The Janjua (also spelt Janjooa, Janjuha, Janjuah) is a caste found among the Sikh, Muslim and Hindu Rajput communities of Pakistan and India.
Janjuas are spread throughout the Punjab and in adjacent regions. The vast majority of Janjua are Muslim and live in eastern Pakistan where they are addressed by their hereditary title of Raja. There are Muslim, Sikh and Hindu Janjuas who reside principally in north-western India.
The main branches of the Janjua are:
In the 16th century, the Mughal king Humayun was usurped by the Afghan 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 and Janjuas.
Janjuas and the Sikhs
Raja Shabat Khan, the great-grandson of Malik Darwesh Khan Janjua, allied with Maha Singh in many campaigns of the late 18th century. Upon his death, the Sikh chief Atar Singh Dhari assassinated Khan's heir, Raja Ghulam Muhi-ud-din Khan. The Janjua then rebelled, having realised that the intent was to replace the old aristocracies.
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 and this was ended when the inhabitants ran short of water.
The Kala Khan branch of Rawalpindi Janjuas fortunes were also eclipsed by the rise of the Sikh Empire.
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."
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 with some Janjuas actually converting to the Sikh faith.
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'. [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." 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.
- Singh, Wazir (1990). Sikhism and Punjab's Heritage. Publication Bureau, Punjabi University. p. 160.
- The Life and Times of Humāyūn by Ishwari Prasad, Published by Orient Longmans, 1956, p. 36
- 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
- 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.
- Stein, Marc Aurel (1936). Archaeological reconnaissances in north-western India and south-eastern Iran. London. p. 46.
- The Land of the Five Rivers and Sindh: Sketches, Historical and Descriptive David Ross, Publ.Languages Dept., Punjab, 1970, p. 153
- 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.
- Omissi, David (1998). ""Martial Races": Ethnicity and Security in Colonial India, 1858-1939". In Karsten, Peter. Recruiting, Drafting, and Enlisting: Two Sides of the Raising of Military Forces. Taylor & Francis. p. 119. ISBN 978-0-8153-2975-6.
- 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.