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Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal

Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal

Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal (Punjabi: رائے احمد خان کھرَل; c. 1776 – 21 September 1857), widely known as Nawab of Jhamra, was a Punjabi Muslim chieftain of the Kharal tribe. He led rebellion in the Bar region of Punjab against the British East India Company in the War of Independence of 1857 and died fighting against it on 21 September 1857, at the age of 81. He is today considered a folk hero in Punjab.


Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal was born into a rich landowning family of the Kharal tribe in the Sandal Bar region of Punjab, in Chak 434 Gb Jhamra village 23 km from Tandlianwala Faisalabad District and 57 km from Faisalabad city He was the nawab of Jhamra, he possessed large sum of land and cattle. He was respected by all Kharals as well as other tribes such as Kathia Vehniwal, Wattoo, Fatayana and others. Rai Kharal had influence over all of Sandal Bar.

Leopold Oliver Fitzhardinge Berkeley, or better known as Lord Berkley, was the extra Assistant Commissioner of Gogera in 1857. He held a meeting with important personalities of the Gogera including Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal. Berkley demanded all the leaders to supply the British with men (soldiers) and horses to crush the ongoing revolt. On this, Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal said "Kharals do not share wife, horse and land with anyone" and left.

Role in War of Independence (1857)

On July 8, 1857 British arrested a large number of Joiya tribe's men, women and children after they refused to pay the heavy taxes (Lagan). When Rai Kharal received this news he planned to break into the Gogera jail and rescue the innocent people imprisoned there. With help of his Fatayana, Wattoo and Kathia friends Rai Ahmad attacked the Gogera Jail on July 26. According to British records 17 prisoners were killed, 33 were injured and 18 fled. But native accounts disagree suggesting that 145 prisoners died and 100+ EIC troops were also killed. British arrested Rai Ahmad but released him due to pressure from local tribes and as no proper evidence was available against him. Rai Ahmed Khan Kharal did not stop and continued rebellion against British.

In order to arrest Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal, Berkley attacked Jhamra but was unable to arrest Rai Kharal although he imprisoned 20 civilians including Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal's youngest son Bala Khan Kharal, British also took with them a large sum of cattle. Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal with help of Kathia, Wattoo, Fatayana and Joiya tribe started a guerilla campaign against British. According to Punjab government records the rebels numbered 20,000 to 30,000 men. John Cave-Browne writes that these rebels took refuge in thick jungles and grass and attacked with groups of 3000-5000 guerillas, the sound of drum beating was the sign that they would attack. The connection of Jhang to Lahore was completely cut. Rai Ahmed Khan Kharal planned a major assult on Gogera with other tribal leaders in a secret meeting but the information was leaked by Sarfraz Kharal of Kamalia to British. British prepared themselves to face the upcoming assult and when the rebels attacked they were repulsed with heavy losses.

Rai Ahmad with his companions fled to Jungles of Gashkori and continued the struggle. British received news about Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal's presence in the Jungles of Gashkori and a force under Captain Black was sent there, this force succeeded in killing Ahmad Khan while he was offering afternoon prayers. Many of his close companions such as his deputy Sarang Khan Kharal of Begeke Kharals was also killed in this engagement.

A trusted partner of Rai Ahmed Khan Kharal, Murad Fatayana took revenge of Ahmad Khan's killing and eliminated Lord Berkley alongside 50 british and native troops in a successful attack. The rebellion continued until it ended in mid 1858 as local tribes lost.


Rai Ahmed Khan Kharal was killed by a force led by Captain Black on September 21 while he was offering afternoon prayers. His body was decapitated and his head was put on display at Gregora Jail which was an insult to injury to his supporters. A few days later one of his supporters stole the head and buried it in his ancestral graveyard in Jhamra. The local dhola poems recited after his death describe Ahmad Khan's martyrdom as Britain lowering the head of Punjab. Below is a line from one of the poems.

احمَد خان شہید ہویا تاں سِر پَنجاب دے نوُں جا گھَتیا اے ہَتھ

With Ahmad Khan's martyrdom, Britain has lowered the head of Punjab.

See also

  • Murree rebellion of 1857
  • Mai Bakhtawar
  • Nizam Lohar
  • Hemu Kalani
  • Kadu Makrani
  • Ajab Khan Afridi
  • Bhagat Singh
  • Udham Singh
  • Kartar Singh Sarabha
  • Chandrasekhar Azad


Text submitted to CC-BY-SA license. Source: Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal by Wikipedia (Historical)