British became real rulers of Indian Sub-Continent in 1858 and the ruling authority from East India Company was transferred to the British Crown. In the subsequent years, British might reached its zenith. However, it wasn’t a rosy scenario all the way. British had to be part of World War I and World War II. During these world wars, the financial and military assistance of united India was crucial to the British campaigns against its rivals.
India made a massive contribution to Britain’s war efforts. It sent overwhelming numbers of volunteers to fight and die on behalf of the allied forces. In WWI almost 1.5 million Muslim, Sikh and Hindu men from all over united India participated and volunteered in the Indian Expeditionary Force. Besides man power, it also provided animals, tons of supplies, jute for sandbags, and a large loan.
Similarly, during the WWII, the financial and military assistance of united India formed a crucial component of the British campaign against Nazi Germany and Japan. The Indian Army during World War II was one of the largest Allied forces contingents.
The response of 560 odd princely states to these World Wars is also an absorbing episode of history. Interestingly, some of these princely states fought with the British during the ‘Great Rebellion’ of 1857 but subsequently entered into treaties of mutual cooperation.
The response and involvement of Swat in these world wars is an interesting topic. As Swat wasn’t directly controlled by the British, so the above facts and figures doesn’t apply on Swat.
At the start of World War I in 1914, Swat was engaged in its own internal conflicts and there was tug of war between the various ‘dallas’ for their supremacy. Swat State wasn’t founded at that point of time. However, during all this crises prevalent throughout the world, Swat State was formally founded. When the World War I ended in 1918, Swat State was in an embryonic stage and was just three years old. Miangul Abdul Wadud had then assumed the role of King of Swat.
During World War I, the role and strategy of Ruler of Swat will be worth exploring and needs thorough investigation. However I would add, as Swat State wasn’t founded at the start of WWI and was also not recognized by British by end of the war, it can be safely asserted that Swat State didn’t provide any kind of support to the British.
When World War II stared, Swat State had reached its zenith in terms of territorial expansion and internal stability. It was also recognized by British in 1926. So in the changed circumstances, a strategy had to be devised by Miangul Abdul Wadud ( Bacha Sahib) to deal with the evolving scenario around the world.
As the rest of the India and its leadership including princely States opted for supporting British during World War II, so Ruler of Swat also opted for the same course of action. In this regard, Bacha Sahib decided to provide some sort of financial support to the British. For this purpose, the made an appeal to the leading men of various tribes in Swat and asked them to play their rule in this regard. Subsequently the heads of various tribes in Swat State supported Bacha Sahib in his endeavours and contributed to the ‘War Purposes Fund’.
This story is revealed from a letter that was addressed by Bacha Sahib to the Political Agent, Dir, Swat and Chitral, at Malakand. The above mentioned letter was written on 10th October 1940 and had a dispatch Number 831. Bacha Sahib wrote that the tribes of Swat and its people has ‘liberally responded’ to his appeal. The contribution of various tribes and sub tribes wasn’t the same and the amount varied as well.
The highest amount contributed for ‘War Purposes Fund’ was by Babuzai. Babuzai provided an amount of Rs. 2795. The second largest amount collected was by Shamizai and Sibujni collectively, which amounted to Rs 2663. The third highest amount was contributed by Nikpi Khel that amounted of Rs. 2500.
Further, Shamozai contributed an amount of Rs. 583, Abbakhel and Musa Khel contributed Rs. 1670, Maturizai gave an amount of Rs. 661, Azi Khel Rs. 1214, Jinki Khel Rs. 723, Churrai (Madyan) Rs. 409, Chakesar Rs. 553, Kana Rs. 948, Lilonai Rs. 330, Ghorban Rs. 789, Martung Rs. 407, Puran Makhozai Rs. 720, Bisham Rs. 239, Salarzai (Buner) Rs. 451, Gadizai Rs. 775, Daggar and Gokan (Collectively) Rs. 1305, Daulatzai and Nurizai Rs. 1323, Chagharzai Rs. 800, Chamla (Mandan) Rs. 1161, Amazai Rs. 630 and Khudo Khel provided an amount of Rs. 1160. The total amount thus contributed from Swat State was Rs. 24810.
This amount contributed above wasn’t deposited in any British Bank account but was rather sent in cash to Political Agent, Dir, Swat & Chitral, at Malakand. The amount was handed over to him through the then Wazir-i-Azam of Swat State, Hazrat Ali (K.B), who had very cordial relations with the British officials. Other details regarding Hazrat Ali close working relationship with British officials has been briefly discussed by Wali Khan in his book, ‘Facts are Facts’ as well.
Bacha Sahib further added that out of the total contributed amount of Rs. 24,810, Rs. 4,810 be contributed towards the Governor’s Aeroplane Fund. The remaining amount of Rs. 20,000 may be accepted towards the ‘War Purposes Fund’.
The Ruler of Swat further added that, “this small help from the people of the State towards the war may please be conveyed to His Excellency, the Governor N.W.F.P.”