Ghulam Qadir Rohilla (1758-1789)

Ghulam Qadir Rohilla was son of Zabita Khan and the grandson of the renowned Rohilla Chieftain Najib-ud-Dawla. His mother’s name was Masooma Begum. He was 14 years old in 1772 when Maratha-Mughal forces captured the fort of Pathagarh. 

After Najib had retired, his son Zabita Khan was the Regent in Delhi until Shah Alam’s return, at which time Zabita Khan fell victim to court intrigues. Zabita Khan was succeeded by his son Ghulam Qadir Khan. His first act was to seize the lands of his relatives, among them those of his uncle, Afzal Khan. He then regained all the territories held by his grandfather Najib-ud-daula, including the Dun, and strongly fortified his castle of Ghausgarh. His activity made him respectable by the Sikhs, and for the first time for many years the land had peace. The period of his rule, though eventful, was brief. In 1787 taking advantage of the death of Najaf Khan, he led his forces down the Doab to Delhi, the Marathas being then engaged elsewhere, as Sindhia was fighting with the Raja of Jaipur, and Mansur Ali Khan, who was in charge of the palace, urged Ghulam Qadir to seize the vacant office of Amir-ul-umra. The Maratha commandant sent a small force to oppose the Rohillas, who defeated the enemy with great slaughter, and Ghulam Qadir thus gained the possession of the capital. He was checked, however, by the determined attitude of the Begam Somru of Sardhana , by her advance Rohillas withdrew across the Jamuna. Soon afterwards Ghulam Qadir returned to the attack, and though Najaf Quli Khan came to the assistance of emperor, he stood his ground. He next proceeded to take possession of the Doab as far as Aligarh, when a reconciliation was affected and the Amir-ul-umra returned in triumph to Saharanpur. The next year Ghulam Qadir again descended on Delhi, bent on plundering the imperial palace, as Shah Alam had roused his wrath by calling on the Marathas for his assistance. Having gained access to the fort by treachery, he seized the emperor and proceeded to loot the women’s apartments; but dissatisfied with the result he vented his rage on the Shah Alam and blinded him. The approach of Marathas was now imminent, and Ghulam Qadir fled to Meerut. Cutting his way through the besiegers of that city, he attempted to escape to Saharanpur, but was captured and put to death by slow torture. (Saharanpur – A Gazetteer , 1909, p.193-194)

Ghulam Qadir was castrated by Shah Alam ?

In April 1777 AD, the combined forces of Mughals and Marathas attacked the Rohilla stronghold of Ghausgarh (in Saharanpur district, UP) and conquered it after severe fighting. Zabita Khan fled to Sikhs. His son Ghulam Qadir and his uncle Sultan Khan were taken captives. All the people of Ghausgarh, including Ghulam Qadir, were ordered to be executed. The eunuch Manzur Ali Khan intervened and was able to save the life of Ghulam Qadir. Female folk of Rohillas were also arrested and were humiliated with body search. All the captured women and children were sent to Agra fort with exception of 14 years old Ghulam Qadir who was sent to Delhi where he was enrolled as a page by the emperor Shah Alam.

It is said Ghulam Qadir was very handsome and the emperor sensed or suspected that females of the royal harem were taking interest in him. Therefore, Ghulam Qadir was one day drugged into unconsciousness by his orders and was castrated.


Ghulam Qadir Rohilla


The psychological humiliation caused by castration might be the cause of his excessive cruelty towards Shah Alam in 1788. This account is recorded by Najib-al-Tawarikh which was compiled in 1865, eighty years after the incident so it may not be so reliable. Moreover, several accounts describe him as bearded. [1]

Ghulam Qadir Rohilla

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