Bhati Region

Bhati Region or low-lying area washed and flooded by rivers and ebb-tides. The name 'Bhati region’ has been derived from the Bangla words Bhata’ or Bhati’. Bangladesh is a riverine country. The larger rivers like the Ganges and Brahmaputra and their innumerable tributaries have flowed over the whole of eastern and southern Bengal; as a consequence, most of the areas in this region remain flooded for more than half of the year. This is why researchers have identified various parts of Bengal as Bhati. Towards the end of the Sultani era and the time when Mughal rule was established in Bengal, the bara-bhuiyans of Bengal built up resistance against the Mughals. The Bhati region of Bengal can also be identified by the written references in Mughal courts and the descriptions of the Europeans.

The English traveller ralph fitch reached the place called tandah in 1586 and from there he toured sripur, vikramapura and Sonargaon region. The information provided by him was very reliable. He presented a documentary picture of the Bhati region. According to him, the Bara-Bhuiyans could resist the Mughal onslaughts for a long time as the area was surrounded by rivers and canals. james grant included Hijli, Jessore and Bakerganj in the Bhati region. henry ferdinand blochmann identified the whole area between Hoogly and the Meghna River as Bhati. These imply that there were confusions regarding the identification of the Bhati region due to confusing claims made by British civil servants and historians.

Abul Fazl and mirza nathan have described the battles between the Mughals and the Bara-Bhuiyans. The picture of the Bhati region can be obtained from their books. The definition of 'Bhati’ that Abul Fazl provides in akbarnamah and ain-i-akbari is very complex and difficult. In Akbarnama, Bhati stretches over 400 kos (1 kos= 2.25 miles= 3.6 km) from the east to west and over 300 kos from the north to south. It included the Sundarbans and the Meghna River. But in Ain-i-Akbari, he says that 'Bhati’ stretches over 400 kos from Chittagong to teliagarhi of Subah Bangala and over 200 kos from the northern mountains to Mandaran (Hoogly district) in the south. He claimed that the Mughal forces had defeated isa khan near Kastul after crossing Kiara Sundar. The present name of Kiara Sundar is egarasindhur, which lay on the bank of the Brahmaputra in Pakundia upazila of Kishorganj district. The second place 'Kastul’ (the present name is probably Kastail) is located two miles to the west of Austagram upazila under the same district. Led by the commander shahbaz khan, the next war against Isa Khan took place in 1584. The battlefield was at sonargaon, khizrpur and katrabo. Isa Khan took the title of 'Masnad-i-Ala’ after defeating the Mughals in this battle. Bikrampur and Sreepur were the places where the battle was fought against mansingh (Raja) in 1602, as described by 'Akbarnamah’.

islam khan chisti was appointed the subahdar of Bangla in May 1608. He came to rajmahal after a few months and started his expedition for defeating the Bara-Bhuiyans. Mirza Nathan was his companion. There is a clear mention of 'Bhati’ in Mirza Nathan’s baharistan-i-ghaibi. Nathan said at the very outset that Islam Khan Chisti had left Rajmahal with the intention of attacking the Bhati region. But musa khan first obstructed the Mughals at Jatrapur on the bank of river Ichhamati, thirty miles west of Dhaka. Jatrapur was located at Chand Pratap Pargana. This place is now situated on the north-south of Dhaleshwari river in present-day Manikganj district. Vinod Ray was the Zamindar of this pargana. It implied that the Jatrapur of Musa Khan (Musa Khan took up the leadership of the Bara-Bhuiyans after the death of Isa Khan) was within the area controlled by the Bara-Bhuiyans. Therefore, the western border was Jatrapur, or Chand Pratap Pargana, or the Ichhamati River. Thus, according to the descriptions of Mirza Nathan and Ralph Fitch, the southern end of Bhati was the Ganges (Padma) river.

According to the Ain-i-Akbari, the Tripura state lay to the east of Bhati. Thus, there is no concrete information on fixing the northern boundary of Bhati in the writings of Abul Fazl or Mirza Nathan. But the descriptions of the battles with Isa Khan in Ain-i-Akbari indicate that the Alapsingha Pargana was located inside the Bhati (in greater Mymensingh district). The Baharistan-i-Ghaibi contains some hints, which are helpful for determining the north-western boundary of Bhati. It says that the Zamindar of Baniachang, Anwar Khan (or Anwar Gazi) surrendered to the Mughals in Dhaka. Mirza Nathan mentioned Anwar Khan as an ally of Musa Khan. Consequently, Baniachang (greater Sylhet) was a part of Bhati. Therefore, the north-eastern border of Bhati extended up to Baniachang.

Bhati is a low-lying area full of rivers and canals. Therefore, the region remains submerged under water most of the time. akbar’s army repeatedly suffered defeats at the hands of the Zamindars of Bhati because of this waterlogging. But Islam Khan employed his full might against the Bhati rebels. He built up a strong naval force and defeated the Bhati Zamindars in such a fashion that they could not wage any further revolt.

The crown prince shahjahan emerged victorious in the battle of Rajmahal in 1624 and killed the Subahdar Ibrahim Khan Fath-i-Jang. After that, Shahjahan stayed in Dhaka for seven days and restructured the governance system of Bangla anew. He divided Bangla and Kamrup into four subahs, viz. Subah Bhati, Subah Jashohar, Subah Rajmahal and Subah Kamrup. Subah Bhati comprised of Dhaka, Mymensingh, Sylhet, Tripura and bhulua. He appointed Darab Khan as the Subahdar of Bhati. This arrangement lasted for less than one year.

According to the detailed descriptions provided about the wars in Akbarnamah and Baharistan-i-Ghaibi, the Bhati region consisted of Ichhamati river on the west, the Ganges (Padma) river on the south, the Tripura state on the east, greater Mymensingh in the north and Baniachang of Sylhet in the north-east. The low-lying areas of Dhaka, Mymensingh, Tripura and Sylhet, washed by the three mighty rivers Ganges (Padma), Brahmaputra and Meghna and their tributraries, gave rise to the Bhati region. [Gazi Md. Mizanur Rahman]

Bibliography ghulam husain salim, the riyazussalatin (tr. Maulavi Abdus Salam), The Asiatic Societty, Calcutta, 1902; Mirza Nathan, Baharistan-i-Ghaibi, (tr. MI Borah), Vol. 1, Government of Assam, Assam, 1936; Abul Fazl Allami, The Ain-i-Akbari, (tr. H Blockmann), New Delhi, 1965 (second edition); Abul Fazl Allami, The Akbarnama, (tr. H Beveridge), Vol. 111, Ess Ess Publications, Delhi, 1977; Abdul Karim, Banglar Itihas: Mughal Amol, Institute of Bangladesh Studies, Rajsahi, 1992 (in Bangal).