By M Khalid Mairaj Abbasi
Khalid Mairaj Abbasi
      The only guerilla war against British imperialism in Sindh was waged by Hur community. Hundreds of Hur fighters sacrificed their lives and properties for their homeland. Hur freedom fighters struggled and resisted for one hundred years till the time Britishers left the subcontinent in 1947.
Pir Pagaro-1 Syed Sibghatullah Shah Rashidi named his devotees with HUR and ordered them to be alert, take arms to defend motherland against nefarious designs of Ranjit Singh of Punjab and to foil the ill intentions of British colonial forces.
Just seventeen years before the invasion of British army, Syed Ahmed Shaheed Barelvi (1786-) on his way to Balalkot visited Pir jo Goth in 1826 AD and called on Pir Pagaro-I Syed Subghatullah Shah Rashidi (1780-1831 AD). The Pir extended support to him in the form of 500 soldiers, weapons, boats and assisted him financially to fight against Sikh regime at Balakot where he embraced martyrdom with his soldiers in a furious war. He wrote letters to Hur community across Sindh,Thar desert, Run of Kuchh and Rajastan India to prepare for the Jihad.
When British forces conquered Sindh in 1843, the ruler of Mirpurkhas Mir Sher Mohammad Talpur known as Sher-e-Sindh started guerilla war against them. After ten years he was martyred. Sher-e-Sindh was devotee of Pir Pagaro. That’s why, Mir Ali Murad Talpur Ruler of Khairpur State warned the English forces that it was Pir Pagro, not Sher-e-Sindh, who was fighting you.
British government had the confirm reports of strength and following of the spiritual seat of Pir Pagaro. It is reported that all Pirs and Mirs of Sindh attended the Darbar on May 24, 1844 to show allegiance to the British Crown except for Syed Ali Gohar Shah Rashidi (1816-1847) Pir Pagaro II. Sensing possible resistance from Hurs, the government kept a vigilant eye on Pagaro and the Hur community.
It is pertinent to mention that Hur movement is divided into two phases; first movement from 1843 to 1896 and second movement from 1040 to 1952 AD.
Let us have a glance on both movements.
1st Hur Movement (1843-1896)
First Hur uprising began in 1869 led by Darya Khan Nizamani against British forces who was detained in Kot Diji Fort at Khairpur wherefrom he fled and then martyred. later on, Bachu Badshah and Piru Wazir along with his twelve companions called Behrootia in Sindhi established a parallel government called Sanghar Sarkar for eight years from 1888 to 1896 at Makhi forest in district Sanghar, Sindh. Makhi forest – a cluster of 200 lakes and spread over 1,124 miles, remained their main hideout during both Hur movements.
The British administration including William Henry Lucas Deputy Commissioner Tharparkar, notorious cruel Inspector Police Jula Singh and others used all tactics against them but failed to overpower Sanghar Sarkar. Jula Singh was later killed along with his other policemen by Hurs in an ambush. The British government left no stone unturned to either kill or arrest Bachu Badshah and Piru Wazir but to no avail. As a last resort, British government put pressure on their spiritual leader Pir Pagaro to direct Bachu Badshah to surrender. In the meanwhile, the cases were lodged against Pir Pagaro on false allegations to bow him down. Simultaneously, he was stopped to visit Hur dominant districts as his visits were, supposedly, giving impetus to resistance against the government. Many a Hur was arrested and put behind the bar in Jails. Eleven concentration camps, reportedly, were established in India for Hur captives. Some of them were sent to Kala Pani “Andoman” Poona and other Indian Jails. Govt put pressure on the Pir and promised general amnesty to those who will lay the arms down. In those days, a delegation of notables met Pir Sahib. On their request the Pir directed Bachu Badshah to fight unto death or surrender. Piru Wazir attacked British army and fought unto death. It is said that Bachu was on his visit to India when he came back he received the message of his spiritual leader Syed Shah Mardan Shah Pir Pagaro-V to surrender. He and his five companions surrendered but later on were publicly hanged in Sanghar city on June 10, 1896. Thus, the movement cooled down for years.
The most of the historians and Hurs opine that Pir Pagaro-II Syed Ali Gohar Shah known as “Asghar Saeen” was secretly poisoned by British government.
Syed Hizbullah Shah Rashidi Pir Pagaro III (1890 AD) wrote a Letter in Persian language to Khalifa Sultan Abdul Hameed Pasha of Turkey to draw his attention towards the atrocities of British invaders and urged him to play his role. Pir Syed Ali Gohar Shah-II Pir Pagaro-IV (1858-1896 AD) and Syed Shah Mardan Shah-I Pir Pagaro-V (1860-1921 AD) avoided agitational and confrontationist policy towards British Government throughout their lives with few exceptions without compromising their religious dignity and personal pump and show.
It is worth mentioning thatin order to bring Hurs under pressure, a large number of retired army personnel was settled in Sanghar. British Army Officer Mr. James brought a large number of Punjabis, Pathans, and Baloch people to settle near Hurs. The people of Nawab Shahbaz Khan Bugti were too settled there. The settlers were allotted the lands and properties which were confiscated from Hur community.There were about 200 Chaks which were developed under supervision of the Military. In Punjabi language, Chak means a village. Each Chak comprised 80 blocks spread over 1300 acres of land.
Eminent politician Sardar Sher Baz Mazari writes in his autobiography that the English sought help from Bahram Khan Mazari to crush the Hur rebellion but he refused and then the elders of Nawab Akbar Bugti supported the English forces and in return they were granted 23,000 Acres of land in Sanghar area.
Moreover, British authorities closed Dim Canal for ever to punish Hurs of Makhi area who used to cultivate their crops taking water from it.
 2nd Hur Movement (1941-1952)
Second Hur movement started with the arrest of Syed Sibghatullah Shah Pir Pagaro-VI (1909-1943 AD) who is lovingly called Sureh Badshah which means a brave King in Sindhi language.
To sum up, on the death of Syed Shah Mardan Shah Pir Pagaro-V, his minor son Syed Sibghatullah Shah succeeded him. British government tried to befriend young Pagaro Syed Sibghatullah Shah Rashidi-VI by presenting him with sword and a title through Deputy Commissioner Sukkur in recognition of his services and security provided to Hindus during Manzalgah Masjid riots at Sukkur. He categorically refused to accept saying that he needed not any title or gift from the government as Allah had gifted him with the title of Pagaro and …. The British government decided to eliminate him. As per Dr. Nabi Bakhsh Baloch, Fehmida Khuhro and Col. Wisal Mohammad, Pir sahib alias Sureh Badshah was arrested very soon at the tender age of twenty under concocted allegations of confinement of a boy and possession of illegal weapons in 1929. Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah pleaded his case but to no avail. After first hearing Quaid-e-Azam distanced himself from the case and informed Pir sahib that the British government had already decided to convict you. It came true when the court convicted him with sentence of ten years. The court curtailed the sentence by two years on appeal. Pir sahib remained in jails for six years at Dhaka, Ratnagiri, Madnapur, Alipur jails. Another two years were waived on account of his good conduct during sentence.
 However, after six year, Pir Sahib was released in 1936. Hardships of Jail strenghthened his conviction, that’s why, he emerged as resolute Pir. He performed Hajj in 1937 and did spiritual tour across the Sindh for seven months to raise morale of Hur community and to reorganize them.
The World War-II had erupted in 1939 and the English were engaged in fighting a war against the German. Pir Sahib thought that this was right time, they would be beaten. GM Syed writes, “I met him to join Muslim League, he refuse flately and said my mission is freedom or death. Then, he recruited Ghazis at Keti, Pir jo Goth, Khairpur and Garang Banglow, Sanghar and supervised their exercises and physical trainings at Hadil Shah in Kacha area near Pir jo Goth. Since, Sureh Badshah was under strict watch by the British Government, he was arrested again by Ghulam Rasool Shah Nazim Police Khairpur Mirs and took to Karachi. He was detained in the bungalow of Mir Khuda Bux where Governor Sindh called him in and directed him to stay at Karachi.
Pir Sahib left the Karachi for Pir Jo Goth saying that he could not stay without Court orders. Then, he visited Sanghar to enlist Ghazis- freedom fighters. He invited his unmarried young followers to show their willingness to become Ghazi. Some 8,000 ghazis pledged to obey his orders in any case. In the meanwhile, he was called in June 1941 to meet new Governor Hugh Dow. The Governor restrained him from leaving Karachi. He stayed at bunglow of Mir Khuda Bux located at Bander road opposite Young Woman Christian Associations hostel. He asked Sir Ghulam Hussain Hidayatullah then Home Minister for permission to leave for few days. On the contrary, the Governor in his letter to Viceroy India suggested his arrest and deportation from Sindh. Offended by Governor’s reluctance to entertain his request Pir Sahib left Karachi in the month of October and drove directly to Sanghar in violation of detention orders. Sureh badshah met Hur commanders and issued necessary instructions.Then, he went instantly to Pir jo Goth and here too he issued instructions.
The very next day he was rearrested over charges of mutiny and taken to Seoni Jail of CP, India. Sureh Badshah had already given plan of armed struggle to Hurs, in case, he was hanged. The Hurs started movement against the British Army. His residence and fortlike compound wall of  Dargah of Pir Sahib was bombarded, and properties worth one billion were seized. His family was arrested. Almost after a year he was tried incamera at Hyderabad Jail. He tried his best to hire Quaid-i-Azam M.A Jinnah through Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto father of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto but Quaid-e-Azam refused to plead the case on the excuse that he had no time. Government prosecuter Mr.Dealdas of Halani Naushehro Feroze pleaded his case. Mock trial lasted for three days in Hyderabad Jail. However, he was convicted with capital punishment ‘death’ and then was hurriedly executed on March 20, 1943 at Hyderabad Jail.
Mr. Dealdas once said his Murshid Pir of Jhok sharif that Sureh Badshah was convicted by the court, though he was not proved guilty.
Hurs started struggle empty handed with no weapon. Either they collected guns from friends or forcibly snatched guns from the people who owned them. In early days, Chief Police of Khairpur State Mr. Ghulam Rasool Shah who had arrested Sureh Badshah was killed at Khenwari, Taluka Naro, Khairpur Mirs on March 14,1942. In this encounter five soldiers were killed and ten injured, whereas, nine hurs were martyred. HT Lambark in his book ‘The Terrorist’ calls this encounter as  Battle of Khenwari.
Hurs adopted guerilla warfare. They used to attack main public installations just to cause huge loss to the British government.They destroyed telegraph lines/wires and derailed different trains at different places. Hurs planned to derail Miitary Train on a tip off at Uderolal station Tando Adam. Military Train was stopped due to technical reasons. Unfortunately, Lahore Mail crossed it and was derailed, in which son of sitting Chief Minister Sindh Sir Ghulam Hussain Hidayatullah was killed. 30 people were reported to be injured in the accident.
In another attack, former CM Sindh EIlahi Buksh Soomro was shot dead in an ambush at Shikarpur when he was going back from railway station to home on a tanga. It is pertinent to mention that Hurs never targeted any civilian, son of Sir Ghulam Hussain was killed because of his screeming as said by the surviving attackers in an interview published in a book Mirya Mathe Mach in 1992. Whereas, Mr.Soomro was targeted by Hur fighters because he had used abusive language and openly challenged Hurs in a political congregation at Umerkot. e a bus of Police was also attacked in which 13 poliecemen including an officer were killed.
Moreover, many a canal was breached in order to harm the opponents or bring hurdles in the way of British army. Mund Jamrau canal was also breached. some reports say atleast 50 breaches were made. Countless encounters and assaults took place between Hurs and the British forces in seven years from arrest of Sureh Badshah till freedom of the country in 1947.
British Govt. soon realized that despite all efforts the movement was taking momentum day by day. The Sindh government passed Hur Suppression Bill and imposed Martial Law for the first time in India in Hur dominated districts of Sindh on 1st June 1942. Mr. H.T Lambrick was posted as Martial law Administrator.
After execution of Sureh Badshah in March 1943, his dead body was buried at unknown place. His burial place was kept top secret by the British Govt. The Researchers say that the official communications among the officers made public subsequently by England was misleading and letters mentioning discussions and opinions regarding burial place gave no final clue about it. It seems that either letters mentioning final decision are intentionally not disclosed, or the matter is finalized orally by the competent authorities of British Govt. Hence, place of burial of Sureh Badshah is still a mystery.
Family of Sureh Badshah was detained, properties were confiscated and his sons were took to Aligarh Indian and then exiled to Liverpool England. British Army started raids and invasions over Hur villages on large scale. They torched their houses, arrested indiscriminately the innocent Hur families in thousands, and detained them in concentration camps. For this purpose, they established 22 camps at different places in Sindh. Serious cases were lodged against hundreds of Hurs who were apparently tried and eventually hanged in public. More than 200 Hur fighters were hanged.
The government used to hang them in public too. Graveyards of Hur martyrs can be visited outside the Hydeabad and sukkur jails even now. Hur freedom fighters continued their war for eleven years. There were several groups of Hur guerillas who were engaged in war activities in different areas until the independence of Pakistan.
colonol Philip head of mI Sindh admits by saying in a letter to his friend in Sindh “Had we not succeeded in crushing Hur movement, there would have been end of empire in Asia, and with freedom of Sindh, Bangal too would have been freed.
Paksitan came into being on 14th August 1947 . Son of Pir Sureh Badshah was brought back after five years of independence. It is irony that Hurs were still treated as criminals by their own independent country Pakistan for which they sacrificed their lives, children, and properties. They were languashing in Jails of Pakistan. New imcumbent Pagaro Syed Shah Mardan Shah Pir Pagaro-VII  was forced to order the wanted Hurs to surrender immediately. Though the Hurs surrendered on the orders of their spiritual leader, they were prosecuted and hanged on the basis of cases filed by British Government.
History can not forget sacrifices of Pagaro dynasty and their Hurs for freedom of Pakistan and its defence from the enemy in the wars of 1965 and 1971.