Published: May 21, 2006
By Iftikhar Ajmal Bhopal
After research of 4 decades (1962 to 2004 A.D)
1. Basic Information
My father had told me that documents containing details about our ancestors were at our residence in Jammu City (State Jammu & Kashmir) which was in some language not known to him. He wanted to get that translated during his visit to Jammu in 1946 but first he fell ill then my brother Iftekhar Abid and then younger to him Mukhtar Anis who died after some days. So, father went back to Palestine without getting that translated. The note book got lost along with all other belongings in 1947 due to looting by Hindus and Sikhs after our family was forced to leave Jammu by occupying Indian army and Hindu / Sikh militants. (My parents and the youngest brother were in Palestine then)
2. The Start
2.1. I started my research in 1962. Initially, name “Bagoo” of our great grand father made me think that our forefathers were Hindu. Later, I found out that Bagoo, was his nick name. He was Hafiz-e-Qur’aan and his father’s name was Abdul Latif who, also, was Hafiz-e-Qur’aan and such a learned and pious person that people addressed him as “Shah Sahib”.
2.2. Out of centuries old ancestral property, I know of only two houses, one within the old walled city of Lahore and the other in Qila Sobha Singh. I had seen the house in Lahore during 1957 A.D when I was studying at engineering college, Lahore. This house was sold in 1960 A.D to it’s tenant who was directed to pay the money to nearby mosque. As told by my grand father, the house in Qila Sobha Singh was built by his grand father. This house was sold in late 1950s A.D to a neighbour there. The buyer was asked to pay the price to mosque of the area. Qila Sobha Sigh is in District Sialkot. In 1964, I went to Pasrur (town near Qila Sobha Singh) to know about our ancestors from an elderly man of Bhopal family, but that man had died a few months before I reached there. I met his son who had no information.
3. Information from Different Sources
3.1. Raja Bhojpal Theory
In January, 1975, I visited ACC factory, Rohri in a group of officers while on a Senior Management Course. Managing Director of the factory, Brig (R) Aleemuddin, who was from family of Nawab of Bhopal (India) narrated: “Raja Jaipal who fought battles with Mahmud Ghaznavi had a brother named Bhojpal. A Merhatta Raja attacked his state and occupied it after killing Bhojpal. Rani Kamlapati, wife of Bhojpal accompanied by her two minor sons, took refuge with Nawab Dost Muhammad and requested the Nawab for revenge. Dost Muhammad attacked the Merhutta Raja’s state, killed Marhutta Raja and occupied states of Raja Bhojpal and Merhutta Raja. Dost Muhammad returned state of Bhojpal to Rani Kamlapati. Kamlapati, secretly, converted to Muslim. When that came to be known, civil war started between forces loyal to Rani Kamlapati and the anti-Muslims. Present state Bhopal was part of that state of Raja Bhojpal. So Bhopals could be descendents of Raja Bhopjpal.”
3.2. History of State Bhopal
A book in Urdu, “Tareekh Riyasat Bhopal” (History of state Bhopal) was published in 1980 A.D or earlier by a monthly magazine “Tashkeel”, Bhopal (India). The publisher was Allama Syed Abid Ali Wajdi Alhussaini and editer Khan Basit. This book negates the story of Rani Kamlapati written above. Here is translation of relevant excerpt.
“During 11th Century A.H (17th A.D), Bhopal was a part of Dhar which was ruled by Raja Bhoj who sat on the throne in 1050 A.H (1640 A.D.) and ruled for 46 years. There have been many rulers in India with the name “Bhoj” because a knowledge-loving ruler used to be called Bhoj. Ruler of Dhar (including Bhopal) was the ruler who had Peeran Dhar as his ruling capital. This Raja Bhoj got a dam constructed between two nearby mountains (at present Bhopal Taal). In local language, dam was called “Paal” thus it came to be known as Bhojpaal which, with passage of time, simplified to Bhopal.
3.3. Sardar Dost Muhammad who was a Meerazikhel Warakzai Pathan migrated to U.P. (India) from Teerah (Afghanistan) in 1108 A.H (1696 A.D). In a quarrel, he killed one of his relatives and ran away. Later, he reached Delhi and got employed in army of king Bahadur Shah-1 who, later, posted him to Malwa. Dost Muhammad deserted Bahadur Shah’s army along with 500 soldiers and took refuge under Maharani (Queen) Mangal Ghund where he won confidence of Maharani and, being childless, she adopted him as her son. After death of the queen, Dost Muhammad became ruler of her state. Rajputs of the state opposed him and he had to run.” Dost Muhammad remained such a hit-and-run fugitive for quite some time. Ultimately, Nizam Shah Ghond’s widow, Rani Kamlapati, to avenge death of her husband, who was poisoned by his nephews, made an agreement with Dost Muhammad to kill her husband’s nephews for which she offered Rs 100,000. Dost Muhammad killed them and conquered their land named Barri. Kamlapati paid Rs 50,000 and against remaining Rs 50,000 gave Bhopal to Dost Muhammad. This had happened around 1140 A.H (1727 A.D).”
3.4. The other Bhopals I met (not relatives)
Chaudhary Muhammad Siddique, then Statistical Officer, Planning Division met me during 1983 and said that he wanted to know history of Bhopal family because he himself was from Bhopal family. In early 1990’s, he said that he had visited Nepal for some official work where a strange incident took place. He narrated, “I had a meeting with a high ranking official of Nepal. He offered me a seat and sat by my side. When I was introduced to him, he uttered “Bheyon paal Maharaj”, slipped down from sofa and sat on the floor. (Maharaj means master). I was wonder-struck and asked him the reason. He said that your ancestors were good people. We consider them awtar (prophets). They reclaimed / developed vast lands and provided food to all. I can not commit the sin of sitting at the same level with Maharaj.”
3.5. In 1983, another person had contacted me and said, “My father, who has retired as Police Inspector, told me, ‘We write Syed but we are not Syed. We are Bhopal. Our family shattered more than a century ago. When you have children tell them about it and keep a look for Bhopals.’ I saw your name in a government order that you had returned from deputation to Libya and traced you.” He promised to get more information from his father. He didn’t contact me for a few months. So, I searched for him. His colleagues told me that he had gone home and later, his resignation was received that his father had died and, there being no male member to look after the family, he had resigned. Thus, I could not get any more information.
Note: My daughter searched from web telephone directories telephone numbers and addresses of people with suffix Bhopal living in UK, Canada and USA. I tried to contact all of them but could not establish contact with most of them. Perhaps, the web telephone directories were old and not updated. The ones whom I contacted did not know or like to say any thing about why did they write Bhopal with their names.
3.6. Grand father told me
Father of my paternal grand father shifted to Jammu from Qila Sobha Singh (District Sialkot). As he told my grand father and grand father told me, ancestors of father of my grand father were Zamindars (land owners / cultivators) owning large areas of land and that property of his ancestors was confiscated by East India Company and Sikh rulers. Later, his remaining property was confiscated by British rulers for not having helped them against local population during 1857. Grand father had, also, told me that his father had once said to him with tears in his eyes, “My dear son ! you come from a well-educated family. Please pardon me for not having arranged for your education because I was unable to arrange that due to my trying circumstances.”
3.7. Father told me
During year 1948, my father met Commissioner, Central Land Record, Lahore in connection with purchase of land. The commissioner asked my father what Bhopal signified and asked for names of ancestors of my father which father gave to him. Later, when father met that commissioner, he told him, “Old land record shows that most of Bhopal Wala and a large area in Gujjar Wali belonged to your forefathers whose names you gave me. That land was confiscated by the then rulers. You should apply for return of that land. I am sure that you will get back your land.” The application was to be submitted at Tehsil level and pursued to Central Land Record Office through district government which needed time and prompt perusal. Father could not proceed with that because, in those days, he was busy with building fireclay bricks factory. Due to betrayal by his partner and the incidents that followed, Land Commissioner’s advice got wiped out from father’s mind. When he recalled, it was too late.
3.8. Grand Father’s Nationality and Date of Birth
State Subject Certificate of my grand father, issued on 1st Katik 1990 (Bikrami), states his age as 64 years. Thus, he was born in 1926 Bikrami. Bikrami calendar started 57 years before Gregorian (Solar) calendar. Thus, my grand father was born in 1869 A.D. Strange enough that his place of birth had not been disclosed in his State Subject Certificate which, as my grand-father told me was some place in India but not State Jammu Kashmir.
3.9. Connection between ancestors of my parents
My paternal grand mother was real sister of my maternal grand father. Our ancestors used to arrange marriages only within the family. Also, my paternal grand mother was about five years older than her husband (my grand father). This used to happen due to restriction of marrying within the family. Thus, marriage of my paternal grand father with sister of my maternal grand father indicates that both belonged to the same family.
4. Historical / Religious Link
4.1. Many Muslims, who came with Muhammad bin Qasim in 712 A.D., settled in India. Muslims also came to India during rule of Subuktagin (973), Mehmud Ghaznavi (1001-1030), Shahab ud Din Muhammad Ghauri (1175 – 1206) and Qutbuddin Aibak (1206 -1210). Early religious scholars who came to India and were main cause of spreading Islam are: Sayed Ali Hajveri (11th century); Baha-ud-din Zakaria (born 12th century); Baba Fareed Ganj Shakar (13th century); Usman Marwandi (Shahbaz Qalander, 13th century). All dates are A.D.
4.2. My maternal grand father had a hand-written Qur’aan Shareef with preface written by Qutbuddin Aibak, who was governer (1191-1206 A.D) and then ruler (1206-1210 A.D). He is buried in Lahore near Anarkali Bazar , just outside the walled city of Lahore of that time.
4.3. Ancestors of my maternal grand father should have been living in Lahore in the time of Qutbuddin Aibak. The house in Lahore belonging to ancestors of my paternal grand father was in Kinari Bazar (old walled city of Lahore), about one kilometer from tomb of Qutbuddin Aibak. Thus, ancestors of my paternal and maternal grand fathers may have been living in Lahore during the time of Qutbuddin Aibak, and most probably they were one family.
4.4. Baba Fareed
During late 1960s or early 1970s, my Mamoo (maternal uncle) had mentioned that my Nana (maternal grand father) was a descendant of Baba Fareed. I can not say he meant Baba Fareed-ud-Din masoud Ganj-i-Shakar or some other Baba Fareed. I was very busy in those days in projects development and implementation and could not visit him to seek more information from him on this issue. In may, 1976 I was sent to Libya. My Mamoo died suddenly on August 06, 1980 while I was still in Libya.
4.5. I had been told by my Dada (paternal grand father) that our great grand father was a very pious and well known religious person. My Dada had died in June, 1955.
5. Various Factors of History
5.1. The East India Company
On 31 December 1600 A.D., a group of merchants who had incorporated themselves into the East India Company were given monopoly privileges by the British Government on all trade with the East Indies. The Company’s ships first arrived in India, at the port of Surat, in 1608 A.D. Sir Thomas Roe reached the court of the Mughal Emperor, Jahangir, as the emissary of King James-I in 1615 A.D., and gained for the British the right to establish a factory at Surat but numerous trading posts were established along the east and west coasts of India. Also, English communities developed around Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras. The Company cunningly transformed itself from a trading venture to a ruling enterprise, and one of its military officials, Robert Clive, defeated the forces of Nawab of Bengal, Siraj-ud-Daulah in 1757 A.D. The company’s servants were largely rapacious and self-aggrandizing. Later, the Regulating Act of 1773 A.D., placed India under the rule of a Governor-General who pursued expansion
of British rule in India vigorously. An agreement in perpetuity was reached with zamindars (landlords) of India for collection of revenue. For the next 50 years, the British were engaged in attempts to eliminate Indian rivals who did not accept Company terms.
5.2. The Sikh Rule
First Sikh ruler, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, made Afghans retreat and established Sikh rule in Lahore in 1758 A.D. After death of Ahmad Shah in 1773 A.D., Sikhs took control of Punjab and started forcibly taking over lands of Muslims.
5.3. Jang-e-Azadi 1857
In 1857 A.D., people of India, getting fed up with the East India Company’s excesses, started armed struggle to free India from the British rule which failed due to betrayal by Zamindars and Waderas who were touts of British rulers. The movement failed and British rulers started taking punitive action against local Muslims who had not sided with them.
5.4. Our Lands Taken without Compensation
Refusing to accept East India Company as master, lands of my ancestors in central India and around were confiscated and they migrated to Punjab during early 19th century A.D.
5.5. The lands of our ancestors in Punjab (Bhopal Wala, Gujar Wali, etc) were snatched by Sikh and English rulers in 19th century A.D. Then, grand father of my grand father moved to Qila Sobha Singh where he purchased some land, built a house and settled.
5.6. After Jang-e-Azadi of 1857, the remaining property was also forcibly taken over by British rulers and father of my grand father took refuge in Jammu, state Jammu Kashmir where he was granted provisional citizenship of the state based on his family background.
He purchased a house in Jammu Tawi (winter capital) and settled there just to start off afresh. Thus, a family of learned and hard-working people who, on their arrival in India, were named as “Bheyon paal” (developers) due to their qualities, were made poor by the grabbers and usurpers, British and Sikh rulers of India.
5.7. Raja Bhojpal and State Bhopal Factor
The story of Kamlapati narrated by Brig (R) Aleemuddin is negated by what was written in the book “Tareekh Riyasat Bhopal”. Raja Bhoj ruled during late 17th century A.D. Dost Muhammad entered India in 1108 A.H (1696 A.D) and Kamlapati ruled during 12th century A.H (early 18th century A.D) when our ancestors came back to Punjab. Further, we have sufficient proof that our ancestors were Muslim and present in India much earlier, that is, during the time of Qutbuddin Aibak (1191 to 1210 A.D). Also, I have failed to find a brother of Raja Jaipal named Bhojpal in any history book. Thus, our ancestors do not appear to have had any link with Raja Bhojpaal, Raja Bhoj, Rani Kamlapati, or Nawab Dost Muhammad.
5.8. Another Aspect of Bhojpal
The word Bhojpal is a combination of Bhoj and Paal. Bhojan in Sanskrit means food, most probably, agricultural food because Hindus do not eat meat (mutton, beef, pork, etc). It can be derived from it that Bhoj would mean agriculture produce. Paal means one who brings up or cultivates and grows. Thus, Bhojpal would mean one who develops / cultivates land and makes it productive.
Raja Bhoj ruled the kingdom of Malwa in central India from about 1010 to 1060 AD. History books contain reference to only one Raja Bhoj. It is believed that Raja Bhoj was not the actual name of the ruler but he was known as Bhoj because he looked after his people well.
6. Personal / Physical Analysis
6.1. Our body structure does not resemble any creed of Hindus. When I lived abroad, I was never taken as Pakistani or Indian. During 1966-67, Germans took me as Iranian. During 1967, in Holland, took my three companions to be Pakistani or Indian but not me.” In 1977, Belgians generally, took me as Arab. It is noteworthy that many Christian Arabs had settled in Belgium. In 1978, I was going round Germany with my family when at Duesseldorf airport the security officer, in spite of my Pakistani Passport, took me as Arab. During 1976-1983 in Libya, when I used to tell anybody that I was a Pakistani, he used to say, “No, you do not look like a Pakistani or Indian.” My Libyan colleagues in the office had opined that my structure was different to those of Pakistanis and Indians. My elder son Zakaria they said, “is like Turkish”. My younger son Fowzi they said, “is like Libyans”. In June, 1999, while I was waiting in the departure lounge at Atlanta, USA, for my flight to New Jersey, an Egyptian (above 60 years) kept on looking at me for considerable time and then asked, “Are you Egyptian ?”
6.2. Major source of livelihood, in India during 19th century, was agriculture. According to a law of British government in India, those who were not agriculturist could not buy land. Consequently, Muslim migrants might have been forced to falsely write Rajput, Arain, Jat, etc because these were the casts of the agriculturist. Had they not disguised as Rajput, Arain, etc they would have not been allowed to purchase land and would have become Haris (cultivator subordinates) of Hindu / Muslim Zamindars (Land Lords) who were touts of British Rulers.
6.3. My ancestors wrote Bhopal (Rajput). “Bheyon” means earth and “paal” means one who takes care of / looks after / brings up. “Bheyon paal” means one who develops / cultivates land and makes it productive. I have reasons (few stated above) to believe that our ancestors developed land in central and Northern India during 14th to 16th centuries A.D which provided food also to locals. Food in those days was of prime importance. The locals, not being well versed with agriculture, were unable to produce much. Thus, locals named them “Bheyon paal” later simplified to “Bhopal”.
6.4. Our ancestors, if Arab, could have been traders (not essentially). In India, forced by the circumstances, they might have changed their profession to farming. Ancestors of my mother as well as my wife used to write Bhatti Rajput. Later, it came to be known that they were neither Bhatti nor Rajput. The two other Bhopal, whom I met, wrote Chaudhary (Arain) and Syed. This indicates that labels of Bhatti, Rajput, Chaudhary, Syed, etc may have been adopted to hide from Sikh and British rulers or to be able to purchase land.
6.5. I found no evidence that could suggest our conversion to Muslim from Hindism. As stated above, family of my maternal grand father has a hand-written Qur’aan Shareef with preface written by Qutbuddin Aibak who ruled India from 1191 to 1210 A.D as governor / king. This proves that our ancestors were Muslim during that period (12th / 13th century A.D). The Muslims who came and settled in India from 8th to 12th century A.D belonged to Arab world, Turkey and Muslim states surrounding Turkey of those times (Albania, etc.)
It becomes evident from above that we are descendants of Arabs or Turks or Albanian Turks.
Our ancestors came to India in early stages of Muslims rule (early 13th century) in India and first settled at Lahore being a fertile area. Later, they developed vast lands in Central and Northern India, came back to Punjab during the later half of 18th century and migrated to Jammu in mid 19th century A.D.