History of Gheba

The history of the Pindi Gheb and Fateh Jang area in the Rawalpindi region offers an interesting study for the readers. It has been described that Sial, who was a descendent of Rai Shanker, a Panwar Rajput, lived in Daranagar, located in the midway between Ilahabad and Fatehpur. Another story says that one branch of the Panwar tribe migrated to Jaunpur from Dara Nagar where Shanker was born. According to ED. Mac Legan, Governor of Punjab Governor in British rule, three sons were born to Shanker who were named Ghaiyyo, Taiyyo and Saiyyo and Sial tribe of Jhang, Tiwanas of Shahpur and Ghebas of Pindi gheb owe their origin from these three persons respectively. According to another tradition Sial was the only son of Rai Shanker and that forefathers of Tiwanas and Ghebas were merely related to Shanker by paternal descendency. It is claimed that people of this tribe lived in close affinity, unity and affection during the life time of Shanker but following his death, they developed severe disputes and clashes due to which his son Sial shifted to Punjab during the period 1241-46 A.D. during the reign of Alauddin Ghauri, son of Sultan Ruknuddin or Masud Shah Alauddin. There are evidences that this was exactly the period when several Rajput families migrated to Punjab from the Indian Territory. It was in that period, on the other hand, that the religion Islam spread vastly because of propagation of Islamic teachings by Hazart Fariduddin Ganj Shaker and due to his own virtues and character. It is believed that Sial wandered across the area and reached Ajodhan, now named Pak Pattan, and embraced Islam at the exhortation of Hazart Baba Fariduddin Ganj Shaker. He stayed with Baba Fariduddin till latter’s death in the year 1265, it is widely known that Baba Fariduddin had predicted that his (Sials) posterity will rule over the mid area of Jhelum and Chenab rivers. Though this forecast did not prove to be true in favor of Sial tribe but had its signs in their paternally related tribe Ghebas. This viewpoint is substantiated by another tradition that Sials Tiwanas and Ghebas are descendents of the three sons of Rai Shanker namely Saiyyo, Taiyyo and Ghaiyyo respectively. The Sials and Tiwanas also acknowledge this linkage to great extent. On this account, this cannot he ruled out that this group of Rajput tribe was but Panwar. It is stated that Gheba tribe came to Punjab after Sials and Tiwanas and settled in the rugged of terrain of Fatehjang and Pindigheb. Here they stood against Awans, Ghakhars and other neighboring tribes until they were subdued by Maharaja Ranjeet Singh in the year 1798-99. Some evidences are also found in some places that ‘Jodhra’ tribesmen whose forefathers had though converted to Islam before Mahmud Ghazanvi, yet their way of living and in particular their festivals and rituals were still contained of Hindu influences. They perhaps arrived in District Attock towards the end of sixteenth century and occupied and owned areas of Sawan and Sal, which has also been described as “ Sil” by the author Sir Lapel Hl. Griffen. Another tradition ascribes them to have come down from India. Nevertheless, this is worth mentioning that they were settled in the area before the arrival of Ghebas. They still inhabit the eastern part of Pindigheb whereas Gheba people are settled in the western part of Fatehjang. Some of the researchers describe Ghebas as a branch of Jodhra tribe who separated themselves from brethren of the tribe after a clash. This is however, a fact that the town of Pindigheb was colonized by Jodhra tribesmen instead of Ghebas. Lapel H. Griffen in his book “ Punjab Chiefs” writes that “ Jodhra and Sial ( a tribe of Muslim Rajputs of Rawalpindi who occupied western side of Fatehjang) had frequent clashes with Ghebas. According to the book ‘Tareekh-e-Farishta’ Gheba tribesmen like their neighboring Ghakhar tribesmen were not lacking in religious fervor nor did they have any practice of killing of daughters. Instead, they allow their daughter to share inheritance like Awan tribesmen. Even like Khathar and Ghakhar tribesmen, they do not mind marrying outside Gheba family. They still retain the tradition of the Chieftain (Sardar) according to which eldest son of the Sardar is entitled to add share. This is also said that the ancestor of Gheba s “ Kamman Khan came over to village Gheba located west of Fatehjang from India during the rule of Akbar, the Great, and settled there. At that time the village was sparsely populated, with some scattered settlements around in which khokhar tribesmen lived. The history of India is also full of references about Khokhar tribe. According to the historians of Amir Taimur, in the year 1398 they (khokhars) played an important role in the resistance against his forces. The traditions also refers to their descendent Malik Sheikha or Sheikha Khokhar, who had also been described as Sheikha Kokhar by some historians who earned fame as Kafirs’ Commander in the area. Majority of them lived in the valleys of Jhelum and Punjab. In spite of being in small numbers, they are found even in the area from Jhelum to end hills of upper Sindh, besides lower Sindh, Sutlaj and Lahore. Khokhar tribesmen execute marriages amongst their clans or marry their daughters to other tribes but they do not marry their daughters. According to some traditions, Western Khokhar tribesmen claim to be the posterity of Qutub Shah of Ghazni. However this seems to be a concocted story as Qutub Shah is the traditional ancestor of the Awan tribesmen. As a result, nothing authentic can be said about the origin of the Khokhar tribesmen. Nevertheless, the descendents of Khokhars still exist in Gheb area as tenants. At this site, a settlement called “ Kamman Khan “ came into existence, which later on was named ‘ Kot Fateh Khan’, after having been ascribed to his descendent Fateh khan. As for the name of village Kot Fateh Khan, Kot is a Hindi word which literally means a fort, fortification or city wall (Ferozul Lughat). His descendents protected their territory from neighboring tribes of Awan, Ghakhar and Jodhra till the period of Chirat Singh Saukarchakia, grandfather of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh. The descendent of Kamman Khan’, could not be subjugated even by the Afghans of India. The obvious reason for this was their settlement far away from main roads, access to which was not easy. Secondly, they did not commit any action that would have invited invaders to attack on them. That is why the ruler of Gujrat ‘ Gujar Khan Bhangi,’, too who was in occupation of the entire northern area of Rawalpindi, could not succeed in overpowering Gheb area. Thereafter, Chirat Singh, grandfather of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, did carry attacks on the southern area of Rawalpindi following his occupation of Pind Dadan Khan but he himself nor his son Maham Singh Zabardast gained anything from the Ghebs. The tradition quotes that in year 1806 Maharaja Ranjeet Singh appointed Sardar Fateh Singh Kalyanwala as Nazim of Rawalpindi area. At that time, the Maliks of Pindigheb were major opponents to the Chieftains of the Kot who hade acquired Sal or Sil area on lease from the Sikhs. The mutual enmity of the two tribes culminated at last in bloodshed and when the two were called to the Royal court in Amritsar they fell out with each other in which Sardar Muhammad Ali Khan Gheba killed Malik Ghulam Muhammad Khan in the very presence of the Raja and ran away to his home town. History is silent here as how he succeeded to escape from the crowded bazaar and how he managed to reach his destination, thousands of miles away. Nevertheless, at that time the Kalsa government considered any action against him unsuitable as they could never get total control of this area despite hard efforts and as such they did not consider it proper to entangle with him. In the year 1830 when the renowned religious leader and freedom gather Sayyed Ahmed detached from Peshawar and made Balakot District Hazara as his base camp, Prince Sair Singh and General Anchur alongwith Sardar Muhammad Ali Khan Gheba attacked on him in which the Sardar showed rendered remarkable performance and deeds. Jodh Singh, Dhana Singh Maloi, Itar Singh Kalyanwala and Prince Naunahal Singh who were appointed Nazim of Gheb area successively, knew it well how difficult it was to overpower Sardar Muhammad Ali Khan, who was ever bent upon to revolt against the Khalsa government. Therefore, when Sardar Itar Singh was appointed Nazim of the Area for a second term, he plotted to murder Sardar Muhammad Ali Khan Gheba. Acting upon his plan one day he invited Sardar Muhammad Ali Khan to the Pagh Fort situated on the other bank of the Sal or Sil rivulet. It is to be noted that village Kot was quite visible form there. Perhaps that was the reason for selection of the places for the plot or it might have been a psychological game to entrap the Sardar as he would have come to the place being so close to his home in the company any of few persons. Secondly when Sardar was heading towards Kot Fort, he could be overseen in order to make timely changes in the plan. That was also not beyond any guess that if Muhammad Ali Gheba would have come with a large company, the plan would have deferred to some other occasion. But Sardar was miserably entraped in the plan when he approached the venue of invitation accompanied by his elder son Ghulam Muhammad Khan and two servants whose names are not recorded in the annals of the history. As soon as the four-member delegation stepped into the Pagh Fort, the ever-alert soldiers of Buddha Khan Malal and Itar Singh attacked on them and thus a brave Sardar alongwith his youthful son and two dedicated servants were murdered. Following the murder of Muhammad Ali Gheba and Ghulam Muhammad Khan by betrayal, Fateh Khan, the number two son of Sardar Muhammad Ali Gheba succeeded his late father as per tradition of inheritance. During the period of his Chieftainship his younger brother Ahmed khan Gheba passed away. Muhammad Ali khan Gheba took revenge of the murder his father and brother by killing almost all members of Budha Khan’s family. Like his father, Muhammad Ali Khan Gheba was deadly opposed to Sikhs, may be that was also prompted by the murder of his father and brother. In the year 1844-46, Sardar Fateh Khan intended to revolt against the Sikhs but refrained from this on advice by Colonel Lawrence. Although the Colonel made him refrain from the revolt at the that time, but in a short period of two years the Colonel capitalized on his emotions and made Sardar an ally to the British against Sikhs. In the war against the Sikhs in 1848-49, the Sardar demonstrated outstanding bravery and devotion, for which he was bestowed upon awards and lifetime pension. In the year 1860, he was given authority to deal with civil and criminal cases on account of being highly influential and powerful in the area. This is described in the second volume of the book ‘Chiefs of Punjab’ that in 1866 when the measurement of land of the district covering woods was undertaken about three thousands acres of land was earmarked out of the area of Kala Chita hills for use as meadows for the horses and cattle. In January 1888 he was awarded the title of Khan Bahadur in recognition of his services. Sardar Fateh Khan was one of the three owners of large land holdings of the District due to which the arms act was not applicable to him. As he had no son, on his death in 1894, his nephew Muhammad Ali Khan was enthroned as Sardar of the Gheba family. Sardar Muhammad Ali Khan was appointed honorary Extra-Assistant Commissioner in Rawalpindi district. The British Government awarded him sword of honor in 1895, as a reward for his services. Sardar Muhammad Ali Khan died at an early age of 27 years.


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