Niazi Chiefs in the Mughal empire

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Niazi Chiefs in the Mughal empire,
Published in Khyber.ORG on Friday, April 10 2015 (http://www.khyber.org)


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Niazi Chiefs in the Mughal empire

Publishing Date: Friday, April 10 2015

Bengal had been a important stronghold of the Afghans. After the collapse of the Sur dynasty, the Afghans moved to Bengal and resisted the Mughal writ in the region. the leadership shifted from Lodhi or Surs to Lohanis and later to Karranis. Akbar was aware of the Afghans' resilience and the problems they could pose to his rule. He resorted to a stick and carrot policy; he fought fierce battles against them , but, also propitiated  and rewarded lavishly , anyone who changed sides. In due course of time , he succeeded in winning over the loyalties of the Afghans in Bengal. Though we do not find amongst the Afghan nobility any direct descendents of Haibat Khan Niazi or Isa Khan Niazi, however , Muhammad Khan Niazi and his son Ahmad Khan Niazi are conspicuously mentioned in history as force commanders during Akbar's period. Thereafter Mubarak Khan Niazi made his name during reign of Emperor Aurangzeb.


The following Niazi chiefs are mentioned in  the "Afghan nobility of Mughal dynasty"


1- Sajawal Khan Niazi    p-95

2- Ahmad Khan Niazi     p-115,137-8, 140

3- Ali Khan Niazi             p-99,100

4- Ibrahim Khan Niazi      p-73

5 -Isa Khan Niazi            p-64

6- Ismael Khan Niazi       p-145-6

7- Muhammad Khan Niazi     p-80,86

8- Mubarak Khan Niazi        p-122,125,138

9- Shehbaz Khan Niazi          p-73


Muhammad Khan Niazi was a most respected noble of Emperor Akbar's court. He had joined the royal service around 1589 A.D, when Emperor Akbar was busy fighting the Afghan rebels in Bengal. He accompanied Shehbaz Khan Kambo in operations and performed feats of gallantry and leadership in various actions . Soon , he earned the favour of the imperial commanders who preferred to have him in their contingents while taking to the field. In 1591-2 A.D, he fought in Sindh against Mirza Jani Baig ,the ruler of Sindh . The imperialists were almost routed , however it was Muhammad khan Niazi , with 1200 men, who engaged 5,000 strong enemy from the rear and inflicted heavy damage , converting defeat into victory.

During Emperor Jahangir's rule, Muhammad Khan Niazi, was known for gallant and valiant deeds and judgement for making the best use of topography in a battle. Quite a number of times, he earned the emperor's appreciations. The emperor desired to honour him with a title but he refused. He said,"My name is Muhammad and there could be no greater name or title than Muhammad which i should attach with my name."

Samsam-ud-Daula Shah Nawaz Khan refers to his irritable temperament. At the same time , he praises his principles , which he , till his death, didnt violate. He was religious and spent his leisure time in the study of the religious books and his nights in prayers. His contingent mostly consisted of Niazis, he looked after them during their service with him and after the death of a soldier, he used to support the deceased's dependents.  He died in 1627-8 A.D at the age of eighty-five years. his jagir in Ashti 'pargana' was located on the bank of verda river in Deccan. he declared ashti 'pargana' as his native place and worked for its development and prosperity. He is buried in the Ashti settlement. According to Wardha District Gazetteer, 

When Jahangir succeeded his father he gave Ashti, Amner, Pavnar, and Talegaon (Berar) paraganas in jagir to Muhammad Khan Niazi, an Afghan nobleman of high rank. The credit of restoring Ashti and bringing large tracts of the surrounding land under cultivation goes to this nobleman. He died at Ashti in A.D. 1627, a handsome mausoleum in the Moghal style being erected over the spot where he was laid to rest.


Ahmad Khan, son of Muhammad Khan Niazi, rose to prominence during Emperor Jahangir's reign. When rahim khan Dakkani raided the town of Elichpur and occupied it, Ahmad khan Niazi, with a handful of men, counter-attacked Rahim khan, defeated him and appointed him the commander of the imperial forces in Deccan. Once he, along with Bihar Singh Bundela, was located in Zafar Nagar when he fell sick. Khan Zaman, another imperial chief, was to escort a supply convoy to Daulatabad. The latter requested for some reinforcements from Ahmad Khan who provided him with his whole force except for a small contingent . Yaqut Habshi, an ally of the Adilshahis, on his way to ambush khan Zaman, came to know about Ahmad khan's sickness and absence of troops for the defense of Zafar Nagar. He changed his mind and attacked Ahmad Khan Niazi. The latter , along with Bihar Singh Bundela, intercepted the attackers near Anberkor and soon made them flee, leaving a large number of dead and wounded . Mohabat khan, a favorite court noble of the emperor, was greatly impressed by Ahmad Khan's courage and gallantry and used to address him as "Khanzada" by way of respect and reverence.

Emperor Shahjahan raised his rank and appointed him commander of  2500 infantry and 2,000 cavalry. He subdued the refractory Rajput rulers in Deccan. Later , the emperor made him commander of 3,000 infantry and 3,000 cavalry and appointed him as ruler of Ahmadnagar. He died in 1651 A.D. He was known for his generosity , bravery and chivalry. He was a thorough gentleman and followed the religious injunctions in letter and spirit . Like his father , he worked for the betterment of Ashi 'pargana'. He planted beautiful gardens , constructed a splendid mosque and a mausoleum for his father.

Mubark Khan Niazi was the son of Muzaffar Khan, son of Muhammad khan Niazi. His father didnt rise to prominence . Mubark khan Niazi joined service during emperor Jahangir's reign, however , it was during the time of Emperor Shahjahan that he was made the commander of 1,000 infantry and 700 cavalry and sent to Rajputana under the command of Rao Ratan. Like his ancestors, bravery and chivalry was in his blood and soon he made his presence felt. He played an important role in the capture of Deccan fort. His command was increased to 2,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry. Subsequently , he was sent to kabul where he remained busy in fighting the rebels. He was appointed 'Thanedar' of both Bangashat (Kohat and Kurram valleys), however he couldnt control the region and was replaced, though he remained in the same pargana. Later , emperor Aurangzeb re-appointed him ruler of Bangashat.

Mubbark Khan Niazi died in the later part of 17th century. He was the last of the Niazis mentioned in the history of Hind. Like his grandfather , he is buried in Ashti, which was remembered for quite some time as the stronghold of the Niazis , particularly, the descendents of Muhammad Khan Niazi.



                                                    References

1- Mughal Archives: Durbar papers and a miscellany of singular documents  

2- The Afghan nobility and the Mughals: 1526-1707

3- History of the Pathans: The Ghurghashti, Beitani and Mati Pathans

4- Wardha District Gazetteer p-634



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Niazi Chiefs in the Mughal empire,
Published in Khyber.ORG on Friday, April 10 2015 (http://www.khyber.org)