Umra Khan of Jandul and a case of blasphemy

In late 19th century, Umra Khan of Jandul (now located in Lower Dir district of KPK) was gaining tremendous power and influence. The growing power of Umra Khan was alarming and worrisome for not only the ‘Khans’ of surrounding regions but also for Amir Abdur Rahman, the ruler of the Kabul kingdom. Amir Abdur Rahman desired to annex ‘Yaghistan’ (Bajaur, Dir and Swat) to his kingdom. And for that goal to realize, he had to first curb the influence and power of Umra Khan. For that purpose, he sent Mullah Makarani, an influential scholar, to Jandul in 1882. The real name of Mullah Makarani was Abu Bakar and he was a native of Kabul city.

In 1884 a Hindu Baniyya of Mayar village of Jandul was accused of cursing the Prophet and Islam. Mullah Makarani demanded the death of that Hindu from Umra Khan. The latter refused to do so since that Hindu denied the charge. Mullah Makarani summoned Umra Khan to discuss the matter of blasphemy with him. But Umra Khan distrusted that agent of Amir Abdur Rahman and suspected treachery. Therefore, he did not comply with the summon and insisted that the meeting between two should be at some neutral place. Both parties agreed that the meeting would be at the village of Mian Killi. However, Umra Khan attacked Mullah Makarani’s party at Mian Killi. He captured Mullah Makarani and kept him prisoner for three days. 

On release Mullah Makarani proclaimed Umra Khan as apostate and declared him “wajib al-qatal (one who has to be killed as per sharia), and he declared ‘jihad’ against Umra Khan. The Mamund clans (Tarklarnis) and Salarzais (Tarklanris) under the Khan of Nawagai joined the ‘jihad’ of Mullah Makarani against Umra Khan.  The latter defeated that large lashkar of Makarani with his small Janduli lashkar. However, the matter got further complicated and worsened. The jihad of Mullah Makarani was joined by the Khan of Dir, Mianguls of Swat and the Utman-Khel tribe. Umra Khan failed to disperse the large coalition force formed against him. He evacuated Barwa (now Samar-bagh) and retired to Jandul. But soon disputes arose between the allies of Mullah Makarani over the territories captured from Umra Khan. The latter was waiting for such an opportunity to arise. He suddenly pounced upon the lashkar of the Khan of Nawagai and defeated him. In that attack of Umra Khan, the brother of Khan of Nawagai got killed. Fearing retribution, Mullah Makarani fled to Kabul and never returned to Yaghistan. Umra Khan recovered all of his lost territories and conquered all the territory up to Chakdarra in one sweep. 

1- “Military Report on Dir , Swat and Bajour” by Intelligence Branch India (confidential)
2-  “History of the Pathans”, Vol-2, by Brig (r) Haroon Rashid

Umra Khan of Jandul

Umra Khan of Jandul
A heavily armed inhabitant of Bajaur, 1835-1840. Illustrations by Imam Bakhsh Lahori for the memoirs of General Claude-Auguste Court (French general of Ranjit Singh), Lahore.
Umra Khan of Jandul
A Pashtun inhabitant of Dir, 1835 (c). Illustration by Imam Bakhsh Lahori for the memoirs of General Claude-Auguste Court (French general of Ranjit Singh).


External link: Umra Khan of Jandul and the fairies of Kumrat valley – YouTube


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