Muhammad Khan Tarin

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Muhammad Khan Tarin, Muhammad Shafi Sabir
Published in Khyber.ORG on Friday, September 16 2005 (http://www.khyber.org)


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Muhammad Khan Tarin

Muhammad Shafi Sabir

Tazkara Sarfaroshan e Sarhad

Publishing Date: Friday, September 16 2005

In September 1965, when the Pakistani Armed Forces defeated the adventurous aims of an Indian army five times bigger in number than them, the whole world congratulated the efforts of the Pakistan Army and their leader, Field Marshall Muhammad Ayub Khan. Not many people know that this man belonged to a family whose members have always left behind their mark on battle fields. Three such members of Muhammad Ayub Khan's family stand up at this occasion; Muhammad Khan Tareen, Bostan Khan Tareen, and Ghulam Khan Tareen. These were the ones who attained martyrdom but never even gave a second thought of bowing their heads before the enemy.

The Tareen tribe is one of the important tribes of Pakhtoons. They have settled in Hazara district of the Frontier Province of Pakistan as well as certain areas of Balochistan. They are also present in sizeable proportions in the areas near Qandahar; particularly Tarinkot. It is said that they were part of the armies of Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi, Muhammad Ghauri and Moghul Emperor Zaheer ud Din Babar when they attacked the sub continent and after the conquests they settled here. The Moghul emperors assigned important responsibilities on the Tareen tribe. As a result of the support of the emperors, important Tareen figures like Sher Khan Tareen and Hussein Khan Tareen attained popularity.

The Hazara Tareen's migrated from Qandahar in Afghanistan in the 17th Century AD. According to the author of "History of the Frontier", the first Tareen to migrate from Qandahar to Hazara was Sher Khan Tareen. This happened around the year 1631 AD. After migration, Moghul emperor Shah Jahan provided him with an estate and also allowed him to keep up to a thousand fighters on horse back. Near the end of the 18th century, the leader of the Tareen Tribe was Himat Khan Tareen. It was during his time that the Tareen tribe attained a lot of significance.

From the time of the Moghul emperors to that of the Durrani and Sikh emperors, Hazara district was a part of Kashmir. In those days, it used to be known as Hazara Qarak. The name suggests that it must have been ruled by a Qarak Turk emperor. In those days, the word Hazara was only assigned to an area called Hazara Zarin. Other areas of present day Hazara used to be known as Hazara Pakhli, Tanawal, Agarwar, etc. The author of the book, "History of the Hazara (Urdu)" writes:

"After the attacks led by Ahmad Shah Abdali, the Durranis had a firm grip over this region. Later on, from the period between 1750 and 1752 AD, Ahmad Shah Abdali also conquered Pakhli and Kashmir. The only thing that the Durranis were interested in this area was the control of the main Kashmir Highway. This control would lead to further conquests if necessary. The administration of Pakhli was combined with that of Kashmir and the Qarak Hazara with that of District Attock. The Durranis did not want to directly rule over these lands and considered it wise to give control to popular local personalities who will have allegiance to Ahmad Shah Baba. Amongst these peoples were Najibullah Khan Tareen, Zabardast Khan aka Sooba Khan Tanoli and Saadat Khan of Garhi Habibullah. "

Since there was no central government in those days, therefore every tribe used to be in conflict with their neighbouring tribe. Whoever had the ability would try and control areas of their neighbouring tribes. It was in the frontier missions of Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb between 1674 and 1675 AD, that an elder named Dawlat Baig of the Gujar Tribe approached the emperor in Hasan Abdal and reported to him the injustices done. During this meeting, Saleh Khan Dalazak was also present. He presented himself as a Saalis to the Jatt people. The Gujar's also accepted him and as a result, the area of Hazara Qarik comprising of 84 villages was divided amongst the Turks, Dalazak, Gujar and Tarin tribes; each getting 21 villages in their share.

The major district of the Pati Tareen was called Darwesh. This comprised of villages like Chohar, Sarai Gudayi, Talokar, Rehana, Malik Yar, Pandak, Sikandarpur, Alam, Meelam, Pania, Deedarh, Bhothrhi, Gheela, Barhi Kahil, Paharhoo, Mota, Bheera, Kotha, and Pind Purani. Each village was taxed annually which would then be handed over to the Attock administration.

Sardar Najibullah Khan Tareen was a very brave emperor and the people of the localities would be subdued by mention of his name. He was very fond of hunting and because of this, he appointed Musharraf Muqdam as his local affairs minister. Muqdam belonged to the Gujar Tribe. Najibullah Khan played an important role in unifying the Tareen Tribes. He left behind a young son Muhammad Khan after his death in 1799 AD. Due to his youth, he obviously would not be able to control the affairs of his father and it was widely believed that this would be the end of the Najibullah Dynasty. Sardar Najibullah's widow, Muhammadi Begum, who was also known as Bani Begum, was a very sensible and strong willed woman. She seeked the help of Musharraf Muqdam again to help the family keep the tribes united and thus keep control of the area. As a result, they were successful to preserve law and order until the attacks of the Sikhs.

After the death of Durrani Emperor Taimur Shah, his sons started fighting amongst themselves and as a result, their empire collapsed. It was in those days that the administrator of Attock district sent a representative to the Hazara Tribes to collect the annual tax. The representative's name was Haji Wahab who was also known as Qazi Sahab of Chach in some historical records. Haji Wahab asked the elders of the Hazara tribes to proceed to Sikandarpur for an annual meeting where they will also hand over the Tax revenues. Amongst the people to attend this Sikandarpur meeting was Sardar Muhammad Khan Tareen who was newly appointed chief of the Tareen Tribe.

During the proceedings of the meeting, Haji Wahab and Muhammad Khan Tareen had a difference of opinion and as a result, Muhammad Khan Tareen left the proceedings and left back to Darwesh. After leaving the meeting, he moved along with his family to District Guldheri which was near Rehana.

Haji Wahab got together 300 soldiers on horseback and went after Muhammad Khan Tareen to Darwesh for showing this ingratitude. In Darwesh, he set alight Muhammad Khan Tareen's houses and lands with fire. Upon hearing this, Muhammad Khan could not control his anger and the very next morning, he surrounded Haji Wahab's camps with his men. Haji Wahab had not yet woken up. Upon hearing the disturbance, he woke up and collected his weapons to get ready for a fight. But since Haji Wahab and his men were unprepared, they died fighting Muhammad Tareen Khan's men. The remains of Haji Wahab's men retreated to Attock. Muhammad Khan Tareen's men followed them for quite a distance but then left the chase and they instead collected the war booty.

Unfortunately there was another instance in 1818 AD during which the Sikhs got an opportunity to meddle in the affairs of the Hazara people. A Hazara Qarak Sardar named Hashem Khan murdered another Sardar named Kamal ud Din Khan on some personal grudge. Since Kamal Khan's family did not have the power to take revenge from Hashem Khan, therefore they approached Muhammad Khan Tareen for help. Since Kamal ud Din Khan was a personal friend of Muhammad Khan Tareen, therefore he supported Kamal Khan's family and vowed to take revenge from Hashem Khan. Meanwhile, Hashem Khan came to know of intentions of Muhammad Khan Tareen and as a result, he left behind his family and work and went into hiding. Hashem Khan approached many tribes for support but none of them were willing to confront Muhammad Khan Tareen's army.

Left without a choice, Hashem Khan approached a Sikh General Sardar Makhan Singh in Sarai Kala in Taxila. The Sikhs were already looking for an opportunity to attack Hazara and this seemed a perfect chance of attacking Hazara on the pretext of helping Hashem Khan.

As a result, in 1819 AD, Makhan Singh approached another Sikh General Sardar Jeewan Singh in Rawalpindin and took permission for attacking Hazara with an army of 500 soldiers on horseback and an arsenal of canonry. When his army reached Muhammad Khan Tareen's home city of Guldheri after passing through Khanpur, they burnt the whole town to ashes. Considering this as fulfilment of their aims, the Sikh army went back to Sarai Kala in Taxila but decided to leave behind a small Sikh regiment for which they constructed a fort near Shah Muhammad Village. The Sikh army also appointed Bakhsh Mahang Raaj as an officer for collecting forced tax from the local population. The local population initially agreed to listen to the Sikhs and willingly gave the tax but later on, they denied the Sikh rule and started a rebellion.

By this time, Maharajah Ranjit Singh had conquered Chach and had also gained control of Attock. With his greed, he appointed Sardar Makhan Singh of Sarai Kala in Taxila of arranging an army again to attack Hazara and force the people in giving tax to the Sikh army. Sardar Makhan Singh left immediately with his army and demanded from Muhammad Khan Tareen in Guldheri that they give regular taxes or else they will be forced to do so. Muhammad Khan Tareen was not to be subdued by a Sikh Kafir and he refused to listen to their demands and told the Sikh General that he was ready to die instead of giving in to their demands.

Other local Muslim elders along with their tribes also started to participate in waging a Jihad against the Sikhs. Soon, the Mujahideen arrived at village Muhammad Shah and surrounded Sardar Makhan Singh's army who were holed up in their fort. During the battle that followed, the Sikh army could not stand up to the attacking Mujahideen and as a result, Sardar Makhan Singh perished along with his army. Being victorious, Muhammad Khan Tareen ordered the Sikh fort to be levelled. The remaining Sikh soldiers whimpered away like Dogs to their safe haven in Attock.

To rake Revenge against this defeat of Makhan Singh, another Sikh General Sardar Hukma Singh left Attock fort along with a large number of soldiers. He was certain that this time, he would stomp out the tribes of Hazara and force taxes out of them. But none of his rules and policies were acceptable to Sardar Muhammad Khan Tareen.

On the banks of the Haro River, near the villages of Mohrha and Sultan Pur, a fierce battle was waged between Muslim Mujahideen and Sikh forces. The Muslims fought so valiantly that they succeeded in turning away the much highly organized Sikh army. After considerably losses, the Sikh force once again retreated to Attock fort.

When news of Hukma Singh's defeat reached the Sikh Darbar in Lahore, Maharaja Ranjit Singh was angrier than ever. This time, he handed over control of an even bigger army to Colonel Ilahi Bakhsh and Deewan Ram Diyal and sent them off to Hazara. Ranjit Singh wanted the Hazara tribes to pay taxes at all costs and their refusal was a sign of disgrace for the King.

Such was the strength of the army that hearts would be subdued just by looking at the sheer size of it. It was 1820. Deewan Ram Diyal immediately started collecting taxes from the villages in the plains. The people had no choice but to give in otherwise there would be mass bloodshed. Howerver, Sardar Muhammad Khan was still not to be subdued and he started for a confrontation against the Sikhs yet again.

The Sikhs were in possession of cannonry and artillery. Therefore it was not possible to engage them in the plains of Hazara. For this, Sardar Tarin took his Mujahideen to the Sri Kot Village in the nearby GandGarh Mountain. As days passed by, more muslims joined his ranks. The Sikh Lashkar followed them into Sri Kot and taunted the Mujahideen. As a result, a fierce battle was waged. From Early morning till the evening, the Sikhs continuously pounded Mujahideen positions with articllery fire but still no victory or defeat was obvious. At the end of the day, the Sikhs got tired and went to their tents to get rest for the next day. Sardar Tarin along with his followers left their hideouts in the mountains and pounded the sikh army resting in their tents. Such was the suddenness of the attack that the Sikh Army were not able to organize and fight off the attack. Deewan Ram Diyal fought bravely but he died in the end. His tomb is still located in Kala Batt but due to construction of Tarbela Dam, this area has now submerged in water.

Sardar Muhammad Khan Tareen reached Darwesh again waving his flags of victory. All the Plains of Hazara were once again safe from the yoke of the Sikh. In this struggle, the Said Khanis, the Mashwanis, and the Utman Zais also showed bravery and courage.

Maharaja Ranjid Singh on hearing this news sent another army to Hazara under the leadership of Sardar Amar Singh Majeeta. It was evident that he wanted to bring the Hazara people under his control at all costs. Sardar Amar Singh Majeeta was not only considered a warrior, but he was also known as a shrewed politician. It was for this reason that this time he took course of diplomacy instead of confrontation. When he reached Kot Najibullah in 1821 AD, he called for the elders of the Hazara tribes. Many of the the tribes were talked into giving taxes. Amar Singh Majeeta was also willing to mend differences with Sardar Muhammad Tareen and wished to meet him. But Khan Tareen sahib was trying to avoid him by giving different excuses.

Many of the northern Hazara tribes had taken part in the war against the Sikhs. Sardar Amar Singh's next step was to influence those tribes as well now that he was finished with the tribes living in the plains. When his diplomacy failed, he attacked the town of Narha. In those days, the Leader of the Kararhyal tribe was Rayees Hassan Ali Khan. He was a very brave and courageous person. He prepared a Lashkar in collaboration with the Abbasi Tribe and fought off the attack by the Sikhs. Due to the sheer size of the Sikh Army, the close aides of Sardar Hassan Ali Khan were hesistant in continuoing this confrontation with the Sikh Army. But despite their hesistance, they continued maning their positions and launched their occasional hit and run strikes on the Sikh forces. It is the saying of the people of the Frontier that Our Mountains are our Forts. It was not thus easy for the Sikh forces to fight the Mujahideen in the mountains.

The Sikhs had a policy that they would attack a village, loot it, and carry the loot back to their tents. They were taking pride in their size and power and were being arrogant. One night, when the Sikh Army was sleeping in their tents, Sardar Hassan Khan made a surprise attack on them. Again, the Sikh Army was caught unprepared. Sardar Amar Singh was sleeping in a nearby house with some other Important Army officers. The Mujahideen surrounded the house and broke down the door of the house with axes. On seing the circumstances, Sardar Amar Singh took his weapons and came out with his other officers out of the house and started negotiating with the Mujahideen on this odd moment. The Mujahideen did not listen to him or the others and killed him and his other officers. One of the dead was his brother Sardar Hari Singh. This incident took place on the banks of Samandar Kath which is a tributary of the River Haro.

Ranjid Singh got news of this new defeat in Hazara. He was so angry that he himself wanted to head towards Hazara but he was badly endulged in the conspiracies of Kanwar Sher Singh and Mayi Sada Kaur. Having no choice, he once again gave hold of another army to Colonel Ilahi Bakhsh along with a sizeable artillery. This time, ILahi Bakhsh decided to work out a different strategy. Instead of going to Hazara lands via Hasan Abdal or Khan Pur, he took the route of Tarbela through Hazro. At Tarbela, he ordered construction of a fort so that it could store army units wchich could be needed if necessary. His intention was to surround Hazara with army forts so that in the end, it would be a clear win lose battle with Sardar Khan Tareen. Seing the clever idea of Ilahi Bakhsh, Sardar Khan Tareen took the diplomatic route as well. He convinced Ilahi Bakhsh that being a Muslim, he couldn't fight against troops under command of another Muslim. He also mentioned that it was better that Muslims sort out their differences rather than engage in conflict. Upon seing this positive approach from Sardar Khan Tareen, Ilahi Bakhsh deemed it unsuitable to pursue his military buildup. He returned to Lahore and conveyed the good news to the Maharaja.

However, soon after he left, the Tribes of Hazara again changed their track and did as they pleased. They voiced openly against the Sikh Empire and it was a clear sign of rebellion once again. But having seen the fate of his important generals like Sardar Makhan Singh, Sardar Amar Singh, Deewan Ram Diyal and Colonel Ilahi Bakhsh, he decided that it will be better to give diplomacy one more chance. For this reason, he handed over a large Sikh Army to his son Kanwar Sher Singh, and Princess Sada Kaur and asked them to spread a hand of friendship to Sardar Khan Tareen at all costs. He was tired of this constant confrontation and humiliation.

Princess Sada Kaur acted very cleverly. She sent lots of presents to Sardar Kahn Tareen and asked for a meeting. Sardar Khan Tareen found no harm in this meeting and agreed for one to take place. During the meeting, the princess gave lots of more presents and money to Sardar Khan Tareen andn even started referring to Khan Tareen Sahib as her son. The name given to Sardar Khan by her was Sher Bacha (Lion Son). A small ceremony was also held for celebrating the fact that the princess had made Sardar Khan Tareen her own son.

Due to these developments, the Hazara lands quietened down to a significant extenct but not for long. Such changes happened that the whole land was again engulfed in flames much serious and disastrous than before.

For quite a long time, the Sikh Darbar had appointed Deewan Moti Ram Kunjahi as Governor of Kashmir District. Later on, Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa was appointed this post. Only a small time had passed after the change over that Ranjid Singh felt need for Sardar Harin Singh Nalwa to take charge of a military mission. For this Ranjid Singh asked Hari Singh to come to Lahore immediately. Due to snowfall in the Jammu valleys, it was not possible to take that route for goinog to Lahore. Instead, Sardar hari Singh took route of Muzafar Abad, Pakhli and Hazara to go to Lahore. When Muhammad Khan Tareen found out that Hari Singh was coming along with an army despite the peace that had been brokered between the parties, he blocked their way. Since Hari Singh had to visit Lahore urgently, he refrained from confrontation and even agreed to paying his way out but the Hazaras did not listen. Left with no choice, he had to take up arms and a clash followed.

The number of Men in Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa's ranks was 7000 and they were one of the best in the Sikh Army. Despite the brave fight put up by the Mujahideen, they w ere not able to win over this Sikh Convoy. As a result, many Mujahideen were martyred and even more were injured. This clash occurred in Mangal near Jadoon town. In the end, the Jadoon tribe agreed to pay a fine for the aggression and made a peace pact with the Sikhs.

This small clash was a good career move for Sardar Hari Singh and increased his popularity ratings. He decided to erect a fort at Nawa Sher. A cantonment was also constructed and thousands of Sikh soldiers were then stationed there. It was a desire of Maharaja Ranjid Singh to force the Hazara tribes into his clutches so that he could control them. The success of Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa greatly pleased him. As a reward, he granted Sardar Hari Singh the governorship post of Hazara district as well as the Governorship post of Kashmir.

On accepting this post from the Lahore Darbar, Sardar Hari Singh proceeded to Tarin and erected a fort by the name of Hari Krishan Garh over there. Slowly, population grew outside the fort and later on this small city came to be known as Haripur. But despite these successes of the Sikh Government, they were still not able to control Sardar Khan Tareen despite experimenting with different tactics. Sardar Khan Tareen took his assets and his movement with him to Sri Kot in the mountains and established himself there. Slowly, his numbers grew again and like this Sri Kot came to become a stronghold of the Mujahideen.

To stamp the Mujahideen out of the Sri Kot area, Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa headed towards the area in 1823 AD. It was the area of Narha again that another clash was made between the Sikh Kafirs and the Mujahideen. Because of the advantage of home ground, the Mujahideen were able to rout the Sikh Forces and succeeded in turning them away. The Sikh General was humiliated. For a long period to follow, Sardar Hari Singh confined his activities to his his for tin Haripur for fear of confrontation with the Mujahideen in the surrounding areas.

Ranjit Singh himself headed towards Hazara laced with a heavy army and artillery after hearing of this defeat. Despite in possession of a strong Army, Ranjit Singh resorted to diplomacy and proceeded to Sri Kot. He asked all the Muslim chieftains to meet him. At this time, almost all the Mujahideen chiefs and Tribal elders had took up positions against the Sikh Army in Sri Kot. Sardar Muhammad Khan Tareen, Sar Buland Khan TAnoli, and Shah Muhammad Khan Rayees Mashwani were also present on this occasion. The Maharaja praised all these Mujahideen leaders and tried to arrange a peace pact between the Mujahideen and Sardar Hari Singh. Since Ranjit Singh had to head to Peshawar on a Military Mission, he asked Hari Singh Nalwa and Muhammad Khan Tareen to accompany him on the way; hoping that during the journey, he might able to strike up some understanding between the two leaders.

To win over Sardar Khan Tareen, the Maharaja also handed over income of a land worth Twenty thousand rupees per year to him. Sardar Tareen agreed to this. On their return, Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa tried to play a double game. Unknown to the Maharaja, Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa was trying to negotiate the amount of 2,000 rupees instead of the 20,000. The rest of the amount would go into Hari Singh Nalwa's Pocket. Of course, Tareen Khan Sahib did not agree to this new proposal and like this, new differences emerged.

When Maharaja Ranjit Singh visited Sri Kot again after some time, he ordered construction of a fort to station 500 Sikh Soldiers. All these acts were done by the Sikh Regime to psychologically put down Sardar Khan Tareen and his comrades.

Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa remained Governor of Hazara from 1822 AD to 1837 AD. During his tenure, he occasionally had to leave Hazara district to handle military missions on behalf of the Sikh Regime. In 1823 AD, he had to leave Hazara to lead a Military Campaign in the Derajat. As soon as he left, the Hazara Tribes rose and struggled against the Sikh Rule. During his departure, Nalwa Singh had left behind his son Gordat Singh and his uncle Sardar Harsa Singh Akali with a small army of 200 Horsemen and 500 Foot soldiers to protect the Haripur Fort. The sphere of influence of the Sikh was only limited towards the Haripur Fort and its surrounding city of Haripur. Outside this area, everything was controlled militarily by Sardar Tareen Khan.

One day, Sardar Gordat Singh cut down a Sheesham Tree from Darwesh; Sardar Khan Tareen's Home Abode. Sardar Khan Tareen took offence of this act and ordered his Mujahideen to lay siege to Haripur Fort. When the Sikh army holed up in the Fort ran out of resources, Gordat Singh sent a messenger to Lahore pleading for reinforcements. Maharaja Ranjit Singh sent these much needed reinforcements to Hazara under the command of a renowned Sikh General, Sardar Budh Singh Sandhianwala. But due to some circumstances, Budh Singh's forces were too late to reach Hazara. Taking advantage of this delay, the Tanoli Tribe succeeded in evicting the Sikh's from Durband Fort whereas the Swati Tribes succeeded in their quest of Shinkiari Fort. Not only a large number of Sikh Soldiers, but also many rich Hindu 'Seth's' were also taken prisoner by the Mujahideen.Seeing the immense success of the Swati and Tanoli tribes, the Jadoon Tribes' moral also increased and they attacked the Sikh Fort at Nawa Shehr. However, since the fort was well protected with cannon fire and the Jadoon Tribes could not manage to take over it. But despite not being able to take over the fort, they maintained their siege.

Seing all this havoc made the Sikh Rulers send more reinforcemenets. This time, these were handed over to Harsa Singh Akali and Sardar Mahan Singh. As soon as they reached Nawan Shehr, they started bombarding Jadoon positions. During their march, they passed by a Jamia Mosque on the outskirts of Nawan Shehr where around 200 muslims were praying their Jumma Prayers. In their zeal, the Sikh army surrounded the mosque and burnt it to ashes; thus most of the 200 worshippers were martyred. Those who managed to get out were sliced by the Sikh Soldiers using their swords. Seing all this terror, the Jadoon Tribe were forced to take their families and leave the town heading for their mountain hideouts. During their absence, the Sikh Army looted their houses and then burnt them afterwards. In those days, the Sikh Regiment under command of Sardar Budh Singh Sandhianwala also reached Haripur. He was aware of the threat from Sardar Khan Tareen and sent gifts and presents to Sardar Tareen claiming that he was only sent to reinforce Sikh positions at Pakli and in no way meant harm to the people of Jadoon. For this reason, Sardar Khan Tareen paid no heed to this regiment's movement.

So from one direction arrived Sardar Budh Singh and from the other, the governor of Kashmir; Sardar Hari Singh came with their armies. One could see thousands of turbans in Nawan Shehr. This large army tormented the muslims of the surrounding areas and they started a killing spree that would leave one aghast. After having their hearts content at Nawan Shehr, they proceeded to Shinkiari where they waged a battle with the Mujahideen stationed there. Due to the small number of Mujahideen, the Sikhs were able to retake the fort. Sardar Budh Singh then ordered construction of another fort at Mansehra. After a few days, the Sikhs made a surprise attack on the town of Agarwar during night time. The poor Muslims of the town were killed while they were still unaware of what had happened. The next day, the army proceeded to Nagrhi, on the third day to the village of Budharh in Haji Meera, on the fourth onwards to Bagarha, and on the fifth to the village of Koonash in Maidan Chatar. This almost week long campaign was the result of the murder of hundreds of innocent muslims who never even resisted to the marching armies. For two days, the Sikh army stationed themselves at the vast lands of Koonash.

All this time, the Mujahideen took refuge in the mountains. On the third day of their rest at Koonash, the Sikh army proceeded back to Shinkiari where they started repair work on their fort. Soon after a few days, Sardar Hari Singh also went back and left Hazara. Such was the terror of Hari Singh that the local populace were scared to even come out in front of a Sikh soldier. Other Mujahideen could not even come here to fight for their hapless brothers. One reason for this was that there was a lack of central command amongst the Mujahideen. Another reason was some misgivings between the muslims of the area. A Third and major reason was that this region was a very Mountainous region being in the North of Hazara and thus the land was divided by many streams and rivers. This made travel for groups of Mujahideen very difficult. Even the victories of the Sikh army were short lived in this region. As soon as the Sikh Army retreated back some positions, the people of the area would heave a sigh of relief.

Nobody is ever content with Love of Power. This was the case with the Sikh's as well. If one thinks, the Sikhs gained nothing from their attacks on the territories of the Pashtoons. They suffered both financially and physically as well. Thousands of their soldiers died defending positions here and there while the Sikh empire had to spend quite a lot of money financing their conquests on the Frontier. This burden was visible in the economy of the Sikh Empire which was on a verge of collapse. If Maharaja Ranjid Singh had confined his conquests to the territories of mainline Punjab, his empire might have been able to live longer. The lands of Frontier and Afghanistan were renowned to be angels of death for various empires. The Sikhs were also engulfed by this angel of death.

The Sikh Sardar, Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa was face to face with each and every tribe of the area and with each, he fought battles. After finishing his work in Pakli, he directed his attention towards the lands of Tanoli Tribe. The reason for this was that Sar Buland Khan Tanoli and Nawab Khan Tanoli had joined hands with Sardar Muhammad Khan Tarin and time and again had inflicted heavy losses on Sikh Armies in the surrounding areas. For this reason, Sardar Hari Singh lead a very large army to Azam Tanawal after passing through Pawah. As soon as the Tanoli Sardar's got word of the Sikh attack, they immediately left the town of Shangrhi along with their loved and dear ones and left for safe refuge. The Mujahideen fought bravely and even surrounded the Sikh Army at one point in Porach. But despite this, they were no match for the advanced Sikh Artillery fire. After a lot of difficulty, Sardar Hari Singh managed to go through the Pawah Pass. Typical of him, he burnt Sar Buland Khan's village Shangrhi to ashes. In return, Sar Buland Khan took his Mujahideen to areas of Dhaka Dana and waited there for the Sikh Army to pass. After finishing his chores at Shangrhi, Hari Singh left for Dhaka Dana. At this moment, Sar Buland Khan was stationed at Banda Loharan in Dhaka Dana. The Sikh Army and the Mujahideen crashed against each other. Sar Buland Khan himself along with his son Sher Muhammad Khan fought bravely against the Sikh Army and managed to push back the Sikh Army quite a number of times. If it were not for the brilliant leadership qualities of Sardar Hari Singh, the Sikh Army would have without doubt faced defeat. When Hari Singh saw that his Sikh Army were running for safety, he himself went forward and taunted his running soldiers to go back and fight. He was calling to his soldiers from behind a natural wall of boulders and rocks in a mountain.

Sher Muhammad Khan was in pursuit of Sardar Hari Singh. He didn't know where Sardar Hari Singh was hiding. As soon as he passed the natural hideout, Hari Singh came forward like lightening and shot Sher Muhammad with his gun. The bullet hit his forehead and Sher Muhammad fell to the ground. As soon as news spread out of his death, the Tanoli ranks started to panic and left their positions. The Sikhs went in pursuit and killed many of the Ghazi's. Many of the Mujahideen went into hiding in the nearby mountains. The Sikhs mutilated the body of Sher Muhammad Khan. His head was cut off from his body and was hung on the doors of Haripur's fort for a lot of days.

After this confrontation, Sar Buland Khan had no choice but to leave the area; thus he went to Sri Kot. Sardar Muhammad Khan Tarin was already there. It was decided to start their struggle from the beginning and the battle plan was laid out. Call for Jehad was made and many Muslims gathered together again to take revenge for the defeat. Sardar Hari Singh was content that he was only engaged in battle with the Tanoli Tribes. When word reached him that the Tanolis had joined hands with Sardar Muhammad Tarin, he started to panic. He had already experienced the Tarin Sardar personally in one of the battles at Sri Kot before. Even before the clash at Sri Kot, renowned Sikh Generals like Makhan Singh, Deewan Ram Diyal and others had been put to death by Sardar Khan Tareen himself. Despite his fears, he also acknowledged that unless and until the Sikh Empire does not take over Sri Kot, the Sikh Empire could never hold ground over Hazara. It was for this reason that he mustered up courage and attacked Sri Kot first.

The year was 1824 AD. The Sikh Army left Har Krishan Garh Fort for Sri Kot. It comprised of more than 7000 soldiers on foot as well as on horseback. They also were in possession of a hundred Zamboorak's (Small Cannons) and other artillery. Hari Singh had also requested Sikh Sardars of the neighbouring areas to help him. When they reached the village of Narha Syed Khania the next day, they found it to be empty. The villagers had gathered together their belongings, loved and deared ones and already retreated to Sri Kot.

The reason for their evacuating the village was that the Mujahideen had decided to confront the Sikhs at Narha themselves. So the encounter took place. On one hand was one of the world's best armies of the time with advanced weaponry and organized soldiers and on the other were simple Mujahideen who were fighting solely for their freedom with the belief that Allah would help them win over the enemies. The Sikh Artillery bombarded the Mujahideen positions the whole day whereas foot soldiers on both sides used their guns to shoot down any of their opponents they could see. But still neither of the two budged from their positions. Seeing the situation, Sardar Hari Singh realized if this goes on, they would run out of resources and would have to call for reinforcements which would take time. He immediately called a meeting of all the Sikh sardars who had volunteered to fight alongside with him and taunted them that if 7000 soldiers with 100 zamburak's cannot defeat the enemy, then what face will they all show to Maharaja Ranjid Singh? The Sikhs started again with more vigour but still they could not displace the Mujahideen ranks who had bunkered themselves in the mountains. The Mujahideen under the leadership of Sar Buland Khan and Sardar Khan Tareen proved to be an iron wall in front of the Sikhs.

On Nightfall, things receded to some extent and Sardar Hari Singh, Sardar Mahan Singh and other senior officers of the Sikh Army retreated to an abandoned house in Narha to spend the night. They expected that nobody would even imagine that the Sikh leaders would rest in a place like this instead of spending the night in their barracks. During night time, the Ghazi's left their bunkers and laid siege to the abandoned house. They brought down the doors of the house with axes and made holes in the roof of the house and fired volleys of bullets through the holes they had made. In the blink of an eye, so many Sikh generals were killed. Many were injured and a few managed to escape. Sardar Hari Singh managed to save himself and lay quiet in a corner of the house but when the Mujahideen set the house on fire, he was running out of choices.

He first sent Sardar Mahan Singh's brother, Krishan Singh outside to see the situation and report back to him. As soon as Krishan Singh stepped out, the Ghazis killed him on the spot. Later, Sardar Mahan Singh and Hari Singh went out together. Since both were wearing heavy armour, the swords of the Ghazis could not hurt them. As a last resort, the Mujahideen started stoning them. Hari Singh was badly injured and he tried to run away but could not manage and fell down the mountainside. On the other hand, Sardar Mahan Singh managed to escape. He was in the frame of mind that Hari Singh had managed to escape and had already joined the rest of his army. When he reached there, he found that Hari Singh was nowhere to be found and hence word spread that Hari Singh had been killed.

In the ranks of the Mujahideen, one Mujahed found a dead Sikh who resembled Sardar Hari Singh and he cut off his head and brought it forward to his leaders. Such was the resemblance that everybody believed that the Mujahideen had killed Sardar Hari Singh.

But the reality was that Hari Singh was badly injured and had tumbled down the mountain side. Despite his injuries, he remained quiet out of fear that if he even made a squeak, the Mujahideen would find him and finish what was left of him. Later during the night, when another Sikh soldier was passing the area making a run for his life, Hari Singh approached him and declared that he was Hari Singh. He ordered the Sikh soldier to get him out of the area and take him to Haripur. The Sikh soldier carried Hari Singh all the way to Sardar Mahan Singh. Mahan Singh ordered a couple of soldiers to accompany the injured General to Haripur. At Haripur after many months of treatment, Hari Singh was fit once again.

The Sikh dead were still lying in Narha. The Number of dead was in the 400 range and they included Sardar Jamiat Singh and his younger brother, Molraj. The Ghazis managed to collect a lot of war booty.

The Lahore Darbar was sent into panic when they learnt of this tremendous loss. The Sikhs were humiliated and to overcome this humiliation, Maharaja Ranjid Singh called for an enormous army to be sent to Hazara to give the Mujahideen a lesson. This army would be led by Maharaja Ranjid Singh himself. Sardar Hari Singh knew what kind of person his Maharaja was. He knew that Maharaja Ranjid Singh will never forgive him for such a defeat. The whole responsibility would lie on Hari Singh himself and he would be punished dearly for it. To save himself from Maharajah's anger, he also accumulated some of his soldiers to attack some of the Mujahideen positions before the arrival of the Maharajah. For this reason, he opted to attack the village of Bhagrha. Most of the war booty that the Mujahideen had captured was stored in Bhagrha. After the attack, the Sikhs took over the booty for themselves. The attack on Bhagrha also showed to the Mujahideen that Hari Singh was not dead but alive and well.

Meanwhile, Maharaja along with his army reached Rawalpindi. He decided to spend a few days there. The Maharajah was in mood of attack but he knew that it was useless to control the Hazara Tribes by force. He also knew that all his plans for Hazara would be mixed in dirt only because of Sardar Muhammad Khan Tarin. Despite his mood for revenge, he decided to do some diplomacy. He decided to send Muhammad Khan Tarin a treaty of truce and for this reason, sent his chief commander Deewan Chand to Sardar Hari Singh. Deewan Chand was a very good talker and somehow, he managed to convince Sardar Tarin to accompany him back to Rawalpindi.

Actually, even Deewan Chand was in the dark of what the Maharajah really wanted to do. Deewan Chand mainly focussed on the talk that Sardar Tarin was a very brave and galiant person and that the Maharajah was very impressed with him and therefore decided to offer a truce so that the people may heave a sigh of relief. Sardar Tarin reached Lahore and was obviously welcomed by the Maharajah and was praised and facilitated. From Rawalpindi, Maharajah asked Sardar Tarin to accompany him to Lahore. Deceived, Sardar Tarin agreed to go with his entourage. Upon reaching Lahore, Maharajah changed his intentions and ordered Sardar Tarin to be locked up in the fort of Nagrha. At Nagrha, Sardar Tarin was treated very badly as a prisoner.

Deewan Chand on the other hand was very embarrassed of what had happened. He had given personal assurance to Sardar Khan Tareen that nothing would happen to him but the Maharajah had deceived Deewan Chand as well. Deewan Chand on a number of occasions asked the Maharajah to release Sardar Khan Tareen but the Maharajah would play on excuses.

The author of 'Tareekh e Hazara' (the History of Hazara), Doctor Sher Bahadur Khan Pani has painted a different picture of what had happened. According to him, when the Maharajah came to Hazara along with his army, he camped at Jaagal. Once at Jaagal, he sent messengers to various Sardars of the area to come and meet him. Muhammad Khan Tarin, Sar Buland Khan Tanol and Shah Muhammad Mashwani came to meet the Maharajah but the rest of the Sardar's crossed the River Sindh and went to Yusufzai Territory; Mardan. Since nobody resisted to the marching Sikh Army this time, Sri Kot and Tarbela came under Sikh Dominion without any bloodshed. One day, the Maharajah was in good mood and went on a stroll at the banks of the River Indus. Seeing him, some people started accumulating on the other bank (the Mardan Side) and started jeering and shouting at the Maharajah. It is also mentioned that to anger the Sikhs, the muslims on the other side deliberately slaughtered a couple of cows and started eating the meat on the spot after barbecuing it. The Maharajah was angered by this and he ordered his soldiers to burn the village of Kahbal on the other side.

The next day, the army of the Maharajah crossed the River Indus and headed towards Umb. The Nawab of Umb, Payinda Khan held a hand of friendship to the Maharajah. The Sikh Maharajah instead took Payinda Khan's son, Jahandad Khan as an assurance that Payinda Khan would not make trouble and took his son back with him.

When the Maharajah finished handling the affairs at Hazara, he prepared to go back and asked Muhammad Khan Tarin to accompany him as a guest. At Rawalpindi, when Muhammad Khan Tarin and Sar Buland Khan Tanol decided to go back and accompaniment till Rawalpindi was enough, the Maharajah refused and arrested both of them. He also called for Hazara's governor Sardar Hari Singh. Sardar Khan Tareen was handed over to Hari Singh and the Maharajah instructed him that until and unless Muhammad Khan Tareen pays a fine of 1 Lac, he should not be released. Sardar Hari Singh realised that the Maharajah was hungry for money. As soon as Sardar Khan Tareen was released, albeit by paying money, he would immediately make life miserable for the Sikh Empire once again. For this reason, he immediately refused to take over responsibility of keeping Muhammad Khan Tareen on the grounds that a fine of One Lac could not be recovered from the Hazara populace. For this reason, the Maharajah thus took Sardar Khan Tareen with him to Lahore and transferred him to the prison at Nagrha Fort.

Major Smith in his book "The Sikh Rulers of Lahore" has described the incident as such that when the Maharajah reached Rawalpindi, he sent one of his officers Misar Diwan Chand to Sardar Khan Tareen in order to convince him to come to Rawalpindi to meet the Maharajah. Deewan Chand gave personal assurance in order to bring Sardar Khan Tarin with him to Rawalpindi. From Rawalpindi, the Sikh Ruler took Sardar Khan Tarin to Lahore as a guest. Upon reaching Lahore, the Maharajah broke his promise of safety and put Sardar Khan Tarin in prison.

Diwan Chand was an officer of high status. He immediately protested to the Maharajah that he had brought Sardar Khan Tareen on personal assurance and due to the Maharajah's act, he would think bad of him. But despite his protests, Sardar Khan Tareen was transferred to Nagrha Prison without even the knowledge of Diwan Chand.

One day, Deewan Chand faced the Maharajah and demanded in front of everybody in the 'Darbar' to release Sardar Khan Tareen because he had given personal assurance to him that nobody would hurt him. This topic fell very badly on the Maharajah's ears and his relations with Deewan Chand also worsened on this issue. The Maharajah told Deewan Chand that forget Sardar Khan Tareen, you should be worried for your own life. Seeing this, Deewan Chand left the 'Darbar' in protest. He was so upset that the Maharajah had broken the trust that Sardar Khan Tareen had made on him that he ate poison and committed suicide.

When Ranjid Singh came to know of Deewan Chand's suicide, he repented his decision. For two days, the Maharajah did not eat or drink anything out of shame. He even ordered Muhammad Khan Tareen to be released in memory of Deewan Chand. But Alas, the great Mujahed of Islam had already left this world and gone to heaven abode.

It is also said regarding Muhammad Khan Tareen's martyrdom that the Maharajah used to celebrate the ritual of Dosehra with great zeal and enthusiasm. On this occasion, Sikh Sardars from far and wide would come to the Maharajah's 'Darbar' and shower him with gifts and blessings. Thus when Hari Singh went to congratulate the Maharajah on this occasion, such was the happiness of the King that he granted him governorship of Rawalpindi and surrounding areas. Also on this occasion, the Maharajah handed Sardar Khan Tareen over to Hari Singh for an amount of 55,000 rupees and told him to recover this amount from Tarin himself or from his people accumulatively. Thus Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa brought Sardar Khan Tareen with him to Rawalpindi.

At Rawalpindi, Hari Singh ordered Sardar Khan Tareen to be brought in front of him. When Sardar Khan Tareen was brought forward, Hari Singh put attention on him and told him that he had bought him from the Maharajah for an amount of 55,000 rupees. Sardar Khan Tareen was also told that he was to recover this amount from either his family members or his people otherwise he would be executed.

Sardar Khan Tareen then realised what was to become of him. He asked Hari Singh that since his status was that of a prisoner, he could not do anything. However, if he was given a chance to go, he could manage to come up with the amount through one source or another.

Sardar Hari Singh knew that if he released Muhammad Khan Tarin, he would not be able to arrest him again and that he would again pose a threat to the Sikh Empire. Instead, he spoke of Muhammad Khan Tarin very harshly and refused to let him go. In his fury, he ordered Muhammad Khan Tarin to be sent to the Prison at Fort Qalar Qahar. Along with this, the prison incharge at the fort was instructed to give Sardar Khan Tareen only bread from a quarter of a kilo of flour along with a quarter of a kilo of salt as food during the whole day. Nothing else would be acceptible as food to Sardar Hari Singh. The main reason was that Sardar Khan Tareen would refuse to eat the food and beg for mercy. But Sardar Khan Tareen would brace every kind of torture including eating of such harsh food as a sign of rebellion. But still Hari Singh was not content and one day, he gave Sardar Khan Tareen poison in his food and like this, this Great Mujahed left this world to be reconciled with his creator in the heavens.

According to yet another narration, Sardar Khan Tareen was held prison in a well and was given a lot of salt in his food and because of this, he gained martyrdom.

Hari Singh Nalwa had calmed his heart by killing Sardar Khan Tareen but he still had not gotten his 55,000 Rupees which he had paid to the Maharajah. For this, Hari Singh asked for his advisor for Hazara District, Sardar Mahan Singh and told him that he wanted recovery of this amount at all costs from the Hazara people. Hence for this reason, Sardar Mahan Singh taxed all of the Hazara tribes. Under this tax, every house was to give almost two rupees as punishment. Since many were not able to pay, and many others were not even willing to pay, the Sikhs forcibly sold their livestock and other livelihood. Many peoples' lands were confiscated and even some peoples household items like dishes and clothes were sold forcibly. It was after all this that the amount of 55,000 rupees were collected from the people. Mahan Singh went to Rawalpindi and put forward this amount to Hari Singh. It was then that Hari Singh's heart was content with what he had done.

The whole era of Sardar Hari Singh was one of great repression and terror. There was no law and no justice. A word from a Sikh Sardar was the love, however stupid that word may be. With Sardar Muhammad Khan Tareen out of the picture, the Sikhs had even more freedom to do as they pleased. They would put in place unjust taxes on the people and make arrangements to forcibly take taxes if required. For minor offences, they would give the worst punishments to the people.

To collect the taxes, various Sikh Sardars would collect the amount. For Pakli and Shinkiari, Sardar Gulab Singh was responsible for collecting taxes, Sardar Dil Singh for Pakli Payan, Bhai Hukam Singh for Mansehra, Munshi Bhawani Daas for Tanawal, Hassan Shahid Syed for Narha, Thanedar Fateh Singh for Tarbela, and Maul Singh for Serai Saleh. In the same manner, Habibullah Khan of Garhi was responsible for collecting an amount of 30,000 rupees from the towns of Kaghan, Agarwar and Bhogarh Mang. Once when Habibullah Khan was not able to collect the specified amount, one of his brother and nephew were held hostage at Fort Krishan Garh in Haripur until recovery was made.

Even the system of collecting money and taxes during the Sikh rule was a unique way. Responsibility for collecting taxes from different areas would be auctioned to various sardars. Whoever would offer the largest amount to collect from the populace would be given the responsibility. It would then be the duty of the collector to get the money from the populace by whatever means he could make use of. Furthermore, there was no system of complaints made available to the ordinary peasants.

It was the rule of the Blind.

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Muhammad Khan Tarin, Muhammad Shafi Sabir
Published in Khyber.ORG on Friday, September 16 2005 (http://www.khyber.org)