Tag Archive: Sikhism


The war Crime of which War ?

war crime

I have been thinking about writing on this topic ever since longtime, It was after the beheading of the India soldier of Rajputana Regiment by Pakistan Army in collusion with the Jihadist elements that made me relook at the scenario. The incident of January 8 in Mendhar area of Jammu and Kashmir, kind of brought the memories of Kargil war 1999. It was however reported that last year too, two Kumao regiment soldiers of Indian army were beheaded in same manner, but the news was subdued of their death or specifically of their beheading.

Capt Sourabh Kalia, 4 Jat Regiment

The situation of Kargil in 1999, a time when I just entered into my teens was not fully documented or reported, it was only on internet that I was able to find complete information about the scenario. A young 22 year old army captain Saurab Kali of 4 Jat regiment deployed on his first mission, fresh out of military academy along with his 4 other fellow soldiers were captured by Pakistani army and Jihadist elements in 1999  who had infiltrated into the India territory of Kargil, Kashmir to capture vital Land mass (their operation was much in lines with Indian operation in which Indian had captured siachen Glacier in 1984, this is the view that comes out from Pakistani media).

Torture and execution:

Anyhow, the torture he and his fellow soldiers went through was evident from the mutilation of bodies which were received. Captain Kalia and his men were in captivity for over twenty-two (May 15, 1999 – June 7, 1999) days, their bodies were handed over by Pakistan Army on June 9, 1999. The postmortem revealed that the Pakistan army had tortured them by burning their bodies with cigarettes, piercing ear-drums with hot rods, puncturing eyes before removing them, breaking most of the teeth and bones, fractures of the skull, cutting the lips, chipping of nose, chopping off limbs and private organs of these soldiers besides inflicting all sorts of physical and mental tortures and finally shooting them dead, as evidenced by the bullet wound to the temple. The postmortem report also confirmed that injuries were inflicted ante-mortem (before death).

When the same situation came again in Jan  2013, it just got me thinking. I wondered how could someone do such a dastardly act, the main question in my mind was “what motivates” such people.The guy who did that mutilation was a soldier of Pakistan army, but is yet to be identified. Certain section in India went gaga about what NOT to do in such situations which included an actor (a profiteer and an ideological whore, I presume  you have to be later in order to be former) and few journalists with his ideological swinging.  Most of the “self-proclaimed” liberal in both sides of the country always are found quoting that, we share same gene pool infact we are pretty much the same ethnic stock.  Then why would one do such a thing?

Upon going through such thoughts and discussing with my fellow mates, the answer I got was that it is not got to do with Pakistan army but rather with the idea of Islamic supremacy/ Salafism/ Wahhabism or a desire for nationalistic supremacy of Pakistan. Such scenario were a common sight during Mughal Raj and Pakistan or should I say Pakistani Army establishment has a hangover of the past (they take deep pride in their forefathers’  so called “ruling” of India, even though more south Asian Muslims reside in India than in Pakistan and many in large numbers serve in Indian army forces and Intelligence agencies.)

Still the news was disturbing and brought back the stories of two famous executions in similar style during Mughal Raj, one was of Sambhaji, eldest son of Shivaji (first Maratha Ruler and a Hindu) and the second one was of Sardar Banda Singh Bahadur, a Sikh disciple of Guru Gobind Singh (10th Sikh guru). However, I would also like to mention Dhulla Bhatti, a Muslim Rajput (RobinHood of Punjab in 16th century) who was killed in the same scenario as William Wallace of Scotland whose story was immortalized in the Hollywood movie, Braveheart.

Sambhaji: 2nd Maratha King:

Sambhaji_raje_balsanskar

He was the eldest son of Shivaji, founder of Maratha Empire who laid the seeds of Marathi nationalism and his followers captured much of present Indian land. At the age of nine, Sambhaji was sent to live with Mughal commanders, as a political hostage for a treaty King Shivaji had signed with the Mughals. When he came back he proved his abilities, he was a good warrior and an able commander who won 128 battles and lost none. He was famous and hated by Mughals for “Scorched earth” tactics which involves destroying anything that might be useful to the enemy while advancing through or withdrawing from an area. It is a military strategy where all of the assets that are used or can be used by the enemy are targeted, such as food sources, transportation, communications, industrial resources, and even the people in the area. The practice can be carried out by an army in enemy territory, or in its own home territory.

Sambhaji did not have a very smooth relationship with his father King Shivaji and was imprisoned too and had equally tough time in ascending to the throne as there were many opponents to him.

The 1687 Battle of Wai, Maratha forces were badly weakened by the Mughals. The key Maratha commander Hambirao Mohite was killed, and troops started to desert the Maratha armies. Sambajiraje’s positions were spied upon by Shirke clan Marathas who had defected to the Mughals, and in February 1689 Sambhaji and 25 of his advisor were captured by the Mughal forces of Muqarrab Khan on 1 Feb, 1689.

Execution:

He along with his captured men was brutally tortured for over a fortnight. The torture involved plucking out their eyes and tongue and pulling out their nails. The later part involved removing their skin. On March 11, 1689, Sambhaji was finally killed, reportedly by tearing him apart from the front and back with ‘Wagh Nakhe’ (‘Tiger claws’, a kind of weapon), and was beheaded with an axe. His torture and execution was done at Vadhu on the banks of the Bhima river, near Pune. People of Maharashtra, a state in India still remember him as a great warrior who fought for them and is lauded for his bravery. He was 31 years old when he was executed.

Sardar Banda Singh Bahadur

Sardar Banda singh Bahadur

He was born into a Rajput family of Kashmir and owing to a freak accident had given up world life in his early 20s. It was after his meeting with Guru Gobind Singh that he became a Sikh and took up arms to fight against Mughal tyranny. From 1707 till 1716 at the time of his death, he struggled to fight against Mughal tyranny. His exploits and wars were against those Mughal who were so much consumed by power that they killed anyone who opposed them, which included noted Sufi saints . Sufi are the most liberal Islamic followers and don’t believe in material possession, unlike the Mughals of that time who took away everything that you had as per their wish. Hence forth many Sufis use to clash with Mughals over the later’s behavior towards masses.

Banda Singh even established the first Sikh state. There was one war in which he fought wazir khan of sirhind, in that battle he was joined by many Sikhs and Hindu jats, Gujars and Rajputs of about five thousand which propelled his army to a number of 50000 and won the battle against a well-trained army whose leader had issue jihad against them. Wazir Khan was killed.

Bahadur Shah, the Mughal emperor son of Aurangzeb journeyed northwards from Deccan to punish Sikhs as he has been in war with Marathas over there. Fearing that some Sikhs might not have smuggled themselves into the royal camp disguised as Hindus, Bahadur Shah ordered all Hindus employed of imperial forces to shave off their beards. Emperor Bahadur Shah’s order, issued on December 10, 1710 was a general warrant for the faujdars to “kill the worshipers of Nanak, i.e. Sikhs, wherever they are found. Banda Singh was chased out of every corner of Punjab and he took refuge in the Shivalik hills. There he got married to a daughter of hill chief.

He raided again into Mughal Empire but the numbers of Mughal army overwhelmed him. Later he was eventually captured after a siege of eight months in which some left him and remaining of his defenders ran out of ammunition and food. They tried to exist on boiled leaves and the bark of trees, and were gradually reduced to mere skeletons. Then on 17th December, 1715, Abdus Samad shouted across the separating moat, that he would not allow any killing by his men, if Banda opened the gate to the fortress. When Banda ordered the gate be opened, the Mughals rushed in to spear or stab as many as three hundred of the half-dead and helpless defenders. About 200 were captured alive and handcuffed in twos. Banda Singh had chains round his ankles and his wrists, and was then locked in an iron cage.

Execution:

He was produced before the Mughal Emperor along with 740 sikhs where he was mocked for being a king. The execution of Sikhs went on for 7 days. Banda Singh was then given a short sword and ordered to kill his own son 3 year old Ajay Singh. As he sat unperturbed, the executioner moved forward and plunged his sword into the little child cutting the body into two. Then pieces of flesh were cut from the body and thrown in Banda’s face. His liver was removed and thrust into Banda Singh’s mouth. The executioner then pulled out Banda’s eyeballs with his dagger. While Banda sat still, the executioner took his sword and slashed off his left foot, then both his arms. Finally, they tore off his flesh with red-hot pincers and cut his body up into pieces. These details of the torture are given in full, by the following writers such as Mohammed Harisi, Khafi Khan, Thornton and Elphinstone. Banda Singh Bahadur was 46 years old when he was executed.

Dhulla Bhatti

Dhulla

He was a Muslim Rajput from a warrior tradition and was a bitter enemy of Akbar, 3rd Mughal Ruler.  His clan would not bow down to the then Mughal Emperor Akbar’s authority. Their pride was such that they refused to pay any taxes and refused to acknowledge Akbar as their ruler. When Akbar came to Lahore, he ordered the execution of all the rebels. Dhulla’s father and his grandfather were both killed. To instill fear into the hearts of the common man, Akbar got their skins stuffed with wheat hay (toori) and hung the dead-bodies on the main door. This death was so gruesome that even now to instill fear in north India, same story is repeated either to children or to enemies.

When this all incident happened Dhulla wasn’t even born, his mother was pregnant with him. He was never told of the cause of his father’s and grandfather’s death till he was a young man. There are many stories to justify this but the major theory is that at the time Dulla was born, Akbar’s wife gave birth to Salim (who would later become Emperor Jahangir). But Salim was a weakling and on doctors’ suggestions Akbar brought in Ladhi (Dhulla’s mother and a strong Rajput woman) to his palace in Delhi and made her to breast feed Salim. So both Dhulla and Salim were practically brought up by Ladhi and were milk-brothers. In adolescents, these two had a good friendship.

During a later period in his life Salim came to him as he had fallen out with Akbar and instigated Dhulla against Akbar. With salim’s help Dhulla built up an army and use to raid the caravan of Akbar’s merchants. He used to then distribute these items to the poor, thereby leading to a popular support for him in masses. It is believed that Dhulla had restored the prestige/Honour of an innocent girl whose modesty was outraged (she was rapped) by a Mughal general by marrying her off to one of his fellow commanders. He had also adopted her as his daughter.

Dhulla’s uncle Jalaludin was envious because of the rising popularity of his nephew and complained to Akbar against Dhulla. The final nail in the coffin came when Dhulla captured Akbar’s two wives that infuriated Akbar so much that he sent an entire Army to capture him. The overwhelming numbers of Mughal army went against him and he was captured.

Execution:

Dhulla Bhatti gave them a fierce fight but eventually was captured and executed William Wallace way, where his body parts were cut one by one and his both arms and legs were sent to four corners of the Empire. His body parts were sent to all the regions of the Mughal Kingdom as a sign of a warning of the things not to do. There was one Sufi saint close to Dhulla Bhatti who tried to stop his excutions and for which he got into trouble with the police chief there at the spot of execution, the sufi saint’s name was Shah Hussain, he belonged to Dhudha clan of Rajputs. So this story also points out that Muslims in a whole were not in accordance with Mughals as many considered Mughals as foreigners and exploiters.Dhulla Bhatti was in 40s when he was killed along with his son.

.

Conclusion:

The stories of these three brave men are synonymous in one thing that all died fighting for freedom at the hands of self-obsessed people who used religion and their power as a tool for propagating authority or in the words of scholars: Islamic supremacism (this stands true for Aurangzeb even though for Akbar that might be a subject of debate.) One knows that those associated with Mughal kingdom would never accept it as the war crimes but rather as punishments, which includes those Hindus who were Mughal subjects. The irony of the situation was that most non-Muslim officers were in the time of Aurangzeb’s court, but this doesn’t obliviates him of his genocidal actions towards Sikhs and Hindus who demanded freedom.

So my final question remains and most importantly that associated with the current scenario, are we still at war with that supremacist enemy,with whom our ancestors fought ?

There was another point which came out in the discussion:

Before Islam came there were fights between Hindus and Buddhist, as I guess it was in the nature of Humans to fight and more importantly those who lived in the region in todays world know as north India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The region of Afghanistan and Pakistan was full of Buddhist culture, something which has been documented and authenticated by the art facts found in the region (even though many  Islamist or Ultra Nationalist in Pakistan want to deny it and try to link themselves as descendants of Arabs, in short propelling their inferiority complex in comparison to an Arab).

Whatever may be the religion, for 5000 years this region of North India, Pakistan and Afghanistan have been in conflict with each other and with those who came from out site. So coming back to the main question, are these events part of small battle or recent war or rather it is part of an ancient war which has been going on for thousands of years.

For me and my debating circle, it seems like the ancient war is still carrying on, not that I am supporting it or condemning it but rather just observing it. Capt Kalia’s family fights for his death being recognized as war crime according to Geneva Convention, which I donot know when it will be accepted in UN.

One thing is sure that war crime of such kind has been part and parcel of South Asian history and nobody cares about it till the time it hits you.

References:

http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Banda_Singh_Bahadur

http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Guru_Gobind_singh

http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Dulla_Bhatti

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-12-16/india/35850145_1_nk-kalia-capt-saurabh-kalia-pakistan-interior-minister

http://www.firstpost.com/india/they-didnt-just-pluck-your-eyes-out-capt-saurabh-kalia-538436.html

http://www.hindujagruti.org/news/4404.html

http://sikhyouth.com/biographies/religious/banda-singh-bahadur/

Gatka has been part of north Indian culture for over 300 years. Guru Angad Dev, encouraged followers to train the body physically, mentally and spiritually.

Guru Hargobind propagated the theory of the warrior saint and emphasized the need for his followers to practice fighting for self-defence. When fifty-two Rajput princes were captured by the Muslim conquerors, he assembled an army to free them. This led to further exchanges in the martial cultures of the Sikhs and Rajputs. Both the Rajputs and Punjabi communities favored the sword as their main weapon.

Gatka is a weapon-based Indian martial art created by the Sikhs of the Punjab. The Punjabi word gatka refers to the wooden stick used in sparring matches. The term might have originated as a diminutive of the Sanskrit word gadha or mace. A more popular theory is that it derives from the Punjabi words gat and ka. Gat means grace, liberation, and respect in one’s own power, while ka means someone who belongs or is part of a group. Gatka would therefore translate as “one whose freedom belongs to grace”.

Like all people who watch it, I was also truly mesmerized by it. It was more seen as an army’s practice before going to the war. Gatka is not gender specific and both boys and girls and perform it side by side. In India Gatka is generally at public display during religious processions. It is a showcasing of the might of Sikhs. The Gatka Federation of India, in collaboration with Punjab Gatka Association, for the first time, has formulated and standardized the in-depth Rules and Regulations Book in September 2009 for playing of Gatka game with pictorial guidelines and providing training to the budding Gatkebaaz through workshops, seminars and camps under the new Gatka rules.The best part of Gatka training is that it is not religion based. Anyone can join Sikhs in practicing this great martial art. It’s objective it help you defend against an attack.

The weapons used in the training process are :

  • Barcha — The spear is a long shafted weapon and has a hook at the spearhead used to pull away the opponent’s shield.
  • Chakram – The chakram is a flat steel ring, five to 12 inches in diameter, from half an inch to an inch and a half wide, and with a sharp outer edge. While not being used, it is carried “fixed” to the Turban. Several of different sizes were often carried on a pointed turban, the “dastar ungaa” or behind the back. It is held between the thumb and index finger and thrown towards the opponent with an underhand flick. Thrown with sufficient force and accuracy it can cut off a green bamboo three-quarter of an inch in diameter at a distance of thirty yards.
  • Dahl or Shield. It is nearly always round and varies in diameter from about eight inches to about twenty-four. Some are very nearly flat while others are strongly convex. The edges may be flat or rolled back in the reverse curvature of the shield. It is held by two handles fastened to ring bolds that pass through the shield and are riveted to bosses on the outside, sometimes formed to spikes. Between the handles there is a square cushion for the knuckles to rest against. The handles are so placed that, when tightly grasped, they force the backs of the fingers against the cushion giving a very firm and comfortable hold. These shields are nearly always of steel or leather.
  • Gurj or Mace: Indian maces have great variations in their shape. From simply curved steel bars to Persian influenced maces with openings in the head which gives a whistling sound when the blow was struck to plane massive heads. They often have guard hilts like the Khanda
  • Katar – The Katar is a double-edged and straight bladed dagger used to pierce armour. The handle has two sidebars to provide protection and a better grip.
  • Khanda – This is a typical Indian sword and has a broad, straight blade, usually widening towards the point, which is blunt. Sometimes it is also double-edged.
  • Kirpan – The Kirpan is a short curved dagger and all Sikhs are required to carry it by tradition.
  • Lathi – The lathi or quarterstaff is a wooden stick as tall as the warrior and made of oak.
  • Marati – Trainig device: The Marati is a bamboo stick with wooden or cloth balls on its ends. It is mainly used for training purposes but there are variations with blades or burning cloth on its ends, to attack and distract elephants and for psychological warfare.
  • Soti – This is made from fire hardened bamboo or ratan, 1m long and usually has a hand guard. It is mainly used for practice and “playing Gatka”, the training fight. For combat they were replaced by oak ore ironwood sticks, without hand guards.
  • Tapar – The battle-axe is very distinct from the normal axe and sometimes has a dagger concealed in the handle.
  • Talwar – The sword is usually curved with a thin and sharp blade. The Talwar is greatly respected and treated with care.
  • Tir Kaman – The bow and arrow is a potent weapon. The arrow is made of steel heads with reed shafts. The bow is also composite and made of layers of wood and steel.
  • Chakar – The Chakar looks like a wagon wheel with weights at the end of each spoke. The chakar is wielded by grasping the centre and spinning it around, causing damage upon anyone coming too close to the spinning weights.

If someone observed carefully, then it was performed in the opening ceremony of the commonwealth games. It is truly an art that needs to be remembered and kept alive. Though in this modern world where weapons have changed many would not agree, but the gatka techniques and the meditation that it involves while practicing does really makes the mind calm of a warrior. That calm mind helps him to fight better in any domain of life.

Jats in general

Jat

ETHNONYMS: Jāṭ, Jaṭ, Jatt

Orientation


Identification and Location.  Jat live predominantly in large parts of northern and northwestern India and in southern and eastern Pakistan, as sedentary farmers and warriors ( with some are pastorals).  Jat is a race much like the Irish, Ossetians, KurdsYakuts, Kazakhs  and the pashtuns.  In India most of these communities are integrated as a caste into the locally prevalent caste system, so that they could be accommodated in Hinduism (as Hinduism is considered a religion by default for all Indians).However, a Jat can be a Sikh, Hindu or a Muslim (Christian and Buddhist too in some case).

Their population is  mostly concentrated in the regions of Jammu, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh/ Harit Pradesh, Parts of Madhya Pradesh, kutch in Gujrat and Delhi.In Pakistan, they are in Pakistan Punjab, Baluchistan, Kashmir and sindh region.In the past century increasing population pressure on land has led to large-scale emigration of the peasant Jat, especially from India, to North America, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, and more recently the Middle East. Within India many rural Jats had started to look towards Urban settlements in hope for better lifestyle and jobs.

As per some researchers, sedentary farming Jat and the nomadic pastoral Jats (in gujrat as claimed by researchers and documentary makers) are of entirely different origins; few believe that the two groups are of the same stock but that they developed different life-styles over the centuries. Neither the farmers nor the pastoralists are, however, to be confused with other distinct communities of peddlers, artisans, and entertainers designated in Afghanistan by the blanket terms “Jat” or Jaṭ.

The latter terms are considered pejorative, and they are rejected as ethnonyms by these peripatetic communities. In Pakistan also, among the Baluchi- and Pashto-speaking populations, the terms were, and to a certain extent still are, used to indicate contempt and lower social status.

Demography. No reliable figures are available for recent years. In 1931 the population of all sedentary and farming Jat was estimated at 8,377,819; in the early 1960s 8,000,000 was the estimate for Pakistan alone. Today the entire Jat population consists of several million more than that.

Linguistic Affiliation.

Jats speak languages and dialects that are closely connected with local spoken languages of the Indo-Iranian Group.  Arabic-derived Urdu is used by Jat Muslims, while Jat Sikhs and Jat Hindus use the Gurmukhi (Punjabi) and the Devanagari (Hindi) scripts, respectively.

History and Cultural Relations

Little is known about the early history of the Jat, although several theories were advanced by various scholars over the last 200 years. Some authors argue that they are descendants of the first Indo-Aryans, others suggest that they are of Indo-Scythian stock and entered India toward the beginning of the Christian era. These authors also point to some cultural similarities between the Jat and certain other major communities of the area, such as the Gurjar, the Ahir, and the Rajput, about whose origins similar theories have been suggested.

In fact, among both Muslims and Sikhs the Jat and the Rajput castes enjoy almost equal status—partly because of the basic egalitarian ideology enjoined by both religions, but mainly because of the similar political and economic power held by both communities. Hindu Jat consider the Gujar and Ahir as allied castes; except for the rule of caste endogamy, there are no caste restrictions between these three communities.

In other scholarly debates about the origins of the Jat, attempts have been made to identify them with the Jarttikā, referred to in the Hindu epic the Mahābhārata. Some still maintain that the people Arab historians referred to as the ZuṠṠ, and who were taken as prisoners in the eighth century from Sindh in present-day southern Pakistan to southern Iraq, were actually buffalo-herding Jat, or were at least known as such in their place of origin.

Another scholarly view point stating that Jat race is a combination of Indo-greek, Scythians and Indo- Aryan stock (namely Mauryans of the Dynasty of Chandragupta Maurya, Grandfather of Great Ashoka). It was after many years of inter marrying that a new name and identity came into being which was collectively called as Jats.

Indo-Greek

This  view point seems to be more scientific and has a good logic unlike a certain community’s belief that they come from some fire etc. and proclaim themselves to be the ‘authentic‘ warriors from the bloodline of a ‘Brahminical god‘ whose name and existence is mythological (a way to subside their inferiority complex ,propagation of superstitious blind faith and to enslave masses).

With the arrival of Islam (both Salafi and Sufi) in 10 to 12 Century AD  many Jats converted to Islam and it lead to socioeconomic prosperity for them. For rest of Hindu Jats who were mostly peasants and pastorals (as Sikh religion was not born) the fight for empowerment and against exploitative condition was long and brutal in many ways (mainly by Priestly class which are known as Brahmins, from the hands of Ruling elite who claimed warrior status  (but their credentials are doubtful) and finally from Islamist who invaded and ruled India in subsequent centuries too ).

In the seventeenth century a (Hindu) kingdom was established in the area of Bharatpur and Dholpur (Rajasthan) in northern India; it was the outcome of many centuries of rebellion against the Mughal  Empire, and it lasted till 1826, when it was defeated by the forces of the British East India Company.

Farther north, in the Punjab, in the early years of the eighteenth century, Jat (mainly Sikh) organized peasant uprisings against the predominantly Muslim landed gentry; subsequently, with the invasion of the area—first by the Persian King Nadir Shah and then by the Afghan Ahmad Shah Abdali—they controlled a major part of the area through close-knit bands of armed marauders operating under the leadership of the landowning chiefs of well-defined territories.

A Sikh Jat became King of Entire Punjab for 40 years who was called Maharaja Ranjit Singh , he employed a policy of secularism where Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs lived in harmony from many years before Britishers annexed it in 1850.

Because of their martial traditions, the Jat, together with certain other communities, were classified by British administrators of imperial India as a “martial race,” and this term had certain long-lasting effects. One was their large-scale recruitment into the British-Indian army, and to this day a very large number of Jat are soldiers in the Indian army.

Many Sikh Jats in the Indian part of Punjab were involved in the  movement for the creation of an autonomous Khalistan, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale (14th Chief of the Damdami Taksal )  was a Sikh Jat, it has been said that he was neither for and nor against the creation of Khalistan (though many of his followers were in favour for creation of Khalistan and considered him a spiritual leader for the movement) . Those who were Muslims were closely associated with the movement of Pakistan as the 1st prime-minister of Pakistan was Liaquat Ali Khan who was a Muslim Jat. India’s 5th prime-minister was Chaudhary Charan Singh who was a Hindu Jat.

Settlements

The Jat as a whole are predominantly rural. Over the last 400-500 years there has been increasing sedentarization of Jats; this trend increased rapidly in the last decades of the eighteenth century when many pastoralists settled in the central Punjab under the auspices of Sikh rule there owing to the philosophy of Sikhism (since earlier the Mughal rule did not favor them and their rule were draconian towards non-mu slims . Sikh rule brought about massive land reforms ).

This continued over a very large area with the expansion of irrigation in British imperial times. Before that some Jats were peasants but in few regions only.

Most Jat peasants lived in flat-roofed houses made of baked or unbaked bricks in large compact villages, with few open spaces within the inhabited area; all villages have cattle sheds, village commons, and wells or ponds. Depending on the region and the precise community, Jat  peasants used a variety of huts, mostly made of reed mats and wood, that are fairly easy to dismantle. The reed mats are woven by the women.

Kingdoms and Royalty

The royalty among Jat has been in existence for more than 1000 years (records could be found with the respective families) but after 1699 it rose rapidly as more warriors revolted against the Mughals and formed their respective kingdoms. Following is the list of some notable kings and queens among Jats

Rajasthan

Uttar Pradesh

Punjab

Madhya Pradesh

Kinship, Marriage, and Family

Kin Groups and Descent.

All Jat are divided into several large, usually dispersed clans. Most clans are de facto maximal lineages, which are further segmented; among Jat peasants this segmentation takes place at four broad levels. The minimal lineage is composed of a group of households, which had formed a single household two or three generations previously; they may still share a common courtyard and have joint rights to a well.

Marriage.

While among Muslim Jat the practice of exchange marriage takes place at various levels of lineage organization, among Hindu and Sikh Jat no such exchange marriages are allowed, and the rule of exogamy is such that a man may not marry a woman who has any of her four grand-parental clans in common with his.

Polygyny was allowed though not common (this was discontinued for Sikh and Hindu Jats, once Hindu Marriage act came into being in 1950s).

Among all Jat, widow remarriage is permitted (unlike certain communities in India who use to enjoy burning widows alive and gave it religious color to give sacrosanctity to this barbarity or consider them a bad omen);

For a widow levirate is required or a she is not allowed to remarry outside the maximal lineage, especially when she has children by her late husband.

The practice of female infanticide, also known among the peasants, has dropped sharply. A woman’s relationship with her husband’s kin is organized according to a basic pattern of avoidance with seniors and of joking with those younger than the husband. Brothers share a common duty toward their sisters and their children.

Sikh-Hindu Marriages

Marriages among Sikh Jats and Hindu Jats are encouraged and are considered a sense of deep pride, since such Sikh-Hindu marriages reinstates the concept of brotherhood among the two distinct communities within the ethnic group, which in turn evokes nostalgic times of when they fought together against tyrannical Mughals.

Definition of Jat Status in Jat Blood Law

The status of being a Jat is defined by the Jat blood (DNA) of the Father and mother of the offspring (Children). The Scythians warriors that invaded the Punjab region and India in general were men (males). Each one of them took native women as wives namely Indo- Greek and Indo-Aryan. The children produced from that joining were the first Jats. The Status of being a Jat in Jat Blood Law is decided by the father’s Jat blood (the DNA Y chromosome of the father being from Central Asia).

If a Jat Man marries a Jat Woman in Jat Blood Law the children from that marriage are given Full Jat status (100% Jat) by Jat Blood Laws and Scythian blood. If a Jat Man marries a Non-Jat Woman in Jat Blood Law the children from that marriage are given Half Jat status (50% Jat) by Jat Tribal Blood Laws. If a Jat Woman marries a Non-Jat Man in Jat Blood Law the children from that marriage are given No Jat status (0% Jat) by Jat Blood Laws.

Father Mother Child Status (%)
Jat Jat Full Jat (100 %)
Jat Non-Jat Half Jat (50 %)
Non-Jat Jat Non-Jat (0 %)
Non-Jat Non-Jat Non-Jat (0 %)

Note: Historically and currently, Pure Jats (Full Jats) are commanded by Jat Law to marry other Pure Jats (Full Jats) to prevent their future offspring (children) losing Full Jat Status and losing (DNA) blood membership of the Jat community i.e. Scythian DNA of their forefathers. Once blood membership of the Jat community is lost by becoming Half Jat (50 % Jat) or Non-Jat (0 % Jat), it is impossible for future descendents (e.g. grandchildren or great grandchildren) to ever become Jat again (100 %). Historically, Half Jats (50 % Jat) have found it very difficult for themselves to be accepted for marriage by Jat families (100 % Jat families). A decision to marry outside of the Jat community is PERMANENT (DNA) blood wise and can NEVER be undone for any potential children of that individual. Therefore, marrying outside of one’s Jat community is almost never done due to the seriousness of the outcome.

Note —  (However, from a scholarly viewpoint if they are marrying into other Scythian or Indo- Greek descendants or that matter even Caucasians, then it should NOT be a problem.)

Domestic Unit.

Most Jat peasant households consist of lineal joint families, with the parents and one married son; many units are nuclear and some are collateral-joint, with two married brothers and their offspring living together. Among  Jat the nuclear family and the lineal joint family are the most common domestic units.

Inheritance.

Among those with land, all sons inherit equal shares in terms of both quantity and quality. Formerly, a man’s wives shared equally on behalf of their sons, irrespective of the number of sons each had. Although in theory inheritance of land follows a strictly agnatic principle and daughters and sisters do not inherit, daughters’ sons have been observed de facto to be among the inheritors in many cases.

Sociopolitical Organization

Social and Political Organization.

All Jat are divided into patricians; among the sedentary communities, each of these has a hereditary headman. By and large, the villages in which Jat farmers live, together with non-Jat, are under the jurisdiction of a clan council, and this council, of which every clan headman is a member, is the decision-making unit at the community level. Traditionally in these villages Jat farmers were integrated as patrons into the patron-client system prevalent in the area. Their clients were members of various service castes; however, this system has largely broken down today.

Wealthy Jat landowners have entered local, regional, and even national politics since the beginning of this century, and in many areas they are still active as influential representatives of farmers and rural folk in general. Among the pastoral and peasant Jats of the Indus Delta, the clans are organized on the hierarchical principle of age, with the oldest man of the oldest lineage being at the head of the pyramid, followed by the eldest men of the younger lineages.

Conflict. A frequent source of conflict within the minimal lineage is land; such conflicts often take place between agnatic collaterals, since their lands usually border each other. Factional conflict is fairly common at a broader level.

Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs and Ceremonies.

A Jat can be Hindu, Muslim, or Sikh, and in 1931 over 50 percent of the entire Sikh population was constituted by Jat. Many ceremonies, especially those accompanying the rites of passage, are common to all Jat, irrespective of religious denomination. Among Hindu Jat there are in addition numerous local or more widely prevalent religious beliefs and observances.

These include knowledge of certain but by no means all major mythological figures (gods and goddesses) of the Sanskritic tradition and the celebration of several festivals, both seasonal and annual, both of the all-Indian Hindu Great Tradition and of the localized Little Tradition.

The Muslim Jat populations have a strong tradition of venerating a large number of local saints (pīr ). Although most are officially Sunni, they have a large number of Shia traditions, and one group of Jat are Ismaelis.

Till recently Sikh Jat, though very conscious of their distinct religious identity, were not very meticulous in their observance of the precepts of Sikhism. Most of them still observe Hindu marriage rites and till recently followed Hindu funeral customs; the majority also employed Brahmans as family priests. In most villages inhabited by Sikh Jat there is the shrine of a Sikh martyr of old that acts as an ancestral focus for the minimal lineage.

Various supernatural beings play a role in Jat life and are common to most Jat irrespective of creed; belief in many of them is widespread in the region as a whole. (This however is not accepted and considered good by many educated Jats )

Bhangra

Bhangra is jat folk dance prominently focused in Punjab and now instilled in the culture of Sikhs, thought this sort of dance is not done by jat of rest of the parts but Pakistan Punjab Jats and Indian punjab Jats practice it more often.

Ghoomar and Gidda

Gidda and ghomer are the regional folk dances performed by the jat women in an festive season. In either of them they narrate a story by dancing on the folk song. Ghoomer is performed more by the Jat women of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. Whereas Gidda is more Punjab culture oriented.

Gidda as dance  is derived from the ancient ring dance. One of the girls plays on the drum or ‘dholki’ while others form a circle. Some times even the dholki is dispensed with. While moving in a circle, the girls raise their hands to the level of their shoulders and clap their hands in unison. Then they strike their palms against those of their neighbors. Rhythm is generally provided by clapping of hands.

Giddha is a very vigorous folk dance and like other such dances it is very much an affair of the legs. So quick is the movement of the feet in its faster parts that it is difficult for the spectator even to wink till the tempo falls again. The embroidered ‘duppattas’ and heavy jewelry of the participants whose number is unrestricted further exaggerate the movements.

Armed forces 

Owing to their martial race tag many Jats (Sikh, Muslim and Hindu) have been part of armed forces of many countries namely India, Pakistan, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and United States of America .

In India, 25th Chief of Army Staff has been a Hindu Jat (Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag) and 24th was a Sikh Jat (Gen Bikram Singh).

Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh (Aulakh) was 3rd Chief of Air Staff of the Indian Air Force from 1964 to 1969. He is a Sikh Jat. He has been given honorary title of Marshal of the Indian Air Force , highest rank in Indian AirForce.

In Pakistan Army many Muslim Jats have risen to top ranks and a known face is Maj Gen Asim Bajwa.

16th chief of Army for Pakistan is Qamar Javed Bajwa who is a mulsim jat from Bajwa clan in Pakistan Punjab.

Apart from Indian and Pakistani Army, Jats serve in huge number in United States and United Kingdom Army (mostly of the faith of Hindus and Sikhs, especially whose forefathers had migrated to these countries).

Jats have a sizable number in the police forces too of all the above mentioned countries. In India the most notable name is of Kanwar Pal Singh Gill also know as KPS Gill , who was the director-general of Punjab and was instrumental in finishing of the Khalistan terrorist movement.

There have been Jats who rose to become Police commissioners of Delhi and Mumbai. The two most important cities in India.

.

Economy

 

Though traditionally Jat were associated to be farmers and Army men in British Army but over the decades with independence they have started to started to feature in various economic activities such as real estate, hospitality, sports, Doctors , engineers, Teachers, Researchers, Acting etc.Though some population does still practice agriculture as a form of living  but generally the pattern is shifting towards urban jobs and they are employed in large no in government jobs at various levels as it is considered safe bet for children from poor or low middle class families.

In the last 2 decades or so many Jats have turned entrepreneur with the thriving Indian economy and are gaining rich dividends, many Indians have also gone to west and made millions there. Gurbaksh Singh Chahal is another self made millionaire of Jat Sikh descent. KP SINGH of DLF is such name in India. Gaurav Dhillon is the Chairman and CEO of SnapLogic which is an enterprise application and data integration software development company that helps organizations connect business applications and Web services.

Arts.

The women of the nomadic Jat were very skilled in needlework and embroider various textiles using threads of many colors in the delta region but mainly black and red in the north; tiny pieces of mirror are also used to decorate these textiles. Though with Modernization they have started gaining entry into respected schools and colleges there by enhancing their skills. Amrita Shergill is a famous female Jat painter who is well respected for her work. Reena Dhaka and Ranna Gill are  also an example of  female jat fashion designer.

Death and Afterlife. Jat hold conflicting views on life after death. Some believe in the traditional Hindu concept of rebirth, others believe in going to Hell or Heaven, but many believe that there is no existence after death and that there is no form of life besides the present one on Earth.

In order to understand the Punjabi Identity we only need to go back two year or so in history when the Vienna issue came boiling up. Many would not know that there are many sections within the punjabi community (ie people who live there in Punjab).

It is a bit complex system though which seems to give out a united stand but differences do appear now and then which are reported. Punjab as general has been heavily influenced by Sikhism and Sufism which binds them together but it cannot be shrugged that there are sects with in the communities too.

The recent Vienna shoot out in the gurudwara is a case where the problems persists. Most Notably Punjab has been divided into two countries where in one portion is Islamic the other is Sikh and Hindu. Hindus for always have had caste system which is well defined and constructed ( which has been criticized by many social reformers) but it seems Sikhism is also not beyond such differences, there are same well defined boundaries with in the Sikh structure in terms of the community.

In the video below you would see how KPS Gill and Pranay Roy try to understand the whole complex issue of Punjabi identity.

Punjabi language as one is the binding aspect of the various communities and the fact that Punjab as a tradition has been a prosperous region. Punjab’s rich culture also sets it apart in the northern India and it is this richness due to which there is the usual fight ( fight for resources, strengthened by the caste lines) .

In short in order to brief about the various communities and sections with in Punjab are :

  1. Ravidassia
  2. Gujjar
  3. Rajput
  4. Jats
  5. Urban Khartis
  6. Dalits
  7. Tarkans
  8. Ramgarias
  9. Saini
  10. Aroras
  11. Arain
  12. Labana
  13. Pathans

 

It is not only that these problems are faced by the Punjabi other regions also face them and which results in Reservations or at least demand for reservations. Though the consolidation of Punjab as a region has more to do with irradiation of Militancy, during that process a sense of Unity was developed which resulted in Punjabi Unity but as the time passes the old cracks in the wall have resurfaced .

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