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June 6, 2014

Memoranda on The India Estates – 1934

June 6, 2014

A banker by profession, Salim Ansar has a passion for history and historic books. His personal library already boasts a treasure trove of over 7,000 rare and unique books.
Every week, we shall take a leaf from one such book and treat you to a little taste of history.
BOOK NAME: Memoranda on The India Estates – 1934
AUTHOR: Published by Authority
PUBLISHER: Manager of Publications, Delhi
The following excerpt has been taken from Pages: 152 — 155
“The present ruling family are descended from one Baba Ayub, who is said by some to have been a descendant of Timur, the Moghul Emperor and by others to have belonged to a noble family of the Hazara District. Baba Ayub settled in Chitral about the beginning of the 17th Century, and entered the service of the Ruling Chief, a Rais of the same family as the ruler of Gilgit. About one hundred years later, the Rais line because extinct, and Mohtaram Shah (also known as Shah Kator, I) a lineal descendant of Bab Ayub, became Chief or Mehtar.
“In 1876, Aman-ul-Mulk, father of the present Mehtar, sought the protection of Kashmir, and in the following year an agreement was signed between the two States (with the approval of the Government of India), which served to protect Chitral from Afghan aggression.
“At the time of his accession, Aman-ul-Mulk ruled only over the lower portion of Chitral, the upper portion being under the Khushwakt branch of the family, but before he died in 1892, his territory extended from Bailam near Asmar, to Soma, about 50 miles from Gilgit. The present Mehtar territory comprises the whole of the country drained by the Chitral river down to Arandu.
“After the death of Aman-ul-Mulk, rulers succeeded each other in rapid succession and the country was constantly disturbed, culminating, in March 1895, in the British Agent and his escort being besieged in the Chitral Fort by Umra Khan, late Khan of Jardol, and Sher Afzal, brother

of Aman-ul-Mulk.
“On the 3rd of March 1895, at the commencement of the siege, the present Mehtar Shuja-ul-Mulk, the youngest of Aman-ul-Mulk’s legitimate sons, was installed provisionally as Mehtar over the Kator districts excluding the Narsat Ilaqa now in the Afghan District of Asmar. The siege was raised in April 1895 by the joint operations of the Chitral Relief Force under the Command of Sir Robert Low, and the force from Gilgit commanded by Colonel Kelly. Since then, a British garrison has been maintained in the country. The strength of this garrison was at first two battalions of Indian Infantry, one company of Bengal Sappers and Miners, and one section of Mountain Battery. It was reduced in 1899 by one battalion of Indian Infantry.
“110 Chitral Levies are employed between Chitral and the Lowari Pass. They are armed and paid by the Government of India. In addition to these Levies, the Corps of Chitral Scouts number 989 men. These also are armed and paid by the Government of India. The Mehtar is Honorary Commandant of the Scouts, in which he takes a keen interest.
“His Highness maintains a force of 3,000 men, called the ‘Bodyguard’ for whom he was lent 2,000 rifles by the Government of India in 1919. A further 300 rifles were handed over to him in 1925 and 681 in 1927. The Bodyguard is called up for training by companies, and has attained a good standard of efficiency.
“The present Mehtar Shuja-ul-Mulk visited Calcutta in 1899 as the guest of His Excellency the Viceroy; in April 1902, he attended the Viceregal durbar at Peshawar, and in January 1903 the Delhi Coronation Durbar, on which occasion he was invested as a companion of the Indian Empire. He visited India during the cold weather of 1904-05 and again in the following year when he was presented to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales at a garden party at Government House, Peshawar.
“In September 1907, he paid an informal visit for ten days to Simla. During the visit he was granted an interview with His Excellency Lord Minto.
“He has also the honour of attending His Majesty the King Emperor’s Durbar at Delhi in 1911 and received the medal.
“In May 1918, the Chief Commissioner visited Chitral.
“In January 1919, His Highness was made a K.C.I.E. In October 1921, he paid a visit to India and was introduced to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales on the occasion of the latter’s visit to Ajmer in November, earlier in the same month, His Highness spend two days in Viceregal Lodge, Delhi, as the guest of His Excellency Lord Reading. His Highness also visited Indore, Bombay, Jammu and at the last named place, was received in formal Durbar by His Highness the Maharaja of Kashmir.
“In August 1923, His Excellency Lord Rawlinson, Commander-in-chief in India, visited Chitral en route to Gilgit from the Malakand. Sir William Birdwood, Bart., visited Chitral as a State guest in June 1924.
“In November 1923, His Highness left Chitral for the Haj visiting en route Peshawar, Delhi and Bombay. Embarking at Bombay, he proceeded to Basra, Baghdad, Jerusalem, Jeddah, Mecca and Madina where he was the guest of King Hussain. His Highness returned in August 1924.
“In 1926, His Highness attended the Viceregal Durbar held at Peshawar. He was again in India between October the 8th and December the 1st, 1928 accompanied by the Assistant Political Agent. On this occasion, he visited the Wali of Swat at Saidu, was the guest of the Hon’ble the Chief Commissioner, North-West Frontier Province, during his stay in Peshawar and the guest of His Highness the Nawab of Rampur in Rampur. He also visited the Prince of Wales Military College at Dehra Dun, where one of his sons was studying and left four of his younger sons at Dehra Dun for private tuition.
“At Delhi he was accorded an interview by His Excellency the Viceroy.
“His Highness proceeded to India in November 1931. He was accorded an interview by His Excellency the Viceroy in Delhi and after staying a considerable time in Peshawar he returned to Chitral by Air on the 27th April 1932.
“There has been marked increase in the amount of land under cultivation and in the general prosperity of all classes of the people since the disturbances in 1895.
“At the Mehtar’s request, an Officer of the Forest Department was deputed to Chitral in September 1907, for four months, to report on the local forests. A Geological Survey of the country at the expense of the Government of India commenced in 1921 and finished in 1923.
“A survey of Chitral was carried out by the Survey Department of the Government of India during the year 1928 and 1929.
“The Mehtar received a subsidy the greater part of which is paid by the Government of India and the balance by the Maharaja of Kashmir, the immediate Suzerain. The sum paid by government was increased in 1928 in consideration of the cost of the maintenance of His Highness’ Bodyguard and of certain undertakings by His Highness as regards the prices at which local supplies should be furnished to the troops. With effect from April 1927, an annual sum has been granted to him as compensation for loss of revenue on account of establishment of a Charas Bonded Warehouse of Chitral.
“During the Afghan War of 1919, the Chitral Scouts and Bodyguard co-operated with the moveable column from Drosh in an attack on a body of Afghan Regulars and tribesmen who had occupied Arandu in Chitral limits. The action was most successful, the intruders being dispersed, and the Afghan Fort of Birkot being taken. Four guns were captured besides other arms and ammunition. On the withdrawal of the force, the Afghans again occupied Arandu with regular troops, up to the 16th January 1921 on which they withdrew across the Arandu stream. For his services in this connection the Mehtar was granted the little of his Highness, with a personal salute of 11 guns and received a grant of 100,000 as a contribution towards the expenses incurred by the State.
“On the outbreak of the War in Europe, the Mehtar of Chitral was most loyal in his offers to the Empire, of both personal service and the whole resources of his State, but fortunately during 1915, all was quiet in and round Chitral State, and there was no need to call upon him.
“In 1932, the title of His Holiness granted to the Mehtar in 1919 was made permanent and hereditary and a formal announcement was made accordingly by the Political Agent at a Durbar held in Chitral on the 18th July of that year.
“During the year 1932 an international commission met at Arandu to demarcate a small strip of boundary in that neighbourhood between Afghanistan and Chitral. This portion of the international boundary was left un-demarcated in 1895 and had ever since been a source of trouble and dispute with particular reference to the area known as Dokalim. This place was claimed both by Afghanistan and Chitral and had been occupied sometimes by one Government and sometimes by the other. It was finally handed over by the Commission to the Afghan Government.”
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