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Rajput Clan: Janjua
Distribution Punjab region
Vansh Hindu Chandravanshi
Branches: Khakha, Gaharwal, Dhamial, Ranial Rajputs,
Religion Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism
Languages Punjabi
Title: Khan

The Janjua (also spelt Janjooa, Janjuha, Janjuah) is a caste often found among the Sikh, Muslim and Hindu Rajput communities of Pakistan and India.

Early history

Although there is no definitive source to confirm the ancestry of the ancient King Porus of Punjab, the Janjua claim that their ancestor, Rai Por is the Porus who fought Alexander in Punjab in 326BC.[1]

Delhi Sultanate era

From 13th to early 16th century, the Punjab region was under the suzerainty of the Delhi Sultanate, the prince of the House of Rai Mal Khan are known to have rebelled against the Sultans of Delhi.[2]

Mughal Era

Ain-i-Akbari, the detailed document recording the administration of Mughal Empire under Akbar, refers to the Janjuas as a tribe conquered by Afghans.[3]

Main branches

The princes were Raja Bhir Khan, Raja Jodh Khan, Raja Kala Khan and Raja Khakha Khan. Jodh and Bhir were born of a Gakhar princess while Kala, and Khakha were born of another Rajput Rani.[4]

The main branches of the Janjua are as follows:

Mughal period

Babur as Emperor, receiving a courtier

Emperor Humayun

In the 16th century, 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.[5][6]

Emperor Jalaludin Muhammad Akbar

His relationship with Emperor Akbar became a close one. When the Emperor visited Malik Darwesh Khan's kingdom at the city of Ghirjak, Malik Darwesh ordained that the city would henceforth be renamed to Jalalpur[7] in honour of the Emperor and the Janjua's relationship.[original research?]

The Khakha Janjuas however allied with the Kashmiri ruler Yakub Shah's stubborn resistance to Akbar, causing his first defeat in the battle of Bulaysa. After relations broke down between the Sultan of Kashmir and the Khakha princes, they refused aid to his second defence campaign against Akbar's forces, leading to the defeat of the Sultan and victory of the Mughal Emperor. The Khakhas nominally accepting Akbar's reign thereon.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] The Janjua then rebelled, having realised that the intent was to replace the old aristocracies.[8]

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[9] and this was ended when the inhabitants ran short of water.[10]

The Kala Khan branch of Rawalpindi Janjuas fortunes were also eclipsed by the rise of the Sikh Empire.[11] The fiercely independent Khakha branch of the Janjua fought against the Sikh expansion into their Kingdom in Kashmir.

The bold and warlike tribes of Bombas and Khakhas who now and then carried out looting incursions into the Valley, were a constant source of anxiety and danger to the Sikhs. In fact many times during their rule Bombas and Khakhas looted the valley as far up as Pattan[12]

When the Sikh Empire's attention turned towards Kashmir, they encountered the other formidable Janjua branch of the Khakha Janjua warlords, renowned as the most troublesome tribe of Kashmir.[13] Sardar Raja Ghulam Ali Khan and his brother Raja Sarfaraz Khan openly revolted against the Sikh Governor of Kashmir Dewan Moti Ram[14] resulting in attracting the attention of Hari Singh Nalwa the Khatri Sikh General[15] who was deputised to subdue the rebels. Raja Ghulam Ali Khan openly defied the repeated orders to pay revenues,[16] leading to a fierce battle with Hari Singh Nalwa known as the Battle of Khakha at Uri.[17] Both brothers were captured and taken prisoner by the Sikh general Hari Singh Nalwa[18] who viewed the united Khakha Bombas uprising as detrimental to their peace and stability in Kashmir.[19]

On 1 February 1821, information was received at the (Sikh royal) court that Hari Singh Nalwa had suppressed the uprising of Khakhas and captured their chief, Ghulam Ali. The Maharaja wrote to Hari Singh to lose no time in sending the captive with appropriate security to Lahore. There was great rejoicing in Lahore for this was a troublesome man. A celebratory firing of cannons was ordered.[20]

Both Khakha Rajput chiefs were taken to Lahore under heavy escort, where they were later butchered alive by Nalwa in prison captivity[21] for refusing to instruct their tribe to give up the rebellion.

The Khakha Rajas now intensified their raids in consequence to the weakening Sikh power after Ranjit Singh's death. Eventually, when Maharaja Gulab Singh assumed rulership of Kashmir, he managed to drive back the Khakhas with great difficulty. But knowing the reputation of the rebellious Khakhas, he immediately installed strong garrisons in the forts guarding the passes.[22] Despite facing the most powerful Sikh chiefs attempts to subdue them, they still enjoyed a fairly privileged position,[23] paying little if any taxes, openly wearing arms (despite orders banning them) and defying their orders where possible.[24] Their predatorial raids during the Sikh age earned them a localised legend, that mothers would tell their children "..the Khakhas are coming..." to frighten them.[25]

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."[26]

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.[27]


The tribal system of loyalty to the clan is still adhered to, and they tend to only align with other tribes of equally high social rank and reputation.[28]

Martial roles

During the nineteenth century, the British rulers of India acknowledged the martial potential of the Janjua, designating them as a martial race. Peter Karsten 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 British preferred their Martial races to be as socially exclusive as they were themselves."[29] 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 honoured when selecting regiments for them.[30]

The Janjua were also among the Indian forces who took part in both World War I and World War II. The tribes of Jhelum and Rawalpindi, near to Islamabad, supplied the largest numbers.[31]

Notable people

  • Raja Shah Nawaz Khan (Matore, January 1914) was a freedom fighter and Major General for the Indian National Army and a close aide of Subhas Chandra Bose. He was famously tried by the British Raj in the Red Fort Trial in 1945,[31][need quotation to verify][32][need quotation to verify] represented by Jawaharlal Nehru himself. After the partition of India and Pakistan, Raja Shah Nawaz Khan stayed in India. He chaired the enquiry into the death of Subhas Chandra Bose in 1956, and later became an Indian Government Central Minister.


Janjuas are spread throughout the Punjab as well as adjacent regions. The vast majority of Janjua are Muslim and live in eastern Pakistan. Divided into Sub branch as Jats Additionally, There are Sikh and Hindu Janjuas who reside principally in north western India.[33]


  1. ^ The Jhelum Gazetteer, Sang-e-Meel, 2004, p. 96
  2. ^ Despotism on Trial: History of Balban and His Successors Radhey Shyam, Publ Y.K. Publisher, 1992, 213
  3. ^ http://tribune.com.pk/story/444417/is-the-pakistan-army-martial/
  4. ^ Journal of Central Asia, Vol. XIII, no.1, 1990 p. 79
  5. ^ The Life and Times of Humāyūn by Ishwari Prasad, Published by Orient Longmans, 1956, p. 36
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ Panjāb Under the Great Mughals, 1526–1707 by Bakhshish Singh Nijjar, Thacker 1968, p. 191
  8. ^ Khizr Tiwana, the Punjab Unionist Party and the Partition of India, Ian Talbot, Publ Routledge, 1996, pp. 21–22
  9. ^ Archaeological reconnaissances in north-western India and south-eastern Iran, M. A. Stein, London 1936, p. 46
  10. ^ The Land of the Five Rivers and Sindh: Sketches, Historical and Descriptive David Ross, Publ.Languages Dept., Punjab, 1970, p. 153
  11. ^ Khizr Tiwana, the Punjab Unionist Party and the Partition of India: by Ian Talbot, Routledge 1996, p. 21
  12. ^ Culture and Political History of Kashmir by Prithivi Nath Kaul Bamzai, MD Publ. Ltd., 1994, p. 537
  13. ^ Hari Singh Nalwa – Champion of the Khalsaji By Vanit Nalwa, p. 201
  14. ^ Hari Singh Nalwa by Surinder Singh Johar, Sagar Publ 1982, p. 201
  15. ^ The Panjab past and present By Punjabi University. Dept. of Punjab Historical Studies Published by Dept. of Punjab Historical Studies, Punjabi University., 1981 Item notes: v. 15 Original from the University of California page 372
  16. ^ Advanced History of the Punjab, GS Chhabra, New Academic Pub. Co., 1968, p. 73
  17. ^ Life and Accomplishments of Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa, Marshal of the Khalsa Gurabacana Siṅgha Naīara, Dharam Prachar Committee 1993, p. 32
  18. ^ The Campaigns of General Hari Singh Nalwa Gurabacana Siṅgha Naīara, Punjabi University 1995, p. 96
  19. ^ A History of Sikh Rule in Kashmir, 1819–1846 RK Parmu, Published by Dept. of Education 1977, p. 126
  20. ^ Nalwa, Vanit (2009). Hari Singh Nalwa – Champion of the Khalsaji. Khalsaji: Hari Singh Nalwa. p. 61. ISBN 978-81-7304-785-5. 
  21. ^ Kashmiris Fight for Freedom : 1819–1946 Muhammad Yusuf Saraf, Ferozsons 1977, p. 78
  22. ^ Culture and Political History of Kashmir by Prithivi Nath Kaul Bamzai, MD Publ. Ltd., 1994, pp. 537, 669, 670
  23. ^ Imperial Gazetteer of Kashmir and Jammu, Sang e Meel, 2002, pp. 9, 34
  24. ^ History of Operations in Jammu & Kashmir, 1947–48 by Sri Nandan Prasad, Dharm Pal, Govt. of India 1987, p. 4
  25. ^ Kashmiris Fight for Freedom by Muhammad Yusuf Saraf, Ferozson 1977, p. 78
  26. ^ Tan, Tai Yong (2005). The Garrison State: The Military, Government and Society in Colonial Punjab 1849–1947. Sage. pp. 61–62. 
  27. ^ Sikhism and Punjab's HeritageWazir Singh, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University 1990, p. 160
  28. ^ The Aftermath of Partition in South Asia Gyanes Kudaisya, London 2000, p. 207
  29. ^ Karsten, Peter (1998). Recruiting, Drafting, and Enlisting (Military and Society, 1). p. 119. 
  30. ^ The Garrison State, Tan Tai Yong, Sage Pub. Inc, p. 75
  31. ^ a b A Hundred Horizons, Sugata Bose, 2006 USA, p. 136
  32. ^ The I. N. A. Heroes: Autobiographies of Maj. Gen. Shahnawaz, Col. Prem K. Sahgal by Prem Kumar Sahgal, Shah Nawaz Khan, Gurbakhsh Singh Dhillon, Hero Publ.1946, pp. 15, 50
  33. ^ Sikhism and Punjab's Heritage by Wazir Singh, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University 1990, p. 160