History Person

Bhopal Founder Dost Mohammad Khan

Continued from Part I

Bhopal Founder Dost Mohammad Khan headed for Jalalabad , and found his kins men at a suburb of Jalalbad, called Lohari (Lohari/Jalalabad are todays Thana-Ghaon in Sharanpur district of todays Uttar Pradesh, about 30 miles south of Sharanpur and 20 miles east of Deoband). The family of Sardar Jalal Khan, the mansabdar (Mughal official) of Lohari, welcomed Dost as the son of a fellow tribal sardar. However, true to his nature, Dost killed one of Jalal Khan’s son after a quarrel over a young house maiden. Dost fled to Karnal, 30 miles west of Delhi. By luck he found Mullah Jamali there, who was his Quran tutor at Tirah. Staying with him for an year, Dost became aware of the multi dimensional nuances of India life, allian to him due to his single dimensional upbringing at Afganistan.Dost finally enlisted with Mir Fazlullah, Aurangzeb’s keeper of arms, and steadily rose through the lower rungs. Around 1704, he was given his major assignment, to quell the rebllion of Tardi Beg in Bundelkhand. He was met at Gwalior by the army of Tardi Beg lead by the fearsome general Kashko Khan. The battle went badly for the imperial forces and Dost’s forces was in disarray. Gathering all his courage, Dost attacked Kashko Khan, and soon he was ensnared by Kashko Khans elephant in its trunk. Dost wriggled free and mounting the elephant, decapitated Kashko Khan. It is said that the emperor Aurangzeb himself gave him gifts for turning certain defeat to victory. Promotion was swift, and he was assigned to Malwa (todays Madhya Pradesh).

This region of central India, was inhabited by Gonds and Bhils, superimposed by martial Rajputs who had extended control from Rajputana towards Malwa. The Marhattas -equally martial and wilier then the noble Rajputs – had reached out from the Western Ghats with chieftains like – Holkar of Indore, Scindia of Gwalior, Gaekwad of Baroda and Bhonsle of Nagpur – operating under Peshwa of Pune. As Dost had reached Bhilsa, news came of Aurangzeb’s death on 20 February 1707. The Delhi and adjoining areas were thrown into bloody and fissparous melee. He and about 50 of his Afghan kinsmen became hired guns or mercenaries, fighting for any body who paid him the money. First attached himself to Raja of Sitamau, then to Governor of Bhilsa, then with mughal deputy governor of Malwa and then Raja of Mangalgarh.

After the death of Raja of Mangalgarh, his mother appointed Dost mukhtar (guardian) of Mngalgarh fort around 1708. Around this time Dost married Fatah Bibi, a Rajput girl, from the Mangalgarh household. Around 1709, Dost took on lease Berasia, a small rented estate, about 22 miles north of Bhopal from Taj Mohammad Khan, for an annual payment of 30,000 rupees. This money was borrowed from Fatah bibi, as was the ranson money that had to be paid to Dosts own mutinous soldiers who imprisoned him during a unsucessful raid on Gujrat. Dost realized that in order to survive, he required his own family members to support and surround him. He contacted his family in Afganistan, and subsequently in 1712 a phalanx of 50 Mirazi-khel tribesmen, fiercely loyal to the young Pathan, togather with his wife, father and five brothers rode to Berasia. They were called the Barru-kat Pathans of Bhopal (literally the shrub dwellers).

Related posts: Bhopal – The early days

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