Nimroz; Abode of the Balluchi

By: Naveed Tajammal

New1Sir Oliver Beauchamp was designated on 19 June 1877 as the First Chief Commissioner of yet another new geographic term known as the ‘Balochistan Agency’, thrust upon us by the Forward policy makers of the British Foreign Office.

Before this period, no such geographic term identifying this region as such existed, and Shalkot, an old Caravan port of our former Multan province in the last Mughal Administrative set-up, which was on the main highway route from Bakkhar on the Indus, via Bolan, Pisheen, Panjwa to Herat or lower to Zahidan etc., was renamed ‘Quetta’ and it became the new head-quarter of the Great Game being played by the British.

If one should study the documents compiled by Mr. C.U. Atchison, Under-Secretary to the GOI in the Foreign Department, the series are titled; ‘Treaties, Engagements and Sunnuds, relating to British India and its neighbouring Countries’, and they cover the period from the early 18th Century AD onward. Not a single reference relating to the Balochis as such exists, till Robert Sandeman, as the instrument of the state, manipulated the creation of this entity, and awarded their self- created leaders the titles of Nawabs. This, however, came about much later, in 1890 AD.

The Chronicles of Ria Bahadaur Hittu Ram, Extra Asstt. Chief Commissioner, published in 1907,further clarify the picture, on page 293,details of a meeting held on 02 January 1876,between Captain Robert Sandeman and Mir Khudadad Barrohi, the then Khan of Kalat. The Khan was being pestered by Sandeman to make a member of Mari tribe into a Tomandar. The Khan reminded the people present that it was in the Tent of Shahnawaz Khan [who too later subsequently became the Khan of Kalat] that Mir Mehrab ll, the then Khan of Kalat [1831-1839] had awarded for the first time Tomandari to a Mari, which was subsequently revoked on account of activities of his Tribe, which he could not handle properly. This was told in the presence of the then head Maqadam, one Karam Khan and Nihal Khan Mari, who accompanied Captain Robert Sandeman. This shows that prior to this period, the Mari did not amount to much in the matters, that they be awarded Tomandari within the Administrative set up of the Khanate.

After Naseer l had tendered his vassalage to Ahmed Khan Abdali, the new Badshah of Qandhar, kept sending him bands of nomad Kuchi wanderers within his new state from its south western and western borders, the old region of Nimroz.

This old geographic tract of land, Nimroz, is etched in the old mythology of Iran, and references about this region exist even before the Epic Shah Nama-e-Firdausi was penned by Abul Qasim Firdausi, various Arab, Persian and Turkish geographers who wrote their books mention it in their books, namely, Al-Balaziri [883], ibn Khurdad-bih [888]al-Hassan Siraf [916]al-Masudi [943] al-Istakhari [951] who was from the adjoining region with Nimroz, wrote his book ‘Kitab ul Maslik wa Mamalik’,whose works give minor details of the region. This list of authors continues till the times of Maulana Usman, author of Tabakat i Nasiri 1260 AD, who spent 7 months in the court of Zaranj/Zahidan the capital of Nimroz. This was after the invasion of Mongols, He mentions of a Gumbaz e Balluchi in ruins on the Eastern side of Zahidan, zaranj, whereas H.G. Raverty quoting from Maslik va Mamalik of al-Istakhari in Asiatic journal Bengal issue of 1885 discussing the Maliks of Nimroz and Sijistan mentions of Bal-yus an area assigned to Balochi, next to Gumbaz e Balochi.

But first reverting to Nimroz in a very brief historic perspective, Though Abu Jaffar Al-Tabri [d.923] in his famed book,’Tarikh al-Rasul Va al-Muluk’ likewise gives details of various dynasties which occur in the Iranian history, as does later work done by Firdausi, which is solely dedicated to Iranian History, The Chronology of East as we see clashes with that of later written by Edward Gibbon in 18th Century.

The First Iranian Dynasty was Peshdadi, followed by Kiani, Hakamanish and lastly Sassani. The Shah Nama of Firdausi has over 50 percent of its work dedicated to Kiani dynasty which starts with Kai Kubad who laid the foundations of Balkh city. He was 16th in descent from the 10th Monarch of Peshdadi ,”Manu-Chihr”.The Turks under their legendary leader Afrasiyab had already defeated and ended the Peshdadi empire with Manu-Chihr. The next 15 generations is a break in the Iranian dynastic rule, with the Turks ruling supreme, as is evident, from the Chronology.

West starts the chronology from Hakamanish dynasty, which is the third in line, and they call it, ‘Achaemenian’, as the names of kings re-occur time and again the confusion exists in west.

The famed pahlawan [General] of Iranian epic is Rustam, whose Fiefdom was Nimroz, as one can see repeated attacks by subsequent Turkish conquerors from across the oxus [jihun] were focused on Nimroz, each destroyed what re-emerged later in Nimroz after the passage of time. The resilience of Nimrozi people under their old lords cannot help but be admired, nor the persistence of the Turk.

The Eastern-most region of the Iranian empire was called Khurassan and so this tract varies from time to time, in a semi-circle from east of Sea of Khazars [Caspian Sea] till adjoining the Sindh basin regions, to its East.

In the Sassani era, the capital was Tashfa’oon’[Ctesiphon],Khurassan was divided in the following regions; on the north was Balkh; to its south west Ghour; to its south east Badakhshan; below was Zabulistan ,which to its East’ had Roh’ the mountain ridges[durand line],and on the west of Zabulistan across Helmand was Nimroz [siestan part of it].Farah, isfahar [later sabzwar] down to Zaranj [kirman].

The composition of Balluchi, etymology being Bal, the tract of land, Lu, the people and Chi’ in Turkish means ‘of the’, meaning thereby, the people of Bal. Since ages  an ethnic mix created these Wandering Nomads [Kuchi],so a collection of broken men, families ostracized by main clans/tribes, whom stress of circumstances had made them move out to survive, banded in these nomad groups; Kurds, Lurs, Turks, Jats, Mongols and Tajiks, all joined under this generic term. Their main role was to raid caravans which had small protection parties, to plunder small hamlets, way lay riders, on the great high way, on whose edges they lived, most of the newer lot, who joined these groups, depending upon their daring acts and booty, which they had looted, got them admission into the group, which was sealed by a marriage. Mohammad Ibrahim, the author of the history of Seljuks of Kirman, written in 17th century, published by Leyden.1886,relying on the chronicles of Afzal Keirmani, who wrote in late 12th century during the over-lordship of Seljuki Malik Dinar, the Ghuzz chief who held the province of Nimroz stationed at Kirman, mentions that in the rule of Malik Kaward, the Seljuki chief of the same region i.e. Nimroz, in 1045 AD, attacked these people than called as ‘Qufas’,when they were all assembled at a wedding in Bar’jan.

In all, a whole scale massacre took place and none survived. After this, in the regions of lower Gramsir/lower Kirman etc. the upper lot was pushed downward after the irruption of Mongols in these regions and the floating/wandering population of these people took refuge in the lower Kirman regions, like Lashar, Magas, Sib, Soran, Bug, Dombak, which were names of seasonal rivers, streams, tracts of land, defiles, through which passed caravans or other related halting/water spots/Seria -Khanna’s [inns/travens].As they moved much later eastward once again pressed by circumstances of their age old habits of waylaying, they had lost their old identity, and so the old Naibate [revenue circle] they had last lived in, remained as an identity. The allusion to Syria/Turkish warriors contained in their Ballads is a reflection of their by now old Dim past. The Arab Kharjities in very large numbers had been transported in the wilderness of these regions, the bulk died and the hardy survived. That was around 720 AD. Ghuzz tribal lot too took refuge amongst them, as the records testify on being caught; they had tried to invoke old tribal sacrifices, to the Seljuki authorities.

The family of Kiani Maliks of Zaranj [Nimroz] held it mostly throughout recorded known history however it was Zaranj which was also capital of Safarid dynasty [861-1002 AD] and splendour of the city and its magnificent opulence are likewise well recorded, though, later Zahidan, emerges but Kiani Maliks kept their hold upon Balochi   and region under their wings. For awkward assignments, Balochi   were also used frequently by Mulahidah, the followers of Hassan i Sabbah, known in Europe as Assassins. Within Nimroz existed to its west a region called Kuhistan and Kainat; in this region, there existed seven very strong forts of Mulahidah. The head of this region was appointed from Almut in the west, the head quarter of the Organization. The reason why this region was especially maintained, though cut off from the main circle, was firstly because Hassan i Sabah, as the legend of the region said, had belonged to this tract and a ruined fort pointed as Mir-Ismailee was the birth place of Hassan i Sabah. Secondly, recruits were easy to come by, to be trained and sent west, for assignments.

At the time of the Mughal invasion, Mulahidah held the following forts; Sari Takhot, Takht, Sorwarsher, Farmandih, Mominabad, Karah, Tun and Tabas.

Amir Timur Barlas, the later world conqueror, had also laid the whole region waste. He destroyed all dams, and razed the cities to the ground. It was here in his earlier frays that he was hit by an arrow fired by a Malik Mamakuta, who once captured much later paid for his earlier action upon Timur for having lamed him for life. Mamakuta was punished by being struck with as many arrows as his body could take.

Longworth Dames author of popular poetry of balluchi’s Vol .l 1907 is very clear on authenticity of ballads sung by the bards, Dames states that, there is No independent historical evidence regarding the alleged 30 years of War between Rinds and Lashari’s, the other actors likewise depicted in their Ballads are nowhere found in written history beside Chakar Rind.

Reverting to Chakar Rind under the rule of Sher Shah Suri, his governor of Lahore and Multan province was Haibat Khan Niazi, it was under him that Chakar lived and died and is buried at Satgaran near Sahiwal district.

The composition of the Balluchi is very heterogeneous, as was pointed out earlier in the article, here in our regions we find again admission open for all in the 19th century, and the share of the booty looted depended much on the weapon and transport of the new inductee followed by his daring actions. Here in the Mari tribal set up, as seen is a mix, of Jats [khetrans], Shirani is now sub-clan of Loharani who at one time were Pushtun from Zhob, the Baddani, a section of Ghazani clan were Brahavi from Niabate of Khurassan, Mazarani were old khetrans, Zhing, Mehkani are old mendicants from Zarkun tribe. And the same is seen in the Bugti tribe as well. We find that Raheja is a sub-clan of Magasi which falls under the sama generic term assigned to old Sindhi tribe and Raheja by itself is a clan within the tribe of Sama. Raheja is also a sept of Abra, one of the principle tribes of Sama. (Reference: Report of Tribes/Sindh Doctor U.M. Daud Pota, Member Sindh Public Service Commission, 1901).As soon as a man joined the new tribe; he became a participator in good and ill of the fate of the group. Once having had shown his worth, he was given vested interest in tribal welfare by acquiring a portion of the tribal land, at the decennial division and the final seal was a marriage within the old members set up. The numbers of tribe increased or decreased on the success of raids and booty shared of the plunder, which fell to each [Ref; p-198/199 Mari/Bugti Country vol l ch.v Government of Balochistan records 1906].

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  • Naveed Tajammal  On August 26, 2013 at 5:13 am

    Thankyou for posting the article Yasmeen Aftab Ali.

  • shahbazthuthaal  On August 27, 2013 at 4:45 am

    Naveed   Thanks for sharing; I think SANDEMAN had also gave very realistic picture about BALUCHISTAN in his book.   regards

    Muhammad Shahbaz ThuthaalEME CHSMultan road,lahore.0301-3667777

    >________________________________ > From: Pakpotpourri2’s Blog >To: >Sent: Monday, August 26, 2013 9:53 AM >Subject: [New post] Nimroz; Abode of the Balluchi > > >pakpotpourri2 posted: “By: Naveed Tajammal Sir Oliver Beauchamp was designated on 19 June 1877 as the First Chief Commissioner of yet another new geographic term known as the ‘Balochistan Agency’, thrust upon us by the Forward policy makers of the British Foreign Office. ” >

    • Naveed Tajammal  On August 27, 2013 at 7:29 am

      Thankyou the comment sir,yes indeed Sandeman was the brain child of the mess he left behind.

  • Amir Rana  On August 27, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    A great share….. though a few parts of it were not that easy for me to grasp. Especially I felt difficulty in relating the process and changes in history to where we are standing currently.

    • Naveed Tajammal  On August 28, 2013 at 2:42 am

      Thankyou for the Observation,Amir Rana Sb,,i should have given link of my previous in line 4 articles covering the same subject,each of them covers a different Facet of ,”The Myth of Balluchi Nationalism”,and this current one deals with Time when this lot enters our Roh’ regions,had they adjusted like the first Wave which came in 16th Century,along with the Multi-Ethnic mix we have,being One of the oldest Civilizations,a need to write so many articles would never have arisen,anyway the link is.

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