|Regions with significant populations|
|India • Afghanistan • Pakistan • United States • Canada • Australia • Burma • Suriname • Guyana|
|Khari Boli • Hindustani • Pashto • English|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Pashtuns • Pathans of Maharastra • Pathans of Uttar Pradesh • Pathans of Bihar • Pathans of Punjab • Pathans of Rajasthan • Pathans of Gujarat|
The Rohilla Pathans (Pashto: روهیله, Urdu: روہیلہ, Hindi: रोहिला), or Rohilla Afghans, are a community of Muslim Urdu-speaking Pashtuns historically found in Rohilkhand, a region in the state of Uttar Pradesh, North India. They form the largest Pashtun diaspora community in India, and have given their name to the Rohilkhand region.
Historically, Pashtun people were refereed to as Afghan but India does not recognize Pathan being synomous with Afghan despite good relations with Afghanistan.
The Rohilla Pathans can be found all over Uttar Pradesh, but are more concentrated in Farrukhabad, Malihabad and the Rohilkhand regions of Bareilly, Shahjahanpur and Washim district. Some members of the Rohilla migrated to Pakistan and settled in Karachi after the independence of Pakistan in 1947, forming a part of the larger Muhajir community of Sindh. Smaller scattered populations of the Rohilla of Afghan decent can be found in the Southeast Asian country of Burma, and the South American countries of Suriname and Guyana.
- 1 Origin
- 2 History
- 3 Present circumstances
- 4 The Pathans population of Rohilkhand
- 5 Rohilla notables
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
The Rohilla are descended from a number of Pashtun tribes that settled in the Rohilkhand region in the 17th and 18th Centuries. They belonged mainly to kakar zai and Yousafzai tribe of Pashtuns, particularly of the Mandanh sub-section, but other Pashtuns also became part of the community. Rohilla's Sardar like Daud Khan, Ali Muhammad Khan, and the legendary Hafiz Rahmat Khan Barech were from the renowned Afghan tribe the Barech, who were originally from the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan. The term Rohilla is derived from the Pashtu Roh, meaning mountain, and literally means a mountain air, and was used by Jats of the Derajat region to refer to the Pashtun mountains tribes of Loralai, Zhob and Waziristan regions. In Uttar Pradesh, it was used for all Pashtuns, except for the Shia Bangash who settled in the Rohilkhand region, or men serving under Rohilla chiefs .
The Rohilla Daud Khan was awarded the Katehr region in the then northern India by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir (ruled 1658-1707) to suppress Rajput uprisings, which had afflicted this region. Originally, some 20,000 soldiers from various Pashtun tribes (Yusafzai, Ghori, Ghilzai, Barech, Marwat, Durrani, Tareen, Kakar, Naghar, Afridi and Khattak) were hired by Mughals to provide soldiers to the Mughal armies and this was appreciated by Aurangzeb Alamgir, an additional force of 25,000 men was given respected positions in Mughal Army. However most of them settled in the Katehar region during Nadir Shah's invasion of northern India in 1739 increasing their population up to 100,0000. Due to the large settlement of Rohilla Afghans, the Katehar region gained fame as Rohilkhand. Bareilly was made the capital of the Rohilkhand state. Other important cities were Moradabad, Rampur, Shahjahanpur, Badaun, and others. According to 1901 census of India, the total Pathan population in Bareilly District was 40,779, out of a total population of 1,090,117.
Rohillas were distinguished by their separate language and culture. They spoke Pashto among each other but gradually lost their language over time and now converse in Urdu. After the independence in 1947, some Rohillas moved to Karachi in Pakistan and as a result, a significant number of Urdu-speaking Muhajir in Sindh are of Pashtun heritage.
The founders of the Pashtun state of Rohilkhand were Daud Khan and his adopted son Ali Mohammed Khan. Daud Khan arrived in 1705 in South Asia, along with a band of his tribe namely the Barech. He was succeeded in 1721 by Ali Mohammed Khan, who became so powerful that he refused to send tax revenues to the central governament. Safdar Jang, the Nawab of Oudh, warned the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah of the growing power of the Rohillas. This caused Mohammed Shah to send an expedition against him as a result of which he surrendered to imperial forces. He was taken to Delhi as a prisoner, but was later pardoned and appointed governor of Sirhind. In 1748, he returned to Rohilkhand and recovered his lost possessions. Later that year Ali Mohammed Ali Khan died, leaving six sons. However, two of his elder sons were in Afghanistan at the time of his death while the other four were too young to assume the leadership of Rohilkhand. As a result, power transferred to other Rohilla Sardars, the most important being Hafiz Rahmat Khan Barech, Najib-ud-Daula and Dundi Khan.
Following the Battle of Panipat in 1761
In the third battle of Panipat (1761) one of the Rohilla Sardars, Najib-ul-Daula, allied himself with Ahmad Shah Abdali against the Marathas. He not only provided 40,000 Rohilla troops but also 70 guns to combined forces. He also convinced Shuja-ul-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.
Rohilkhand was invaded by the Marathas to retaliate against the Rohillas' participation in the Panipat war. The Marathas under the leadership of the Maratha ruler Mahadji Shinde of the Maratha Empire entered the jagir (land) of the late Sardar Najib-ud-Daula which was now held by his son Zabita Khan. Zabita Khan gave tough resistance but was defeated by the Marathas and forced to flee to the camp of Shuja-ud-Daula; and his country was ravaged by Marathas . The Maratha ruler Mahadji Shinde captured the family of Zabita Khan and took full revenge upon Najib ad-Dawlah by destroying the grave of Najib and looting his fort. The principal remaining Rohilla Sardar was Hafiz Rahmat Khan Barech and through him an agreement was formed with the Nawab of Oudh, Shuja-ud-Daula, by which they had to pay 4 million rupees in return to their military help against the Marathas. However after the war, the Rohillas refused to pay.
Subsequently the Rohillas were attacked by the neighbouring kingdom of Oudh, who also received assistance from the British East India Company forces under Colonel Alexander Champion. This conflict is known as the Rohilla War. When Hafiz Rahmat Khan Barech was killed, in April 1774, resistance crumbled, and Rohilkhand was annexed by Oudh. Rohillas fled to jungles across the Ganges, and later began a guerilla war against the occupation. In response, the Rohillas were hunted down by the British and were subsequently scattered in the countryside, and settled in many small towns. Later charges of destroying a nation (ethnic cleansing or genocide) were brought against Warren Hastings of the East India Company, by Edmund Burke, later taken up by Thomas Babington Macaulay.
From 1774 to 1799, the region was administered by Khwaja Almas Khan, a Muslim Jat from Haryana, as respresentative of the Awadh rulers. This period was particularly tough for the Rohillas, as Almas Khan made every effort to weaken the Rohillas. In 1799, the British took over direct control, and started to pay a pension to the family of Hafiz Rahmat Khan Barech.
Establishment of Rampur State
While most of Rohilkhand was annexed, the Rohilla State of Rampur was established by Nawab Faizullah Khan on 7 October 1774 in the presence of British Commander Colonel Champion, and remained a pliant state under British protection thereafter. The first stone of the new Fort at Rampur was laid in 1775 by Nawab Faizullah Khan. Originally it was a group of four villages named Kather, the name of Raja Ram Singh. The first Nawab proposed to rename the city 'Faizabad'. But many other places were known by the name Faizabad so its name was changed to Mustafabad alias Rampur. Nawwab Faizullah Khan ruled for 20 years. He was a great patron of scholarship, and began the collection of Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Hindustani manuscripts which now make up the bulk of the Rampur Raza Library. After his death his son Muhammad Ali Khan took over, but he was killed by the Rohilla leaders after 24 days, and Ghulam Muhammad Khan, the brother of the deceased, was proclaimed Nawab. The East India Company took exception to this, and after a reign of just 3 months and 22 days Ghulam Muhammad Khan was defeated by its forces, and the Governor-General made Ahmad Ali Khan, son of the late Muhammad Ali Khan, the new Nawab. He ruled for 44 years. He did not have any sons, so Muhammad Sa'id Khan, son of Ghulam Muhammad Khan, took over as the new Nawab. He raised a regular Army, established Courts and carried out many works to improve the economic conditions of farmers. His son Muhammad Yusuf Ali Khan took over after his death. His son Kalb Ali Khan became the new Nawab after his death in 1865.
|Nawab of Rampur||Reign Began||Reign Ended|
|1||Ali Muhammad Khan Bangash||1719||15 September 1748|
|2||Faizullah Khan Bangash||15 September 1748||24 July 1793|
|3||Hafiz Rahmat Khan Barech - Regent||15 September 1748||23 April 1774|
|4||Muhammad Ali Khan Bahadur||24 July 1793||11 August 1793|
|5||Ghulam Muhammad Khan Bahadur||11 August 1793||24 October 1794|
|6||Ahmad Ali Khan Bahadur||24 October 1794||5 July 1840|
|7||Nasrullah Khan - Regent||24 October 1794||1811|
|8||Muhammad Said Khan Bahadur||5 July 1840||1 April 1855|
|9||Yusef Ali Khan Bahadur||1 April 1855||21 April 1865|
|10||Kalb Ali Khan Bahadur||21 April 1865||23 March 1887|
|11||Muhammad Mushtaq Ali Khan Bahadur||23 March 1887||25 February 1889|
|12||Hamid Ali Khan Bahadur||25 February 1889||20 June 1930|
|14||Gen.Azeemudin Khan - Regent||25 February 1889||4 April 1894|
|15||Raza Ali Khan Bahadur||20 June 1930||6 March 1966|
|16||Murtaza Ali Khan Bahadur - Nawabat abolished in 1971||6 March 1966||8 February 1982|
|17||Zulfikar Ali Khan Bahadur||8 February 1982||5 April 1992|
|18||Muhammad Kazim Ali Khan Bahadur||5 April 1992||Incumbent|
The 1857 War of Independence
The Rohillas took an active part in War of Independence of 1857 against British imperial forces (referred to as The Mutiny by the British historians). In Rohilkhand, the leader of the revolt was Khan Bahadur Khan Rohilla, the son of Hafiz Rahmat Khan. For a short period, British rule disappeared from Rohilkhand, and the Rohillas were in charge of their destiny. But the revolt was bitterly suppressed, and in its wake the British dramatically reorganized the government of South Asia, bringing an end to the British East India Company's regime and leading to almost a century of direct rule of the South Asia by Britain under the British Raj. While the followers of Khan Bahadur Khan had participated in the revolt, the Rohillas of Rampur had remained loyal to the British. Significant groups of Rohillas also sought refuge in state of Tonk in Rajasthan, which was ruled by Pashtun nawabs, and now form the core of the Tonkia Pathans. When the Indian Rebellion of 1857 failed, Bareilly was subjugated. Rohilla ruler Khan Bahadur Khan was sentenced to death and hanged in the Kotwali on 24 February 1860. Many urban cities in Uttar Pradesh were experiencing economic stagnation and poverty. After the failure of the rebellion many Rohilla Muslim Pathans from Rampur and surrounding cities migrated to Dutch South American Colonies, now Surinam and Guyana, as indentured labour.
Between 1857 and 1947
The period between 1857, and the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947 was a period of stability for the Rohilla community. In 1858, the British government issued a general pardon to all those who had taken part in the War of Independence, with many jagirs restored. Some of the tribes were punished for siding with the rebels and some had to migrate to Delhi and Gurgaon region; some also migrated to the south in Deccan. Conditions improved after some years and immigration from the North West Frontier Province and Afghanistan recompensed, adding to the Rohilla population. During this period, the Rohillas were also effected by the reformist movement of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, with many taking to modern education. The Rohillas also produced Ahmad Raza Khan, the founder of the Barelvi sect of Sunni Islam, and the city of Bareilly became an important centre of Islamic learning in North India.
While a majority of Rohillas remained landowners and cultivators, a significant minority were also taking to western education, and entering profession such as the law and medicine. They also began to take an interest in the political debates of the last decade of the 19th Century, with some joining the newly formed Indian National Congress, while others were being attracted to pan-Islamism. This period also saw a wholesale adoption of North Indian Muslim culture, with Urdu becoming the native language of the Rohilla. In fact the term of Rohilla was being replaced with the term "Pathan", which was the new self-identification. But a sense of distinct identity remained strong, with the Rohillas occupying distinct quarters in the cities, such as Gali Nawaban (home to the descendents of Hafiz Rahmat Khan), Kakar Tola and Pani Tola, in Bareilly. There was little or intermarriage with neighbouring Muslim communities such as the Shaikh, Muslim Rajput and Kamboh. Thus at the dawn of independence, the Rohilla were still a distinct community, but all that was about to be changed by the independence of Pakistan and India.
The independence of Pakistan and India in 1947 had a profound effect on the Rohilla community. The vast majority of them emigrated to Pakistan. Those that were left in India, were profoundly effected by the abolishment of the zamindari system in 1949, as well as the ascension of the State of Rampur to India and later joined their kinsmen in Karachi, Pakistan. The two Rohilla groupings, the Pakistani and small remnants in Indian now form distinct communities, with their own identities.
The Rohilla now form of the larger Muslim community of Uttar Pradesh. They now speak chaste Hindustani in the towns, and speak Khari boli in their rural settlements. They are found throughout Uttar Pradesh, with settlements in Farrukhabad, Malihabad, and Rohilkhand being the densest.
The Pathan of UP have sixteen sub-groups, the Ghilzai, Afridi, Bakarzai, Barech, Daudzai, Marwat, Durrani, Naghar, Ghorghushti, Ghori, Kakar, Khalil, Mohmand, Mohammadzai, Orakzai, Rohilla, Yousafzai and Wazir, all of which are well known Pashtun tribes. In older parts of the Muslim areas of the towns in UP, the Pathan have maintained their own residential neighbourhoods. The Pathan are not an edogamous group, and arranged marriages do occur with other Sunni Muslim communities of similar social status, such as the Mughal tribe, Muslim Rajput and Shaikh although there is still a preference of marriage within the community. In Rohilkhand, they are still a community associated with agriculture, having historically been a community of land owners. They have also been prominent in the Muslim religious sphere in UP, having produced many alims and huffaz and have built and financed many mosques and madrassahs. In terms of formal education, they are seen as a Muslim community that has a favourable attitude towards education, and many are now in professional occupations, such as medicine and the law. However, the traditional occupation of the Rohilla Pathans was soldiering, and many served in the Mughal, British and Pakistani armies. Many Rohilla officers who worked in the British Indian Army in the 1940s shifted to Pakistan, famous among them are General Rahimuddin Khan and General Akhtar Abdur Rahman.
In Pakistan, the Rohilla and other Urdu-speaking Pathans now form part of the larger Urdu speaking community. The sense of corporate identity is much weaker than in India, and degree of intermarriage with other communities within the Muhajir umbrella is high. They are found mainly in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur, and other urban areas of Sindh. Many have attained high positions in the government, notably Sahibzada Yaqub Khan, a Rohilla migrant himself, was Pakistan's foreign minister during the 1980s. There is another group of Rohilla notables who currently live in Rawalpindi, who are very successful businessmen.
The Pathans population of Rohilkhand
Rohilkhand, which literally means the "land of the Rohilla", comprises the modern districts of Bijnor, Moradabad, Rampur, Jyotiba Phule Nagar District, Bareilly, Badaun, Shahjahanpur and Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh. The Rohilla Pathans are found all over the region, but are concentrated in Shahjahanpur, Bareilly and Rampur.
Starting from the west, the Pathan population of Bijnor District, in 1901 was 11,606. They were concentrated in Najibabad tehsil, particularly in and around Nagina. Many different Pathan tribes are found in the district, and according 1901 census of India the largest clans were the Yousafzai, who numbered 3,160, Kakars, chiefly in Najibabad, numbered 548, Ghilzais numbered 414, Mohammadzai, Ghori and Bangash each numbered more than 200. The other clans were the Sherwani and Barukhel.
In Moradabad District, the Pathan population was 23,026 in 1901, and who for the most part represented descendants of the various Pashtun settlers who arrived at the height of the Rohilla state. This district was home to the jagirdar families of Hasanpur and Bachhroan, while the Pathan population is concentrated in Bilari and Sambhal. The chief Pathan clans, according to the 1901 census, were the Yousafzais (5,851), Ghori (4,043) and Ghilzais (2,289) all found throughout the district, the Dilazak (1,036) who are found in Sambhal, Bilari and Hasanpur(now in Jyotiba Phule Nagar District), and Mohammadzai (1,029) in Thakurdwara. Other clans include the Bangash, Tareen, Khattak and Ghilzais are found in Sambhal, and the Farzandkhel, Bunerwal, Barech and Tareen in Bilari and Amroha (now in Jyotiba Phule Nagar District). This district is also home to a small number of Pathan Khanzada, who are Rajput converts to Islam.
In Badaun District, the total Pathan population according to the 1901 Census of India was 29,023. They are strongest in Bisauli and Sahaswan tehsils. There main sub-divisions are the Ghoris, who numbered 6,848 in 1901, and are found mainly in Bisauli, the Yousafzai, who numbered 2,547, are found mainly in Badaun. Others, whose numbers exceeded 500, are the Bangash, Mohammadzai, Dilazak and Khattak, the last of whom numbered 752. The Khatak are found mainly in Dataganj, as are the Bangash, while the Dilazak are almost confined to Sahaswan. The district was home to the Pathan jagirdars of Shabazpur, who were one of the largest landowners in the district.
The Pathan in Rampur State, according to the 1901 Census of India, numbered 49,280. They are for the most part descended from the Pashtun adventurers that settled in Rampur during the period of the Nawabs of Rampur. The most numerous clans are the Yousafzai and Barakzai–Durani. There are also a large number of Khattak, Mohammadzai, Bunerwal, Afridi, Shinwari, Bangash and Barech. A small number of the Rampur Pathan were Athna ashri Shia, as distinct from the great majority, who follow the Sunni Hanafi Barelvi sect.
The district of Bareilly in home the greatest number of Pathans in Rohilkhand. This district contains the two capitals of the old Rohilla kingdom, and many Pasthun were settled in the region by both Ali Mohammed Khan and Hafiz Rahmat Khan. In 1901, the total Pathan population was 40,779, almost 10% of the total population of the district. Nearly half the population reside in Bareilly tehsil, while the rest are found mainly in Baheri, Aonla and Nawabganj. There main clans are the Yousafzai (6,578), Ghori (3,285), Ghilzai (1,520), found throughout the district, the Mohammadzai (1,576) and Bangash (1,287) found mainly in Nawabganj and Aonla, while the Barech, the tribe of Hafiz Rahmat Khan make a significant part of the city of Bareilly's Pathan population. The other clans in the district include the Afridi, Baqarzai, Ghilzai, Dilazak, Kakar, Khattak, and Tareen.
The district of Washim in home the greatest number of Pathans in Hiwra rohila. This district contains the two capitals of the old Rohilla kingdom, and many Pasthun were settled in the region by both Aziz khan, Gafur khan, Dou’s Mohammed Khan. In 1901, the total Pathan population was 4000, almost 10% of the total population of the district. Nearly half the population reside in Washim tehsil, while the rest are found mainly in Hiwra Rohila, washim Maharashtra and Nawabganj. There main clans are the Kakar zai (1,576) Yousafzai (,570), Ghilzai (1,520), found throughout the district,) found mainly in Nawabganj and Delhi, while the tribe of Aziz khan make a significant part of the city of Hiwra rohila 's Pathan population. The other clans in the district include the Ghilzai and Kakar.
In Pilibhit District, the Pathan population numbered 13,165 in 1901. They are found throughout the district, with Puranpur, being a stronghold of the community. The larger clans are the Yousafzai (2,013) and Ghori (1,242) found mainly in Pilibhit, Ghilzais and Mohammadzai in Puranpur, and Khattaks in Bisalpur. Other clans include the Barakzai–Durani, Ghilzai, Afridis and Baqarzai-Durani. In Puranpur, there are a fair number of Gawal Pathans, who are not found in any other district.
In Shahjahanpur District, the total population according to the 1901 Census of India was 41,137. More than half of the Pathans reside in Shahjahanpur tehsil. The Ghori are strongest in Shahjahanpur and Pawayan, while the Yousafzai were represented in Tilhar. Next came the Dilazak in Tilhar and Shahjahanpur, Bangash in Jalalabad, the Mohammadzais in Shahjahanpur, the Tareen also in Shahjahanpur and finally the Barakzai–Durani in Shahjahanpur. Shahjahanpur District is also the principal settlement of the Mohmand tribe in Uttar Pradesh, and 1901 there numbered 1,891. Other clans in the district included the Amazai-Jadoon, Khalil, Daudzai, Marwat and Baqarzai-Durani. The city of Shajahanpur is also home to a large community of Pathan-Khanzada, who are basically descendants of Rajputs of various clans, who accepted Islam.
List of major tribes
|Tribe||Bareilly District||Bijnor District||Badaun District||Moradabad District||Shahjahanpur District||Pilibhit District||Rampur State||Total|
1 The Baqarzai are sub-clan of the Durrani tribe
3 The Urmuz are a sub-tribe of the Bangash's
5 The Barech are also sub-clan of the Durrani tribe
- Khan Bahadur Khan Rohilla
- Hafiz Rahmat Khan
- General Akhtar Abdur Rehman
- General Rahimuddin Khan
- Pashtun diaspora
- Pathans of Bihar
- Pathans of Uttar Pradesh
- Pathans of Punjab
- Pathans of Sindh
- Pathans of Rajasthan
- Pathans of Gujarat
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- Afghan Muslims of Guyana and Suriname
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- Nawab was the title of notables during the Mughal era in India, who helped the central authority govern different statelets within the South Asia. During the British period, new nawabs were created because of the allocation of arable land to the pro-British elite
- Mohammad Shah (1702–1748) was a Mughal emperor of Mughal empire between 1719 and 1748
- Ahmad Shah Abdali (died 1772) adopted the title of Durr-i Dowran (pearl of pearls), which gave the name to the dynasty he established, the Durrani, which lasted in Afghanistan until 1973
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- The Rise and Decline of the Ruhela by Iqbal Hussain Oxford India
- Hastings and the Rohilla War by John Strachey
- People of India: Rajasthan Volume XXXVIII Part Two edited by B.K Lavania, D. K Samanta, S K Mandal & N.N Vyas pages 747 to 749 Popular Prakashan
- HISTORY OF MY PEOPLE: The Afghan Muslims of Guyana
- The Rise and Decline of the Ruhela by Iqbal Hussain
- People of India: Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part Three Amir Hasaan, B R Rizvi and J C Das editors pages 1138-1141 Manohar publications
- A People of Migrants: Ethnicity, State and Religion in Karachi by Oskar Verkaik
- A Gazetteer of Bijnor District by H Neville page 104
- A Gazetteer of Moradabad District by H Neville page 78
- A Gazetteer of Badaun District by H Neville page 79
- A Gazetteer of Rampur State edited by H. R Neville page 48 Government Press United Provinces
- A Gazetteer of Bareilly District by H Neville page 92
- A Gazetteer of Hiwra rohila District by H Neville page 92
- A Gazetteer of Pilibhit District by H Neville page 95
- Shahjahanpur District: A Gazetteer Volume XVII edited by H. R Neville United Provinces District Gazetteers page 81 Government Press United Provinces
- Census of India 1891. Pt. 3, The North-western Provinces and Oudh. Imperial caste tables.Government of India Press
- Gulistán-I Rahmat of Nawáb Mustajáb Khán.
- Hastings and the Rohilla War by John Strachey. Author(s) of Review: Sidney James Owen The English Historical Review, Vol. 8, No. 30 (Apr., 1893), pp. 373–380
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Rohilla.|
- History of Rohilla (Hindi)