Swat History

SWAT IN THE YEAR 1862, AS DESCRIBED BY MAJOR HENRY GEORGE RAVERTY (PART 10)

Major Henry George Raverty’s brief work with the title, ‘An account of Upper and Lower Suwat, and the Kohistan, to the source of the Suwat River; with an account of the tribes inhabiting those valleys’  was published in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal  (Volume XXXI, No.I. To V. 1862) Calcutta in the year 1862.  That work of Major Raverty is produced here on this website for the interest of the readers and research scholars. Raverty wrote: (PART 10)

On the 23rd August , we left Waddi-gram for Mingowarah, which having passed together with the villages of Kambar and Kattli, we turned down the valley of Saiydugan, which runs in a south-westerly direction, and reached the village of that name, the residence of the Akhund of Suwat.

This poor and pious man have been most grossly belied for some years past, by interested parties in Peshawar, who cram the authorities with lies; and find it easier to lay all disorders which takes place on this part of our frontier, at the door of this harmless man, than to the true cause. He has for many years been made out to be the formenter of all the troubles on the frontier, and to be constantly plotting mischief against us; but those, who have given ear to such falsehoods, have not inquired how much is owing to the grinding tyranny of Hindustani subordinates, and other causes which shall be nameless. I would ask them on question, however, – “How is it that during the year 1849, we had not walls round the cantonment of Peshawar and no chowkeydars; yet less robberies and crime occurred that at any time since, except, perhaps, during the mutiny?” If I recollect aright, the assassination of late Colonel Mackeson was laid at the Akhund’s door; but the very appearance of the venerable old man is enough to give the lie to such a statement. He has been said, at Peshawar, to possess the most despotic power over a most fanatical tribe; and even the old miscreant who lately set himself up at Dehli, had it proclaimed, that the poor old Akhund was coming to assist him with from 12,000 to 18,000 Ghazis at his back. I need scarcely add, that the whole is a mass of falsehood got up by interested parties. I will now endeavour to give a sketch of the Akhund as he appeared to us.

On reaching the village of Saiydugan we proceeded to pay our respects to him. He is a venerable looking old man, of middle height, with a white beard, and is about sixty years of age; cheerful in disposition, affable to all who approach him, and with a countenance open and serene. He is learned in the whole of the usual science, studied, by Muhammadans, to the necessary degree that his position is religious matters demand; and has no concern in, or control, whatsoever, over the government of the valley, which is entirely held by the different petty chieftains. What they state at Peshawar and in Panjab, about his collecting armies, going to war, and inciting the Suwatis and others to create disturbances, and enmity against the English, are the most barefaced untruths, got up, solely, by interested parites at Peshawar, and other places.

If, by chance, any injured or aggrieved persons come and make complaints to him, that this body or that body has injured them, he expostulates with the party complained against, either by going himself, or sending another expostulate in his name, according to the rank of such party. If the expostulation takes effect, it is well; but if not, the Akhund can do no more in the matter.

It is the custom of those of our subjects on the frontier, who may have committed themselves in any way with the authorities, to fly to Suwat, and they come to the Akhund, at whose place they remain for two or three days; for it is the most rigidly followed, and most sacredly observed custom amongst all Afghans tribes, which cannot be broken through, to show show hospitality to a guest, however, unwelcome he may be. But with respect to the Akhund’s guests of this descriptin, after a few days have passed, he tells them, with all mildness and kindness, that they will not be able to get on in that country; and advises them to go to Kabul or some such place. In short, he leads them to understand, in the most delicate manner possible, that they had better leave his dwelling, at least.

Reference (Source Details):

‘An account of Upper and Lower Suwat, and the Kohistan, to the source of the Suwat River; with an account of the tribes inhabiting those valleys’  was published in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal  (Volume XXXI, No.I. To V. 1862) Calcutta, pages 241-242.

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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