When the British Took over Umarkot: Kaleem Butt

Saturday 04 March 2017 3 months ago 106   Hyderabad   Print

Fort of Umerkot

Blogger  Kaleem Butt : Introduction: Sindh, the land of mighty River Indus is blessed with so many natural resources. Throughout ages its inhabitants have possessed best of skills man has ever known. It were none other than Sindhis of ancient times who gave the concept of well-planned towns and cities, and there was a time when those skilled Sindhis became super-power of their age. They were also gateway of culture and civilization from ancient times. But invasions ruined the cities, culture and civilization of this mighty land. Apart from many skills, the people of Sindh were also blessed with art of building forts, castles and monuments which are still unique in their interior and exterior structures. Among such forts are the Ranikot, Kot-Diji, Kalakot, Nerunkot, Umarkot, Kafirkot, Karachi Kot (Kalachi/Kalati Kot), the Kacha Qilaa, the Pakaa Qilaa, Lonikot and others. Historical Importance of Umarkot (Amarkot): The fort of Umarkot, is of great importance in the history of Sindh. One of the Sindhi legends Umar Marui is related to this fort. Umarkot, falls in the Thar district of Sindh. Ishtiaq Ansari on Pg: 212-213 of his book Sindh Ja Koata aein Qilaa (Forts of Sindh)(1996) gives a complete historic background of this fort by writing that in 559 A.D. Parmar were ruling here, Mandhan Rai married daughter of Rajah Sodha and took hold of Amarkot. Ansari (1996) writes that Mirza Qalich Baig considers this fort to be 350 years old, Tareek-i-Tahiri 163 years, Pontigeer 335 years, Manak Pathawala 325 years. Tejsingh Solanki (1934) in his book History of Amarkot-Sindh mentions: Mandhan Rai took this fort in 559 A.D. Raja Daat in 997 A.D. gave Amarkot (Umarkot) to his son Joghraj. In 1043 A.D. Sameer Singh the lord of Amarkot attacked Doosajee’s country. Dodo Soomro III entered this fort in 1330 A.D after beating Jarija. In 1333 A.D., Dodo Soomro III, took refuge at Amarkot (Umarkot) when Khilji attacked. Solanki (1934) writes that Amarkot was anglicized by the British to Umarkot after they invaded Sindh in 1843. The British in Sindh: After a dreadful loss at Afghanistan in 1842, The East India Company led by C.Napier entered Sindh and the year was 1843. However, Dr. A.R. Butt in his research paper The Earliest Newspapers of Sindh claims that Karachi was already in the hands of British since 1839, and treaties with Ameers of Sindh were signed that Ameers of Sindh would help English troops in Afghanistan, while British would help Sindhis against their enemies. But after the shameful loss on other side, the British violated their own treaties. According to Administrative Reports on Sindh and The Times newspaper the signing parties in treaty of 1839 were British Government and Ameers of Hyderabad, including Meer Noor Mahomed Khan, Meer Nusseer Mahomed Khan, Meer Meer Mahomed khan and Meer Soobdar Khan. Following were the points of that treaty as recorded by The Times, Friday, June 9, 1843: ‘Art.1.There shall be a lasting friendship, alliance, & amity of interest between the Hon.East India Company & the Ameers of Hyderabad, Meer Noor Mahomed Khan, Meer Nusseer mahomed Khan, Meer Meer Mahomed Khan and Meer Soobdar Khan. Art.2. A British force shall be maintained in Scinde, and stationed at Tatta, or such other place westward of the river Indus as the Governor General of India may select. The Governor General will decide upon the strength of this force, which it is not intended shall exceed 5000 fighting men. Art.3. Meer Noor mahomed Khan, Meer Nusseer Mahomed Khan and Meer Meer Mahomed Khan, bind themselves to pay severally the sum of one lac rupees, being three lacs altogether of the Company currency, or of that called Bakkroo, or Timooree, in part payment of the expense of British force every year. Meer Soobdar Khan is exempted from all contribution to expanse of this force. Art.4. The British Government takes upon itself the protection of the territories now possessed by the Ameers of Hyderabad from all foreign aggression. Art.5. The four Ameers, party of this treaty, shall remain absolute rulers in their respective principalities, and the jurisdiction of the British government will not listen or encourage complaints against the Ameers from their subjects. Art.6. The four Ameers being confirmed in their present possessions by the preceding Article will refer to the resident in Scinde any complaint of aggression which one of them may have to make against another; and the resident, with the sanction of the Governor General will endeavor to mediate between them and settle their differences. Art.7. In case of aggression by the subjects of one Ameer on the territories of another, and of the Ameer by whose subjects such aggression are made, his inability to prevent them in consequence of the offending parties being irrebellion to his authority, on a representation of the circumstances being made to the Governor General by the resident, the Governor General will, if he sees fit, order such assistance to be offered as way of requisite to bring the offenders to punishment. Art.8. The Ameers of Scinde will not enter into any negotiations with any foreign cheif or state without the knowledge and sanction of the British Government; their amicable correspondence with friends and relatives may continue. Art.9. The Ameers of Scinde will act in sub-ordinate cooperation with the British Government for purposes of defence, and shall furnish for this service of British Government a body of 3000 troops, horse and foot, whenever required, the troops, when employed with British forces, will be under the orders and control of the commanding officer of the British forces. The Scinde contingent troops, if employed under British officers beyound the Scinde frontiers will be paid by the British Government. Art.10. The Bakkroo or Timooree rupees, current in Scinde, and Hon. Company’s rupees being of equal value, the currency of the latter coin shall be admitted in Scinde territories. If the officers of the British Government establish a unit within the territories of the Ameers, parties to the treaty, and thus coin the Bakkroo or Timooree rupees, the Ameers shall be entitled after the close of the present military operations in Afghanistan, to seignorage on the coinage, according to the customs of the country. Art.11. No toll will be levied on trading boats passing up or down the river Indus, from the sea to northern west points of that station within territories of the Ameers of Hyderabad. Art.12. But any merchandise landed from such boats on their passage up or down the river, and sold shall be subject to the usual duties of the country; provided always that goods sold in British camp or cantonment shall be exempt from the payment of duty. Art.13. Goods of all kinds may be brought by merchants and others to the mouths of the Indus (Gorabaree) at the proper season, and kept there on the pleasure of the owners, till the best period of year sending up the river but should any merchant land and sell any part of his merchandise, either at Gorabaree or anywhere else (except at the British cantonment) such merchant shall pay the usual duties upon them. Art.14. The provision of this treaty agreed upon by the Governor General of India, on the one part and the Ameers Meer Noor Mahomed Khan, Meer Nusseer Mahomed Khan on the other part, shall be binding forever on all succeeding Governments of India, and on heirs and successors of the said Ameers in perpetuity; all former treaties between the contracting parties not rescinded by the provisions of this engagement remaining in force. The treaty consisting of 14 articles having been signed by the Right Hon. George lord Auckland, G.C.B, Governor General of India, at Bussee on the 11th day of March, 1839 one of these four documents will be separately granted through Colonel H. Pottinger, Resident, Hyderabad the negotiator of the treaties to each of the four Ameers on his delivering a counterpart, engagement under his seal and signature to the Britsih Resident in Scinde, Colonel H. Pottinger. Lately, the British violated the treaty and invaded Sindh, 0n 17th Feb 1843, the Ameers surrendered before English troops and ground of Miani near Hyderabad, while Hosh Mohammad (who was entitled General by British for his gallantry) and Sheere Mohammad did not surrender, so another battle was fought at ground of Dubba on 24th March 1843, in which both these great soldiers of Sindh were killed and finally the conquest of Sindh was announced. According to historic record of British period Umarkot was taken by British on 4th April 1843, under the command of C. Napier, he considered it the most significant place. The British came to know about importance of this fort when Meer Sheere Mohammad of Mirpur Khas, the leader who started the second battle against East India Company on 24th March 1843, flew to Umarkot with his family. Dr. A.R. Butt in one of his articles on British Raj in Sindh mentions that event in following words: The war was over, Ameer Sheere Mohammad moved back to Mirpur Khas and with his family went to Fort Umarkot. English troops followed him, luckily he escaped to the desert of Thar, General Brown took over the fort on 4th April 1843, without any resistance. Captain Willie and Major Wood helped him. The Times, of Monday June 5, 1843 reports the importance of this fort in words of Napier as: ‘The importance of having Umarkot in our possession is so great that it repays every inconvenience. Emaum Ghur does not exit, and I believe that no other rallying point remains in the desert for the defeated Sheere Mahomed, who is generally supposed, will fly to the Punjab. Thus, my lord, I think I may venture to say, Scinde is now subdued. The Scindian population everywhere expresses their satisfaction at the change of masters. Later on the British started to store their most important weapons in this fort. Though the purpose to build such forts is defending the country, but they become useless if people (especially rulers) do not show will to retaliate against an invading force. 02