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Sindh - Early History

Sindhian history
Ruled by Brahmans until conquered by Muhammadans711
A possession of the Khalif of the Ummayide dynasty750
Conquered from them by Mahmud of Ghazni1026
Sumra tribe obtain power1051
Samas overthrow the Sumras1351
Conquered by Shah Beg Urghun1519
Emperor Humayun places the country under contribution1540
Tirkhans obtain power1555
Annexed by Akbar to Delhi1593
Nur Muhammad Kalhora obtains the Subehdarship1719
Nadir Shah annexes Sindh to the Persian dominions1740
Becomes subject to the Afghan throne1748
Kalhora dynasty overthrown, Talpur dynasty commences1783
Conquered by the British and annexed1843
Sindh is the Sanskrit word Sindh or Sindhu, a river, or ocean. It was applied to the river Indus, the first great body of water encountered by the Atyan invaders. Muhammadans derive the word from Sindh, brother of Hind and son of Nuh or Noah, whose descendants they allege governed the country for many centuries. Sindh is bounded on the north and west by Beluchistan; the Punjab on the north-east; on the east Rajputana; and on the south are the Rann of Kachh and the Arabian Sea. The great mountain barrier dividing Sindh and Beluchistan, known as the Khirthar or Hala range, attains a height of 7,000 feet. Rising near one of its desolate peaks in the Mehar district, the river Hab flows through a valley of this range—the only perennial stream in Sindh, excepting the Indus.

The earliest authentic history of Sindh dates from the time when Alexander the Great abandoned his scheme of conquest towards the Ganges, alarmed at the discontent of his soldiers. Sind was found by Alexander (BC 327) well peopled, in a high state of cultivation, under several chiefs. He embarked a portion of the army in boats, floated them down the Jhelum and Chenab, and marched the remainder on the banks of the river till he came to the Indus, down which, in a new and larger fleet, he conducted his army till he reached its mouth. There he constructed a fleet, which sailed along the coast up the Persian Gulf with part of his forces, under the command of Nearchus; while Alexander himself marched the remainder through Southern Beluchistan and Persia to Sistan or Susa. Tatta is considered to be the same as Patala, mentioned by Arrian, as the spot whence Alexander's fleet sailed for Persia.

From the time of Alexander till the khalifat of Walid (AD 705-715), Sind seems to have been chiefly under Rajputs professing Hinduism. No Buddhist remains have hitherto been observed.

Sindh seems to have had a reputation of being wealthy, for in the time of the Khalifat of Baghdad several attacks were made upon it. The Moslems used to carry off Hindu women as slave girls; and in an attack made by the Raja on one of these convoys, some Muhammadans were killed and the remainder made prisoners. To avenge this attack a Muhammadan army was sent, which ravaged the Raja's country; and when he left his capital with an army to attack the enemy, he was defeated and slain, and his kingdom transferred to Muhammadan rule.

In AH 93-94, AD 711-712, Muhammad Kasim, nephew of the ruling khalif, Walid I, led an army of 15,000 men against the ruler of Sind, Raja Daher, who fell in battle before Alor, AD 711. Kasim pursued his conquests northwards to Multan. In AD 717, on the invitation of the ruling khalif, Umar-bin-Abdul Aziz, many of the Sind princes adopted Muhammadanism.

In the confusion that resulted on Mahmud's death, a Rajput tribe in Sind, called Sumrah or Sumera, established themselves, AD 1054, and held sway until overthrown by the the Sammah army, led by Darya Khan, and gave Thatta up to plunder. Multan is supposed to have shaken off the Ghazni allegiance, and to have become part of the dominions of the Sumras, the Rajput dynasty which had arisen in Sindh. The history of this event is obscure, but there is no doubt that towards AD 1193, Multan was reduced by the Muhammadans, after Muaz-ud-din bin Sham, called Shahab-ud-din, of the house of Ghor, had defeated Pifhora Rai of Delhi.

Though the Province was subject to perpetual raids from the Ghorians and the Khalji and Taghlakid rulers of Delhi, and afterwards to the devastations of the Moghals, still, during eight centuries, after the rise to power of the Sumras, it is possible to recognise the rule, more or less firmly established, of seven local dynasties in Sind; first the Sumras, then the Sammas, who were also Rajputs — of the Lunar race — and ancestors of the Samejas and Jarejas of Cutch, and were, like the Surrras, converted to Islam; and then the Arghuns, descendants of Changiz Khan; the Tarkhans, who were in power for 38 years only before submitting to Akbar; the Daudpotras, who founded Shikarpur; the Kalhoras, descendants of Abbas, the uncle of the Prophet, under whose rule an English factory was established by the East India Company at Tatta in 1758, but was eventually withdrawn in 1775; and, last of all, the Baluchi Talpurs. But these local dynasties did not always rule continuously, nor always with exclusive authority.

Nasar-ud-din, son-in-law of Kutb-ud-din, afterwards emperor of Delhi, declared himself king of Sindh, extended his territories considerably to the east of the Sutlej, towards Sirsa and Hissar, and reduced the kingdom of the Sumras in Sindh to a small tract near Tatta. For twenty years he maintained his independence. The city at that time was besieged and taken by Shams-ud-din Altamash, king of Delhi, and Nasar-ud-din was drowned in the Indus while attempting to escape. Multan for 170 years remained subject to Delhi; but shortly after the invasion of India by Tamerlane, it was for a second time independent under Afghan adventurers, who, however, were overthrown about AD 1526, when Baber invaded India and seized Multan.

Sindh was partially independent, and the scene of great disorders until late in the sixteenth century, when it fell into the hands of the emperor Akbar; and for a hundred and fifty years the chiefs paid tribute, but only as often as they were compelled to do so, to the emperor at Delhi. From AD 1555 Multan remained under Akbar and his successors, forming a portion of the Mughal empire, and thenceforward was ruled by a provincial governor, who was appointed by the emperor. In 1739 Sindh, at the conquest of Delhi and overthrow of the Mughal empire by Nadir Shah, was attached to the Persian dominions, together with the provinces west of the Indus; after Nadir Shah's death it reverted to the imperial throne of Delhi. In 1748 the country became an appanage of Kabul, as part of a dowry bestowed by the reigning emperor upon Timur, son of Ahmad Shah Durani, who founded the kingdom of Afghanistan.

Since the middle of the eighteenth century Sindh had been ruled by the Kalhora family, who claimed descent from Abbas, the uncle of the prophet Muhammad. Members of this family were chiefs there throughout all the changes and disturbances that took place up to 1783, when a rebellion was raised by the Talpur tribe of Beluchis, and the reigning Nawab of the Kalhora race was defeated and obliged to fly. The Durani government of Afghanistan was unable to assist its Kalhora dependent, and therefore recognised the Beluchi chief of the Talpur tribe. This man divided Sindh among those of his relatives who had assisted him in his adventures, reserving Haidarabad, and the greater part of the land, to himself and his three brothers, residing with them in the same palace, and administering the government with them in the same common Durbar.

The country was divided into three states: Haidarabad, Khairpur, and Mirpur. In 1839 there were four Amirs of Haidarabad, the sons of the first Amirs. At the same time there were three Amirs at Khairpur and two at Mirpur. The government of the Amirs was despotic, but they were too avaricious to keep an army of more than 1,500 men. On important occasions they mustered a force by means of their chieftains, who supplied a feudal soldiery, being bound to bring into the field a proportionate number of men under pain of forfeiture of their jagirs.

The connection of the British government with Sindh had its origin in AD 1758, when Ghulam Shah Kalhora, on the 22nd of September of that year, granted a purwanah, or permit, to an officer in the East India Company's service for the establishment of a factory in the province, with a view to the encouragement of trade between the Indian territories and Sindh; and added to this permission certain immunities and exemptions from customs.

In their relations with the British government the Amirs throughout displayed much jealousy of foreign interference. Several treaties were made with them from time to time. In 1836, owing to the designs of Ranjit Singh on Sindh, which, however, were not carried out because of the interposition of the British government, more intimate connection with the Amirs was sought. Colonel Pottinger visited them to negotiate for this purpose. It was not, however, till 1838 that a short treaty was concluded, in which it was stipulated that a British minister should reside at Haidarabad. At this time the friendly alliance of the Amirs was deemed necessary in the contemplated war with Afghanistan, which the British government was about to undertake, to place a friendly ruler on the Afghan throne.

The events that followed led to the occupation of Karachi by the British, and placed the Amirs in subsidiary dependence on the British government. New treaties became necessary, and Sir Charles Napier was sent to Haidarabad to negotiate. On the 14th February 1843, the Amirs, except Nasir Khan of Khairpur, signed a treaty, leaving Mir Roostum's rights to future investigation. The Beluchis were infuriated at this proceeding, and openly insulted the officer, Sir James Outram, at the Residency at Haidarabad. Sir Charles Napier thereupon attacked the Amir's forces at Meanee, on 17 February 1843, with 2,800 men and twelve pieces of artillery, and succeeded in gaining a complete victory over 22,000 Beluchis, with the result that the whole of Sindh was annexed to British India.

The battles of Meanee and Dubba subjected the whole of Sind to the British Government, with the exception of the possessions of Ali Murad, who was established as chief of Khairpur, in the territories which belonged to Mir Roostum, both by inheritance and in right of the turband, as well as in the lands of which he himself stood rightfully possessed at the time of the conquest. But a fraud was clearly established by a commission, which met in 1850, and Ali Murad was degraded from the rank of rais of Khairpur, and deprived of all his territories, except those which he inherited under his father's will. The revenue of his possessions in AD 1860 was estimated at Rs. 3,50,000, with power to try for capital offences any persons except British subjects. After the conquest, the deposed Amirs were removed from Sind, and pensions were granted them by the British Government.

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Page last modified: 13-09-2012 19:15:52 ZULU