Burying the Hatchet in Hazara

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Shairgar Fort, Mansehra, KPK
Another view of celebration

Pak Chronicle Report

Mansehra/Abbottabad

The decedents of rival chieftains got an opportunity recently to meet on the same land on which their forefathers, centuries ago, fought valiantly to get hold of the Fort of Shairgar, Mansehra.

When their forefathers last time came across each other with their armies they were equipped with swords, guns and other weapons. Getting or keeping hold  of the fort was the main purpose for their fight.

However, their decedents had smile on their faces and they were exchanging pleasantries on the same venue. General Harri Singh Nalwa lost battle against Mir Painda Khan Tanoli in in 1819-20 on the battle field of Amb Drband.

However, when their descendants got privilege to meet each other the scenario was completely different. They were hugging each other and the hosts were dancing on the tune Dhol (drum) and playing popular game of ‘Gatka.’ The guests were honoured with a lot of festivities and the whole area was jubilant on their arrival.

The decedent of triumphant chieftain was playing the role of the host and the successor of the general one who lost the battle was the celebrity on the occasion as the guest.

Sutandar Singh Veer, the descendant of General Hari Singh Nalwa recently paid visit to defunct State of Amb Drband and he was welcomed by Nawabzada Jahangir Khan Tanoli, who is descendent of Mir Painda Khan Tanoli. Both these persons are sixth generations of their ancestors.

Recently in February this year Veer along with 20 other persons belonging to Sikh community in United States of America (USA) paid visit to various places in Pakistan including Lahore, Hassan Abdal, Haripur and Mansehra. During this tour they paid visits to various places which have religious and historical importance for the members of Sikh Community in the world.

Mir Painda Khan Tanoli, the chieftain of Tanoli tribe in 1819-20 conquered the fort of Shairgar, Amb Darband which was in possession of General Harri Singh Nalwa. General Nalva was the commander of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh in Hazara. This is pertinent to mention here that District Haripur of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was founded by Hari Singh Nalwa in 1822. The word ‘Hari’ in Haripur speaks itself that it got obvious connection with General  Hari Sindh Nalwa.

The period of eighteenth and nineteenth century was era of political instability for the region of Hazara. The Mughal Empire was at the decline edge and its subordinate and allied smaller and larger states were weakening and losing control over their territories. It was the period of turmoil in the region. On one hand, East India Company was strengthening its power and on other hand Sikhs were emerging as big power especially in areas of Punjab, KPK and Kashmir. During this period

Locals playing traditional Gutka game to honour the foreigners
Nawabzada Jahangir Khan Tanoli receiving Sutandar Singh Veer at Shairgar Fort

built a lot of forts and pickets in these areas to safeguard their interests. The ruins of these forts may still be witnessed in Haripur, Sherwan, Mansehra and other cities. Although the Sikh rulers were on strong footing on Eastern parts of River Indus but there were local tribes which were not ready to surrender. Sikh rulers successfully invaded Hazara but the areas of Tanawal was still out of their reach.

Painda Khan Tanoli, a chieftain of Tanolis continued to lead uprising against Sikh rulers and to culminate this rebellion General Nalwa built a fort at Shairgar in 1813. However, according to locals of the area Painda Khan invaded it in 1819-20 and this fort played pivotal role in strengthening the rule State of Amb.

After conquering these areas by British regime during the period 1849-53, the colonial power decided to maintain the status of State of Amb as semi-autonomous princely state. It enjoyed this status after inception of Pakistan in 1947 but merged into it in 1960’s along with other princely states.

However, nowadays a lot of things have changed but traditional hospitality of the area continues to invade hearts of visitors.

After enjoying the cordiality of the locals, Sutandar Singh Veer who basically resides in USA told local media persons that he had no words to describe how cheerfulness he feels after his visit to these areas.  He was of the view that he feels regrets as why he didn’t pay visit to Pakistan earlier. He said this time he was on visit to Pakistan on 14 days visa but next time he would get visa for some more days so that he could explore more things about Pakistan.

Ends

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