Marwat uprising against the Sikhs (1847)

In 1842 Raja Sher Singh, the adopted son of Ranjit Singh, deputed Malik Fateh Khan Tiwana for collection of the revenue of the Marwat area. The Nazarite faction of Marwat tribe sought favour with the new rulers and supported Tiwana. Under a promise to make perpetual settlement of the revenue of the Marwats at the low rate of one sixth of the produce in kind, Tiwana convinced the Marwat chiefs to give their consent to the building a fort in the heart of their country at Lakki, on the left bank of the river Gambila. The Marwats’ Khan was replaced by Diwan Daulat Rai, who interpreted the loan as a regularly established tax and added six thousand rupees to it; these ‘tappas‘ now had to pay fourteen thousand rupees year in addition to one sixth of the produce for which they had originally bargained. The imposition was rendered all the more arduous by the method of assessment and collection. he made it a poll tax and the locals, in derision, called it the ‘Pataka’ or turban tax, the most honoured portion of the Pashtun’s dress. Every male who was of age was liable to this tax and consequently, it fell heaviest on the large families. [1]

Musa Khel of Marwat, lies towards Bannu and the Waziri hills, and consequently never submitted to regular payments; so that the authorities were obliged to make incursions into it, and harry the people till they came to terms. When Sir Edwards passed through Marwat to Bannu, he found the smoldering embers of more than one village of this tappeh, which had been burnt by Dewan Dowlat Rai’s orders, for refusing to pay the revenue. In the end they used to compound for all demands, but never would allow either their crops to be measured, or their polls to be counted.

In addition to the hated ‘Patka’ and the land taxes of one sixth, the avaricious Diwan Daulat Rai impose on newly conquered Afghans, all the vexations custom dues of the Sikh system in Punjab. In the the beginning of 1847, the rage of the Marwats at the ‘Patka Tax’ rose to such a pitch that they rebelled. The Dre-Plari ‘Khan’ sounded a ‘nakarah‘ (battle drum) at mid-night in his village. The well-known signal was taken up and echoed in the town of Lakki and the Sikh fort was besieged. The news of the rising spread like wild-fire in the neighboring Pashtun tribes; the Wazirs and Khattaks rushed to the scene of the expected action and soon the Marwat ‘Lashkar’ is said to have numbered over twelve thousand men. [2]

The fort was commanded at that time by a Multani Pathan, Niazam Khan Khudakka; he first burnt the town of lakki to ashes to deprive the besiegers of shelter and then defended the fort with his garrison for seventeen days, until his master, the Diwan, arrived from Dera Isamel Khan with guns and reinforcements and raised the siege. The Marwats efforts ended in failure. Diwan daulat Rai was replaced by Cortland when Edwardes reported to Khalsa Darbar about Diwan daulat Rai’s malpractices.

Mina Khel and Sikander Khel clans of Marwats distinguished themselves in 1848 when major Taylor besieged the Sikh garrison in the, now dismantled lakki fort.

Role of Marwats in Anglo-Sikh wars

During the Anglo-sikh war of 1848, both Begu Khel and Esak Khel clans of Marwats sent their men to Multan to assist the British in the siege of Multan. Achu khel division gave full support to the British in the battle of Gujrat that destroyed the Sikh army. While Hakim Khel (Mina Khel) and Sikander Khel clans distinguished themselves in 1848 when Major Taylor besieged the Sikh garrison in the Lakki fort. The band of Midad Khel Marwats also accompanied Sir Edwards in 1848, during the Multan campaign. [3]


1-Sher Muhammad Khan Mahmand, The Marwats,  p-17
2- Edwardes, ” A year in the Punjab”, Vol-I, p-136
3- History of the Pathans (Vol. III) by Haroon Rasheed

History of Marwat tribe



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