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The Khakha Rajputs (also spelt Khaka, Kakha and Khake) of Azad Kashmir, Pakistan are clan of Muslim Rajputs who have inhabited the Kashmiri region since the 13th century after the conquer of Janjua warlord Raja Khakha of the region of Upper Jhelum Valley of Kashmir.
They are a branch of the Janjua dynasty of Northern India. Known for their fierce resistance against all invaders, from the Afghans, Mughals and the Sikhs, the Khakha Rajputs managed to retain their independence through their refractory policy and warlike exploits. They were so influential during their rule, that they aided Mughal Emperors first ever defeat in Kashmir in the Battle of Bulaysa, they defied the Afghan invaders and later terrorised the Sikh governors of Kashmir.
Two distinct tribes with the Khakha name
Historians have queried whether the Khakha name is a derivative distortion of the word Khatri rather than an actual name of the tribe:
Historian Pt Har Gopal Kaur feels that the word Brahman got corrupted to make Bamba and the word Khatri to yield Khakha (author - I have no opinion on what these clan names are a corruption of. However, knowing the languages of the area, I have no doubt that these are corruptions of words beginning with B and with K respectively.
The Khakha Rajputs during the Mughal Period
The Khakha Rajputs have played an important part in the history of Kashmir by creating alliances with other Kashmiri tribes against many powerful rulers, such as the Mughal Emperor Akbar. The Khakha warlords had allied with Yakub Shah against the Mughal army of Akbar at the battle of Bulyasa and were victorious.
Khakha Rajput resistance to the Sikh Empire
During the Sikh Conquer of Kashmir, The Khakha Rajputs united with their age old allies, the Bhamba tribe and fought hard against the invading Sikhs.
The bold and warlike tribes of Bombas and Khakhas who now and then carried out looting incursions into the Valley, were a constant source of anxiety and danger to the Sikhs. In fact many times during their rule Bombas and Khakhas looted the valley as far up as Pattan
It is recorded, that upon a British Officer's visit to Kashmir in 1822, he had to return from Uri as the Khakha chief would not allow him to pass.
The fierce and warlike Khakhas began to intensify their raids in consequence to the weakening Sikh power. Eventually, when Maharaja Gulab Singh assumed rulership of Kashmir, he managed to drive back the Khakhas with great difficulty. But knowing the unrelenting fierce reputation of the rebellious Khakhas, he immediately installed strong garrisons in the forts guarding the passes.
Despite facing the best of the Sikh power to subdue them, they still enjoyed a highly privileged position, paying little if any taxes, openly wearing arms and defying orders where possible.
Ancestral title and reputation
The Khakhas continue their tradition of recording their genealogy.
Their fierce, often predatorial raids during the Sikh age earned them a localised legend, that mothers would tell their children "..the Khakhas are coming..." to frighten them.
- Culture and Political History of Kashmir by Prithivi Nath Kaul Bamzai, MD Publ. Ltd., 1994, p669
- History of Mediaeval Hindu India by Chintaman Vinayak Vaidya, Cosmo Publ. 1979, p129
- Parvéz Dewân's Jammû, Kashmîr, and Ladâkh: Travel, Trekking, Culture, History, Wildlife, Almost Everything By Parvez Dewan Edition: illustrated Published by Manas Publications, 2004 Item notes: v. 1 Original from the University of Michigan Page 423
- Culture and Political History of Kashmir by Prithivi Nath Kaul Bamzai, MD Publ. Ltd., 1994, p637
- Culture and Political History of Kashmir by Prithivi Nath Kaul Bamzai, MD Publ. Ltd., 1994, p637, p669, p670
- History of Operations in Jammu & Kashmir, 1947-48 by Sri Nandan Prasad, Dharm Pal, Govt. of India 1987, p4
- Kashmiris Fight for Freedom by Muhammad Yusuf Saraf, Ferozson 1977, p77
- Kashmiris Fight for Freedom by Muhammad Yusuf Saraf, Ferozson 1977, p78