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SARTOOR FAQIR/ MALAKAND UPRISING OF 1897 (PART 10)

Military Report on Dir , Swat and Bajour (First Edition) was compiled by the Intelligence Branch, Division of the Chief of Staff, India, Shimla, in the year 1906. This report was compiled by Major A.C.M, Waterfield, M.V.O., D.A.Q.M.G. Further it covered the geography, communications, climates, resources, ethnography, history, administration, military and political aspects of Dir, Swat and Bajour areas. Those parts which are related to Swat are produced here for the interest of readers. Part 10 of this series is given below. This part deals with the events of Malakand Expedition of 1897.

On the 18th July (1897) reports were received at the Malakand that a strange fakir, who had recently taken up his residence at Landakai, was beginning to attract people’s attention. It appeared that the man’s name was Sadullah, that he was called Mullah Mastan or Fakir Sartor (bareheaded), and that previous to his arrival in Swat he had been preaching a jehad in Buner, of which country he was a native, but had left discredited. On the 26th the Sartor Fakir started down the valley from Landakai and the people of Lower Swat joined him en masse. Late in the evening a hurried warning of the approach of the fakir was brought to the Malakand by a Levy Jemadar. The alarm was sounded and the troops had barely time to stand to their arms before the attack commenced. The fighting which now commenced never actually ceased at Malakand until the 1st August. The enemy who on the first night had barely exceeded also attacked on the 26th and fought until relieved on the 2nd August. The enemy, who on the first night had barely exceeded 1,000, increased in numbers with incredible rapidity to some 12,000 or more at Malakand, while upwards of 8,000 attacked Chakdara. On the 29th the Mianguls with a contingent of Upper Swatis and another contingent of Utman Khels appeared on the scene. Reinforcements arrived rapidly from Mardan and Nowshera, but it was not till the 2nd August that the garrison at Malakand was able to assume the offensive, and that the relief of Chakdara was effected. The enemy’s losses between the 26th July and the 2nd August were estimated between 3,000 and 4,000, our casualties for the same period being 28 killed and 178 wounded.

As soon as the Government of India became aware that the attacks on the Malakand and Chakdara garrisons were not merely the result of a small local disturbance, but that a deliberate attempt was being made by the combined tribesmen to turn our troops out of the country, immediate steps were taken to reinforce the Malakand; orders were issued on the 30th July for the formation of a field force, consisting of two brigades with divisional troops, for the purpose of crushing the rising and otherwise punishing the tribesmen. Three days later orders were issued for the formation of a 3rd or Reserve Brigade. The fanatical gathering had dispersed as quickly as it collected. The column which had Chakdara took up its position at the Amandara defile and on the 3rd August a cavalry reconnaissance was made up the left bank of the Swat river, proceeding 5 miles beyond Thana without opposition.

While the concentration of the field force was taking place, the troops already in Swat valley made frequent excursions into the neighboring country and met with no opposition. Inquiries were also being made with a view to ascertaining the extent to which the surrounding tribes were implicated in the recent attack. It was ascertained that the following clans had participated in the attacks on the Malakand and Chakdara:

The Sam and Bar Ranizais of Lower Swat, the Salarzai and Ashazai sections of the Bunerwals, the whole of Upper Swat, the Adinzai, Talashis, Dush Khels, various contingents from Bajaur, the Asil and Shamozai Utman Khel and a small party of the Painda Khel Malizai together with some 2,000 British subjects from Yusufzai. Reports from Bajaur showed that the Khan of Nawagai had up to date maintained a neutral attitude in spite of strong pressure brought to bear on him by Mullahs and others.

The Nawab of Dir’s attitude was at first doubtful, but as soon as he saw that the fanatical rising was a failure he began to re-assert himself, and on the 5th August, having re-opened communication with Chitral, he posted a strong body of men at the Panjkora bridge. Had the Nawab moved promptly to Sado on the first outbreak, he would have been able to prevent the Bajauris, who formed the bulk of the opposition at Chakdara, from joining in…It was ascertained beyond a doubt that the rising was purely religious affair, and that it was a scheme, pre-concerted from both Kabul and India, for a simultaneous rising along the border, but that the fakir had precipitated matters. On the 3rd August news was received of the attack on Shabkadar by the Mohmands under the Hadda Mullah.

Military Report on Dir , Swat and Bajour (First Edition), Intelligence Branch , Division of the Chief of Staff, India, Shimla (1906), Pages 32-33.

TO BE CONTINUED…

The Chief Editor of the website (www.swatencyclopedia.com) is Jalal Uddin. He hails from Saidu Sharif, Swat. He is M.phil Scholar and his research field is Swat State. He regularly writes on Swat State and its various aspects.
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The Chief Editor of the website (www.swatencyclopedia.com) is Jalal Uddin. He hails from Saidu Sharif, Swat. He is M.phil Scholar and his research field is Swat State. He regularly writes on Swat State and its various aspects.
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