Ranghar (Urdu: رانگھڑ) are a Muslim ethnic group, which is found in Sindh and Punjab provinces of Pakistan andHaryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Uttar Pradeshstates of India. Ranghar were native to Indian state of Haryana and also found in the Doab region of Uttar Pradesh, as well as Delhi in India. Presently, the Haryana Ranghar are now found in the provinces of Sindh and Punjab of Pakistan, while those of western Uttar Pradesh remain in India. The term Ranghar is very rarely used by the community itself, who prefer the self-designation Musalman Rajput. The Ranghar use the titles of Rana, Rao, and Kunwar, prefixed to their given names, and use Khan as a surname. In Haryana, the Ranghar spoke a dialect of their own, called Ranghari, which is itself a dialect of Haryanvi, and many in Pakistan still use the language. Those of Uttar Pradesh speakKhari Boli among themselves, and Urdu with outsiders. After independence of Pakistan in 1947, many Uttar Pradesh Ranghars also migrated to Sindh in Pakistan and mostly settling in Karachi. They are entirely Sunni Hanafi Muslims and follow Deobandi and Barelvi schools of South Asia.
The term Ranghar has also been used for closely related Muslim communities, the Pachhada and theMuslim Tagas of Haryana and the Muley Jats. In addition, the Odh community in Pakistan are also often known as Ranghar. Yaduvanshi Ahirs who were converted to Islam are also known as Ranghars.
History and origin
There are various theories as to the origin of the term Ranghar. According to one of the traditions, the name come from the Hindi words rana garh, which means the house (garh in Hindi) of a lord (rana).There is another definition of Ranghar that it is combination of two words run and garh. Run is said to mean a battle field while Garh means that who fought bravely on the battle field. But the term Ranghar was also somewhat contemptuously applied by the local Hindu community in Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh to any Rajput, who converted to Islam. As such the term Ranghar is rarely used by the community itself.
Different communities of Ranghar had different accounts of their conversion to Islam. Thus in Jind, the local Ranghar claimed descent from a Firuz, who converted to Islam during the rule of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. These converted Rajputs kept many Hindu practices, such as keeping Brahminpriests, and practicing clan exogamy. The Chauhan Ranghar of Bulandshahr District have a tradition that their ancestor murdered a Muslim governor, and saved himself by converting to Islam. While theMoradabad District Chauhan claim they converted to Islam, after they had adopted the custom of widow remarriage, an activity proscribed in Hinduism.
The Ranghar were pastoralists, and as such came into conflict with the British imperial authorities, as the British colonial policy favoured settled agricultural communities such as the Ror and Jat, at the expense of these pastoralists. But they were also actively recruited by the British in the Indian army, and were dubbed a martial race.
The Ranghar can be roughly divided into sub-groups, conveniently divided by the Yamuna river. Those to the west of the river remained as pastoralists much longer than the Yamuna Ranghar, who were all settled agriculturist by the start of the 19th century. The partition of India further divided these two groups, with the trans Yamuna Ranghar emigrating to Pakistan, while those of the Doab region remaining in India. They comprise a large numbered of dispersed intermarrying clans. These exogamous groups are made up of myriad landholding patrilineages of varying genealogical depth, ritual, and social status called biradaries or brotherhoods scattered in the various districts of western Uttar Pradesh. The biradari, or lineage is one of the principal point of reference for the Ranghars, and all biradaris claim descent from a common ancestor. Often biradaris inhabit a cluster of villages called chaurasis (84 villages), chatisis (36 villages) and chabisis (26 villages). [ An example of a chatisa is that of the Chauhan Ranghar of the Agauta pargana of Bulandshahr District. The Chauhan, Bhattiand Panwar form the principal biradaris of the Ranghar, with large communities in Chauhan and Bhatti predominating in Uttar Pradesh and the Tomar and Panwar being found among the western Ranghar.
Distribution and present circumstances
After independence of Pakistan, the Haryana Ranghar have settled down mainly in the districts ofLahore, Sheikhupura, Bhakkar, Bahawalnagar, Rahim yar Khan District (specially in Khanpur tehsil)Okara, Layyah, Vehari, Sahiwal and Multan of Punjab. They speak a Haryanvi dialect which is often called Ranghari. Ranghar communities are also found in Mirpur Khas andNawabshah Districts of Sindh. Recent studies of the Ranghar communities in Pakistan have confirmed that they maintain a distinct identity. They have maintained the system of exogamous marriages, the practice of not marrying within one’s clan, which marks them out from neighbouring Punjabi Muslim communities, which prefer marriages with first cousins. In districts of Pakpattan, Okara, and Bahawalnagar which have the densest concentrations of Rangarh, they consist mostly of small peasants, with many serving in the army, police and Civil Services. They maintain an overarching tribal council (panchayat in the Rangharhi dialect), which deals with a number of issues, such as punishments for petty crime or co-operation over village projects.
Most Ranghar are now bilingual, speaking Punjabi and Sindhi, as well as still speaking Ranghari. A large number of Ranghars are also found in the capital city of Islamabad. They speak Urdu with Ranghari accent.
In India, the Ranghar are found in western Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.
Ranghar of Uttar Pradesh
Regions of Uttar Pradesh
The Ranghar of western Uttar Pradesh have by and large remained in India, with only a small trickle migrating to Pakistan. This community is endogamous, and divided into three broad categories, the Agnivanshi, theChandravanshi andSuryavanshi, which are again divided into several biradaris or gotras. The community is distinct from other neighbouring Muslim communities, in that follow the custom of gotra exogamy, the practice of not marrying among one’s father’s or mother’s clan. The community’s primary function has remained agriculture. Animal husbandry and poultry are also secondary occupations. Like their Pakistani counterparts, the Uttar Pradesh Rangarh also have a tribal council. Offences that are dealt by the tribal council include adultery, elopement, disputes over land, water and theft. They are entirely Sunni, and town of Deoband is in the centre of Rangarh territory, and many Rangarh are now Deobandi.
In the Doab
The community in mainly distributed in the Doab region, a tract of land between Ganges and Yamuna rivers, which forms the western part of the state of Uttar Pradesh. There main clans are the Pundir, Chauhan, Bargujar and Bhatti. Starting with Saharanpur District, their northern most settlement, their main distribution by clan is as follows; the Chauhan are found mainly in Saharanpur and Nakur, the Pundir are found mainly in the Katha tract. Other clans include the Jadaun, Bhatti, Tomar and Rawat, almost all of whom live in Saharanpur Tehsil, while the Panwar and Bargujar are found in Deoband Tehsil. The Ranghars of the village of Kunda Kalan played an important role in the events of the 1857Indian Mutiny.
In Muzaffarnagar District, the main clans are the Chauhan, with smaller numbers of Bargujars, Panwars, Tomars and Bhattis. They are confined to the Kairana and Budhana tehsils. The only other family of importance are Sombansi of the village of Ainchauli, who are said to have come fromAwadh. In neighbouring Meerut District, their main clans are Chauhan and Tomar.There are three main villages of Panwar rajputs Jasad Sultan Nagar, Zainpur (Dewli Khera) and Gotka in Sardhana Tehsil of Meerut district. The Pundir of Bajhera village are one of the important Rajput families inGhaziabad district. Other clans include the Bargujar, Bhatti, Bhale Sultan and Sisodia. The Sisodia have nine villages in the district, while the Tomar have eight in Hapur and three in Baghpat (now a separate district). In total, they have forty-five villages in total.
In Bulandshahr District, they belong mainly they belong mainly to the Chauhan, Bhatti and Bargujar clans, while there are also considerable number of Panwar, Bais, Tomar and Bhale Sultan. The Bargujar are further divided into five clans, the Lalkhani, Ahmadkhani, Bikramkhani, Kamalkhani and Raimani. The Lalkhanis have consider themselves distinct from other Rajput communities, having held large estates such that of Chhattari State and Pahasu State. In Aligarh district there are also a number of Ranghar settlements. They are found mainly in Khair and Aligarh tehsils. There main clans are the Chauhan and Bargujar, including the famous Lalkhani family. The Chauhan Ranghar of Aligarh trace their descent from Rana Sengat, whose great grandfather was Chahara Deva, the brother ofPrithviraj Chauhan. There are also a considerable number of Gehlot in Hathras, Rathore in Khair, Baisin Atrauli and Khair and Bhadauria in Atrauli.
In Mathura District, the Ranghar are found mainly in the tehsils of Mathura, Chhata and Mahaban. They belong for the most part to the Bhale Sultan biradari, with a smaller number of Chauhan and Jaiswar. These Bhale Sultan trace their ancestry to the Solanki rulers of Gujarat. According to the traditions of the Mathura Bhale Sultan, they descend from a Kirat Singh, and played an important role in the history of the district during Muslim rule. The district is also home to Jaiswar clan, and the Jaiswar Ranghar are said to have been converted to Islam during the rule of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. They trace their descent to the town of Jais in Awadh, and their ancestor Jas Ram was a leper who came to Mathura as a pilgrim, and was miraculously cured. He settled down at Bhadanwara in Mat tehsil. In addition to the clans already referred to, this district and neighbouring Agra district are also home to a community known as the Malkana. Unlike the Ranghar, the Malkana community is of a more mixed origin. Those in Mathura found mainly in and around the town of Sadabad are for the most part Gaurwas and Jats. This distinction also reinforced by the fact that there is no intermarriage between the Malkana and recognized Ranghar clans such as the Bhale Sultan.
In Agra District, the Ranghar communities are found mainly in trans Yamuna tract of this district. They belong for the most part to the Kachwaha clan, found in villages in and around the towns of Fatehabadand Kiraoli. This community are also found near Etmadpur and near the city of Agra. There is also settlements of Chauhan Ranghar in Firozabad District, who claim a connection with the famous family of Mainpuri Chauhans. Other than these two clans, there are small number of Tomar, Panwar andSikarwars found scattered throughout the district. The Sikarwar are said to have given the name toFatehpur Sikri, the legendary capital of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. Most of the Sikri Sikarwars were converted to Islam during the 16th Century. Like Mathura, Agra is also home to a large number ofMalkanas. They are found mainly in six villages near the town of Kiraoli. The Kiraoli Malkana trace their descent from a Jat, while other Malkanas such as those in Etmadpur claim to have originally been Panwar, while those in Fatehabad claim to have been Parihar, and those in Kheragarh to have originally been Banias. Like in Mathura, the two Rajput groupings do not intermarry. The Ranghar groups are by and large fairly orthodox, while the Malkana have preserved a lot more of their Hindu traditions.
In Etah District, there main clans are the Bhatti, Chauhan and Bhale Sultan. The Chauhans are descended from the famous Chauhan family of Mainpuri. They are found mainly in Aliganj andKasganj. The Bhattis are found mainly in Azamnagar tehsil, with Bhargain being their most important settlememt. While the Bhale Sultan are found mainly in Mohanpur, and are related to the Bhale Sultan of Bulandshahr District.
Here is a list of the Ranghar clans tabulated for 1891 Census of India.
The Muslim Rajputs of the Rohilkhand region are also referred to as Ranghar. They belong mainly to the Bhatti and Chauhan clans. Starting with Moradabad District, the Ranghar are found mainly inSambhal, and Bilari. The Chauhans are concentrated in Sambhal, the Rathore in Thakurdwara andBilari. Other clans are the Bargujars of Sambhal, the Katehria in Moradabad, and Sombansis found in the entire district. In addition, the district is also home to a large colony of Khokhar Rajputs, who settled in the district during the rule of the Mughal Emperor Babar. They are said to have come originally from Sialkot in Punjab, where they are still are a large and important Rajput tribe. In the neighbouring Jyotiba Phule Nagar District, the Ranghar are found mainly in the tehsils of Hasanpur andAmroha. The Gaur are found mainly in Hasanpur, the Bargujars in Amroha,the Katehria of Hassanpur, the Bhatti in Hassanpur, and the Tomar in Hasanpur and Amroha.
In Bijnor District, there main clans are the Chauhans found in Dhampur, Nagina and Bijnor tehsils, Panwar and Bhatti in the western part of the district, and Sisodia in Dhampur. The Ranghar in Rampur District, for the most part belonged to the Katehriya and Bhatti clans. They are pretty evenly distributed all over the district.
The Ranghar in Bareilly District are found mainly in Bareilly, Baheri and Nawabganj. In terms of importance, the Jadaun of Aonla are perhaps to the most prominent family in the district. Other clans include the Chauhan, Sombansi and Bhatti. The village of Thiriya Nizamat Khan is an important Bhatti settlement in Bareilly District.
In Badaun District, the main Ranghar clans are the Bargujar, Bhatti, Chauhan and Panwar. The Chauhan are found mainly in Bisauli, Dataganj and Badaun. In numbers, they are the largest clan. The Bargujar are found mainly in Dataganj and Gunnaur, and belong to the Lalkhani family, while the Panwar are found in Gunnaur. Kakrala is an important Bhatti village in Badaun District.
The Ranghar of Shahjahanpur District, for the most part belonged to the Chauhan, Katehriya and Sombansi tribes. The former are concentrated in Tilhar, the other two clans are found throughout the district.
Here is a list of the main tribes, as tabulated by 1891 Census of India.
Ranghar of Delhi
The Ranghar of Delhi are said to have converted to Islam, during the reign of Aurangzeb. The conversion initially is said to have had little effect on the community. Their social customs remained unaltered, their rules of marriage and inheritance remained unaltered, save that they shaved their scalp lock and upper edge of their moustache. The community was historically connected with the Ranghar of Haryana, but their emigration to Pakistan has led to commencement of relations with the Ranghar of the Doab. A good many of the Delhi Ranghar have also emigrated to Pakistan, and are now found mainly in Mirpurkhas District, in Sindh. There main clans are the Badpyar, Bhatti, Chauhan, Panwar and Tomar.According to the 1911 Census of India the main clans were as follows:
The Ranghar in Delhi were found mainly in villages, around the city. Their most important settlement was Okhla, which now been incorporated into the city. The spread of Delhi has led to the incorporation of many other Ranghar villages into the city. There are still a small number of Ranghar villages in the west of Delhi, along the border with Rohtak District. They are remnants of the large communities of Panwar and Chauhan communities in region. Much of the Ranghar land was taken over by the Delhi Development Authority in the 1950s and 60s. This has led to landlessness, and many are now engaged as industrial labourers. There has thus been a marked decline in the fortunes of the Rajputs.
The community is entirely Sunni Muslim, and many are now gravitating towards the orthodox Deobandisect. They remain endogamous, only rarely marrying out, and then only with other Rajput communities in Meerut, and still maintain gotra exogamy. The traditional tribal council is no longer as effective, as the community has rapidly urbanized.
Ranghar of Himachal Pradesh
In Himachal Pradesh, the Ranghar claim to have immigrated from Karnal, in what is now Haryana some five hundred years ago. The areas inhabited by the Ranghar were part of the historic British province of Punjab. They still speak Haryanvi among themselves, although most educated Ranghars can speak Urdu and Hindi. The community consists of four clans, the Pundir, the Chauhan, theTonwar and Taoni, and the conversion of these Rajput clans had occurred prior to their immigration. In addition, there are several villages of Bhattis and Ghorewahas in Una district, who although technically distinct from the Ranghar now intermarry with them. These two communities still Punjabi, and are remnant of much larger Rajput found in the historic Hoshiarpur District. Like many other Himachal Pradesh Muslims, a majority of the Ranghar immigrated to Pakistan at the time of the Partition of Indiain 1947. All the Himchal Pradesh Ranghars belong to the Sunni sect.
Most Ranghar villages are found along the border with Haryana, along the slopes of the Shiwalikmountains, mainly in the districts of Bilaspur, Solan, Hamirpur, and Mandi. This country is hilly, and was historically was forested, and small groups of Ranghar immigrants cleared the jungle and built their settlements. This is seen by the presence of generally of just one gotra in a Ranghar village, with the inhabitants claiming descent from a common ancestor. These settlers were also accompanied by occupational castes such as Nai, Julahas and Telis. A patron client relationship, known as the jajmanisystem continues to exists with these groups.The Ranghar are still a community of farmers, with animal husbandry being an important secondary occupation. Historically, service in the army and police was important, but this has almost disappeared. Closely related to the Ranghar are the Sunhakcommunity, who are Muslim converts from the Chandel Rajputs.
In the past, the community practiced clan exogamy, but this practice has now declined, and inter gotra marriages do occur. Although living near a number of other communities such as the Bharai,Arain and Rawat, there is no intermarriage with these communities, and they are strictly endogamous. Like those in Uttar Pradesh, the Himachal Pradesh Ranghar have a biradari panchayat, that deals with intra-community disputes. The Ranghars have very effective biradari panchayat system and it exercises effective control over the community.
Clans of the Haryana Ranghar
Here is a brief description, with reference of the historic distribution of the Rajput clans of Haryana.
The Haryana Muslim Chauhans all claimed descent from Rana Har Rai, and connect themselves with Prithvi Raj, the last Chauhan Raja of North India. Perhaps the most widespread of the Ambala Division tribe, found in almost every district. In Karnal and Ambala, they were found all along the valley of the Yamuna. In the Rewari Tehsil of Gurgaon District, they formed important communities. According to 1911 Census of India, they numbered 73,604.
The Mandahars claim descent from Loa, son of Ram and grandson of Raja Jasrath of Hindu traditions. They converted to Islam in time of the Firuz Shah Tughlaq, Sultan of Delhi, in the 14th century. The tribe was found almost entirely in the old Karnal District, and as well as a few around Samana inPatiala.
In Haryana, the Panhwar or Puar were after the Chauhan, the principal tribe. They used Rao as a title. The Ranghar in Rohtak District were almost entirely Panhwar, and acorrding to the 1911 Census of India they numbered 18,352. According to their tradition, the Panwhar immigrated from Dharanagri (a place said to be somewhere in Deccan), and intermarried with the Chauhans, who gave them lands around Rohtak and Kalanaur.
The Raghubansi were found mainly in Hissar, Jind and Bhattinda.
The Rathore are a Suryavanshi Rajput clan. In Haryana, Muslim Rathore were found mainly in Hissar District.
The Taoni claim a connection with the Bhatti Rajputs. They were found mainly in Ambala District.
The Tonwar were found mainly in Delhi, Rohtak, Hissar and Sirsa. The Jatu and Satraola, found in Hissar were clans of the Tonwar.
Population of Major Ranghar clans of Haryana from the 1911 Census of India
The Pachada were a pastoral tribe, and early British historians connected them with tribes found in along the Sutlej such as the Wattu and Kharal, who were also pastoral. During the 1857 War of Independence, the Pachadas played a key part in the disturbances that occurred in western Haryana and northern Rajasthan.
At the time of independence of Pakistan in 1947, the Pachadas like other Muslim Rajputs tribes moved en mass to Pakistan. They are now found throughout Punjab, with concentrations in Kasur and Okara Districts.
The main Pacchada clans are:
The Sohu claim descent from the Chauhan Rajputs, who are well acclaimed due to Lal, son of Jata, who is said to have founded Bhirana in Haryana. Jata is said to have come originally from Rawalpindi, and migrated via Bhatner and Rania and eventually settling in Hissar.
The Sohu tribe however originated mainly from the region around Rawalpindi, they are the direct descendants of Chauhan Rajputs that entirely converted to Islam during the reign of Jahangir. Many Sohu are known to have inhabited Punjab region when Prince Aurangzeb was Subedar of Multan, they are known to have served the Mughals during the Mughal–Safavid War (1649–1653) and even settled along the Indus River in Larkana, Sindh.
The Sukheras claim descent from Sukha, son of Thirpal, a Tonwar Rajput.
The Hinjroan claim descent from the Saroha Rajputs, and claim a kinship with the Hanjra Jats.
Included within the Ranghar category are the Tyagi (Muslim) from the old districts of Rohtak andKarnal in what is now the Haryana state of India. They are now found mainly in Muzaffargarh andLayyah districts of Punjab.
The term Muley Jat was used to describe Muslim Jat clans settled in the Karnal, Hissar and Rohtakregions of Haryana. They are sometimes included within the Ranghar category, as many are settled in Okara and Sahiwal, among communities of Muslim Rajputs. However, the term Ranghar has historically been restricted to the Rajput community.
- Liaquat Ali Khan – former Prime Minister of Pakistan
- Rana Phool Muhammad Khan – Senior Politicians
- Rao Sikandar Iqbal – Defence Minister of Pakistan from 2002 to 2007
- Rao Muhammad Afzal Khan (born 1925 in Kalanore, India) – a politician in Pakistan. In 1952, he was elected as MPA from Sahiwal District tehsil Depalpur. He went on to win election an additional four times as Member Provincial Assembly and twice as a Member National Assembly in 1985 and 1988.
- Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan – Speaker of the Punjab Assembly
- Rafi Muhammad Chaudhry—- Nuclear Physics, Govt. College Univ. Lahore Paksitan.
♦ Air Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman (Chief of staff, Pakistan Air Force)
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