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Pathans of Gujarat

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Pathans of Gujarat

Junagadh Nawabs and state officials, 19th century
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Islam 100% •
Related ethnic groups
PashtunRohillaPathans of Uttar PradeshPathans of RajasthanPathan of BiharPathans of Punjab30-35% of the Muhajir people

Gujarati Pathans are a group of Pathans. At various times in history, large number of Pashtuns have settled in the region of Gujarat in western India. They now form a distinct community of Gujarati speaking Muslims. They are distributed throughout the state, but live mainly in Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Junagadh, Surat, Bhavnagar, Panchamahal, Kotah, Borsad, Kheda, Banaskantha, Bharuch, Gandhinagar, Sabarkantha, Baroda and Mehsana. They speak Gujarati, with many Hindustani loanwords. Common last names include Pathan, Khan, Bangash, Durrani, and Yousafzai The Babi are the Yousafzai pathans the pure most pashtuns living in Gujarat..[2]

History and origin

The Pathans arrived in Gujarat during the Middle Ages onwards, as soldiers in the armies of the various Hindu and Muslim rulers of the region. Historical evidence suggests that the earliest settlement of the Pashtuns was during the rule of Mohammad Tughlak in the 14th Century, when military colonies were established.,[3] it is also possible that many accompanied and formed part of the army of Mahmud of Ghazni in his invasions of Gujarat in 1024AD.(Early Ghaznavid History and Artifacts in Hansot & Tadkeshwar settlements in Surat District)[4]Quite a few arrived during the rule of Mahmud Begada, and over the course of time spread over the entire the state of Gujarat. During the period of Mughal rule over Gujarat, there was further settlement of Pashtuns. With the breakup of the Mughal Empire, the Babi and Jalori Pathans became rulers of the princely states of Junagadh and Palanpur. The 19th Century saw a further settlement of Pashtuns, mainly Ghilzais Tanoli from Afghanistan, with many settling in the cities of Ahmedabad, Surat and Khambhat. They are divided into twelve lineages, the main ones being the Babi, Sama, Khanzada, Yousafzai, Lohani, Mandori, Suleiymani, Surat Turk, Miana and Zadran.The bulk of the Gujarat Pathans belong to the Jalori tribe.[5]

Princely States

The Pathans of Gujarat were rulers of a number of princely states, the main ones being Balasinor, Radhanpur, Palanpur and Junagadh.


Balasinor (also referred to as Vadasinor) is a town located in the Kheda district, in Gujarat, India. Balasinor State was a princely state of the Babi (Yusufzai Pathan) dynasty and was created on 28 September 1758 by the Junagadh Babi dynasty,[6] of which famous Bollywood actress Parveen Babi is a descendant. The current nawab is HH Nawab Babi Shri Muhammed Salabat Khanji II.[7]


Flag of Junagadh, during the British Raj
Junagadh Nawabs and state officials, 19th century

Mohammad Bahadur Khanji I, who owed allegiance to the Sultan of Ahmedabad, founded the State of Junagadh by expelling the Mughal governor and declaring independence in 1748. Mohammad Bahadur Khanji I, who assumed the name "Zaid Khan" when he came to power in Junagadh, was the founder of the Babi dynasty. His descendants, the Babi Nawabs of Junagadh, conquered large territories in southern Saurashtra and ruled over the state for the next two centuries, first as tributaries of Baroda, and later under the suzerainty of the British. Nawabs of Babi dynasty:

  • 1735 - 1758 : Mohammad Bahadur Khanji I[8]
  • 1758 - 1775 : Mohammad Mahabat Khanji I
  • 1775 - 1811 : Mohammad Hamid Khanji I
  • 1811 - 1840 : Mohammad Bahadur Khanji II
  • 1840 - 1851 : Mohammad Hamid Khanji II
  • 1851 - 1882 : Mohammad Mahabat Khanji II
  • 1882 - 1892 : Mohammad Bahadur Khanji III
  • 1892 - 1911 : Mohammad Rasul Khanji
  • 1911 - 1948 : Mohammad Mahabat Khanji III

The East India Company took control of the state in 1818, but the Saurashtra area never came under the direct administration of British India. Instead, the British divided the territory into more than one hundred princely states, which remained in existence until 1947. The present old town, developed during the 19th and 20th centuries, is one of the former princely states which were outside but under the suzerainty of British India. One family of Junagadh lineage resides in Ahmedabad the family is itself an offshoot of Junagadh state's Devgam jagir.The head of the family is Darbar sahab shri Shamsher Ali khan ji Babi and his representative is his eldest nephew Sahibzada Muzammil Hay at khan ji Babi.


Princely flag of Palanpur State

Palanpur was the seat of Palanpur State, a princely state ruled by the Lohani ( Jalori ) clan of Afghans. While the earlier history of the family is obscure, the family has apparently lived in India since at least the 16th century; a forbear of the family is reputed to have wed the foster-sister of the Mughal emperor Akbar and received Palanpur and surrounding areas as dowry. However, the family comes into historical prominence during the period of instability that followed the demise of Aurangzeb in the early 18th century. It was overrun soon afterwards by the Marathas; the Lohanis followed the trend of seeking recourse in the British East India Company against them and finally entered the subsidiary alliance system in 1817, along with all other neighbouring states.

The state encompassed an area of 1766 km² (682 mi²) and a population, in 1901, of 222,627. The town of Palanpur housed a population of only 8000 people that year. The state commanded a revenue of approximately Rs.50,000/- per year, and paid a tribute to the Gaekwad, the Maratha ruler of Baroda, of Rs.2,564/- per year. It was traversed by the main line of the Rajputana-Malwa railway, and contained the British cantonment of Deesa. Wheat, rice and sugar-cane were the chief products. Watered by the Sabarmati river, the state was heavily forested in its northern reached (the present-day Jessore sanctuary) but undulating and open in the south and east. The country was on the whole somewhat hilly, being at the edge of the Aravalli Range.The present Nawab sahab of Palanpur state is HH Diwan Nawab sahab shri Muzaffar khan ji Iqbal Muhammad khan ji Lohani.


Coat of arms of Radhanpur State

The State of Radhanpur was established in 1693 by the founder of the Babi dynasty, Khan Jahan (Jawan Mard Khan I), son of Jafar Khan, the Nawab of Junagadh. Later, Radhanpur city became the capital of the princely state of Radhanpur under Palanpur Agency of Bombay Presidency. It was a walled town, known for its export trade in rapeseed, grain and cotton.

Radhanpur came under British control in 1813. Even so, the Nawabs minted their own coins until 1900, when the state adopted the Indian currency; a particularly forward-looking Nawab briefly introduced decimalization, with 100 fulus equaling one rupee. Still, India did not decimalize its currency until 1957.

Relations with 'Radhanpur date from 6 July 1820, when an agreement was signed under the terms of which the Nawab was bound to pay a yearly tribute to the British. The state has been held by the Babi family since 1693, when Jafar Khan obtained Radhanpur, Sami, Munjpur and Tervada with the title of Safdar Khan. They were related to the ruling houses of Junagadh and Balasinor, two other Gujarat states. After the death of Bismillah Khan in 1895, Radhanpur was put in the charge of British officers who took over the treasury and the administration until the nawab's successor, who was a minor, came of age. In 1907 Haji Muhammad Sher Khanji was invested with full powers, but he died in 1910, and was succeeded by his brother. The state covered 1,150 square miles (3,000 km2), with a population (1901) of 61,403.

Both the Diwan of Palanpur and the Nawab of Radhanpur enjoyed a Salute of 11 guns.

Present circumstances

A process of indigenization has occurred, and the Pathans are now indistinguishable from other Gujarati Muslims. With the coming of independence from British rule in 1947, the community has seen the disappearance of their traditional occupations. The greatest concentration of Pathans is in the city of Baroda, followed by Kaira, Mehsana and Banaskantha. They also have their own villages, and are mainly cultivators. Many are now employed by the State transport corporation as Mechanics, while others have opened garages. As a largely urban community, many are now employed in the textile industry. They are Sunni Muslims, and like other Gujarati Muslims, have their own caste association, the Gujarat Pathan Jamat.[9]


The Pathans of Gujarat include three distinct endogamous communities, the Pathan Khanzada, the Babi and the Sama.

Babi Pathans

The Babi Pathans claim to be Yousafzais, who arrived in Gujarat during the rule of Mahmud Begada. After the collapse of the Mughal Empire, the Babi were involved in a struggle with the Maratha Gaekwads for the control of Gujarat. While the Maratha were successful in establishing overall control over Gujarat, the Babi remained masters of the princely states of Junagadh, Radhanpur, and Mangrol. They are found throughout north Gujarat and Saurashtra. Most Babi, barring the princely lineages, are in modest circumstances. Many are petty landowners, but there is marked urbanization among the Babi. The Babi are endogamous, but there are cases of marriages with the Chauhan and Behlim communities, and they accept daughters from the Shaikhs and Sunni Bohras.[10]


The term Kabuli literally means any inhabitant of the city of Kabul in Afghanistan. In Gujarat, the term was applied to any Pashtun who arrived in Gujarat during the 19th Century, the majority of whom were Ghilzais. Historically, the community were traders, buying horses from Kathiawar and selling them in Rajputana and Deccan. They are found mainly in Ahmedabad, and speak Hindustani as well as Gujarati. Some older members of the community can still speak Pashto. To a great extent, they form a distinct community, marrying among themselves, little interacting with other Gujarat Pathans.[11]

Sama Pathans in Borsad Town

The Sama, like the Babi are Yousafzai Pathans, who trace their ancestry to the village of Sama or Samra, near the city of Peshawar. They came as soldiers in the armies of the Nawabs of Khambhat. From here, they went to Borsad to afford protection to the local Muslims who were being harassed by the Marathas. The Pashtuns were led by a Musa Khan, who was successful in expelling the Marathas. In gratitude, the local Malik chief gave his daughter in marriage, and the village of Fatehpur,_Gujarat. Musa Khan’s descendents are now known as the Sama Pathans. They are a localized community, only found in Borsad, and villages around the town. The community is also in the process of urbanizations, with many migrating to Ahmedabad. They are strictly endogamous, practising both parallel and cross cousin marriages. On rear occasions, marriages do take place with the Babi Pathans and or rarer with the Malik communities.[12]

Pathan Khanzada

The Khanzada are found in the village of Pandu of Kheda. They have informal caste association, which maintains strict social control over the community.[13]

The Bangash and Zadran

Pathans of the Bangash and Zadran tribes are one of the earliest Pashtun settlers in Gujarat. They were originally settled in the town of Patan by the early sultans of Gujarat on military tenures. They then spread in the districts of Palanpur and Unjha, and played key role in the history of the states of Palanpur and Radhanpur. Unlike other Gujarat Pathans, they speak Gujarati. The community are still mainly landowners and cultivators, and are found mainly in Mehsana district.[14]


Afzal khan, Ashif khan, Ashraf khan
A group of Gujarati Pathans[15] in Ahmedabad

Irfan Pathan
Indian cricketer Irfan Pathan

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ People of India Gujarat Volume XXI Part Three edited by R.B Lal, P.B.S.V Padmanabham, G Krishnan & M Azeez Mohideen pages 1115-1125
  3. ^ Muslim Communities in Gujarat by Satish C Misra pages 108-109
  4. ^ Tadkeshwar
  5. ^ People of India Gujarat Volume XXI Part Three edited by R.B Lal, P.B.S.V Padmanabham, G Krishnan & M Azeez Mohideen pages 1115-1125
  6. ^ Princely States of India A-J
  7. ^ Balasinor State
  8. ^ Nawabs of Junagadh British Library.
  9. ^ People of India Gujarat Volume XXI Part Three edited by R.B Lal, P.B.S.V Padmanabham, G Krishnan & M Azeez Mohideen pages 1115-1125
  10. ^ Muslim Communities in Gujarat by Satish C Misra pages 110-111
  11. ^ Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency, Gujarat Population: Musalmans and Parsis, Volume IX pages 13 to 14 Government Central Press, Bombay
  12. ^ Muslim Communities in Gujarat by Satish C Misra pages 108-111
  13. ^ People of India Gujarat Volume XXI Part Three edited by R.B Lal, P.B.S.V Padmanabham, G Krishnan & M Azeez Mohideen pages 1121-1125
  14. ^ Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency, Gujarat Population: Musalmans and Parsis, Volume IX pages 8 to 9 Government Central Press, Bombay
  15. ^ Moazzam beg khans team member names, team leader Moazzam Beg.
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