Karrani Rule

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Karrani Rule established by Taj Khan Karrani in 1563 and lasted till 1576 when daud khan karrani, the last ruler of the dynasty, was defeated by munim khan, a general of akbar. The short rule of the Karranis is important in the history of Bengal in many respects. It marked the end of the independence of Bengal and the beginning of the Mughal rule. The original home of the Karranis was in Bangash, which is now known as Kurram in Afghanistan. A branch of the Pathans, the Karranis are known as Karlanis in Afghanistan.

Taj Khan Karrani, one of the chief officers of sher shah, became the governor of south Bihar during the time of Sher Shah's son Islam Shah and rose to the position of a very influential Amir under Adil Shah. At the breakout of anarchy in the court of Adil Shah at Gwalior, Taj Khan fled from that city and set up a principality for himself in the Gangetic Doab. Being defeated by Adil Shah at Chhibra-Mau, 18 miles south of Farrukhabad, Taj Khan joined his brothers Ahmad, sulaiman and Iliyas who held jagirs in Khawaspur, tandah and some other villages on the bank of the Ganges. Taj Khan and his brothers strengthened themselves by collecting revenue from the people, plundering neighbouring villages and capturing about one hundred elephants belonging to the sultan of Delhi.

In the meantime, a large number of Afghan adventurers joined them. In 1554 Adil Shah sent an army under his general Himu who inflicted a defeat on them and Taj Khan and Sulaiman Karrani fled to Bengal. Taking the advantage of the chaos and confusion prevailing in Bengal due to the internal feud among the Afghan leaders Taj Khan and Sulaiman increased their strength in several ways. At last Taj Khan ascended the throne of Bengal killing Sultan Ghiyasuddin Bahadur Shah III and established the Karrani rule in 1563. But Taj Khan could not enjoy his fruit for long and died in 1563.

His brother Sulaiman Karrani succeeded him (1563) and transferred the capital from gaur to Tandah. He built a strong army with the Afghans who gathered in his capital from northern India after the Mughals had occupied those areas. A shrewd diplomat, he always avoided open confrontation with akbar, usually sent valuable gifts to the Mughal court and never claimed sovereignty openly. He read the Khutbah and issued coins in Akbar's name. Though outwardly accepting the suzerainty of the Mughals, Sulaiman Karrani styled himself Hazrat-i-Ala and it shows that for all intents and practical purposes he was an independent ruler.

Ensuring peace in the western frontier, Sulaiman Karrani decided to conquer Orissa. He sent a strong force against the country in 1567-68 under the command of his son bayazid karrani who defeated and killed the King. In the meantime, Sulaiman Karrani himself advanced into Orissa and captured its capital Tajpur. Kalapahar, the valiant general of Sulaiman Karrani led a contingent as far as Puri and subjugated the countryside. Thus Orissa came under the direct rule of the Karranis.

While Sulaiman was busy in his Orissa expedition, the Kuch king sent his son Sukladhwaja at the head of an army to invade northwestern regions of Bengal. But the Kuch forces were totally defeated and the prince was taken a prisoner. Kalapahar besieged the capital of Kuch Bihar (or Cooch Behar). In the meantime there arose a rebellion in Orissa and being afraid of a possible Mughal attack, Sulaiman made peace with the king of Kuch Bihar. He called off his forces, restored the conquered territories to the Kuch king and set the prince free.

Sulaiman Karrani ruled Bengal for eight years. His kingdom extended from Kuch Bihar on the north to Puri in the south and from the river Son in the west to the Brahmaputra in the east. Sulaiman Karrani died on 11 October 1572.

His eldest son Bayazid Karrani succeeded Sulaiman Karrani. He deviated from his father's wise policy and assumed independence. He had his name read from the pulpit and issued coins by his own name.

Bayazid Karrani ruled Bengal for only a few months. His cousin and brother- in- law Hansu hatched a conspiracy against him, killed him and seized power. But soon, Ludi Khan, the faithful Wazir of Sulaiman Karrani together with some faithful nobles opposed Hansu and killed him. They then placed Bayazid's younger brother Daud Khan Karrani on the throne in 1573. Daud followed his brother's policy of independence and read the khutbah and issued coins in his own name.

Daud had inherited a large army and an immense treasure. With this he proceeded to defy Akbar and besieged Zamaniyah near Ghazipur. The emperor ordered Munim Khan, governor of Jaunpur, to proceed against Daud. Munim Khan marched on Patna, faced Ludi Khan and was contented to make peace on generous terms. Neither Akbar nor Daud was pleased with the peace. Daud killed his Prime Minister and confiscated his property. On the other hand, Akbar ordered Munim Khan to attack Bengal and Bihar again. Accordingly Munim khan marched on Bihar and besieged Patna. At this stage, in 1574 Akbar marched against Daud in person, directed his attack on Hajipur and easily captured it. Next he captured Patna, appointed Munim Khan governor of Bihar and Bengal and left for Agra instructing him to carry on the war against Daud Karrani.

Munim Khan continued his march towards Bengal and captured Tandah and satgaon. Daud Karrani retired towards Orissa. Munim Khan and Todar Mall chased him into Orissa. A fierce battle was fought at Tukaroi, in the Balasore district and Daud Khan fled from the field (1575). Afterwards a peace treaty was concluded between Daud Karrani and the Mughals at Katak. Daud Karrani ceded Bengal and Bihar to the Mughals and retained only Orissa under his possession.

Taking advantage of the sudden death of Munim Khan in October 1575, Daud Karrani marched into Bengal and occupied it as far as teliagarhi pass. Under such circumstances Akbar appointed Husain Quli Beg governor of Bengal with the title of Khan Jahan and directed him to attack Daud Karrani. Khan Jahan together with Todar Mall started marching towards Daud's capital Tandah. Daud Karrani blocked their way in the narrow Rajmahal pass between the Ganges on the northwest and the hills on the southeast. Khan Jahan met the Afghans first at Teliagarhi and after a severe fight took possession of the pass. He then marched against Daud Karrani at Rajmahal. The battle of rajmahal was fought on 12 July 1576. Daud Karrani was captured and executed and thus the independent Muslim royalty in Bengal came to an end. [ABM Shamsuddin Ahmed]