War of Independence in Parkar

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Parkar has contributed a great deal in the independence history of the subcontinent. It has preserved its patriotism, peace and a rich culture in spite of server poverty and backwardness.

By Noor Ahmed Janjhi

Tharparkar, known for its difficult terrain, vegetative desert, aridity, peacocks and patriotism, has remained a unique area throughout the history. It has maintained its cultural identity and peacefulness despite passing through many natural and man-made upheavals. Its rich culture and genuineness of the behavior persist since centuries.

Being a far flung district of Sindh province, Tharparkar, has two major parts with versatile topography, culture and history. It is naturally bifurcated into two segments – Thar and Parkar. However, the area has different cultural profiles and biodiversity, consisting of different zones such as Wango, Mahrano, Kassue, Watt, Samroti, Kantho,  Parkar and Khaurr depending on the levels of water table and other ecological considerations.

During the British rule administration on “Thurr” and “Parkur” was managed from Bhuj (S.N Raikes 1856) and Mr. S.N Raikes has written reportage on the area under title of “Memoir on Thurr and Parkur”. That spelling of word “Thurr” will be pronounced as (ٿڙ) which is purely a Dhatki term means “a sand dune” and Parkur (to cross over) has remained the same.

Thar has sand dunes in abundance, stretched from east and declining towards west and guide Thari people like a compass.  There are different names of the points of sand hills and topography. All of those names reflect geographical or climatic consideration and people have also named same points after the names of people and historic events.

Parkar has a flat topography, without sand dunes. Karoonjhar Hills, a 3.5 billion years old mountain of Precambrian rock formation, is riveted at the southern corner. Its soil is fertile and people get sufficient yield from the crop grown there through rain water irrigated-cultivation or dug well-irrigated cultivation.

The area of Tharparkar, which once upon a time, had been irrigated by the river Sarswati, is now beyond to tail-end of the Indus only some Dehs in the western portion are irrigated through Runn distributary of Mithrao Canal.

Parkar has remained cradle of trade and commerce some 2000-3000 years B.C. There had been centers of commercial activities as “Pari Nagar and Bhudreshar” and the area had good rushed beach where the ships were also anchored at. The famous port of Pari Nagar was established in the first century AD (Ojha -1998)

The area of Parkar tells us so many stories and myths reflecting the golden cultural era of the Parkar. Being riveted with a 3.5 billion old Karoonjhar hills, the area of Parkar has Jain Dehra at Nagarparkar, Bhodesar and Gorri, Bhodeshar Mosque built by Sultan Mahmood Begrro of Gujerat, large water ponds, and swimming pools, religious Asthans, rainwater streams and marshy land of Runn. Thus Parkar had been remained a rich civilization in bygone days. (SN Raikes: 1856)

The area has remained under the rule of different people. But Rajputs ruled it for a long time. The British snatched power from the Talpurs. The invasion to Parkar and its consequent capture had taken time. Firstly, the British government sent its troops on 1 November 1832 to Nagarparkar in the guise of curbing dacoits’ disturbance prevailing there.

Rana Jagujee, ruler of Nagarparkar fled and the Rana of Virawah did not fight at all, as he was the supporter of British. Rana Karanji succeeded Jaguji and was directed through Talpur Amirs of Sindh to keep vigilant eye on the pirates and dacoits of the area. After some time Mirs found Rana Jaguji and handed him over to the British government. He was imprisoned in Kutch and at last they made him the Rana of Bhodesar, a town four miles in the north west of Nagarparkar town. From 1833 to 1843,

Talpurs ruled over Tharparkar and they built forts at various parts of Thar such as Naukot, Mithi, Islamkot, Chelhar Singario, and Khudi. But they did not erect a single structure in Parkar. The British captured Sindh from Talpur Amirs. Consequently, there erupted the riots and rallies throughout the country. Ranas of Parkar were also in rebellion as they had not accepted the British rule at all. Therefore the British government appointed officials to handle the administrative and law and order problems. At last, Captain Stanley Napier Raikes was appointed as first Assistant Political Agent on Parkar. He was succeeded by Colonel Trywhitt, who remained the Political Superintendent of the area from 1864 to1871. On his recommendations, the area of Parkar was annexed with Hyderabad district in 1856.  Col. Trywhitt was succeeded by Dr. Palin, who constructed the markets in various towns of Tharparkar including bazaar of Nagrparkar. Those markets were called “Palin Bazar” (Ojha 1998).

Notwithstanding the British machinery, Sodhas regarded themselves as genuine rulers of the area. However, Sir Charles Napier re-fixed their jagirs and allowances on 15.10.1844 for next seven years and then in May 1847. Their portion was made half of their previous allotment. In those days Parkar was under Rana Karanji. His minister Okamaldev was also allotted the village Mokrio and the village Virawah was sanctioned to the Rana of Virawah. All the additional privileges were stopped and the Commissioner Hyderabad sent a Kardar to conduct revenue survey of the area. Grazing tax was being collected by the government. Opium trade was allowed under license only. There were Brahman staff in the management of Raikes and the police consisted of Sodha. During the above said transition some unpleasant happenings occurred in the area those were as follows:

  1. The Kardar of the British government fixed a fine on a special serviceman of Rana Karanjee against the damage of a dug well.
  2. Rana Karanjee and Patel of Kasbo had developed a conflict over the agriculture land. Trywhitt ordered to fix border stones to demarcate the disputed land. The Sodha did not honor that decision.
  3. Some officials of the telegraph department misbehaved with the Kolhi women.
  4. Mukhtiarkar of Nagarparkar, Mr. Deomal developed a conflict with Rana of Nagarparkar.

 

Because of all the above points of disagreement and general hostile atmosphere against the British after War of Independence of 1857, Sodhas of Parkar also decided to stand in revolt against the British government. They started raising their army to drive the British out of Parkar, which was the land of their sentiments and dreams. Rajputs called their well-wishers and started gathering troops at the camp. On the call of Rana Karanji, his brother Bhupatsing, Rana of Virawah Ladhosing, Thakur Kalji of Behrano and others joined him. Besides, Kolhi troops consisting on 5000 men joined the Rajput troops. All of them jointly announced a war on the officials of the British government on 15 April 1859.

First, they destroyed the communication system of the government and cut the telegraph wires and broke away the roads. They plundered the government treasury, set ablaze the Kachehri and attacked the police station and destroyed the infrastructure of the government machinery. That wreckage and disturbance created a scene of mutiny and turned the Nagarparkar into a town of trouble. The situation deteriorated to the extent that in went out of control of the local administration. Mr. Deomal Mukhtairkar sent information to the headquarters at Hyderabad. The information reached there through a special communiqué on 18 April 1859. Colonel Evans, the commanding officer of the station, ordered the 3rd Bolach Regiment immediately to move for Nagarparkar and some artillery was also sent from Karachi to the scene of the revolt. The other troops were also sent from Disa and Ahmedabad cantonments. Soon after, Col. Evans was directed to go Nagarparkar to command the army personally. He moved hurriedly and joined the troops at Islamkot town. The Deputy Collector of Tharparkar and the Superintendent also joined him there. The Disa troops reached there before them. The Sodha Force attacked the British army. The British army reciprocated with mortars which created a loud thundering echoed in the area which was easily being heard by Col. Evans at a distance of 50 miles away from the scene. Col. Evans reached Virawah town on the other day where the Sodhas of Bhodesar joined him. There had a bitter fight on 3 May 1959.The British troops conducted heavy bombardment on the strong pockets of Sodha in the town of Nagaparkar and in the Karoonjhar hills. Chandangadh – fort of Chandan-located in the mountain was destroyed on that day. The severe blow dispersed the Sodha and they hid themselves at various safe heavens throughout Karoonjhar hills. The army captured the town of Nagarparkar and Rana Karanjee and Ladhosingh were arrested and peace was restored in the town.

Col .Evans, along with Sodha of Bhodesar attacked the camp at Kajrerralo, some 66 miles away from Nagarparkar. All the leaders of rebellion were either killed or escaped. After that successful attack, he returned to Nagarparkar. On the other hand, some Sodha who were out of Nagarparkar, were unaware of that happening. Mr. Udhesingh son of Ladhosing was one of them. He was coming back to his village. On his way, at village Raniwaro, there was a marriage ceremony of Kolhi community. His mare was a trained and well nurtured so she started dancing on the drum-beating by the Kolhi people. He stayed there for a while. One of those Kolhis murmured “His father is in prison and the son is dancing his mare”. Listening to that, Udhesing rushed towards the prison at the camp of British under Col. Trywhitt. He broke the door of prison room and liberated all the prisoners instantly and then moved towards the tent of Col. Trywhitt. He was too furious to control his composure; he fired a shot instantly on reaching near the tent. The British official fled away and took refuge in the hides at the tannery of Ladhyo Menghwar. On that scene a local bard has rightly said:

آيو اڌيسنگهه اوچتو، ڀورو ڀڄايو،

ڪر ڀوري را ڪنپيا، موچي بچايو.

Translation: Udhesing came and the white official fled away

White official trembled vehemently, cobbler saved him safely.

They searched for him all the houses but did not find so they killed some of army men. At that time Col. Evans along with the troops were accessing village Deensi. A special messenger informed them about the rebellion and the army marched back towards the town and made siege on 19 June 1859. Rana and his minister deserted the town and took refuge in the Karoonjhar hills. Rana’s special aides used to send him supplies and information. They were Seth Mahaviji Lohano of Kasbo, Hanspuri Bavo and Ruplo Kolhi. They had kept it very secret. But the information leaked and reached to the British officials. They arrested Ruplo Kolhi, tortured him badly to know the whereabouts of the Rana, but he did not share a word about it. At last he shed the last drop of his blood for the sake of loyalty and patriotism. Then the British official drew their attention towards the two other advisors. They called Hanspuri Bavo and Mahaviji Lohano and gave them lucrative offers. Both of them helped the British to arrest Rana Karanjee, hidden in Karoonjhar. Thus, Karanjee was arrested along with the other Sodhas. Those were exonerated who had surrendered before the British suzerainty leaving behind their own sovereignty.

On 23 August 1859, Col. Evans recommended the village of Bhodesar, producing the yield worth Rs.300 annually, in the recognition of the services and facilitation given by Thakurs of Bhodesar. Consequently they got 6000 acres of land as jagir. Jagirs of rebel Ranas of Nagarparkar and Virawah were confiscated. Thakur Ladhosing and his son Udhesingh were offered profitable positions and a bungalow and first class jagirs in the irrigated area of Sindh. They arrested persons were imprisoned at Umerkot prison. Thus, the rebellion in Parkar was crushed.

After restoration of normalcy the British government officials recommended awarding jagirs and other compensations to the allies and supporters. The supporting Thakurs were given jagirs on the strong recommendations by Col. Evans.

Mahavirji Lohana was given 8000 bhega land for lifetime .Hanspuri Bavo was sanctioned the entire product of the hill. Ladhyo Meghwar also got a piece of land.

Rana and his minister were tried on the charges of treason and rebellion. The case concluded in 1860 with 14-year and 10-year sentence to Rana and his minister respectively. Ruplo was hanged to death on 22-8-1859 who became immortal character in the history of patriotism.

Local bards had versified this battle eloquently naming all the Thakurs who supported Rana Karanjee in the following couplets:

گوري گرور گرجيو، جهيڪ مچائي رڻ جنگ،

لڙيو ساٿ ڪلياڻ رو، اوئان رجپوتان نان رنگ،

رنگ ڪلا، رنگ مهاسينگا، رنگ هو سڀ رهاڻ،

رنگ ڪارونجهر را ڪونگرا، رنگ سوڍا راڻ،

وجو ڏاڍو ويرور،ڀوجل ننڍو ڀوپ،

ڪٽڪا سين رٽڪا ڪريا، رنگ ڪلا ڪل روپ

ڪلي چڙهي هوڪو ڪري باجي هاڪ ويراڻ

گلي ئي پر تروٽ گيو، ميل فرنگي ماڻ

چندن گڍ نڇاور ٿيو، جوڌي مچا وي جنگ،

لڙيو ساٿ ڪرڻجي رو ، آن راجپوتان نان رنگ.

Translation:

The white man showed proud, which ignited the battle

Company of Kalyan fought strongly, well done Rajputs

Bravo Kala, bravo Mahasingh, bravo the company all

Bravo reefs of Karoonjhar, bravo all of Sodhahood

Vijo was very brave and heavy was the younger Bhupatsing

Swords cut so many soldiers, bravo the command of Kalo

Kalo announced the fight and ordered to attack on

Trywhitt fled away with the fear of death

Chandangadh was sacrificed, though Rajputs fought bravely,

Company of Karanji fought strongly, bravo to Rajput soldiers

In these couplets there are the names of those valiant Sodha who fought bravely with the Birtish Army. They were: Kalyansingh, Kalji Mahasingh, Vijaisingh, Bhojsingh ,Bhupatsingh, Bhanji, Manji. All of them         fought bravely. Chandangadh symbol of their safety, security and sovereignty was destroyed by the British army with bombardment. The Sodha shed the last drop of their blood for their dear homeland.

The whole episode of this rebellion by Sodha of Parkar reveals some interesting points in the history of strategy and politics. It can be concluded that:

  1. The Sodha were local rulers governing through their traditional ways of the governance with a non-capitalist system of economy while the British were highly educated, well equipped with sophisticated ammunition and equipment and clever in making alliance for support through their constant strategy of “divide and rule”.
  2. The Talpur Amirs ruled Tharparkar for ten years but Sodhas were rulers on the ground. The weak Talpur rule handed over Tharparkar to British successors without any proper settlement.
  3. Owing to Sodha charisma in Parkar, the British were afraid of the peoples’ power, so they attacked from both sides — western and the eastern side —– and troops were sent from Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Disa and artillery from Karachi. Sodhas were not in a position to bear that huge attack. However they stood steadfastly.
  4. Sodhas were scattered in small principalities so they could not gather the required support. The Thakurs of Bhodesar supported the British in that fight.
  5. Sodhas did not have good communication system and sophisticated weapons to face the British army.
  6. Rano Karanji was arrested through the leaked secret information by his close aides. The people of upper class (Mahaviji Lohano and Hanspuri Bavo) deceived the Rana and only a person of the marginalized communities (Ruplo Kolhi) stood beside Rana and sacrificed his life also.
  7. It was really an episode of the war of independence in Parkar. The War of Independence, which was fought in Meerut, Kanpur and Lucknow, was a battle initiated by the soldiers with the British rulers, while here in Parkar it was a strong rebellion initiated by local people.

That is why we can say that Parkar has contributed a great deal in the independence history of the subcontinent. It has preserved its patriotism, peace and a rich culture in spite of server poverty and backwardness.

Notes:

Thar: The word Thar has different meanings. It is derived from a Sanskirat word “Sthal” means arid or a place where water is not flowing. Cream of the milk is also called Tharue in Sindhi. Sand dunes are called Thar or Thari. Thar is the area of district Tharparkar where there are sand dunes and sandy soil.

Parkar: It is a combination of two words Par means the other side and ukran means to cross through. It is the area from where the sea recessed and the flat alluvial plain emerged.

Various Zones of Tharparkar

  1. Mohrano مهراڻو, an area coming before the irrigated planes of Sindh.
  2. Kasue ڪس  a strip adjoining the Mohrano and the irrigated area
  3. Wango ونگو in the west of Mohrano and ancient wharf with a market called Wanga Bazaar.
  4. Samroti سامروٽي western portion of Mithi taka and adjacent to the Watt in south.
  5. Watt وٽ a strip adjoining Samroti and Rann of Kutch.
  6. Rann of Kutch رڻ ; a marshy land adjacent to Parkar.
  7. Parkar پارڪر a flat alluvial area of taluka Nagarparkar adjacent to the Kantho.
  8. Kantho ڪنٺو an area adjacent to Mohrano in the west and Samroti in south west, Parkar in the south and Dhat in the north east.
  9. Dhatt ڍاٽ an area in the north east of Kantho and in the south of Khaurr.
  10. Khaurr کائڙ northern portion of taluka Chachro.

By and large Tharparkar topography can be divided into 1. Sandy area of Thar وارياسو . Flat alluvial area of Parkar  مٽيهاڻو سڌو پٽ پارڪر 3. Hilly area of Karoonjhar and other nearby mountains and  ٽاڪرو ڪارونجهر 4. Marshy land of Rann of Kutch رڻ جي پٽي

Chandangadh or Fort of Chandan:  It was a fort built by Rana Chandan of Nagarparkar. The fort was demolished by the British Artillery during the War of Independence in Parkar in 1859 but there are remains in the mountain.

Ruplo Kolhi: He was a close aide to Rana Karanjee. He was assigned to maintain supply line during the Rana’s stay in the mountain. The other two advisors were Seth Mahaviji Lohano and Hanspuri Bavo. The British army arrested Ruplo Kolhi and tortured him to death but he did not disclose the whereabouts of the Rana. Seth Mahaviji and Hanspuri Bavo cooperated with the British officials. So they were sanctioned jagirs.

Karoonjhar: It is an ancient mountain of Precambrian rock formation some 3.5 billion years back. It is rich in biodiversity and there are many spots and places of importance throughout the mountain.

Bhodesar: It is a village 4 km in North West of Nagarparkar. Sultan Mahmood Begaro built a mosque (in A D 1505) here that exists there.

Virawah: It is a village 14 km in the north of Nagarparkar

Gorri: It is a village where there is main Gorri Dehro.

References:

  1. Raikes, Stanley Napier: Memoir on Thur and Parkur districts of Sind (1856)
  2. Hughes, A W: Gazetteer of the province of Sindh (1876)
  3. Ojha, Mangharam: Purano Parkar (1989)
  4. Panhwar, M H: Chronological Dictionary of Sindh (1983)
  5. Harijan, Raichand : Tareekh Registan (1955)

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Hailing from Tharparkar, the writer is a senior educationist and author of several books. He writes regularly for Sindh Courier and other dailies. 

 

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