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Subject: Pathans of Uttar Pradesh, Ethnic groups in Pakistan, Muslims of Uttar Pradesh, Jhojha, Bhale Sultan Khanzada
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Total population
Regions with significant populations
• Pakistan • India • United States • Canada • Australia
HaryanviKhari BoliPunjabiSindhiUrduEnglish
Related ethnic groups
Muslim RajputsKhanzadaPunjabi RajputsPachhada

Ranghar (Urdu: رانگھڑ‎) are a Muslim ethnic group, which is found in Sindh and Punjab provinces of Pakistan and Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh states 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.[1] The term Ranghar is very rarely used by the community itself, who prefer the self-designation Muslim 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 speak Khari 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 the Muslim Tagas of Haryana and the Muley Jats. In addition, the Odh community in Pakistan are also often known as Ranghar.[2] Yaduvanshi Ahirs who were converted to Islam are also known as Ranghars.[3][4]

History and origin

The term Rungarh is made up of two words, Run which means battlefield and Garh means population, indicating the nation which always remained in battlefield. 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 Brahmin priests, 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 the Moradabad District Chauhan claim they converted to Islam, after they had adopted the custom of widow remarriage, an activity proscribed in Hinduism.[5]

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.[6] But they were also actively recruited by the British in the Indian army, and were classified by them as a Martial Race.[7]

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).[8] [ An example of a chatisa is that of the Chauhan Ranghar of the Agauta pargana of Bulandshahr District.[9] The Chauhan, Bhatti and 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

In Pakistan

After independence of Pakistan, the Haryana Ranghar have settled down mainly in the districts of Lahore, Sheikhupura, Bhakkar, Bahawalnagar, Rahim yar Khan District (specially in Khanpur tehsil), Okara, Layyah, Vehari, Sahiwal, Phullarwan District Sargodha and Multan of Punjab. They speak Haryanvi which is often called Ranghari. Ranghar communities are also found in Mirpur Khas and Nawabshah 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.[10]

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

In India, the Ranghar are found in Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.

Ranghar of Uttar Pradesh

The Ranghar of western Uttar Pradesh have by and large remained in India, with only a small trickle migrating to Pakistan.[1] This community is endogamous, and divided into three broad categories, the Agnivanshi, the Chandravanshi and Suryavanshi, 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.[1]

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. Their 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 1857 Indian Mutiny.[11]

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 from Awadh.[12] 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 in Ghaziabad 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.[13]

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.[14] 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 of Prithviraj Chauhan. There are also a considerable number of Gehlot in Hathras, Rathore in Khair, Bais in 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.[15]

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 Fatehabad and 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 and Sikarwars found scattered throughout the district. The Sikarwar are said to have given the name to Fatehpur 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 of Malkanas. 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.[16]

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 and Kasganj. 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.[17]

In Rohilkhand

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 in Sambhal, and Bilari. The Chauhans are concentrated in Sambhal, the Rathore in Thakurdwara and Bilari. 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 and Amroha. 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.[18]

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.[26] 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.[19]

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.[20]

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.[21]

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.[22]

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.[23] According to the 1911 Census of India the main clans were as follows:[24]

Tribe Population
Bagri 14
Bhatti 326
Chauhan 1,122
Gaurwa 329
Jaswal 28
Jatu 111
Panwar 223
Tonwar 136

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.[25]

The community is entirely Sunni Muslim, and many are now gravitating towards the orthodox Deobandi sect. 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.[25]

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, the Tonwar 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 India in 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 Shiwalik mountains, 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 jajmani system 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 Sunhak community, who are Muslim converts from the Chandel Rajputs.[26]

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.[26]

Clans of the Haryana Ranghar

See also


  1. ^ a b c People of India: Uttar Pradesh XLII Part III edited by K Singh page 1197
  2. ^
  3. ^ Cyclopædia of India and of eastern and southern Asia. Volume 2 edited by Edward Balfour—page 85
  4. ^ Meadows Taylor; Great Britain. India Office (1868). The people of India: A series of photographic illustrations, with descriptive letterpress, of the races and tribes of Hindustan, originally prepared under the authority of the government of India, and reproduced by order of the secretary of state for India in council. India museum. pp. 1–. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  5. ^ Tribes and Castes of Northwestern Provinces and Oudh by William Crook
  6. ^ Hindustani Musalmans and Musalman of East Punjab by W M Bourne
  7. ^  
  8. ^ Embattled Identities: Rajput Lineages and the Colonial State in Nineteenth Century North India by Malavika Kasturi
  9. ^ The Peasant and the Raj by Eric Stokes
  10. ^ Muslim Communities of South Asia Culture, Society and Power edited T N Madan pages 42–43
  11. ^ A Gazatteer of Saharanpur District Volume II: Gazetteers of the United Provinces edited by H. R Neville page 109
  12. ^ A Gazetteer of Muzafarnagar District Volume III: Gazetteers of the United Provinces edited by H. R Neville page 85
  13. ^ A Gazetteer of Meerut District Volume IV: Gazetteers of the United Provinces edited by H. R Neville page 84
  14. ^ A Gazetteer of Bulandshahr District Volume V: Gazetteers of the United Provinces edited by H. R Neville page 84
  15. ^ A Gazetteer of Muttra District pages 81 to 82
  16. ^ A Gazetteer of Agra District page 81
  17. ^ A Gazetteer of Etah District Volume XII: Gazetteers of the United Provinces edited by H. R Neville
  18. ^ A Gazetteer of Moradabad District page 79
  19. ^ Bijnor District: A Gazetteer Volume XXXVI, District Gazetteers of the United Provinces edited by H Neville
  20. ^ Bareilly District: A Gazetteer Volume XXXVII, District Gazetteers of the United Provinces edited by H Neville
  21. ^ Badaun District: A Gazetteer Volume XXX, District Gazetteers of the United Provinces edited by H Neville
  22. ^ Shahjahanpur District: A Gazetteer Volume XVII edited by H. R Neville United Provinces District Gazetteers page 81 Government Press United Provinces
  23. ^ People of India Delhi Volume XX edited by T Ghosh & S Nath pages 496 to 501 Manohar Publications
  24. ^ Delhi Gazetteer: Punjab District Gazetteers Part B 1912 Table 15 page xxxii
  25. ^ a b People of India Delhi Volume XX edited by T Ghosh & S Nath page 500 Manohar Publications
  26. ^ a b People of India Himachal Pradesh Volume XXIV by B.R Sharma and A.B Sankhyan Manohar 1996 pages 499 to 504
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