Ahmad Khan Kharal

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Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal
رائے احمد خاں کھرل
Died21 September 1857(1857-09-21) (aged 80–81)
Gogera, Punjab, British India (today Pakistan)
Cause of deathKilled in battle
MonumentsTomb of Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal
Other namesNawab of Jhamra
Known forFreedom fighter in British India against the British Empire
  • Rai Nathu Khan Kharal (father)
  • Fateh Bibi Kamoka -- Bhutta, Saeed (January 1, 2010). Nabar Kahani. (mother)

Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal (Punjabi: رائے احمد خان کھرَل; c. 1776 – 21 September 1857),[1][2] widely known as Nawab of Jhamra,[1][3] was a Pakistani Punjabi Muslim chieftain of the Kharal tribe. He led rebellion in the Bar region of Pakistani Punjab against the British East India Company in the War of Independence of 1857 and died fighting against it on 21 September 1857, at the age of 81. He was killed while offering morning Fajr Prayers before breakfest. [4][3][5] He is today considered a folk hero in Punjab.[6]

Biography[change | change source]

Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal was born into a rich landowning family of the Kharal[7] tribe in the Sandal Bar region of Punjab, in Chak 434 Gb Jhamra village 23 km from Tandlianwala Faisalabad District and 57 km from Faisalabad city.

He was the de facto ruler (nawab) of Jhamra, he possessed large sum of land and cattle. He was respected by all Kharals as well as other tribes such as Kathia, Wattoo, Fatayana and others. Rai Kharal had influence over all of Sandal Bar.[8]

Leopold Oliver Fitzhardinge Berkeley, or better known as Lord Berkley, was the extra Assistant Commissioner of Gogera in 1857. He held a meeting with important personalities of the Gogera including Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal. Berkley demanded all the leaders to supply the British with men (soldiers) and horses to crush the ongoing revolt. On this, Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal said "Kharals do not share wife, horse and land with anyone" and left.[9]

Role in War of Independence (1857)[change | change source]

On July 8, 1857 British arrested a large number of Joiya tribe's men, women and children after they refused to pay the heavy taxes (Lagan).[8] When Rai Kharal received this news he planned to break into the Gogera jail and rescue the innocent people imprisoned there. With help of his Fatayana, Wattoo and Kathia friends Rai Ahmad attacked the Gogera Jail on July 26. According to British records 17 prisoners were killed, 33 were injured and 18 fled.[10][11] But native accounts disagree suggesting that 145 prisoners died and 100+ EIC troops were also killed.[12] British arrested Rai Ahmad but released him due to pressure from local tribes and as no proper evidence was available against him.[8] Rai Ahmed Khan Kharal did not stop and continued rebellion against the British.

In order to arrest Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal, Berkley attacked Jhamra but was unable to arrest Rai Kharal although he imprisoned 20 civilians including Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal's youngest son Bala Khan Kharal, British also took with them a large sum of cattle.[8] Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal with help of Kathia, Wattoo, Fatayana and Joiya tribe started a guerilla campaign against British. According to Punjab government records the rebels numbered 20,000 to 30,000 men.[11] John Cave-Browne writes that these rebels took refuge in thick jungles and grass and attacked with groups of 3000-5000 guerillas, the sound of drum beating was the sign that they would attack.[13] The connection of Jhang to Lahore was completely cut. Rai Ahmed Khan Kharal planned a major assult on Gogera with other tribal leaders in a secret meeting but the information was leaked by Sarfraz Kharal of Kamalia to British. British prepared themselves to face the upcoming assult and when the rebels attacked they were repulsed with heavy losses.[8]

Rai Ahmad with his companions fled to Jungles of Gashkori and continued the struggle. The British received news about Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal's presence in the Jungles of Gashkori and a force under Captain James Black was sent there, this force succeeded in killing Ahmad Khan while he was offering afternoon prayers.[8][13] Many of his close companions such as his deputy Sarang Khan Kharal of Begeke Kharals was also killed in this engagement.[13]

A trusted partner of Rai Ahmed Khan Kharal, Murad Fatayana took revenge of Ahmad Khan's killing and eliminated Lord Berkley alongside 50 british and native troops in a successful attack. The rebellion continued until it ended in mid 1858 as local tribes lost.[8][13][14][12]

Death[change | change source]

Tomb of Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal in Jhamra

Rai Ahmed Khan Kharal was killed by a force led by Captain Black on September 21 while he was offering afternoon prayers.[8][12][13][14] His body was decapitated and his head was put on display at Gregora Jail which was an insult to injury to his supporters.[15] A few days later one of his supporters stole the head and buried it in his ancestral graveyard in Jhamra.[15] The local dhola poems recited after his death describe Ahmad Khan's martyrdom as Britain lowering the head of Punjab.[16] Below is a line from one of the poems.[15]

Background[change | change source]

Amo Kharal was born in a rich landowning family of the Kharal Jat Clan in the Sandal Bar region of Punjab, in Jhamara village near Tāndliānwāla Faisalabad District. As a young man he fought against the rising Sikh power led by Maharaja Ranjit Singh.[17] Ahmad Khan Kharal had very cordial(good) relations with Maharaja Ranjit singh.(reference- Saeed Ahmed Butt (2015). "Rai Ahmad Khan Kharral (Myth or Reality)" (PDF). Journal of the Punjab University Historical Society. 28 (2): 173–191. Retrieved 2020-05-07.) Later on, as an old man in his 70s, when the rebellion broke out against the British, he also raised a force to fight against them.[18]

Struggle and death[change | change source]

Amo Kharal was quite successful in helping the local people and keeping them safe from British troops, keeping up a guerilla warfare against them,[19] for some months. On 26th July 1857, Amo Kharal went with a force to attack the Gogera Jail (now in Sahiwal District) to release some of his companions arrested by the British, but was ambushed by them and their local allies.[19] Amo Kharal and his assistant, Sarang, were both killed, fighting bravely.[20]

The deeds of this brave and noble warrior are still remembered and sung by Punjabi poets in dholas and vars, types of poems.[20]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Ahmed Khan Kharal and the Raj". www.thenews.com.pk. Retrieved 2021-09-20.
  2. "Past in Perspective". The Nation. 2019-06-25. Retrieved 2021-09-20.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Kharal and Berkley II". DAWN.COM. 22 April 2013. Retrieved 2020-05-07.
  4. "Ahmed Khan Kharal and the Raj". thenews.com.pk. Retrieved 2020-05-07.
  5. "Past in Perspective". nation.com.pk. 25 June 2019. Retrieved 2020-05-07.
  6. "Punjab University: Rai Ahmad Khan Kharral (Myth or Reality)". Retrieved 2022-11-22.[permanent dead link]
  7. "Kharal and Berkley II". 22 April 2013.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 Saranga, Turab ul Hasan (2020). Punjab and the War of Independence 1857-1858 from Collaboration to Resistance (1st ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-070184-0.
  9. Miraj, Muhammad Hassan (2013-04-15). "Kharal and Berkley". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 2022-09-24.
  10. General Report on the Administration of the Punjab Territories, from 1856-57 to 1857-58 Inclusive: Together with a Brief Account of the Administration of the Delhi Territory, from the Re-occupation of Delhi Up to May 1858. Printed at the Chronicle Press, by Mahomed Azeem. 1854.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Punjab, Punjab (1911). Government Records: Mutiny records. Correspondence and reports. Punjab Government Press.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 "Tributes to A.D. Aijaz, the oral historian of Kharal's resistance - Newspaper". DAWN.COM. 8 July 2019. Retrieved 2020-05-07.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 Cave-Browne, John (1861). The Punjab and Delhi in 1857: Being a Narrative of the Measures by which the Punjab was Saved and Delhi Recovered During the Indian Mutiny. William Blackwood and Sons.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Saeed Ahmed Butt (2015). "Rai Ahmad Khan Kharral (Myth or Reality)" (PDF). Journal of the Punjab University Historical Society. 28 (2): 173–191. Retrieved 2020-05-07.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Mirzā, Shafqat Tanvīr (1992). Resistance themes in Punjabi literature. Internet Archive. Lahore, Pakistan : Sang-e-Meel Publications. pp. 111–112. ISBN 978-969-35-0101-8.
  16. Sargana, Turab ul Hassan (2020). Punjab and the War of Independence 1857-1858 from Collaboration to Resistance. Oxford University Press. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-19-070184-0.
  17. AD Ejaz 'Ahmad Khan Kharal', 1985
  18. Ejaz, aa
  19. 19.0 19.1 Ejaz
  20. 20.0 20.1 Dr ST Mirza 'Resistance Themes in Punjabi Literature' Lahore, 1991, pp 100-105

Saeed Ahmed Butt (2015). "Rai Ahmad Khan Kharral (Myth or Reality)" (PDF). Journal of the Punjab University Historical Society. 28 (2): 173–191. Retrieved 2020-05-07.