|Rajput Clan: Janjua|
|Distribution||Punjab (Pakistan), Azad Kashmir, Punjab (India)|
|Branches:||Khakha, Ghumman, Gaharwal, Dhamial, Ranial, Nathyal|
|Ruled in||Punjab, Kashmir|
|Religion||Islam, Sikhism and Hinduism|
|Title:||Raja, Chaudhary, Sardar, Khan|
The Janjua (also spelt Janjooa, Janjuha, Janjuah) are a clan often found among the Rajput communities of Pakistan and along the north western border of India. Their warlike nature and dominant rule of their kingdoms against other tribes earned them a powerful reputation.[clarification needed]
- 1 Early history
- 2 Raja Mal Khan
- 3 Main branches
- 4 Mughal period
- 5 Janjuas and the Sikhs
- 6 Characteristics
- 7 Martial roles
- 8 Notable People
- 9 Diaspora
- 10 References
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. Further, "The Punjabi ruler was Raja Porus, said to be a direct descendant of the Pandava kings".[full citation needed]
Raja Mal Khan
Rai Dhrupet Dev[clarification needed] was the father of the rebellious king, Raja Ajmal Dev Janjua who embraced Islam in the 12th century due to his love for Sufi art, poetry and teachings. Raja Mal followed the Islamic tradition of change of name after conversion and was then known as Raja Mal Khan. He was among the first Muslim Rajputs. This conversion was done before the armies of Shahabudin Ghauri entered into the Indian Plateau to conquer whilst he was very young in his teens and inclined towards Islamic philosophy of the Sufis, whose missionary efforts were gaining popularity in Northern India.
Conquering for himself a kingdom in the Koh-i-Jud he settled his capital at Rajgarh which he later renamed Malot. He re-conquered the Salt Ranges of Punjab to re-establish the dominion which his tribe lost almost two centuries earlier to the Ghaznavids.
He then led the revolt to Multan with his Gakhar allies, defeating the Ghorid Governor of Multan before progressing to plunder Lahore and blockading the strategic road between Punjab and Ghazni.
Delhi Sultanate and the Janjua rebellion
The princes of the House of Rai Mal Khan continued their rebellion against the Emperors of Delhi against whom they held their own for many centuries, remaining always turbulent, defiant and restless.
The most prominent Janjua of today are chiefly represented by the sons of Raja Mal Khan. 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.
The main branches of the Janjua are as follows:
Nawab Talib Mehdi Khan Janjua
Zaman Mehdi Khan's only son, Malik Talib Mehdi Khan, served as Deputy Commissioner, Ambassador to Kabul, and Prime Minister of the Bhawalpur State. Talib Mehdi was appointed as Nawab with the rank of Major without attachments of any kind. He assumed rulership of the tribe after his father's death. At this point, almost the entire warrior tribe served in the Imperial Army.
Nawab Malik Talib Mehdi Khan had only one son, the late Nawabzada Malik Afzaal Mehdi Khan. He was chief of the family after the death of his father. The only son of Afzaal Mehdi is Malik Iqbal Mehdi Khan, ex-Provincial Minister, and Member of National Assembly (1988–1999).
The Janjua Sultan of Makhiala, Sultan Firoz Ali Khan was a warrior king from Raja Jodh's line through Raja Rai Pal. He strongly opposed Maharaja Ranjit Singh during his conquest of Punjab. After his death his son Ali Haider Khan was crowned Sultan, ruling for a very short period before his death. His son Ashgar Ali Khan was crowned the next Sultan of Makhiala
Upon Humayun's exile from India, the Janjua assisted Sher Shah Suri in constructing the Rohtas Fort to keep Humayun out of India as well as crush the Gakhars who in loyalty to the exiled Humayun began a rebellion against Sher Shah Suri. It was given possession to the Janjua chief Rai Piraneh Khan who fought off the Gakhars attacks, in attempting to halt its construction. But upon Sher Shah's death, the Gakhars seized the opportunity to aid the return of the exiled Mughal Humayun. Upon Humayun's return to position as Emperor of Hind, his Gakhar allies sought to now use the Mughals against the Janjuas.
Rai Piraneh fought the combined Gakhar and Mughal forces, but was defeated. His kingdom was finally ransomed to the fallen chief.
Emperor Jalaludin Muhammad Akbar
Upon the ascension of Mughal Akbar, the Mughal policy towards the Janjua underwent a reconciliatory phase. Akbar made overtures to the Janjua princes, winning them over and incorporating them into his empire. Malik Darwesh Khan Janjua (grandson of Raja Sangar Khan and younger brother of Rai Piraneh) was a distinguished and noted General of the Imperial Mughal Army under Emperor Akbar's reign, notably in a campaign to capture Prince Mirza Hakim in June 1581.
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 in honour of the Emperor and the Janjua's relationship.
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.
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 lucrative salt mines in possession of the Janjua Sultans of Makrach and Khewra made the territory too important for the Sikh Maharaja to ignore.
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. 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
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. Sardar Raja Ghulam Ali Khan and his brother Raja Sarfaraz Khan openly revolted against the Sikh Governor of Kashmir Dewan Moti Ram resulting in attracting the attention of Hari Singh Nalwa the Khatri Sikh General who was deputised to subdue the rebels. Raja Ghulam Ali Khan openly defied the repeated orders to pay revenues, leading to a fierce battle with Hari Singh Nalwa known as the Battle of Khakha at Uri. Both brothers were captured and taken prisoner by the Sikh general Hari Singh Nalwa who viewed the united Khakha Bombas uprising as detrimental to their peace and stability in Kashmir.
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.
Both Khakha Rajput chiefs were taken to Lahore under heavy escort, where they were later butchered alive by Nalwa in prison captivity 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. Despite facing the most powerful Sikh chiefs attempts to subdue them, they still enjoyed a fairly privileged position, paying little if any taxes, openly wearing arms (despite orders banning them) and defying their orders where possible. 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.
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." Sikh supremacy over the Punjab was removed, the valley of Kashmir was sold to Maharaja Gulab Singh, and the scions of the House of Ranjit Singh were exiled to England.
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.
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.
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." 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.
- General Asif Nawaz Janjua. He was a senior four-star general and the 10th Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army from 16 August 1991 till 8 January 1993. His career highlights featured successful pacification operation in Sindh when the province wilted under the most violent period in its history. He also stayed as Corps Commander Karachi and Chief of General Staff before becoming the COAS.
- Major General Iftikhar Khan Janjua, HJ & Bar, SPk, SQA, (died 9 December 1971) of the Pakistan Army is the most senior Pakistani officer to have been killed in action. He is known in Pakistan as the hero of Rann of Kutch and after his death in the 1971 India-Pakistan war. The Iftikhar Khan Janjua Road in Rawalpindi is named after him.
- 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, 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.
- Brigadier Amir Gulistan Janjua served in the Pakistan Army. Upon retirement, he was appointed as Pakistan's Ambassador to UAE, Nepal and Saudi Arabia. He also served as Governor of the North Western Province of Pakistan from 1988 to 1993. He is the current President of the Friends of Nepal.
Janjuas are spread throughout the Punjab as well as adjacent regions. The vast majority of Janjua are Muslim and live in eastern Pakistan. Additionally, There are Sikh and Hindu Janjuas who reside principally in north western India.
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