The Dawn: June 23, 2006

Dullah Bhatti and today’s Rajputs

Shafqat Tanvir Mirza 

THREE Rajputs, two Bhattis and one Rana were to pre side over a meeting in the memory of one of the Punjabi heroes of resistance against the establishment and foreign invasion, Dullah Bhatti, about whom many folk stories in verse were composed by bards from across the province. The meeting was arranged by the Punjabi World Congress and the Dullah Bhatti Foundation, jointly, at a hotel on June 3.

Two of the Rajputs, namely Shaukat Ali Bhatti and Chaudhry Zaheeruddin, are provincial ministers while the third guest of honour, Rana Ejaz Ahmad Khan, is an adviser on law to the Punjab government. Incidentally the same day, the nikah ceremony of the son of Muslim League chief Shujaat Husain was scheduled at the same time. The three guests of honour were conspicuously absent from the function, leaving the organisers to wonder why the committed guests of honour did not turn up. Dullah Bhatti had given a heroic fight to Akbar the Great who had shifted his capital from Agra to Lahore for 14 years.

According to the folk tales and the Tehqiqat-i-Chishti by Noor Ahmad Chishti, Abdullah Bhatti, popularly known as Dullah Bhatti, was the son of one Farid Bhatti and a grandson of Sandal Bhatti — both were executed by the Mughal rulers for their alleged anti-state activities. Dullah was no exception. He was a rebel. According to his mother Laddhi, Dullah was a lion, and in one of the poetic exchanges she says to her daughter-in-law:

(Said Laddhi: what say you, listen, daughter-in-law. The jackal had a litter of five or seven, the lioness, brought forth but one. When my lion roars, he shouts: kill! kill!. The king’s forces flee and do not stop even to breathe).

The wife of Dullah has com plaints against his anti-social engagements and says:

Boli Nurmade: “Kaya kahe? sunley sassu baat: Kaya choran kay muamaley kaya Jhotthey ka aitabar. Jaisa Dullah to jana, aisa janey na ko; Raat nachaway kanchani, din mein khailey shikar.” (Said Nurmade: “What you, listen, mother-in-law, why you boast of a robber’s and a liar’s deeds? May no one bear a son like Dullah: By night he watches the courtesans dance, by day he robs).

These are the two traits of Dullah which go side by side in the folk tales, and the same characteristics are shown in the films made about this robber and political hero.

This version is in Haryanvi dialect of Ambala division, and has been reproduced in The Glossary of Tribes, and Castes of Punjab and the Frontier, compiled by Ibetson and MaClagan in the last decade of the 19th century. That clearly means that Dullah as a robber and a rebel was remembered by the bards of all the dialects spoken in the preindependence Punjab.

It also means that Dullah was known for his adventures against the establishment throughout the land of the five rivers, but in the official histories and records nothing is found about him. According to another version, heard from Ghulam Mohammad Rulia of Taran Taran settled in Faisalabad district after independence, and compiled by Ahmad Saleem for the National Council of the Arts, and Folklore Research Centre, Islamabad, Dullah was against the Mughals, particularly Akbar, who had hanged Dullah’s father and grandfather.

He used to rob the Dalis (gifts for Emperor Akbar from the newly conquered Kashmir and Afghanistan). Some say Dullah’s guerrilla tactics invited the wrath of Akbar who sent his two commanders, Mirza Allaauddin and Ziauddin, to attack Sandlanwala or Sandalwal (some say it was the present-day Pindi Bhattian) and bring Dullah Bhatti alive to the court. If not, Dullah then the order was to imprison all his relatives, including his mother and other female members.

Both the commanders, with 12,000 troops, attack Dullah’s village. Dullah had gone to Chiniot, and in his absence the women were captured by the Mughal commanders, but not without resistance. One of the commanders was killed by a woman Gujri, who sneaked into the camp of the commander and killed him with her dagger.

When Dullah heard that his women had been imprisoned by the Mughal forces, he immediately rushed back. The poet says:

Mein bhoran Dilli dey kingrey tey bhajarr paa dian takht Lahore (I will humble the fort of Delhi and upset the throne of Lahore).

Dullah said: “Listen comrades; and in a moment the saddles were on, with the goldlaced saddle cloth. On both sides they attacked and came into action. Swords rang in the field and (Dullah’s men) slew right and left. The king’s forces fled, fled the Mughals and Pathans.” According to all versions of the folk tale, the Mughal commander was about to be killed by Dullah when he rushed to Laddhi, Dullah’s mother and sought refuge and pardon. And said Laddhi: “Listen Dullah, my son, if you slay him you will defile my thirty-two streams of milk.” The Mughal commander was spared and ultimately that brought Dullah to Akbar’s prison at Lahore where he was publicly hanged in Nakhas Mandi (today’s Landa Bazaar).

So one wonders why the proestablishment elite would ever like to preside over a function in the memory of a rebel who wanted to upset the throne of Lahore.—STM

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