Home History The British savagery against Hur Community in Sindh – Part III

The British savagery against Hur Community in Sindh – Part III

The British savagery against Hur Community in Sindh – Part III
Illustration Courtesy: Japan Times

The British officials in Sindh were scared of Hurs. The record shows that the Hurs were detained at these camps since their deportation in early 20th century.

The British colonial authorities had established at least thirteen concentration camps for deported Hurs in Indian States. These camps were as follows:

1) Chharanagar, a historical place near Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The people residing here are called as Bhantu. They were the freedom fighters and the British had bonded them in a jail, which still exist near this town. They were brave and fought against the colonial forces. The British authorities had branded them as criminals like the Hurs and scattered them to different provinces of India.

2) Dohad, which means two boundaries. It is located near Godhra, Baroda on the banks of river Dudhimati, and is a town in Dohad district within the State of Gujarat. Currently the city serves as District Headquarters for Dahod District. It is approximately 200 km away from Ahmedabad. It is known as Dohad as the States of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh border the town. It is the birthplace of the last great Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.

3) Ambernath near Kalyan, Bombay that lies on Bombay to Pune railway route in Maharashtra State.

4) Dhule in Khandesh region of Maharashtra.

5) Mahad, Pandalpur/Pandharpur, Maharashtra.

6) Bijapur, Karnatka State. It’s a city 384km West of Hyderabad Deccan.

7) Solapur, Maharashtra. It lies on the border of Maharashtra and Karnatka.

8) Akole, Ahmed Nagar.

9) Visapur, Maharashtra

10) Essapur, Saharanpur district, Uttar Pradesh.

11) Shivrajpur, near Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh.

12) Dharwar, Karnatka State.

13) Nira Projects Settlement, a town of Maharashtra 80 km from Pune.

The old Commissioner Office record, now in possession of Sindh Archives Department, included a large number of files regarding Hur Movement, of which 350 were taken away by the federal government in 1970s to study and devise strategies for crushing the uprising in Balochistan. Unfortunately, these files never returned and are said to be in custody of National Documentation Center, Cabinet Division Islamabad. Currently only three files are found at Sindh Archives that pertain to the Hurs deported to concentration camps of Indian states.

Many of the Hurs were detained there since 1915 and even before it. One Jiando Wasan, the nephew of Piru Vizier, was deported in 1913.

The files contain correspondence between the Sindh and Bombay government officials. The record shows that the Hurs were detained at these camps since their deportation in early 20th century. The references in these official letters show that many of the Hurs were detained there since 1915 and even before it. One Jiando Wasan, the nephew of Piru Vizier, was deported in 1913. All the years the Sindh authorities and the Settlement Officers of Bombay Presidency exchanged letters discussing the conditional release of Hurs and transferring others from Sindh to concentration camps in Indian States.

In certain cases, the Sindh officials raised objections on release of Hurs from India and allowing them to return home.

In certain cases, the Sindh officials raised objections on release of Hurs from India and allowing them to return home or for lodging them again at concentration camps here. Some of the letters of Sindh authorities manifest their scare on release or transfer of 20 Hurs at a time from India to Sindh. It transpired from certain letters that in case of unrest among the Hurs, the authorities shifted ‘dangerous Hurs’ from one to other concentration camp in Indian states also. For example a group of Hurs was shifted to Visapur after unrest. Following letters manifest their scare.

District Superintendent of Police, Nawabshah R. T. Barker in a letter sent to District Magistrate Nawabshah on November 03, 1923, referring to latter’s letter dated October 30, 1923, stated: “All questions regarding the release of Hurs in Visapur to Sindh or out of such settlements be held up till it is clear what effect the recent and numerous releases will have on the conduct of the Hurs generally. It has come to my notice that Variyam, the son of the notorious Bachu (Bachu Badshah), who returned from Visapur this year and is in the Jalalani settlement, goes about, when on a pass, with a crowd of 40 to 50 Hurs like a person of great importance. This has, it is reported, caused a revival of the old spirit among the Hurs, and apprehensions among the Zamindars. Variyam was questioned, and denied taking a large party of Hurs with him but I believe the report.”

Same fears were expressed in a letter of District Superintendent of Police, Tharparkar, which was forwarded to Commissioner of Sindh by District Magistrate, Tharparkar in October 1923. The letter says: “It is too early, perhaps, to judge the effect on the Hurs of repatriation to Sindh of an increased number of their brethren from Visapur. The effect has not been, certainly, to calm the fears of those Zamindars who have loyally helped government against the Hurs – fears justified by the recent murders in Sanghar and Sinjhoro Talukas and the moral support given thereto by a large portion of the Hur community.” The District Magistrate also stated in the letter that there can be no relaxation for the present in the matter of deporting some of the worst Hurs annually to Visapur.

The District Superintendent of Police, Mirpur Khas also through a letter dated December 03, 1923, submitted to the authorities via District Magistrate, a list of Hurs of Sanghar recommending deporting them as according to him these Hurs were sheltering the absconders from Visapur and Sakrand and had been providing facilities for committing crimes. “I may mention here that during the current year 22 Hurs have been repatriated from Visapur to Sanghar. Along with these five, women and nine children were also repatriated. As a result of my efforts Suleman Wasan and Mitho Hingoro have been arrested. The remaining three Hurs are still at large and the police are on the lookout for them,” he informed.

Hardas Mal Uderno Mal, District Magistrate of Nawabshah also was afraid of Hurs. In a letter to Commissioner of Sindh on October 11, 1924, he writes: “It will not be advisable to freely issue passes to Hurs other than those whose repatriation is decided by the government. In a letter dated July 20, 1924 also I expressed my views on the general question of repatriation and I do not think any more Hurs need to be allowed to come home on passes except on urgent occasions of marriage or the like. The present rate of repatriation – 20 percent- is liberal enough for Hurs to prove themselves worthy of being allowed to return home.”

In June 1926, the District Superintendent of Police, Tharparkar submitted to District Magistrate and higher authorities a list of Hurs lodged in Nira Project camp classifying them in dangerous class whose repatriation should be delayed until the last and those of middle class. In that letter the police officer opined that the deported Hurs should be kept at Nira camp at least for five years.

In his comments submitted to Commissioner of Sindh through District Magistrate, the District Superintendent of Police, Nawabshah Mohammad Shah stated on November 14, 1929 that “It is not clear from the letter of the Criminal Tribes Settlement Officer as to how the Hurs after their release from the settlement (camp), will maintain themselves in the Bombay Presidency proper and will that prevent them from absconding and coming to Sindh. If they abscond and remain in hiding in Sindh, they will be much more dangerous than if they are repatriated to Sindh. If, however, it is not possible to detain them any longer in any of the settlements in the Presidency, it would be in my opinion preferable to repatriate them to Sindh at the rate of two or three a year.” The District Magistrate also endorsed DSP’s views. The Commissioner of Sindh had sought views of the district officials on release of Hurs on license vide letter dated October 10, 1929.

The authorities at district level in Sindh or even at Bombay Presidency had been showing such concerns and opposing repatriation and releasing temporarily of Hurs on passes.

The only safe conditions are full jail restrictions and if it is desired to keep the Hurs away from Sindh until they die.

The policy of British authorities regarding Hurs could more be judged from a letter of O. H. B. Starte, ICS, Criminal Tribes Settlement Officer of Bombay Presidency Bijapur written to Commissioner of Sindh on March 20, 1924. He says: “The only safe conditions are full jail restrictions and if it is desired to keep the Hurs away from Sindh until they die, and not run the risk of having them return as absconders, then they must be regularly interned in jails.” It appears from his letter that a group of Hurs were shifted from Nira Projects camp to Visapur camp.

Starte, who was appointed Inquiry Officer for Hur unrest at Nira Project Settlement (Concentration Camp), in his letter mentioned above stated that he was very much impressed by the intense longing for home on the part of the Hurs. “I remember Col. J. Jackson a former Inspector General of Prisons telling me how much he was impressed also by their feeling in this regard, and how necessary it was to give them some hope of a return, sooner or later to their native land. This is of course natural. They are surrounded by alien people; most of them cannot live a family life. If all hope of repatriation was abandoned I have little doubt that they would abscond. As those who return as absconders are much more dangerous than those who return by permission even in the interests of the districts, it is advisable to hold out to them some hope of repatriation. I would say frankly that no settlement condition and restrictions can keep them absolutely from absconding.”

He however advocated alternative policy of permitting a gradual repatriation of the Hurs now in the Nira Projects Settlement together with a policy of expatriating other Hurs to the settlement. He suggested that the repatriating Hurs should be told that they are being repatriated on probation and it would be cancelled in case of any lawlessness.

The officer was of the view that those Hurs who had been away from their country for six years cannot justly be held responsible for lawlessness of the remaining Hurs. “At the same time I admit that those Hurs who are to be repatriated should be carefully chosen with regard to the history prior to their deportation,” he stated saying that in many cases the reasons for deportation of Hurs are not clear as per records now in his possession. He suggested drawing up a confidential list dividing the Hurs lodged in Nira Project Settlement into three classes (a) The Hurs especially dangerous whose repatriation should be delayed until last. (b) Middle Class and (C) Not dangerous whose repatriation might be undertaken first.

Despite realizing the nature of problems of Hurs and soft corner to some extent, the British officer suggested that too many Hurs should not be repatriated and the 20 percent per annum rate of repatriation fixed by the government should be reduced. He called for taking good securities from the Hurs of Nira Project and other concentration camps before issuing them passes. “I think the deposits of Hurs amounting over Rs.18000 (earned by Hurs through labor at the concentration camp) now with me form a valuable lever in ensuring that they will not play any mischief while on pass,” he told Commissioner of Sindh.

A list of 61 Hurs was attached with the letter for confidential report on their character and cases. Their names, caste and home district are as follows:

Abu Bakar son of Valu Hingoro, Tharparkar; Ak son of Madatal Marri, Nawabshah; Alam son of Bahram Shar, Tharparkar; Alam son of Hundo Hingoro, Tharparkar; Alam son of Jani Jakhro, Nawabshah; Ali Shah son of Shershah Syed, Tharparkar; Allah Bux son of Kadu Hingoro, Tharparkar; Allanu son of Shadi Rajpar, Tharparkar; Allu son of Pariyo Mochi, Tharparkar; Alu son of Ismail Hajam, Nawabshah; Babu son of Nidar Khan Chang, Nawabshah; Bachal son of Ghallu Marri, Nawabshah; Bachal son of Piru Kiriyo, Tharparkar; Bachu Shah son of Jiwan Shah Syed, Nawabshah; Barocho son of Maluk Wasan, Nawabshah; Dhani Parto son of Allahyar Hingoro, Tharparkar; Fakiro Khan Kiriyo, Tharparkar; Ghulam Ali Khan Rind, Nawabshah; Hamal son of Alam Marri, Nawabshah; Imam Bux son of Saleh Behan, Tharparkar; Deen Muhammad Khan Nizamani, Tharparkar; Sono son of Gohram Chandiyo, Tharparkar; Jani Shah son of Wadal Shah Syed, Tharparkar; Karimdad son of Yatun Hingoro, Tharparkar; Name not readable son of Gul Mohammad Shar, Nawabshah; Name not readable son of Allahyar Hingoro, Tharparkar; Name not readable son of Kadu Hingoro, Tharparkar; Lala Khaskheli, Nawabshah; Name not readable, by caste Mangrio, Tharparkar; Mohammad son of Abdullah Mahar, Tharparkar; Manjhi son of Tindu Khaskheli, Nawabshah; Two names not readable, one of them Chang of Nawabshah; Mir Khan son of Madat Ali Marri, Nawabshah; Mitha son of Jada Pohar (It might be Panhwar), Tharparkar; Mitha son of Ghazi Khaskheli, Nawabshah; Mohammad Ali Nizamani, Tharparkar; Mohammad Ali son of Shahmir Kiriyo, Tharparkar; Murid son of Saleh Behan, Tharparkar; Niazo son of Mulla Kiriyo, Tharparkar; Obaya son of Allah Bux Hingoro, Tharparkar; Name not readable son of Doso Mochi, Nawabshah; Pindal son of Sabu Dahri, Nawabshah; Punoo son of Khamiso Aradin, Nawabshah; Bachayo Kiriyo, Tharparkar; Ranjho Mangriyo, Tharparkar; Name not readable son of Mulla Hingoro, Tharparkar; 14 names not readable. They belonged to Hingoro, Chang, Wasan, Dahri, Khaskheli, Talpur, Bhanejo, Junejo, Aradin, Kiriyo, Chaniyo and Syed communities of Tharparkar and Nawabshah.

There are a number of Hurs who have been in settlements in this presidency for very many years, and who according to our rules are qualified for discharge on license. Those who are on your ‘A’ list (Dangerous) I gather some cannot be permitted to return to Sindh for some years.

Starte, the same officer in another letter to Commissioner of Sindh on September 27, 1929, from Dharwar camp opposes repatriation of Hurs despite their exemplary conduct but suggests releasing them on license to live on their own in the limits of Bombay Presidency. He states: “There are a number of Hurs who have been in settlements in this presidency for very many years, and who according to our rules are qualified for discharge on license. Those who are on your ‘A’ list (Dangerous) I gather some cannot be permitted to return to Sindh for some years. The Hurs who would be released have been of exemplary conduct in the settlements, and I feel it is hard to detain them further. Their discharge on license to a place in the presidency proper would, I think, be safe.”

On January 02, 1931, Starte in yet another letter to the Commissioner of Sindh refers to a letter No:766-A-III, dated January 23, 1930 from the Commissioner of Sindh, and proposes to release on license the five Hurs of Dohad Settlement under Section 18 of the Criminal Tribes Act 1924 (VI of 1924) and allow them to reside at the Free Colony attached to Dohad Settlement as they had no convictions during the last ten years and no departmental punishment of a serious nature during last three years. According to him their character was reported to be satisfactory and they were earning their livelihood by honest means. The five Hurs were Mangan son of Layak of Tharparkar; Sanghar son of Medha of Nawabshah; Yaru Shah son of Layakdin Shah of Tharparkar; Nihalu son of    Duru of Tharparkar and Dhaniparto son of Allahyar of Tharparkar. During the period of their license to reside at Free Colony, they will be giving weekly roll call and taking passes.

The British authorities released some eight Hurs from Dohad Settlement of Panchmahal district under Section 18 of Criminal Tribes Act along with their dependents in 1932. They were allowed to go back to their villages in Sindh on license. Backward Class Officer of Dharwar, Bombay Presidency D. Symington informed Commissioner of Sindh in a letter dated April 01, 1932 regarding release of Hurs. The released Hurs are Lughoo son of Dawood of Togajo village, Taluka Sanghar, district Tharparkar; Shahu son of Dinu of Kumbhari village, Taluka Sanghar, district Tharparkar; Kamal son of Abjan of Phogawan village, Taluka Sanghar, district Tharparkar; Hassu son of Jiwan of Guladaki village, Taluka Sinjhoro, formerly of Nawabshah district; Khamisa son of Mira of Lutaka village, Taluka Sanghar, district Tharparkar; Mitha son of Walu of Toori village, Taluka Sanghar, district Tharparkar; Kamal son of Makhan of Gurang village, Taluka Sinjhoro, district Nawabshah and Sathi son of Sabu of Jadi village, Taluka Sinjhoro, district Nawabshah.

Earlier, in 1922, C. J. Butler, District Superintendent of Police, Nawabshah in a letter to the District Magistrate, Nawabshah had informed that he has no objection to the transfer of eight Hurs to Sindh namely Dadlo son of Jurio Nizamani, Jiando son of Sajan Wasan, Alim son of Bahram Shar, Jhuro son of Mangio Khaskheli, Lukman son of Ismail Shar, Suleman son of Ibrahim Khaskheli, Yaru Shah son of Laikdino Shah and Alu son of Pario Mochi. He informed that Jhuro and Lukman had already arrived at Mirpur Khas as per letter No: 1064 -H, dated September 26, 1922.

Butler also attached a list of 10 Hurs for transfer from Jalalani concentration camp, Sakrand, district Nawabshah to Visapur concentration camp. The names of Hurs are Imam Bux son of Kehar Khan Jamali of Lal Khan Jamali village, Shahdadpur, Kamal son of Makan Hajam of Khairpur State, Valu son of Bhuro Khaskheli of village Timuho, Sinjhoro, Wali Muhammad son of Mitho Sanjrani of Bero Marri village, Sinjhoro, Dilu son of Pario Kirrio of Dhaniparto Rajar village, Sanghar, Gundrio son of Hot Khaskheli of Waghoo Ji Bhit village, Sanghar, Gulan son of Juman Wasan of Tajo Wasan village, Sinjhoro, Mahomed son of Madad Ali Marri, Adul son of Mehar Wasan of Janib Dhoro, Sanghar and Sumar son of Sajan Machi of Sanghar.


Click here for Part-I

Click here for Part-II


Excerpts from the prize-winning research-based book ‘Hur – The Freedom Fighter’ authored by Nasir Aijaz (Published by Sindh Culture Department in August 2015)