Najib ad-Dawlah

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The Third battle of Panipat, 13 January 1761, Najib ad-Dawlah and Shuja-ud-Daula, standing left to Pashtun Emperor Ahmad Shah Durrani, shown on a brown horse.
Flag of Rampur state.

Najib ad-Dawlah (Pashto: نجيب الدوله‎), also known as Najib Khan (Pashto: نجيب خان‎), was a Rohilla Yousafzai Pashtun who earlier served as a Mughal serviceman but later deserted the cause of the Mughals and joined Ahmed Shah Abdali in 1757 in his attack on Delhi. He was also a tribal chief in 18th century Rohilkhand, who in the 1740s founded the city of Najibabad in Bijnor district, India.

He began his career in 1743 as an immigrant from Swabi Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and a soldier. He was at first an employee of Imad ul mulk. He deserted the cause of the Mughals and joined Ahmed Shah Abdali in 1757 in his attack on Delhi. He was then appointed as Mir Bakshi of the Mughal emperor by Abdali. Later in his career he was known as Najib ad-Dawlah, Amir al-Umra, Shuja ad-Dawlah.[1] From 1757 to 1770 he was governor of Saharanpur, ruling over Dehradun. Many architectural relics of the period of Rohilla he oversaw remain in Najibabad, which he founded at the height of his career as a Mughal minister.[2]

Biography[edit]

Najib Khan belonged to the umarkhel section of MandanhYousafzai s. He migrated from Swabi, now Pakistan in 1739 to join his uncle Bisharat Khan, who had settled with his band of Pathans at Bisharatnagar, near Rampur.[citation needed] In 1749, Ali Mohammed, who had captured most of Rohilkhand by 1740, gave Najib Khan a northern portion,[3] where he established the present day city of Najibabad, a state of Najibabad independent from other Rohilla tribes, and received the title, ‘Najib ad-Dawlah’.

Patthargarh fort outside Najibabad, built by Najib ad-Dawlah in 1755. 1814-15 painting.
Najibabad, ca 1784-94, the triple domed Jami Mosque and the entrance gate to the Rohilla palace

In 1752, The Marathas were requested by Safdarjung, the Nawab of Oudh, to help him defeat Najib. The Maratha force left Poona and defeated the Afghan Rohilla in 1752, capturing the whole of Rohilkhand.[4][5]

Imad-ul-Mulkh appointed Najib ad- Dawlah as the governor of Saharanpur.[6] In 1757, Najib ad-Dawlah, who was then the governor of Saharanpur under Mughal Empire, invaded the city of Dehradun, with his army of Rohillas, and ruled the area for the next decade. His rule was known for its administration, and development of land resources, leading to widespread development and prosperity in the area, with emphasis on agriculture and irrigation. Many mango groves created during the area still exist today. Though after his death in 1770, the area again fell into the hands of warring sides of Raj puts, Gujjars, Sikhs and Gurkhas, who successively ruled the region, leading to its downfall [7]

Mukhtar Khas[edit]

Battle of Delhi, 1759[edit]

Main article: Siege of Delhi, 1757

Abdali's invasion of 1759 left Najib in effective control of Delhi who was appointed to the post of 'Mir Bakshi'.[6] He had become the de facto ruler of Delhi, while the Mughal emperor was left with no actual power. His forces had to clash with the advancing Marathas in Delhi in the Battle of Delhi in which his forces were decisively defeated, Delhi was captured by Marathas and he was allowed safe exit from Delhi on the insistence of Malharrao Holkar[6] with a promise to pay just 5 lakh rupees.[8]

Third Battle of Panipat[edit]

In the Third battle of Panipat, during the Imperial Maratha Conquests, he allied himself with the Durranis led by Ahmad Shah Durrani (also known as Ahmad Shah Abdali,[9] against the Marathas. Najib Khan was shrewd enough to understand changed ground realities after third battle of Panipat . His cunning political acumen was used by Ahmed Shah Abdali to isolate Marathas & preventing them from getting even single ally during their conflict with Durrani power. His opposition to signing of treaty, with Marathas was the main cause of battle being fought at Panipat. He not only provided, Ahmed Shah Abdali, with 40,000 Rohilla troops but also 70 guns to the combined forces. He also convinced

Shuja-ud-Daula, the Nawab of Oudh, to join Ahmad Shah Abdali's forces against the Marathas. In this battle, the Maratha's were defeated and as a consequence Rohilla increased in power.

After the war he was made Mir Bakshi of Mughal emperor.[10] He had to become dictator of Delhi state with empty treasury & territory confining to boundaries of Delhi city. He negotiated bought peace with Marathas in 1768 by surrendering Doab.

Najib Khan was a Pashtun soldier of fortune; he attained the hand of the daughter of Dunde Khan, one of the chieftains of the Rohilkhand Pathans. Rewarded by this ruler with the charge of a district, now Bijnor, in the North-west corner of Rohilkhand, he had joined the cause of Safdarjung, when that minister occupied the country; but on the latter's disgrace had borne a part in the campaigns of Ghazi-ud-din. When the Vizier first conceived the project of attacking the government, he sent Najib in the command of a Mughal detachment to occupy the country, about Saharanpur, then known as the Bawani Mahal, which had formed the jagir of the Ex-Vazir Khan Khanan.

This territory thus became in its turn separated from the Empire, and continued for two generations in the family of Najib. He ruled the dwindled Empire for nine years, and died a peaceful death, leaving his charge in an improved and strengthened condition, ready for its lawful monarch. He was highly esteemed by the British in India.[citation needed]

Administrator of Delhi[edit]

As the Administrator of Delhi and the imperial heartlands including Agra, Najib ad-Dawlah, was clearly unsuccessful in halting the Jat peasant uprisings led by Raja Suraj Mal. During one massive assault, the Jats and their leaders overran the Mughal garrison at Agra they plundered the city and looted the two great silver doors to the entrance of the famous Taj Mahal were looted and melted down by Raja Suraj Mal in 1764.[11]

Rohilkhand was invaded by the Marathas to retaliate against the Rohilla participation in the Panipat War. Eventually, he made a pact with the Marathas, who rose to power in 1769-70, in 1770, he advanced with Maratha army under, Scindias and Holkars, and went on to defeat Rahmat Khan, the Nawab of Rohilkhand, who has earlier made himself, the head of Etawah, after the Third Battle of Panipat 1761.,[12] but he soon fell ill and died on October 30, 1770[13]/

The Jami Mosque, at Najibabad, with graves of Nawabs of Najibabad and their family, ca. 1814-15 painting.

After his death he was succeeded by his son Zabita Khan. His cemetery is still in present day, Najibabad, where the Patthargarh Fort still exists. His son Zabita Khan was defeated by the Marathas, lead by Mahadji Sindhia in 1772 and the fort of Pathargarh was completely looted by the Marathas in the form of horses, elephants, guns and other valuable things, which the Rohillas had looted at Panipat, they also destroyed his grave, scattering the bones all around.[14]

A few years later, in the subsequent Rohilla War, the Rohillas were attacked by Awadh with help from British East India Company forces. When Hafiz Rahmat Khan was killed, in April 1774, they were defeated, and Rohilkhand was plundered; and later, the Rohilla power east of the Ganges was crushed, and the final treaty by which the territory was incorporated in Awadh was concluded at Lal Dhang. The District was ceded to the British by the Nawab of Awadh, Saadat Ali Khan II in 1801.[3]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]