Some historical references to the story of the Janjua Rajputs....
Predating all that is related below, the Pandava ancestors of Janjuas were known historically for the great Mahabharata war in which Arjuna and his brothers were victorious after huge losses on both sides. (For more details see www.janjuas.org ).
"The Janjua Rajputs possess a proud Martial reputation and rank very highly as the aristocracy of the Salt Range. Their pride in their ancestry is renowned and are always addressed by their ancestral title of Raja." (Rawalpindi District Gazetteer Robertson, reprint 2001, Lahore, p105)
"Their (Janjuas) exploits and reputation has earned them the regard as the most Valiant Kshatriyas (warlords) in the Punjab." (History of Mediaeval Hindu India by Chintaman Vinayak Vaidya, Cosmo Publ. 1979, p129)
"The tribal system of loyalty to the clan is still adhered, and they tend to only align with other tribes of equally high social rank and reputation." (The Aftermath of Partition in South Asia Gyanes Kudaisya, London 2000, p207)
“The great Janjua tribe have retained their pride of lineage and their Rájput title, and can be ranked as Míán Sáhu or first class Rájpúts...physically well-looking, with fine hands and feet; much given to military service, especially in the cavalry;...poor agriculturists, with great pride of race and are always addressed as Raja” (Panjab Castes - Sir Denzil Ibbetson, reprint Delhi 2002, p149, p154)
"The Janjua are famed as a restless and warlike Muslim Rājput tribe." (Imperial Gazetteer of Kashmir and Jammu, Sang e Meel, reprint 2002, p9, p34) and are "doubtless pure Rājputs". (Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 14, p152) & (The Indian Village Community by Baden Henry Baden-Powell, Adamant Media Corp. 2005, p97)
The Janjuas of Chakri Rajgan have been recognised in Punjabi history as a 'Martial clan' and the British also viewed them as excellent soldiers and distinguished them from other tribes as "other tribes no way superior to them in courage or military skill". ('Punjab Chiefs' L.H.Griffin, 1909 Lahore, p215-7}. Genral Asif Nawaz of Chakri Rajgan (sometimes referred to as Raja Asif Nawaz Khan Janjua) was Chief of Army Staff, Pakistan (1991–1993).
The ancestors of the Janjuas of Chakri Rajgan, the last dynasty of the Janjua Shahis, were mentioned by Albiruni.."as noble men of noble bearings...who always did what they said". Al-Biruni, despite living under Sultan Mahmud's grace, praises the house of Jayapala Janjua (10th Century AD): "We must say that in all their grandeur, they never slackened in the ardent desire of doing that which is good and right, that they were men of noble sentiment and noble bearing."
Kalhana (13th Century AD) writes of the Janjua Shahis: "Where is the Shahi dynasty with its ministers, its kings, and its great grandeur? ... The very name of the splendor of Shahi kings has vanished. What is not seen in dream, what even our imagination cannot conceive, that dynasty accomplished with ease".
The Tarikh-e-Alfi of the Ghorids (13th Century AD) mentions the rebellious behaviour of Raja (Ajmal) Mal (est. d. 1230 AD) (son of Raja Dhrupat Dev of Mathura) towards the Delhi Sultanate. It records that a "Rai Mal" of the mountains between Lahore and Kabul excited a rebellion against them and intercepted communications between Lahore and Ghazni. There is still today remnants of an ancient fort in Malot, Chakwal which was initially built by the Shahis and later rebuilt by Raja Mal Janjua. It is also inscribed that the last Hindu Shahi emperor Raja Mal embraced Islam at this place. Raja Mal was also the first ruler to begin the mining of salt in the Salt Ranges of Kallar Kahar and in the Khewra Salt Mines of Punjab which is currently the world's second largest salt mine.
Many prominent Muslim tribes of Potohar Plateau in Pakistan trace their lineage back to the Janjuas through the five princes of the House of Raja Mal Janjua (13th Century AD). The five princes were:
- Raja Bhir
- Raja Jodh (est. d. 1259 AD) (ancestor of Chakri/Darapur Janjuas)
- Raja Kala
- Raja Tanoli
- Raja Khakha
Jodh and Bhir were born of a Gakhar Rani while Kala, Khakha and Tanoli were born of another Rajput Rani. ('Journal of Central Asia', Vol.XIII, no.1, 1990 p79). According to Lepel H. Griffin, in his famous book Chiefs and Families of note in the Punjab (Lahore, 1910, ii, p254) he writes that Raja Jodh and Raja Wir/Bhir (oldest sons of Rai Mal), "divided the country, the Maloki Dhan, between them. Jodh took the Salt Range near about the Makrach and captured the town of Makshala from a colony of Brahmans...He changed its name to Makhiala and built there a fort and two tanks for rain water. Wir (also spelt Bhir), the eldest son of Raja Mal, took the possession of Kura (also spelt Khewra) near modern Pind Dadan Khan..."
Raja Jodh son of Raja Mal fathered four sons:
- Raja Raepal (villages = Chakri/Darapur, Sherpur, Pindi Saidpur, Faridpur, Pir Chak, Kot Umar, Baghanwala & Nathial)
- Raja Manpal (villages = Rahwali, Sawala, Makhdom Jahania, Watli, Saloi, Kotla Saidan & Choa Saidan Shah)
- Raja Jaspal (vilages = Kohala & various other localities)
- Raja Jaipal (villages = Dandot & various other localities)
Raja Ráepál son of Raja Jodh (est. d. 1290 AD) took possession of Makhiala after Raja Jodh’s death but while he was away at Malot assisting his nephew Raja Achharpal (son of Raja Wir, who was under his stewardship) Raja Raepal’s younger brother captured Makhiala fort in his absence. Raja Raepal extended his domain by acquiring Girjaak and Adraana forts.
Raja [Nuruddin] Náru son of Raja Raepal (est. d. 1320 AD) inherited Girjaak fort after his father’s death and constructed an irrigation canal in Nára which is near Nala Bunah. He ruled for 30 years.
Raja Jagat Dev son of Raja Naru (est. d. 1345 AD) succeeded his father and “was a contemporary of Khalji Dynasty and he also sent a brigade to Lahore to assist the Imperial Army of Sultan Muhammad bin Tughluq against the Mongol invaders”. (Tarikh-i-Janjua, M Anwar, 1982, p84). He enhanced and strengthened his forces and forts during his reign.
Raja Jasrat Dev son of Raja Jagat Dev (est. d. 1380 AD) became master of Girjaak fort after his father’s death and ruled his dominion for 35 years.
Raja Bhim Dev son of Raja Jasrat Dev (est. d. 1420 AD) was the chief of Janjuas at the eve of the invasion of the Salt Range area by Amir Taimur. He provided assistance to Amir Taimur and joined his forces during his conquest of India.
Amir Taimur (d. 1405), the world conqueror, recognised Janjuas' military qualities and loyalty and wrote a handwritten letter (Parwana) of gratitude to them in recognition. “The Janjuas were honoured by Amir Timur for their joining him in his conquest of India throughout his campaign” ('The Punjab Chiefs' Sir Lepel.H.Griffin, 1909 Lahore). This formed the foundation for the later loyal alliance between Tamerlane's future descendants the Mughal Emperors and the Janjuas.
Raja Sahib Khan son of Raja Bhim Dev (est. d. 1452 AD) in order to maintain peace and stability throughout his domain “he established friendly relations with the Gakkhar chief Bir Khan of Pharyala who he treated as his half-brother “. (Tarikh-i-Janjua, M Anwar, 1988, p84)
Raja Habib Khan son of Raja Sahib Khan (est. d. 1470 AD) maintained his hold on Girjaak fort throughout his reign and was also instrumental in eradicating the spread of ‘tawaif-ul-mulky’ within his territory.
The Mughal conqueror Babur (d. 1530 AD) recorded in his famous Baburnama that the Koh-i-Jud (the Salt Range) mountains were divided in 2 halves. One half belonged to the Janjuas, who were the traditional rulers of the peoples and tribes between Nilab and Bhera. He stated "Their rule, however, is benevolent and brotherly, they do not take whatever they want....The people also serve in their (Janjua) army....the chief is called Rai (Raja) and his younger brothers and sons are known as Malik" indicating their subjects support of their just administration and the organisation of titles amongst the Janjua elite. This branch of the Janjuas was of Raja Jodh's tribe (Raja Jodh is the ancestor of the Janjuas of Chakri Rajgan). The allied chief of Babur's campaign of Punjab, Langar Khan Niazi was also stated by Babur to be a maternal nephew of the Janjuas.(The Baburnama, 2002, W.M Thackston p271).
The Janjua chief Malik (Asad) Hast was recorded by Babur to be about 23yrs old and "the lone ruler of the tribes and clans in the Sohan River area (Potohar Plateau)." He was invited by Babur to unite with him through Malik Hast's nephew Langar Khan Niazi (The Baburnama, 2002, W.M Thackston p271). The hand written record of Amir Timur was brought to Babur by Raja (Ashghar) Saghur Khan and Malik Hast (Asad). Babur accepted and honoured this record and allowed the Janjuas to continue their rule in the respective Kingdoms. ('Chronicles of Early Janjuas' by Dr H Khan, iUniverse 2003, p.22).
The Janjuas also took part in the battles against Rana Sangha in 1527AD in which the Mughals famously defeated the Sesodias Rajputs who had allied with the Afghans against him.
Raja Saghur Khan Janjua son of Raja Habib Khan is stated to have been involved in charging the army of Sangha when they came out of the fortress and after overwhelming them, the Mughal allies put them to flight.(The Baburnama, 2002, W.M Thackston p377).
Malik Darwesh Khan son of Raja Saghur Khan was a distinguished and noted commander of the Imperial Mughal Army during Emperor Akbar's reign, he took part in a campaign to capture Prince Mirza Hakim in June 1581 (Akbarnama Abu-l-Fazl, trans by H.Beveridge, Sang-e-Meel Lahore 2005, p412). Darwesh Khan of Girjaak, Jhelum (son of Raja Sangur Khan mentioned above) had fought Sultan Hathi Khan Gakhar in Punjab (a Gakhar chief). Darwesh Khan defeated Hathi Khan famously in a decisive and courageous battle causing him to flee defeated to Basal, while Hathi's cousins Adam Khan and Sarang Khan escaped to Dangalli. Raja Darwesh Khan recovered the territory that was taken from his tribe by Hathi Gakhar.(Gazetteer of the Rawalpindi District 1893-94, Punjab Government, 2001 Sang-e-Meel Publ., Lahore). Punjab Chiefs also makes mention of Darwesh Khan as "...founder of Darapur and Chakri Rajgan branch of Janjuas, a fighting chief, who avenged many of the injuries his tribe had received from the Gakhars".
The territories recovered by Malik Darwesh Khan were distributed amongst his three sons Raja Hast Khan, Raja Tatar Khan and:
Raja Haji Khan son of Malik Darwesh Khan who is the ‘Founding Father’ of Chakri/Darapur branch. The part which formed his own Kingdom of Darapur, encompassed twenty two large villages and estates. Even to day the area is called in vernacular as 'Bai Deis' (Twenty Two Villages). The descendands of Raja Haji Khan first settled at Malikpur (today Malikpur is a small village where no Janjua resides; but almost entire landed property is held by the Janjuas of Darapur) and then shifted to Old Darapur which is now known as Dilawar. In the Bunah valley area, besides New Darapur, the main villages of Janjuas are Chakri Rajgaan (formerly known as Chakri Dhuman Khan), Nakki and Bajwala Dattan which is now known as Bajwala Kalan.
Malik Qaimuddin son of Raja Haji Khan ruled the ‘Bai Deis’ during the age of Emperors Akbar and Jahangir. He participated in many royal campaigns with distinction.
Malik Shadman Khan son of Malik Qaimuddin succeeded his father during the reign of Badshah Shahjahan.
Malik Khushal Khan son of Malik Shadman Khan was the chief of Chakri/Darapur line during the later period of Mughal dynasty under Aurangzeb Alamgir.
Malik Ghulam Mehdi Khan son of Malik Khushal Khan saw the declining years of the Mughal Empire and also the rise of Sikh Rule across the Punjab.
Malik Darwesh Khan's great-grandson who inherited Girjaak, Raja Shabat Khan had fought under Sardar Mahan Singh Sukarchakia (father of Maharaja Ranjit Singh) in many campaigns in the late 18th century approx. 1770 AD. But upon Raja Shabat Khan's death, the Sikh chief Sardar Atar Singh Dhari assassinated his son and successor, Raja Ghulam Muhi-ud-din Khan (est. d. 1790) (Punjab Chiefs, Lahore 1909, p215). The Janjuas didn't appear to trust the Sikhs thereafter and rebelled valiantly against their rule.
The descendants of Raja Jodh had continued to rule this region through various interruptions until the age of Raja Ranjit Singh (d. 1839 AD). The last ruling brothers of Girjaak fort till 1830 AD were Diwan Khuda Baksh & Diwan Nawazish Ali and Makhiala was last ruled by Raja Bagga Khan Janjua. In order to celebrate their capture of Girjaak, Sikhs built a ‘victory quarter’ (with the bricks and stones removed from the Girjaak fort) at their ancestral capital Gujranwala called ‘Girjhak’ which still stands today.
Malik Muhabat Mehdi Khan son of Malik Ghulam Mehdi Khan lived through the testing times of Sikh Rule which unsettled the centuries old hegemony of Janjuas in the Salt Range area. At this juncture in time, two sons of Malik Muhabat Mehdi Khan Malik Khair Mehdi Khan of Darapur and:
Raja Sarfraz Khan son of Malik Muhabat Mehdi Khan - Founder of Chakri Rajgaan established their respective estates.
After the Battle of Chillianwala (13th Jan 1849 AD) and acquisition of the Punjab, the British rulers of India, quickly realised the Martial potential of the Janjua Rajputs, and designated them as a 'Martial Race'. The Janjua were heavily recruited into the British Imperial Army. “The Janjúas of the Salt Range are considered second to none in Martial Spirit and Tradition, and with the Gakkars and Tiwánás form the élite of the Punjábi Musalmáns” (The Jhelum Gazetteer 1907, Lahore Press, p254)
The British held a high regard for the Janjua recruits: The Janjuas of the Salt range by way of contrast, 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 (Recruiting, Drafting, and Enlisting (Military and Society, 1) Peter Karsten).
"Due to their high aristocratic status, no Janjua would serve in any regiment that was not commanded by a Janjua or any other tribe of equal social standing, a rule that the British duly honoured when selecting regiments for them." (The Garrison State, Tan Tai Yong, Sage Pub. Inc, p75).
Malik Darwesh Khan's later descendant through Malik Khair Mehdi Khan (se above) - Raja Zaman Mehdi Khan of Darapur, was also distinguished by Sir Lepel H.Griffin as a true noble: “He (Raja Zaman Mahdi Khan) acted up to the traditions of his tribe in honesty of character, loyalty to the authorities, and in unstinted hospitality to the strangers within his gates. In 1891, he was a Provincial Darbari and was granted the title of Khan Bahadur by the British Raj” (Punjab Chiefs). Raja Zaman Mehdi Khan Janjua distributed his inheritance equally in four parts between himself and his three brothers, Raja Shakir Mehdi Khan Janjua, Raja Abdullah Khan Janjua, and Raja Paindah Khan Janjua.
Later Raja Shakir Mehdi Khan Janjua died issueless (he had two sons who left the area, and now their descendants are said to be at Qasur near Lahore) and his share was reassigned back to Raja Zaman Mehdi Khan Janjua, whereupon Raja Zaman Mehdi Khan Janjua was admitted as Chief of Family and was conferred the title Malik. It may be added that as per decision made at the time of Malik Zaman Mehdi Khan (when he was appointed as Chief of Family) only the eldest son of the Chief of Family shall be the decorated as Chief of Family and only he shall use the title of Malik while all others shall be called as Rajas.
Raja Najeeb Ullah Khan Janjua (the paternal nephew of Malik Zaman Mehdi Khan Janjua) was among first Imperial soldiers from Imperial Indian Army to get the King’s Commission. Raja Najeeb Ullah Khan was the first Muslim to receive the prestigious King’s Commission, and he was in the British Battalion.
"The Janjuas also took part in the Allied Forces, during both World War I and World War II, with very high numbers. The tribes of Jhelum and Rawalpindi particularly supplying the largest numbers". (A Hundred Horizons, Sugata Bose, 2006 USA, p136).
Malik Zaman Mehdi Khan's only son, Malik Talib Mehdi Khan served as Deputy Commissioner, Ambassador to Kabul, and trusted Prime Minister of the Bhawalpur State (Biographical Encyclopedia of Pakistan by Biographical Research Institute, Pakistan 1956, p777). During the British Raj, Malik Talib Mehdi Khan 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 (The Partition Omnibus, David Page, Anita Inder Singh, Penderel Moon, G. D. Khosla, Mushirul Hasan, Oxford 2002, p62).
Nawab Malik Talib Mehdi Khan Janjua had only one son, the late Nawabzada Malik Afzaal Mehdi Khan Janjua who was elected as a Member of National Assembly after the Independance of Pakistan (1947) as well as 'Chief of the family' after his father's death.
The only son of Nawabzada Malik Afzaal Mehdi Khan Janjua is Nawabzada Malik Iqbal Mehdi Khan Janjua, Ex-Provincial Minister, and Member of National Assembly (1988-1999). He succeeded the rule of the Darapur Estate after his father's death and is the current Family Chief of the Darapur Janjua Dynasty.
Raja Ghulam Mehdi Khan Janjua [the paternal nephew of Nawab Talib Mehdi Khan and father-in-law of Nawabzada Iqbal Mehdi Khan Janjua (Current Chief of the Darapur dynasty) was a Provincial Civil Servant at the time of Independence and later on retired as Deputy Commissioner.
General Asif Nawaz Janjua of Chakri Rajgan, of the Raja Darwesh Khan's line (see above), was a highly notable General of the Pakistani Army achieving the high grade of Chief of Army Staff on August 18, 1991:
“A tall, handsome, Sandhurst-trained officer, he was straight enough to be brusque. He was easily slighted and would go into a paroxysm of nervous energy at the mere hint of being challenged. With all of this, he had no time for fools and had an enormously long memory. In short, he was not someone that a Pakistani politician would like to see as an army chief ”. (Pakistan's Drift into Extremism by Hassan Abbas, ME SHARPE, p144).
Today a great many Janjuas are employed in the Pakistan Army and Navy, as well as the Police Forces in Pakistan and the United Kingdom.
It is interesting to note, that despite the separation of the five major branches of Janjuas, all branches appear to have remained equally strong in the regional politics and in retaining their traditional 'Warlike' characteristics and defiant independence without relent.