1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mohmand

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MOHMAND, a Pathan tribe who inhabit the hilly country to the north-west of Peshawar, in the North-West Frontier Province of India. They are one of the strongest tribes on the border, and have given much trouble to the government of India. The country of the Mohmands may be defined roughly as bounded on the E. by British districts from near Jamrud to Fort Abazai, and thence by the Utman Khel country; on the N. by Bajour; on the W. by Kunar; and on the S. by the territories of the Shinwari and Afridi; area, about 1200 sq. m. The Indo-Afghan boundary line now runs through the Mohmand country; but the amir of Afghanistan formerly claimed allegiance from all the Mohmands, and only handed over the greater part of this tract to the British by the Durand Agreement of 1893. The government has given assurances to the Burhan Khel, Dawezai, Halimzai, Isa Khel, Tarakzai and Utmanzai sections of the Mohmands that they will not suffer by the severance of their ancient connexion with Afghanistan; and these are known as the Assured Clans. The tribe are Afghans by descent, and are more akin to the Yusafzais than any of their neighbours. The aspect of the Mohmand hills is exceedingly dreary, and the eye is everywhere met by dry ravines between long rows of rocky hills and crags, scantily clothed with coarse grass, scrubwood and the dwarf palm. In summer great want of water is felt, and the desert tracts radiate an intolerable heat. This, coupled with the unhealthiness of the lowlands, probably accounts for the inferior physique of the Mohmands as compared with their Afridi and Shinwari neighbours, who in summer retire to the cool highlands of Tirah and the Safed Koh. The crops in the Mohmand hills are almost entirely dependent on the winter and autumn rains, and should these fail there is considerable distress; but the Mohmands supplement this source of livelihood by a through trade on rafts along the Kabul river between the British districts and the hillcountry beyond them. The exports are wax, hides, ghi and rice from Kunar, and iron from Bajour; the imports are salt, cloth, paper, soap, tea, indigo, sugar, grain, tobacco, needles, scissors and other manufactures of civilization. The Mohmands are characterized by great pride and haughtiness, they bear a bad reputation for treachery and ruthless cruelty. They number some 18,000 fighting men, giving roughly a population of 65,000; but all the clans would never act together under any circumstances. British punitive expeditions have been sent against the Mohmands in 1851-52, 1854, 1864, 1879, 1880, but the principal operations were those of 1897. (T. H. H.*), Campaign of 1897. - The year 1897 witnessed an almost general outbreak among the tribes on the north-west frontier of India. The tribes involved were practically independent, but the new frontier arranged with the amir of Afghanistan, and demarcated by Sir Mortimer Durand's commission of 1893-1894, brought them within the British sphere of influence. The great dread of these high-spirited mountaineers was annexation, and the hostility shown during the demarcation led to the Waziri expedition of 1894. Other causes, however, contributed to bring about the outbreak of 1897. The easy victory of the Turks over the Greeks gave rise to excitement throughout the Mahommedan world, and the publication by the amir of Afghanistan, in his assumed capacity of king of Islam, of a religious work, in portions of which fanatical antipathy to Christians was thinly veiled, aroused a warlike spirit among the border Mahommedans. The growing unrest was not recognized, and all appeared quiet, when, on the 10th of June 1897, a detachment of Indian troops escorting a British frontier officer was suddenly attacked during the mid-day halt in the Tochi valley, where, since the Waziri expedition of 1894-95, certain armed posts had been retained by the government of India. On the 29th of July, with equal suddenness, the fortified posts at Chakdara and Malakand, in the Swat valley, which had been held since the Chitral expedition of 1895, were for several days fiercely assailed by the usually peaceful Swatis under the leadership of the Mad Mullah. On the 8th of August the village of Shabkadar (Shankarghar), within a few miles of Peshawar, and in British territory, was raided by the Mohmands, while the Afridis besieged the fortified posts on the Samana ridge, which had been maintained since the expeditions of 1888 and 1891. Finally, the Afridis, within a few days, captured all the British posts in the Khyber Pass. A division commanded by Major-General Sir Bindon Blood was assembled at Nowshera. The post at Malakand was reached on the 1st of August, and on the following day Chakdara was relieved. The punishment of the Afridis was deferred till the preparations for the Tirah campaign (see Tirah) could be completed. The Mohmands, however, could be immediately dealt with, and against them the two brigades of Sir Bindon Blood's division advanced from Malakand simultaneously with the movement of another division under Major-General (afterwards Sir Edmund) R. Elles from Peshawar; it was intended that the two columns should effect a junction in Bajour. About the 6th of September the two forces advanced, and Major-General Blood reached Nawagai on the 14th of September, having detached a brigade to cross the Rambat Pass. This brigade being sharply attacked in camp at Markhanai at the foot of the pass on the night of the 14th, was ordered to turn northwards and punish the tribesmen of the Mamund valley. On the 15th Brigadier- (afterwards Major-) General Jeffreys camped at Inayat Killa, and on the following day he moved up the Mamund valley in three columns, which met with strong resistance. A retirement was ordered, the tribesmen following, and when darkness fell the general, with a battery and a small escort, was cut off, and with difficulty defended some buildings until relieved. The casualties in this action numbered 149. This partial reverse placed General Blood in a position of some difficulty. He determined, however, to remain at Nawagai, awaiting the arrival of General Elles, and sent orders to General Jeffreys to prosecute the operations in the Mamund valley. From the 18th to the 23rd these operations were carried on successfully, several villages being burned, and the Mamunds were disheartened. Meanwhile, the camp at Nawagai was heavily attacked on the night of the 20th by about 4000 men belonging to the Hadda Mullah's following. The attack was repulsed with loss, and on the 21st Generals Blood and Elles met at Lakarai. The junction having been effected, the latter, in accordance with the scheme, advanced to deal with the Upper Mohmands in the Jarobi and Koda Khel valleys, and they were soon brought to reason by his well-conducted operations. The work of the Peshawar division was now accomplished, and it returned to take part in the Tirah campaign. Its total casualties were about 30 killed and wounded. On the 22nd General Blood joined General Jeffreys, and on the 24th he Xviii. 21 a started with his staff for Panjkora. On the 27th General Jeffreys resumed punitive operations in the Mamund valley, destroying numerous villages. On the 30th he encountered strong opposition at Agrah, and had 61 casualties. On the 2nd of October General Blood arrived at Inayat Killa with reinforcements, and on the r ith the Mamunds tendered their submission. The total British loss in the Mamund valley was 282 out of a force which never exceeded 1200 men. After marching into Buner, and revisiting the scenes of the Umbeyla expedition of 1863, the Malakand field-force was broken up on the 21st of January. The objects of the expedition were completely attained, in spite of the great natural difficulties of the country. The employment of imperial service troops with the Peshawar column marked a new departure in frontier campaigns.