Amir Khan (Nawab of Tonk)

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Nawab Muhammad Amir Khan (1769–1834) was a leader, of Pashtun origin belonging to a subtribe of Tarkani tribe from today's northwest Pakistan and Afghanistan. He was a military general in the service of Yashwantrao Holkar of the Maratha Empire and later became the first ruler of the princely state of Tonk (in the present day Rajasthan state of India). He was the son of Hayat Khan and the grandson of Taleh Khan.He is often confused as a member of the Pindaris although he was a Pathan with his Pathan contingency. British colonial writers sometimes tended to confuse the Pathans as part of the Pindaris.

Amir Khan rose to be a military commander in the service of Yashwantrao Holkar of the Maratha Empire in 1798. In 1806, Khan received the state of Tonk from Yashwantrao Holkar of the Maratha Empire.[1]

While the Pindaris tended to concentrate on the east and south central Hindustan, Amir Khan and his Pathans concentrated on the north and Rajasthan. At the height of his power, he is said to have controlled a personal following of 8,000 cavalry, 10,000 infantry and up to 200 guns. The largest contingent amongst the Pindari chiefs, by far.

In return for their services, the Maratha rulers of Gwalior, Indore and Berar often conferred land grants on the Pindaris. By the early years of the nineteenth century, these yielded additional revenues of between Rs 800,000 and Rs 2 million per annum. Sometimes, they would 'refrain from plunder' on the payment of large financial indemnities from their intended prey.

After the defeat of the Rohillas in the Rohilla War of 1774–5 against the British, he fought against them. He had acquired the town and pargana of Tonk and the title of Nawab from Yashwantrao Holkar in 1806, and this area together with some other scattered parganas that he held, was combined with the pargana of Rampura (Aligarh) and erected into a new principality. Ultimately he established his rule in Tonk in 1806.[2]

In 1817, after the Third Anglo-Maratha War, Amir Khan submitted to the British British East India Company, the Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief, The Marquess of Hastings, resolved to extinguish the Pindaris whom they deemed a menace. The Treaty of Gwalior severed the link between them and Scindia. Moreover, the treaty required the latter to join forces with the British to eliminate the Pindaris and Pathans.

Bowing to the inevitable, Amir Khan assiduously came to terms with the British, agreeing to disband his men in return for a large stipend and recognition as a hereditary ruler. Amir Khan was recognized as hereditary nawab, disbanded his forces and quietly settled down to consolidating his little state. He became a faithful friend to the British, earning praise and consideration from successive pro-consuls.

Amir Khan died in 1834. He was succeeded by his son Muhammad Wazir Khan (r. 1834–1864).

Preceded by
Nawab of Tonk
Succeeded by
Muhammad Wazir Khan

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Anil Chandra Banerjee The Rajput States and British Paramountcy 1980 - Page 71 "During the years 1807-10 Amir Khan gradually made himself the most powerful man in Central India"

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