islamabad Capital Territory, the Nagyal are found in Mohra Nagyal village. In neighbouring Rawalpindi District, they all found in all the tehsils bar Murree.

In Kahuta Tehsil the villages of Hardogher and Nagyal, and in Rawalpindi Tehsil, their villages are Banda Nagyal, Mohra Nagyal and Maira Nagyal, while in Kallar Syedan they are found in Basanta, Bhalla, Dhamali (Chak Mirza), Doberan Kalan (in Dhok Allah Rakha), Jocha Mamdot and Nala Musalmanan. There is a whole clusters of villages in Gujar Khan Tehsil that entirely inhabited by the Nagyal, or they form an important element, and these include Bajwal, Bhatta, Begwal, Cheena, Dhok Baba Kali Shaheed, Dhok Badhal, Nagial Umer, Dera Syedan, Dhok Nagyal (near Gharmala), Katyam (near Ratala), Karyali, Kaniat Khalil, Nata Mohra, Mohra Nagyal, Ghick Badhal, Chak Bagwal, Qutbal, Gharmala, Hoshang, Sasral, Bhai Khan, Nagial Sohal, Saib, Gagian, Mohra Jundi, Dhok Nagyal in Bewal and Nagial Pahlwan. In Jhelum District, Chautala, Dhok Kanyal, Dhok Masyal, Dhok Nagyal, Gora Nagyal, Nagyal, Sohan and Wagh (near Pind Dadan Khan) are important villages, while in the neighbouring Chakwal District, their villages include Ghazial, Mohri, and Potha. In Azad Kashmir, they are found mainly in Mirpur District, an important Nagyal settlement is the village of Nagial.

Thathaal

We now look at the Thathaal, sometimes spelt and pronounced referred to as Thothal and even Thathiyal. They are a clan of a Rajput and Jat status found in the area between Salt Range, Gujrat, Rawalpindi, Sialkot, Narowal , and in Azad Kashmir. There also a community of Sikh Thathaals found in Hoshiarpur and Himachal Pradesh. Prior to partition, there were several Muslim Thathaal villages in Gurdaspur District, all of whom moved to Pakistan.

 

According to their clan traditions they are said to be the descendants of a king named Raja Karan. The Rajah comes in tribal history of several Chibhal tribes such as the Narma, but whose identity is unclear. It could refer to Karan, the figure from the Mahabharat. The tribe claims to belong to the Suryavanshi branch of Rajput, claiming descent from Raja Karan through his son Raja Thathu whose other son Naru is said to have founded the Narma clan. However, as we have already said, the Narma are Agnikul and not Suryavanshi. But the two tribes live in close proximity, so it is possible one group adopted the other traditions. According to some tribal traditions, Raja Thathu was the first member of the tribe to convert to Islam. Due to the many dialects of the Punjabi language, the pronunciation of Thathal differs according to locality. In Potowar/Pahari it is pronounced Thothal. In Gujrat district it is written Thathal or Thathiyal. Other variations of the name in Pakistan and India include Thathar, Tharar and Thorar.

Some of the Kharian Tehsil Thathaals have a family tree that show that the name of their ancestor as Thuthir. This sound more like an Indian name than “Thutho” or “Thotho”, and is possibly a version of Sudhir. There is a strong possibility that “Thotho” or “Thutho” could be a shortened version of the original name. The next question is who was this Rajah Karan. Some Thathaals make reference to Karan being the ruler of Kashmir. It could be that the reference could be to Karan of the Mahabharata, who gave away his kavacha ( chest shield) and kundala (ear rings) to Lord ndra, who was disguised as a beggar. This generosity is to have cost Karan very dearly and he was killed by his brother Arjuna in the battle of Kurukshetra. Or could it be that there was indeed a Karan that lived much latter. Thathaal tradition refers to Karan being a contemporary of the Mughal Emperor Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar ( lived between 1542–1605), and it was not Karan but his son Thatho who was first convert to Islam. This would tally with the fact that there are still Thathaals who follow the Hindu or Sikh faith in eastern Punjab.

In terms of villages, in Kharian Tehsil of Gujrat District, we have the villages of Chaphar, Khambi Kaleechpur, Sahan Kalan, Kotla Arab Ali Khan and Mehmand Chak. In neighbouring Mirpur District, they are found in Panyam, and Dheri Thothaal. In Rawalpindi District, they are found in Bhair Allu, Chak Mirza near Jocha Mamdot, Haji Borgi near Qazian, Jatli and Mohra Thathaal in Gujarkhan Tehsil, while in Islamabad, they are found in the town of Tarlai Kalan. In Jhelum District, they are found in Dhok Thathaal, Potha and Shepur (near Pind Dadan Khan Tehsil). While in Attock District, they are found in Khabba Barala in Fatehjang Tehsil.

Bangial, Bhakral, and Hon tribes

This is my second posting on the lesser known tribes of the Potohar region of Pakistan. I shall look at the Bangial, Bhakral, and Hon. All of these tribes claim ancestry from the Panwar tribe, however with regards to the Bhakral, or sometimes pronounced Pakhral there various other theories as to their origin. Let me start off with a brief note of the Panwar, or sometimes pronounced as Parmar or Puar . The Panwar were dynasty that in early medieval India ruled over the Malwa region in central India. Like the Chauhans, the Panwar are from the fire born or Agnivansh branch of the Rajputs. Quite a number of tribes in Pothohar and neighbouring Chibhal region claim descent from the Panwars, all having some tradition of migration from central India, followed by conversion to Islam at the hands of a particular Sufi saint. Many of these tribes also have traditions of initially settling in the region known as Chibhal. The key figure that appears in the origin story of Chibhali Panwar is Raja Jagdev Panwar, who has an almost semi-mythical. According to tribal myths of, he became the ruler of Malwa after death of his Udayaditya, but he handed over the throne to his brother owing to family-dispute and settled at Jarg, somewhere in present day Okara District. He is said to have slain a demon who used to eat a human-being daily in a fort near Dipalpur, also in Okara. The local king Raja Kankhar bestowed upon him half his kingdom and gave his daughter in marriage. He is said to have struck off his own head on the demand of a witch-wife of the court-bard of Raja Jai Chand of Lambargaon but this was miraculously restored. Jagdev then migrated to the Chibhal territory, where he founded Akhnoor State, ruled by Panwar Dynasty of his descendants for over six centuries. Many of the local Dogra clans claim descent from the Raja such as the Ambarai.

Akhnoor lies in the heart of Chibhal located on the banks of the Chenab River. The territory of Chibhal lies between Tawi River and Jhelum rivers, with the Pir Panjal Mountains forming its northern boundary and gets its name from the Chib tribe (to whom I intend to return in latter blogs). Presently, Chibhal is divided by the line of control, with Mirpur and Bhimber districts within Pakistani Kashmir, and districts of Rajauri, Reasi, and parts of Jammu (including Akhnur) west of the Tawi in Indian Kashmir. The three tribes in this blog all have traditions of leaving the region and settling in plains territory of northern Punjab in Gujarkhan, Jhelum, Chakwal and Kharian. However, the Bhakral (sometimes pronounced as Pakhral) still have a presence in the Chibhal, with villages in Mirpur, Kotli and Rajouri, in the foothills of the Pir Panjaal.

Bangial

 

So who are the Bangial, sometimes written as Bangyal, and we have go back to my first post on the Pothohar tribes. The word al means son of in number of dialects that fall within Lahnda. According to the Bangials themselves, they are descended from a Rajah Bangash Khan, a Panwar Rajput, who arrived in the Pothohar region from central India, hence the name Bangash al, shortened to Bangyal. This Bangash Khan is also seen as ancestor by the closely related Baghial tribe. Like many of their neighbours such as the Kalyal, some groups of Bangial consider themselves as Jats, while other see themselves as Rajputs. In Gujranwala, Gujrat and Jhelum districts of Punjab, and Mirpur District of Azad Kashmir, the Bangial strongly identify themselves as Jat, and intermarry with tribes of Jat status, such as the Warriach and Tarar. But as we move towards Dina and neighbouring Gujar Khan tehsils, almost all the Bangial claim Rajput ancestry, so briefly we can summarize, that the Jhelum River divides these two groups. Looking at major Bangial villages in Rawalpindi District by tehsil:

Gujarkhan Tehsil

1) Changa Bangial (now actually a fair sized town)

2) Chehari Bangial

3) Dhok Bangial

4) Dhok Chaudrian

5) Khalabat 

6) Pharwal Bangial

7) Sandal Bangial

8) Sangni

9) Wasla Bangial

 

Rawalpindi Tehsil:

1) Bajnial

2) Bura Bangial

3) Darihala Bangial

4) Kala Bangial

5) Marri Bangial

6) Pind Dara

Kahuta Tehsil

1) Maira Khurd

2) Suhot Bangial

Kallar Syedan Tehsil

1) Choa Khalsa

2) Dhok Bangial

3) Nala Musalmanan,

4) Pehr Hali,

5) Sahib Dhamial

6) Sahote Bangyal

Outside Rawalpindi

In the neighbouring Islamabad Capital territory, they have two villages, namely Jhanga Bangial and Bora Bangial. Outside this core area, Bangial are found in Mirpur District in Azad Kashmir, several villages near the town of Sohawa in Jhelum District, the village of Nambal near Kallar Kahar, Gora Bangial in Attock District, and Bangial in Gujrat District. A small cluster of Bangial villages, such Bangialabad are found near the town of Darya Khan in Bhakkar District.

Bhakral

The next tribe I am going to look at are the Bhakral, sometimes pronounced as Pakhral and even Pakhreel. Geographically, they are found in Gujarkhan, Chakwal, Jhelum and Gujrat districts of Punjab, and Jammu and Kashmir, they were found in historic Mirpur District of the state, particularly near the town of Naushera, which is the only area of historic Mirpur that is in Indian administered Kashmir. Like many other Chibhali and Pothohari tribes, they can be both of Rajput and Jat status. According to the 1931 Census of India, the last that counted caste, there total population 6,600, which made the largest of the tribes classified as Jat or Rajput. Like the other tribes already referred too, many Bhakral claim to be Panwar Rajputs. However, there are also a number of other traditions as to their origin.

I will explore each of the origin myths of the tribe. They all involve an ancestor by the name of Bhakari, and the Bhakrals are the aal or family of Bhakari. Dispute is to the origin of this Bhakari. Among the Gujarkhan and Chakwal Bhakrals, almost all of whom consider themselves as Rajputs, Bhakari there ancestor was a descendent of Jagdev Panwar of Akhnoor. He is said to have converted to Islam, and left Akhnoor for Nowshera, now located in Rajouri Distrit. Here they founded two villages, Bunnah and Compla Mohra. Groups of Bhakral, accompanied by the Budhal left the Chibhal region and crossed the Jhelum river and settled in what is now Chakwal District. There original settlement was Sabah Mohra, from where they spread to Gujarkhan, Jhelum and Gujrat. Sabah Mohra family were traditionally considered chiefs of the tribe, but with the arrival of the Sikhs in the late 18th Century, the family lost its influence. The Bakhral are clearly of Chibhali origin, having left that hilly region between the Tawi and Jhelum, sometime in the 15th Century, accompanied by the Budhal (looked at in latter post).

However, some groups of Bhakral have a tradition that they are a sub clan of the Minhas, which also suggests Jammu / Chibhali background. Like Jagdev Panwar, Jambu Lochan ancestor of the Jamwal/Minhas also appears in the origin story of many of the tribes. . This tradition refers to a Bhakral migration from Jammu, after the treaty of Amritsar in 1846, which handed over the Chibhal territory to the Dogra ruler Gulab Singh Jamwal. It is said that they were in fact four brothers who moved from the Chibhal to the Pothohar and Hazara territory, and from whom descends the entire tribe. However, there is no recorded evidence of recent migration from Chibhal region to Pothohar, thereby it is more likely that any migration took place sometime ago. In Gujrat, the Bhakral who are of Jat status have a completely different origin myth. According to the Gujrat story, there ancestor was a Ghalla, who had three sons, Bhakari, their ancestor, Natha (ancestor of the Nathial) and Kunjah (ancestor of the Kunjial). Ghalla belonged to the Janjua tribe. In light of these multiple origin myth, the best that can be said is that Bhakral began as a group in foothills of the Pir Panjaal. Groups migrated at different periods, settling in various regions of north western Punjab.

Bhakral in Punjab

In terms of distribution, the Bhakral are found mainly in Jhelum, Chakwal, Gujar Khan and Mirpur regions. In Rawalpindi District, Bhakral villages are found in every tehsil, barring the mountainous tehsils of Murree and Kotli Sattian. In Rawalpindi Tehsil include Aujariala, Chak Bhakral, Dhala, Karkan Sohawa, Kartal Bhakral, Ghari Kalan, Larri Malana, Loona, Mohri Rajgan, Sihala, Thatha, Sohawa, Sagri Khurd, Kirpa and Meda Halim, in Kahuta Tehsil, their villages include Chak Begwal, Jocha Mamdot, and Nathot and in Kallar Syedan Tehsil they are found in Bhakral and Tirkhi. Coming to Gujar Khan, important Bhakral villages include Bhatta (in the hamlet of Dhok Bhakral), Dera Muslim, Dhoke Rajgan, Dhoong, Hoshang, Jairo Ratial, Kahali Bhakral, Kamtrilla, Mohra Bhakral near Darkali Mamori, Mandhar, Mastala, Partali Kalan and Partali Khurd While in Chakwal, the village of Sabah Mohra is said to be the first settlement of the Bhakrals in Pothohar, and remains an important centre of the tribe. Other villages include Chomar, Chontrian, Dhok Mehdi, Dheri Rajgan, Dhoda, Ghazial, Khokhar Rajgan, Jandala Pakhral, Mauza Pagh, Nachindi, Ratta Mohra, Panjdhera and Potha. Many of the Bhakral in Chakwal classify themselves as Jats. In addition, their are also number of Bhakral settlements including and around the village of Bhakral, such as Darkali Sher in Kallar Kahar Tehsil. In Jhelum District, they are found Langar Pakhral, Munde Bhakral and Pail Bannay Khan. In the Islamabad Capital Territory, they are found in the villages of Kartal Bhakral, Sihala, Panwal Bhakar, Dhoke Baba Hust, Kirpa Tamare and Banigala. In Gujrat District, the Bhakral are found in the village of Amra Kalan (tehsil Kharian).

Outside Punjab

Outside Punjab, there are smattering of Bhakral found in Hazara and Azad Kashmir. As the area around Naushera, once part of Mirpur District was the site of the worst fighting in the Indo-Pakistan war of 1948, most of the Musllm population moved to Azad Kashmir. The villages of Bunnah and Compla Mohra were abandoned. In Mirpur District, the Bhakral are still found in the villages of Chandral, Mohar and Sorakhi. In neighbouring Kotli District, they are in the village of Suiyan Sharif near the town of Sehnsa in Kotli

In Hazara, the villages of Chumb Rajput, Chattar and Channam found in District of Abbottabad.

Hon

I shall finally look at the Hon or Hun or sometimes also pronounced as Hoon. Like the first three tribes looked at, the Hon claim to be Panwar Rajputs, claiming descent from a Raja Judgeo. There migration is said to have occurred in the latter Middle Ages, and they intermarry with other tribes that claim Panwar ancestry. However, the name Hoon sounds unmistakable like the way Hun is pronounced in Indian languages, and it possible the Hon may be descended from the Huns, who invaded and settled in the Pothohar region in the 5th Century.

The Hon are closely connected through marriage with other Panwar tribes of the Rawalpindi District, such as the Baghial and Bhakral. They are found in Rawalpindi, Attock and Jhelum districts of the Punjab. In addition, a few are also found in the old Hazara Division of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Important Hoon villages are Hoon Dhamial, in Rawat Union Council, Islamabad Capital Territory, Katheel Hoon and Shahpur in Kahuta Tehsil, of Rawalpindi District, and Hoon Bhattian in Kotli Sattian Tehsil of Rawalpindi District. In Jhelum District, Hon Kalyal and Hon are important villages. The village of Hon in Fateh Jang Tehsil of Attock District is also an important centre of the tribe, in that district.