Afghans in India

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Afghans in India
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Delhi, Kolkata
Hindi · Urdu · others
Hinduism · Sikhism · Islam · Christianity[2][3]
Related ethnic groups

Afghan diaspora, Pashtun diaspora, Rohilla, Pathans of Uttar Pradesh, Pathans of Gujarat and

several Pathan communities in India.

Afghan refugees in India are a community numbering up to 10,000.[1] Around 8,500 of them are recent Hindu and Sikh refugees who fled the Taliban regime and political instability in Afghanistan; they are concentrated in and around Delhi.[4]

Apart from citizens and expatriates, there are hundreds of communities in India who trace their ancestries back to Pashtun forefathers. Before the creation of the modern state of Afghanistan, the term Afghan was used synonymously with Pashtun, and there has been much history of Pashtuns that have lived in India. Thousands of Pashtun descent Indians migrated to Pakistan after the partition.

Currently are a few ethnic Pashtuns that have retained their culture in India. Most have integrated into Indian culture. There's a sizable number Pashtuns in Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.The North-Western Frontier Province (now called Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) was incorporated into British India in the late 19th century.


The earliest record of Afghans in India is during the late 13th century when the Khilji dynasty formed an empire in Northern India. They belonged to a Turkic tribe but were treated by Rulers as Afghans due to their adoption of some Afghan habits and customs.[5][6] The Lodi dynasty was made up of local ethnic Pashtuns. They ruled Northern India until the invasion of Babur in 1526, at which point the Mughal Empire was created. During this period Afghans from Kabulistan began arriving to India for business and pleasure. The Sur Empire replaced the Mughal Empire from 1540 to 1557. Rulers of Sur Empire were also Pashtuns. Other Pashtuns began invading India until the Sikh Empire came to power with the help of the British Empire. This formed a barrier between Afghanistan (Durrani Empire) and British India. Afghans were required visas to enter India after this period.

The Great Pashtun King Sher Shah Suri (Farid Khan) took control of the Mughal Empire in 1540. After his accidental death in 1545, his son Islam Shah became his successor.[3][4][5][6][7] He first served as a private before rising to become a commander in the Mughal army under Babur and then as the governor of Bihar. In 1537, when Babur's son Humayun was elsewhere on an expedition, Sher Shah overran the state of Bengal and established the Sur Dynasty.[8] A brilliant strategist, Sher Shah proved himself a gifted administrator as well as a capable general. His reorganization of the empire laid the foundations for the later Mughal emperors, notably Akbar the Great, son of Humayun.[8] He extended the Grand Trunk Road from Chittagong in the frontiers of the province of Bengal in near eastern India Kolkata to Kabul in Afghanistan in the far northwest of the country.

During the 19th century many Afghans migrated to India. Prominent among them were the Shia families of Nawab of Sardhana [7]and the Qizilbashi Agha family of Srinagar Kashmir.[8] Both the families had martial lineage and belonged to the feudal aristocracy.[9]

During the 20th century, a small number of Afghans immigrated to India whose children became involved in Bollywood film making industry. This includes, Dilip Kumar, Feroz Khan, Kader Khan, Salman Khan , Shah Rukh Khan and others. After the start of the Soviet war in Afghanistan in 1979, a number of Afghans immigrated to India. Most of them were Hindu and Sikh Afghans. Thousands of Afghan refugees that have been living in India have since become Indian citizens.[1][10]

Recently, Adnan Sami became an Indian citizen on 1 January 2016. He is a Pashtun from his father Arshad Sami Khan's side. Adnan's grandfather General Mehfooz Jan hailed from Herat, Afghanistan and was the governor of four provinces in Afghanistan, namely Herat, Kabul, Jalalabad and Balkh, under the reign of King Amanullah Khan. Adnan's great-grandfather General Ahmed Jan was the military adviser to King Abdur Rahman Khan. General Ahmed Jan was the conqueror of Kafiristan and named it Nuristan. However, at the time of the Habibullah Kalakani revolution in Afghanistan, Adnan's grandfather General Mehfooz Jan was assassinated. The family therefore migrated to Peshawar, which was a part of British India at that time.[11]

Pashto-speaking Communities of India[edit]

Four big state of India there large number of Pashtun Culture

1) Madhya Pradesh (Bhopla and Indore) 2) Punjab (Maler Kotla and Mianwali). 3) Bihar (Gaya, Sherghati, Patna, Aurangabad and Sasaram) 4) Uttar Pradesh (Malihabad, Etawah, Shahjahanpur, Rampur)

There are a large number of Pashto-speaking Pakhtuns in the Indian state of Assam West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir.[12] Although their exact numbers are hard to determine, it is at least in excess of 100,000 for it is known that in 1954 over 100,000 nomadic Pakhtuns living in Kashmir Valley were granted Indian citizenship.[13] Today jirgas are frequently held.[14] Those settled and living in the Kashmir Valley speak Pashto, and are found chiefly in the southwest of the valley, where Pashtun colonies have from time to time been founded. The most interesting are the Kukikhel Afridis of Dramghaihama, who retain all the old customs and speak Pashto. They wear colorful dress and carry swords and shields. The Afridis and the Machipurians, who belong to the Yusufzai tribe, are liable to military service, in return for which they hold certain villages free of revenue. The Pashtuns chiefly came in under the Durranis, but many were brought by Maharajah Gulab Singh for service on the frontier.[15] Pashto is also spoken in two villages, Dhakki and Changnar (Chaknot), located on the Line of Control in Kupwara District.[16] In response to demand by the Pashtun community living in the state, Kashir TV has recently launched a series of Pushto-language programs.[17]

Many Afghans in India from Afghanistan happen to be ethnic Pashtuns.

Indians of putative ethnic Afghan descent[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c UNHCR
  2. ^ An Afghan Church Grows in Delhi. July 22, 2013. Retrieved 2015-02-04.
  3. ^ Where Afghan Christians Flee After Converting to Christianity. July 25, 2013. Retrieved 2015-02-04.
  4. ^ Ahmad, Nafees (5 September 2017). "As Rohingyas flee Myanmar, India needs to drop religious criteria in its refugee law". The Conversation. Retrieved 6 September 2017. 
  5. ^ Chaurasia, Radhey Shyam (2002). History of medieval India: from 1000 A.D. to 1707 A.D. Atlantic Publishers & Distributors. p. 337. ISBN 81-269-0123-3. Retrieved 2010-08-23. The Khiljis were a Central Asian Turkic dynasty but having been long domiciled in Afghanistan, and adopted some Afghan habits and customs. They were treated as Afghans in Delhi Court. 
  6. ^ Cavendish, Marshall (2006). World and Its Peoples: The Middle East, Western Asia, and Northern Africa. Marshall Cavendish. p. 320. ISBN 0-7614-7571-0. Retrieved 2010-08-23. The sultans of the Slave Dynasty were Turkic Central Asians, but the members of the new dynasty, although they were also Turkic, had settled in Afghanistan and brought a new set of customs and culture to Delhi. 
  7. ^ Page 13: The Golden Book of India, by Sir Roper Lethbridge. McMillan & Co., 1893, London.
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ [2]
  10. ^ 2013 UNHCR regional operations profile - South Asia
  11. ^ "Adnan Sami: Fastest fingers first". The Times of India. 
  12. ^ "Special focus on Gujjars, Paharis: CM". Daily Excelsior. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  13. ^ "Pakhtoons in Kashmir". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 20 July 1954. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  14. ^ "Justice rolls in Kashmir, Afghan-style". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  15. ^ "Saiyids, Mughals, Pashtuns and Galawans". OPF. Archived from the original on 15 May 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  16. ^ "A First Look at the Language of Kundal Shahi in Azad Kashmir" (PDF). SIL International. Retrieved 2009-06-11. 
  17. ^