Amir Khan of Tonk

Amir Khan, the founder of the princely state of Tonk (Rajasthan, India) was descendant of Salarzai Bunerwals. In the reign of Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah (r.1719-1748), one Taleh Khan son of Kale Khan (طالع خان بن کالے خان) left his home in the Jowar village of Buner country (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan)) and took service in Rohilkhand (U.P, India) with Ali Muhammad Khan Rohilla [Ref. Amir-nama, c.1824, Eng. Translation, p-7].

“Taleh Khan’s son, Haiyat Khan, became possessed of some landed property in Moradabad, and to him in 1768 was born Amir Khan, the founder of the Tonk State. Beginning life as a petty mercenary leader, he rose in 1798 to be the commander of a large army in the service of Jaswant Rao Holkar, and was employed in the campaigns against Sindhia, the Peshwa, and the British, and in assisting to levy the contributions exacted from Rajputana and Malwa. It was one of the terms of the union between Amir Khan and Holkar that they should share equally in all future plunder and conquest, and accordingly in 1798 Amir Khan received the district of Sironj. To this Tonk and Pirawa were added in 1806, Nimbahera in 1809, and Chhabra in 1816. On the entrance of the British into Malwa, Amir Khan made overtures to be admitted to protection; but the conditions he proposed were too extravagant to be acceded to. He received, however, the offer of a guarantee of all the lands he held under grants from Holkar, on condition of his abandoning the predatory system, disbanding his army of fifty-two battalions of disciplined infantry and a numerous body of Pathan cavalry, and surrendering his artillery, with the exception of forty guns, to the British at a valuation. His request to be confirmed in lands obtained from different Rajput States under every circumstance of violence and extortion was positively rejected. To these terms Amir Khan agreed, and they were embodied in a treaty in November, 181 7. To the territories thus guaranteed (the five districts above mentioned) the fort and pargana of Rampura, now called Aligarh, were added by the British Government as a free grant, and a loan of 3 lakhs, afterwards converted into a gift, was made to him. Nawab Amir Khan died in 1834. [Imperial gazetteer of India, Vol.23, pp.48-49]

A common misunderstanding regarding Amir Khan of Tonk was the assumption that he was a Pindari. This is not correct because he was the leader of a trained army while the Pindaris, on the other hand, accompanied the Marhatta army as scouts.

Amir Khan of Tonk


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