Sardar Ghulam Khan Tarin

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


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Sardar Ghulam Khan Tarin

Muhammad Shafi Sabir

Tazkara Sarfaroshan e Sarhad

Publishing Date: Friday, September 16 2005

After doing away with great Mujaheds like Sardar Muhammad Khan Tareen and Bostan Khan Tarin, the Sikhs had a field day in tormenting and persecuting the population. The Mashwanis of Srikot were forced to migrate from their homelands and because of this they were refugees in nearby localities for six to seven years. Many of them crossed the Indus and moved to Swabi. The Sikhs also forcefully enscripted several Mashwani youths in their army. After the death of Maharaja Ranjid Singh, the Sikh empire fell prey to disorder and hence their rule weakened.

When Ranjid Singh's son Maharaja Sher Singh took over his father's position, he handed over Kashmir and Hazara to his own son Kanwar Pratab Singh. Prathab Singh acted on his own and handed over admiistration of Hazra to Arbel Singh. After some time, Civil War ensued with variouso Sikh commanders fighting amongst themselves. The collective Administrative power of the Sikhs further weakened after their humiliating defeat at the hands of the British. Administratorship of Hazara was handed over to Diwan Molraj after Arbel Singh's grip on power began to slip.

The Muslim Maliks and sardars of the area took advantage of this weakness and decided to do away with the Sikhs once and for all. Hence cry for Jehad was made and thousands of Muslims paid heed to it. Diwan Molraj's men had a lot of skirmishes with the Mujahideen at a number of localities and was definitely having a tough time carrying out his governorship duties despite being renowned for being a great statesman. As a result, the Dhoond Tribe took over the fort at Marh and Malik Hasan Ali Khan of Kar'Rhal took over Garhi. In the same manner the once persecuted Mashwani's took control of their homeland Srikot, Raja Haider Bakhsh of Kak'harh took over Khanpur, Nawab Khan Tanoli took over Sherwan, the Jadoon Tribe took over Nawan Shehr and Sardar Ghulam Khan Tarin took over Jaagal. The Sikhs were thrown out of these places and there was no chance for them to take it back. After their defeat, the Sikh's power was only confined to the surroundings of Qilla Harkishan Garh in Haripur. On the 10th of February 1846, the Sikhs were defeated by the British at Sabhrawo in Punjab. After this defeat, the Sikhs were even finding it difficult to guarantee safety of their forces at Haripur as well.

The Muslim Sardars were well aware of the situation. A number of Mujahideen rallied under the leadership of Sardar Ghulam Khan Tarin, Khani Zaman Khan Tahirkheli, and Maulvi Wilayat Ali and laid siege to Haripur city. The only canal that provided water to the fort was blocked by the Mujahideen. For some time, the Sikhs started making use of the ponds already filled with water inside the fort but it was evident that they could not depend on only this source of water for long. It was not long that the Sikhs started dying of thirst. At this stage, they had no choice but to fight the Mujahideen. The canonry of the Sikhs was quite strong and they started bombarding nearby villages; as a result of which many civilians got killed needlessly. For the safety of these villagers, the Mujahideen had to break their siege and pulled back to the mountains of Gand Garh. With their pull back, the Sikh army came out of their fort and took their anger out on the hapless villagers. Many villages were burnt to the ground and their wealth looted. It was also their luck because at around the same time, much needed help arrived from Peshawar under the command of Sardar Kahan Singh.

When the Sikhs forced the Mujahideen to break their siege of Haripur, at the same time they were engaged with the British yet again in Multan. This was a good opportunity for Diwan Molraj to vacate Haripur because staying for much longer periods was evident death for them. Diwan wanted his army to leave Haripur and them reinforcing the Sikh army at the battle of Multan sounded a good reason. But his highups did not consider this a viable idea.

It was not much later that Diwan Molraj and his army vacated their positions at Haripur and shifted to Hasan Abdal. This happened on the 16th day of April, 1946. Sardar Ghulam Khan Tarin took advantage of the situation and had the flag of the Mujahideen waved over Haripur fort. The local populace had had the experience of living under the rule of the Sikhs and they were also well acquainted with their tribe elders. Their only wish was for a better system of governance to be put in place under which they could live their lives in peace. The Tehreek al Mujahideen of Syed Ahmad Barelvi was quite popular at this time. The population were also greatly influenced by Syed Ahmad Barelvi. After the tribe elders consented amongst themselves, it was decided that Islamic Shariah rule was to be the system of governance. For this reason, all tribal elders of Hazara were called to attend a Loya Jirga at Haripur. It was at this gathering that Syed Akbar Shah of Sathana was elected to be Amir of the region. Sardar Ghulam Khan Tarin and Nawab Khan Tanoli were appointed Ministership Posts as well. All of them had the duty of enforcing Shariat e Muhammadi on their country. Disputes in court were forwarded to an appointed Qazi who would make decisions based on Shariah Law. Security of the people was guaranteed and an atmosphere of peace was put in place. As a result, the people heaved a sigh of relief and pledged their full support to their new rulers.

The sikhs had their third and final encounter with the British which lasted from 19 April 1848 to 16 March 1849. The Ameer of Kabul Sardar Dost Muhammad Khan was a big supporter of the Sikhs against the British. He sent in help for the Sikhs to fight against the British but his reinforcements could not stand long in a foreign land. They were forced to retreat. The command of the British army in this encounter was in the hands of Sir Walter Gilbert. Gilbert was in hot pursuit of the retreating Afghan Army and he pursued them as far as the Khyber Pass.

The British had an expansionist policy and it was not long that they then confronted Syed Akbar Shah in Hazara. The Mujahideen of Hazara were actively engaged in combat against the British. During the rule of the Sikhs, the lands of Hazara were a part of Kashmir. Later on, the Khalsa Rulers literally sold Hazara for a paltry sum to the Dogra Ruler of Kashmir; Raja Gulab Singh Dogra. But still, the politics of Hazara were very much a reflection of politics in Kashmir. A natural bond existed between the two regions for centuries. This bond was strengthened because of the cultural and social similarities between the people of both the regions.

Nawab of Dogra was well aware that it would not be an easy task to include Hazara in his Kashmir federation because such an act would spark reactionary movements throughout the region. When the British were trying to subdue the population of Hazara and bring them under the fold of their Colonialist rule, Nawab Dogra approached them and promised that he would not interfere in Hazara provided the British hand over rule of Jammu to the Dogra Dynasty. The British were eying the wealth and beauty of Hazara since long and decided it was a good proposal and they agreed to it. As a result, Jammu was handed over and the British were free to take over Hazara without any intervention from outside elements. Their only obstacle were the Mujahidene of the region. It was under the command of Major James Abott that the British army finally managed to subdue the Mujahideen of Hazara and finished the Shariah Government already in place. It was Major James Abott who was appointed the first Deputy Commissioner of Hazara. The brief rule of the Mujahideen in Hazara during which Shariah law was established was known as the 'Landai Musalmani' or the brief rule of Muslims.

This transfer of power was of no big concern to Sardar Ghulam Khan Tarin. For him and other leaders, it was just one Kafir government going and another Kafir government coming in. He and others carried on with confronting the British government even after the British rule was well in place over the whole of Hazara. For reconciliation purposes, Major Abott asked Sardar Ghulam Khan Tarin to meet him on the 13th of May 1949. Sardar Ghulam Khan agreed because he was in favor of the development of his land and his people. This was only possible if there was peace. Sardar Ghulam Khan was expecting the British to come forward with a peace treaty in which the British would agree to limited influence in the politics of Hazara in return for halting of military operations against their regime. What happened during their meeting was totally unexpected for Sardar Ghulam Khan. The British had double crossed him, had him arrested and imprisoned in the fort at Attock. Later on, he was secretly moved to Allabad (India) prison.

During the war of Independence in 1857, Sardar Ghulam Khan Tarin managed to convince all of the prisoners at Allabad to stage an uprising at the premises. This was done and the British shot many prisoners dead in their attempt at quenching the rebellion at the prison. Sardar Ghulam Khan Tarin was found to be a major planner of this uprising and was booked for treason and later hanged. Ina Lillahe Wa Ina Ilaihe Raji'oon.

Like his predecessors, Sardar Ghulam Khan Tarin had sacrificed his life and wealth for freedom, Islam and Principle. They may have lost their lives, but they won in terms of what they stood for. The resistance was then carried on by other known Ulema and Tribal Maliks such as Khan Mir Afzal Khan, Risaldar Major Mir Dad Khan, Sardar Bahadur Khan, and Abdul Majeed Khan Talokar.

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