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Mughal period[edit]

In the 16th century, the Mughal king Humayun was usurped by the Pasthun king Sher Shah Suri, who constructed the Rohtas Fort in Punjab to check Humayun's entry in India, and also to keep a check on the local tribes including Gakhars as well as Royal Janjuas.[1][2]


The expansion of the Sikh empire, spearheaded by Ranjit Singh, was met with a rebellion by the Janjua Sultan of Watli, Sultan Fateh Muhammad Khan. A six-month siege of Kusuk Fort in Watli followed[3] and this was ended when the inhabitants ran short of water.[4]

The Kala Khan branch of Rawalpindi Janjuas fortunes were also eclipsed by the rise of the Sikh Empire.[5]

By the time the British Raj took an interest in conquering the Sikhs in 1848–49, they were joined by opportunistic tribes such as the Janjua, Gakhars and Awans who had lost control of centuries-old ancestral kingdoms and sought revenge. Tai Yong Tan says that "Besides being impressed with their track record, the British saw in them, with their traditional and historical enmity against the Sikhs, an effective counterpoise against the latter."[6]

The Janjua rebellion against the Sikh empire was not a war against the Sikh faith, but a political rebellion, as the Janjua were initially keen allies to the Sukerachakia Misl.[7]

Martial roles[edit]

During the nineteenth century, the British rulers of India acknowledged the martial potential of the Janjua, designating them as a martial race. David Omissi says that they "... were held to be among the best Muslim soldiers, and were also 'the only really pure Rajputs in the plains of Punjab'. The Gazetteer of the Rawalpindi District records, "They (Janjua) are very proud of their ancestry, make good soldiers...they are usually addressed as "Rája", and stand very high in social rank." (Sang-e-Meel, 2001, Lahore, p105).[There was] a widespread belief that racial mixing produced degeneracy; the British preferred their Martial races to be as socially exclusive as they were themselves."[8] During this period, due to their high aristocratic status, Janjua princes refused to serve in any regiment that was not commanded by either a Janjua or another commander of equal social standing. This preference was honoured by the British when selecting regiments for them.[9]


  1. ^ The Life and Times of Humāyūn by Ishwari Prasad, Published by Orient Longmans, 1956, p. 36
  2. ^ Temples of Koh-e-Jud & Thar: Proceedings of the Seminar on Shahiya Temples of the Salt Range, Held in Lahore, Pakistan by Kamil Khan Mumtaz, Siddiq-a-Akbar, Publ Anjuman Mimaran, 1989, p. 8
  3. ^ Stein, Marc Aurel (1936). Archaeological reconnaissances in north-western India and south-eastern Iran. London. p. 46.
  4. ^ The Land of the Five Rivers and Sindh: Sketches, Historical and Descriptive David Ross, Publ.Languages Dept., Punjab, 1970, p. 153
  5. ^ Talbot, Ian (1996). Khizr Tiwana, the Punjab Unionist Party and the Partition of India. Psychology Press. pp. 21–22. ISBN 978-0-7007-0427-9.
  6. ^ Tan, Tai Yong (2005). The Garrison State: The Military, Government and Society in Colonial Punjab 1849–1947. Sage. pp. 61–62. ISBN 978-0-7619-3336-6.
  7. ^ Singh, Wazir (1990). Sikhism and Punjab's Heritage. Publication Bureau, Punjabi University. p. 160.
  8. ^ Omissi, David (1998). ""Martial Races": Ethnicity and Security in Colonial India, 1858-1939". In Karsten, Peter (ed.). Recruiting, Drafting, and Enlisting: Two Sides of the Raising of Military Forces. Taylor & Francis. p. 119. ISBN 978-0-8153-2975-6.
  9. ^ Tan, Tai Yong (2005). The Garrison State: The Military, Government and Society in Colonial Punjab 1849–1947. Sage. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-7619-3336-6.