Nawab Nauroz (Nowroz) Khan, (1874?-1964), respectfully known by Balochis as Babu Nowroz, was the head of the Zarakzai (Zehri), a Baloch people subject to the Khan of Kalat in Balochistan, Pakistan. After his failed rebellion against the Pakistani central government in 1959, he became a symbol of the Baloch independence movement.
Little is known about Nowroz Khan's early years. He was born some time in the 1870s or 1880s (sources disagree on the date) at a time when Kalat was a princely state within the framework of the British Raj. By 1887 the British had reached a settlement with Kalat agreeing on limited autonomy in exchange for British authority in military affairs and external relationships, but the country remained instable, with periodic fighting against the authorities or between tribal groups.
Nauroz Khan became Nawab and leader of the Zehri tribe in the Jhalawan area of Kalat at a time before the introduction of electricity or motor vehicles, head of a largely nomadic people in a harsh mountain / desert environment, but with a rich tradition of Baluchi, Persian and Muslim culture. The First and Second World Wars were distant events in this world, but the creation of the state of Pakistan in 1947 was disruptive.
Background to revolt
In 1955 the various states of Balochistan were dissolved and merged into the province of West Pakistan under the "One Unit" policy. In 1958, Ahmad Yar Khan, the Khan of Kalat, which was the largest former Baloch princely state, suppressed three years before, organized a rebellion to secede from West Pakistan. The Pakistan Army took control of the Kalat palace and arrested the Khan for sedition on October 6, 1958. The next day, the president Iskandar Mirza declared martial law. This led to disturbances in parts of Balochistan that lasted for about a year. Nawab Nowroz Khan was one of the leaders.
Rebellion and imprisonment
Nowroz Khan's band of fighters, which may have numbered as many as 1,000 at times, was involved in several sharp skirmishes with forces led by Lt. Col. Tikka Khan. Nowroz agreed to surrender on May 15, 1959 in exchange for amnesty and settlement of the Baluchi grievances. Tikka Khan was said to have agreed to the terms of the surrender through an oath on the Quran. However, when Nowroz Khan came down from the hills, he and about 150 of his followers, including his sons and nephews, were arrested for armed rebellion against the state. On July 15, 1960 five of the leaders were executed by hanging in Hyderabad Jail. Nowroz was spared execution on account of his age, but died in Kohlu Jail in 1964.
The Khan of Kalat was subsequently forgiven and freed.