The Origin of the Talpurs
Talpurs are Balochs, descendants of Mir Hoth Khan s/o Mir Jalal Khan. Most researchers agree, nevertheless, others dispute, that he was a direct descendant of Hamza ibn Abdul Muttalib, the uncle of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Mir-i-Azam, Mir Jalal Khan, initially lived and fought with rulers of Sistan (Iran) and then moved to Bimpur in Iranian Balochistan. He led forty-four Baloch tribes and forty thousand strong troops.
His sons and daughters were:
- Mir Rind Khan
- Mir Lashar Khan
- Mir Hoth Khan (progenitor of Talpurs)
- Mir Kora Khan
- Mai Jatto (daughter)
Mir Aalee Khan s/o Abdi Khan s/o Mir Hoth Khan had several sons. Among these was one, Mir Ismail Khan. He did not like his brother’s (Punhoo’s) famous (love) affair with ‘Sassui’. Being dejected of the incident, Mir Ismail Khan moved to Dera Ismail Khan area of present-day Punjab. He, in a very short time, established his State there. Among his progeny was Mir Sulaiman Khan (Mir Kakko), who lived at Choti-Bala, in present-day Punjab.
Talpurs’ Entry into Sindh
Perhaps due to some internal differences with other fellow Talpurs and as desired by the Kalhora rulers of Sindh and the Mughals of India, some of the Talpurs, whose progeny were destined to become rulers in Sindh, migrated to Sindh. Mir Manak Khan s/o Mir Sulaiman Khan moved his men to the ‘Kachcho’ area of Sindh and built the town, Drigh-Bala. He and his son, Mir Allahyar Khan, received fiefs from the Mughals of India.
Weather was too hot to live at Drigh-Bala and the area being mountainous terrain was difficult to access. The Kalhora rulers had also shifted themselves to the east of the River Indus. Mir Shahdad Khan had also made his home there. Therefore, Mir Massu Khan (1689-1754) s/o Mir Allahyar Khan also decided to migrate eastward to the area named ‘Leelan jee Lahoor’ near Kathri, about 20 kilometers away from the present-day Mirpurkhas. From Mir Massu Khan’s marriage with the daughter of Mir Shahdad Khan, the famous glittering star of the Talpur Dynasty, Mir Fateh Khan (Mankani), was born. It was he whose courage, determination, wisdom, sagacity, and foresight brought Talpurs to power in Sindh. Mir Chakkar Khan, the father of the first ruler of Khairpur Sarkar, Mir Sohrab Khan, was his maternal uncle.
Talpurs Under Kalhora Rule in Sindh
One of the reasons for the migration of Talpurs from Dera Ghazi Khan, situated in present-day Punjab, to Sindh was the invitation of Kalhoras. Kalhora rulers of Sindh requested Talpurs to lead their troops, which mainly consisted of Baloch soldiers. Moreover, Talpurs had acknowledged Kalhoras as their spiritual leaders. Under Kalhoras, Talpurs brought vast territories, extending from Derajat of present-day Punjab to Kalat of present-day Balochistan and Kutch of present-day Gujarat, India. Until Mian Ghulam Shah Kalhora, the Talpurs and Kalhoras had very cordial relations. Mian Sarfaraz Kalhora, who otherwise had a very scholastic personality, did not have a consistent policy to run the affairs of the State. His demand to marry the daughter of Mir Behram Khan had estranged his relations with Talpurs and other Balochs. Rajo Lekho, the Minister of Mian Sarfaraz Kalhora did not like the power enjoyed by the Talpurs among Balochs as well as in the State. He successfully instigated Sarfaraz Kalhora against Talpurs. Dewan Giddu Mal, a sincere and wise man of the Court, advised Mian Sarfaraz Kalhora to refrain from any action against Talpurs; but all in vain. Sarfaraz Kalhora ordered the killings of Mir Behram Khan and Mir Sobdar Khan. Both of them were mercilessly martyred when they had come to meet with Mian Sarfaraz Kalhora at his Court.
Talpurs held Kalhoras in high esteem and respected them as their spiritual leaders. However, they could not tolerate the martyrdom of two Talpur Amirs only because they had refused to give the hand of their daughter to Sarfaraz Kalhora for marriage as this was against the Baloch tradition. Mir Fateh Khan Mankani took his troops and captured Khudabad, the capital of Kalhoras. Sarfaraz Kalhora fled to Hyderabad. Mir Fateh Khan Mankani raised the younger brother of Sarfaraz, Mian Mehmood Kalhoro, to the throne. Soon he came to Hyderabad, captured the fort, and arrested Sarfaraz Kalhoro. At this juncture of history, he could have easily proclaimed himself as the King of Sindh, yet he did not do so as he regarded Kalhoras his spiritual leaders despite their unspiritual attitude. Ten months later, Mian Ghulam Nabi Kalhoro was raised to the throne.
By that time Mir Bijar Khan, s/o the martyred Mir Behram Khan, returned from Hijaz where he had gone on pilgrimage. Mian Ghulam Nabi Kalhora feared revenge. Tajo Lekho, s/o Rajo Lekho (now dead), impersonating as Mian Ghulam Nabi Kalhoro sent a letter, bearing his stamp, asking him to come and have a battle. Mir Bijar Khan, however, smelled the conspiracy and did not attack. Instead, he went to Umerkot where Khosa Balochs vacated the fort of Umerkot for him. He stayed there while Kalhora forces continued their preparation to fight with the Talpurs.
Battle Of Lanyaree
Four thousand Baloch forces fought under the able leadership of these Talpur Mirs:
- Mir Fateh Khan Mankani
- Mir Allahyar Khan Mankani
- Mir Mirza Khan Mankani
- Mir Bago Khan Mankani
- Mir Fateh Ali Khan Shahdadani, and
- Mir Sohrab Khan s/o Mir Chakar Khan Shahdadani
They defeated 80,000 formidable forces of Mian Ghulam Nabi at the Battle of Lanyaree. At this stage, Talpurs wanted to raise Mian Sarfaraz Kalhora again to the throne even though he had ordered the killings of prominent Talpurs. The Talpur Mirs knew that he had done so at the instigation of some conspirators who no longer existed. Therefore, they wanted to see him on the throne again. Mian Abdul Nabi Kalhora, however, ordered the killing of Mian Sarfaraz Kalhora and three others in the prison. Finding no other option, the Talpurs raised Mian Abdul Nabi to the throne in the national interest.
Mian Izzatyar Kalhora was then the ambassador at the Afghan Court. He persuaded Afghans and got their authorization as well as backing. He marched with 30,000 strong troops consisting of 10,000 Babaris and Durrani Afghans.
Mir Fateh Khan Mankani and, Sultan-ul-Jang, Mir Mirza Khan led 18,000 Baloch troops to counter the attack of Mian Izzatyar and as the author of ‘Fatehnama’ writes, “In no time the Balochi swords turned the battleground red with Afghan Blood“.
The Raja of Jodhpur, The Khan of Kalat, as well as the Kalhora ruler of Sindh, feared the rising influence of Talpurs. They collectively hatched a conspiracy to kill Mir Bijar Khan and were successful. Mian Abdul Nabi fled to Kalat and sent his sons to Jodhpur situated in present-day Rajasthan, India.
Talpurs were not interested in governance. Were they interested, this was again an excellent opportunity to secure the royal seat. Therefore, they elevated Mian Sadiq Ali Kalhora to the throne.
Maharaja Bajai Singh of Jodhpur closely watched the internal strife in Sindh and smelling an opportunity marched towards Sindh. Baloch forces under the able command of Sher-i-Jang Mir Fateh Khan Mankani and Sultanul Jang Mir Mirza Khan Mankani inflicted heavy defeat to the Maharaja.
At the instigation of Mian Abdul Nabi, who had fled to Kalat, the Brohi troops of Kalat marched on to the Sindh. They were defeated. Mian Abdul Nabi remained unsatisfied and sought the assistance of the Afghans. The Afghan Court sent notorious Madad Khan Pathan who wreaked havoc in Sindh, pillaging, plundering, and devastating vast areas. He returned with a lot of plunder to Afghanistan leaving Mian Abdul Nabi alone. At the time of Madad Khan’s attack, Mir Fateh Khan Mankani was at Umerkot with only a small contingent of the Baloch force. He started to prepare for an assault on him as soon as he came to know about it. But the pillager finished his job too swiftly and returned with his booty. Mir Fateh Khan could not prepare for defense well in time as he neither received at Umarkot any information about the attack nor any directives from the Kalhora ruler of the day. However, due to his very presence, Madad Khan did not dare to attack the Umerkot.
As Mian Abdul Nabi swore on the Holy Quran for peace, friendship, and goodwill, he was again elevated to the ruling seat. However, he did not adhere to his promises and hatched a successful conspiracy to get rid of the most powerful opponents of the rule. Mir Fateh Khan Mankani and Mir Abdullah Khan Shahdadani were both arrested when they had come to meet with Mian Abdul Nabi, unarmed. They were soon martyred in prison. Mian Abdul Nabi’s forces also attacked the Talpur camp, unawares, and martyred the ailing Mir Mirza Khan too.
Battles of Halani
As many of the Talpurs were martyred by the Kalhoras, the Balochs forces gathered under the command of
- Mir Fateh Ali Khan Shahdadani
- Mir Tharo Khan s/o Mir Fateh Khan Mankani
- Mir Allahyar Khan Mankani, and
- Mir Bago Khan
After winning three successive battles at Halani, Hyderabad Fort was captured and power in Sindh transferred completely into the hands of the Talpurs in 1783 AD. However, due to continuing instability, looting of Madad Khan Pathan, and odious attitude of Mian Abdul Nabi Kalhoro, the condition of the general populace was miserable.
Role of Talpurs and Balochs praised
Almost all of the Sufis, poets, scholars, and historians have praised the role of the Talpurs and Balochs. Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai is regarded as the greatest Sufi poet of the Sindhi language. He has dedicated five chapters (Sur) of his poetry to Balochs. He has shown his love for the Baloch people in many of his verses.
Another, very respectable Sufi, Abdul Rahim Girhori prayed for the success of the Talpurs and advised them on several matters (1778).
Rohil Faqeer has also praised Talpurs in his poetry. Several verses in compliment of Balochs appear in the ‘Risalo Shah Inayat’.
Mamoi faqeers also admired Talpur’s role in the turbulent times of Sindh.
The role of later Kalhoras received widespread condemnation. Ghulam Murtaza Syed (GM Syed), one of the esteemed writers and politicians of Sindh writes in his book ‘Paigham-i-Latif’ that Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai had an incredibly special love for Balochs. He has praised their audacity and heroism, chivalry and valor, courage, and determination as well as their persistence, tenacity, command, and leadership. Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai was fed up with Kalhoras’ rapacious, selfish, fascist, and hypocritical rule, in the name of religion. He, therefore, wished for and foresaw change through Baloch leadership. He encouraged Balochs in his poetry and dedicated five sur (chapters) to them.
The rule of Talpur Mirs over Sindh extended from 1783-1843. An account of this period is available elsewhere.
Relations with the British and annexation of Sindh to British India
The Talpurs are former rulers of the independent state of Sindh. The Sindh existed as an independent country from time immemorial to 1843, when it was invaded and captured by the British troops and made part of the British Indian Empire. The Talpur rule over Sindh extended from 1783 to 1843. This period is regarded as the most peaceful period in the history of Sindh.
Talpurs were the most selfless rulers the soil of Sindh has ever seen. There were three States (Sarkars) in the Sindh, the Khairpur (Sohrabani Sarkar), the Hyderabad (Shahdadani Sarkar), and the Mirpurkhas (Mankani Sarkar). Relations with the British started in 1809 when the Talpur Mirs of Sindh agreed with the British not to allow French troops to pass from the Sindh.
The Talpur Mirs of the Hyderabad Sarkar and Lord William Bentinck of British India agreed upon another treaty in 1832. Under this treaty, the roads and waterways of the Sindh were thrown open to the merchants and traders of British India. But under the treaty, no military force would pass form the soil of the Sindh. Lord Auckland of British India violated the treaty and during the First Afghan War, he marched the British troops to Afghanistan through Sindh.
Lord Ellenborough had a covetous eye over the Sindh. He assigned Charles Napier to annex Sindh. He, with this aim in mind, interfered in the succession dispute in Khairpur’s Sohrabani Sarkar and imposed a new treaty through which Talpur Mirs were compelled to cede territories and were deprived their right to coin their own money. The warlike Balochs were furious over such interference and in state of excitement attacked the British Residency in February in 1843. Napier got pretext for war. The forces of the Talpur Mirs lost at the battleground of Mianee on February 16, 1843.
Sher-I-Sindh Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur, however, continued preparation at Mirpur Khas for the liberation of motherland Sindh from the British occupation of Hyderabad. He met with the British forces at the Battleground of Dubbo near Hyderabad on March 24, 1843. He and his Baloch forces fought valiantly, but the deception and trickery of the British won the battle and the Independent State of Sindh was annexed to British India.
Historian, K. Ali, writes in his book, History of India, and Pakistan: “The annexation of Sindh was not morally or politically justified.” Napier himself admitted in his diary: “We have no right to siege Sindh, yet we shall do so, and a very advantageous, useful, humane piece of rascality it will be.” “They acted purely on imperialistic motives and resorted to highly objectionable means to reduce the Amirs [Mirs] who had inflicted no injury to the British.” “If the Afghan episode”, writes Innes, “is the most disastrous in our annals, that of Sindh is morally even less excusable.” Professor Ramsay Muir says: Sindh is the only British acquisition in India of which it may fairly be said that it was not necessitated by circumstances and it was, therefore, an act of aggression.”
Most of the information given here has been obtained from my late grandfather Mir Haji Ghulam Muhammad Khan Talpur (1909-1986) and Mir Haji Muhammad Bukhsh Khan Talpur’s (1928-1985) book “Tareekh-i-Miran-i-Sindh” in the Sindhi language. -Ed.