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Commencement of Sikh Rule: Hazara District (Book Synopsis)

Discussion in 'History of Sikhism' started by spnadmin, May 10, 2010.

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    Commencement of Sikh Rule: Hazara District

    Commencement of Sikh Rule — The Hazara District

    A banker by profession, Salim Ansar has a passion for history and historic books. His personal library already boasts a treasure trove of over 7,000 rare and unique books.

    BOOK NAME: Commencement of Sikh Rule: The Hazara District

    AUTHOR: H. D. Watson

    PUBLISHER: Chatto & Windus London


    The following excerpt has been taken from Page: 125-129

    The above was one of the last acts of the Durani Government of Hazara. For the power of the Sikhs was on the rise, and it was about at this date that Ranjit Singh first asserted his independence of the Kabul Empire. The introduction of Sikh rule into Hazara, however, did not commence till A.D. 1818. In this year Hashim Khan, Turk, of Manakrai, murdered his fellow-chieftain, Kamal Khan. The latter's cause was espoused by the Tarin chief, Muhammad Khan, and to save himself Hashim Khan betrayed his country to the Sikhs. At his invitation Makhan Singh, the Sikh Governor of Rawalpindi, invaded Hazara with 500 sowars, built a fort at Serai Saleh, and levied tribute from the Haripur plain.

    In the succeeding year Maharajah Ranjit Singh annexed Kashmir. Makhan Singh appears, on the strength of his master's successes, to have pressed the Tarin chief for revenue. The result was a gathering of the Hazara people to attack the Sikh Governor, and a fight at Shah Muhammad on the Dor, in which Makhan Singh was slain. The next day his force abandoned the Serai Saleh fort, and marched back to Attock. The Governor of Attock, Hukma Singh Chimni, marched out to punish the rebels; but after some skirmishing at Mota and at Sultanpur on the Harroh, he made up his mind that his force was too weak for the purpose, marched back to Attock, and wrote to Lahore for reinforcements. From Lahore Diwan Ramdial and Colonel Ilahi Bakhsh were sent to his assistance. Part of Hazara submitted, but the Tarin chief, Muhammad Khan, the Saidkhani Ut-manzais, and the Mishwanis, opposed the Sikh Governor at Nara, by the foot of the Gandgar range. The Diwan attacked them unwarily, was defeated, and himself slain.

    'Ranjit Singh then sent Sardar Amar Singh Majithia to govern Lower Hazara, Upper Hazara-viz., the Swathi and Tanawal country-being still ruled from Kashmir. The new Governor was an astute person, and he succeeded in winning over the leading men to his side, and in collecting the old Durani revenue and tribute from the Hazara plain; but as he was retiring from a successful attack on Hassan Ali Khan, the Karral chief in the Nara tract, his rearguard was surprised and cut to pieces by the tribesmen, and he himself was killed. The scene of this disaster was the bank of the Samundar stream, a tributary of the Harroh. Reinforcements were dispatched from Lahore under Mai Sadda Kaur and Sher Singh, Ranjit Singh's son, who established themselves in the Haripur plain and built a fort at Tarbela. The tribute payable by the chiefs was revised, and Mai Sadda Kaur went through the ceremony of adopting the Tarin, Muhammad Khan, as her son.

    But events of great importance to Hazara were now impending. The Maharajah had summoned the famous Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa, Governor of Kashmir, to give an account of his charge. He marched by Muzafarabad and Pakhli with 7,000 foot-soldiers. When he reached Mangal, he found that a large number of Jaduns and Tanaolis, estimated at not less than 25,000 men, had collected there to oppose his passage. Parleying having failed, he stormed their position and burnt the town. Some 2,000 of his opponents were killed, including many who perished in the flames or threw themselves from the walls. As a further punishment, Hari Singh levied a fine of between 5 and 6 rupees on every house inhabited by the Jaduns. He then built a fort at Nawanshahr, garrisoned it, and went on to Lower Hazara. Pleased with the treasure and presents brought from Kashmir, and with the victory won at Mangal, Ranjit Singh excused him from rendering any accounts of his former charge, and made him Governor of all Hazara.

    From 1822 to his death in 1837 Hari Singh, with brief intervals, ruled over Hazara, and in this period reduced the unruly tribes to submission by vigorous measures and consolidated the Sikh power. One of his first steps was to build the Haripur fort, which was known as Harkishangarh, and was very strongly constructed. In 1823 he inflicted severe chastisement on the Jaduns, Swathis, and Tanaolis, who had taken advantage of his absence in the Derajat to rise and attack the forts at Nawanshahr, Shinkiari, and Darband. The Jaduns were defeated with slaughter; Agror, Tikari, and Konsh were raided by a band of 500 sowars, and 1,000 Swathi women and children captured. Shingri, the head-quarters of Sarbuland Khan, the Fallal Tanaoli chief, was burnt, and the chief himself defeated near Banda Loharan, his son Sher Khan being slain by Hari Singh with his own hand.

    The Sardar next turned his attention to the Gandgar hills, where Muhammad Khan and a number of other recalcitrant chiefs had taken refuge. In 1822 the Sikhs, after winning a hard-fought battle at Sari at the base of the range, had been defeated in an endeavour to reduce Sirikot. They now, in 1824, again made the attempt, and again failed. At Nara, which stands at the mouth of a path leading up to Sirikot, the Mishwanis and Saidkhani Utmanzais made a gallant stand, repulsed the Sikh force, which was 8,000 strong, and sent it back to Haripur with a loss of 500 men. A white pillar, erected at a later date by Major Abbott, and conspicuous from afar, commemorates the scene of their victory. Hari Singh himself was struck down by a stone hurled from the walls of the village, and rolled into the ravine below, where he lay for a long time senseless and undiscovered. It was reported, indeed, that he was dead, but in a short time, having recovered from his wounds, he confuted the rumour by surprising the village of Bagra, where a number of rebels had collected, and putting to the sword every armed man that he found there.


    Alarmed at the news of Hari Singh's defeat at Nara, Ranjit Singh hastened up to Hazara with large reinforcements. Arrived there, he sent for all the chiefs and leading men who had taken refuge at Sirikot. The Tarin Muhammad Khan, Sarbuland Khan the Tanaoli, and Shah Muhammad, the head of the Mishwanis, were the only ones to obey his summons. He then attacked the Sirikot hills at a number of points simultaneously, driving all opposition before him, and after staying two nights at Sirikot, marched on to Tarbela. While halted at the latter place, he mounted an elephant and went down to the river-side, whereupon the Utmanzais of Khabbal on the opposite bank opened fire on him. Enraged at this, he made his cavalry swim across the river early next morning at a point lower down, and destroyed the villages of Khabbal and Kaya, their inhabitants having taken to the hills. He then marched through Yusafzai and back Lahore-wards via Serai Kala, taking Muhammad Khan Tarin, with him. The Sirikot hills were secured by the building of a fort, which was garrisoned with 500 men.

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