Mansehra district is inhabited by a large number of tribes as well as khels. The people are as mixed as the soil. Among them some are oldest inhabitants while the other arrived here in different periods of time. The first arrival of the latter group is dated back to the medieval times. Some invaded this area and settled here while some others came to seek shelter.
In ancient times these people had accepted Buddhism but later on they shifted to Hinduism when it gained power after a long while. In the medieval period the Muslims introduced Islam to them.
The inhabitants of Mansehra speak Pushto, Hindko, Gojri, Urdu, Kohistani and Kashmiri languages. Hindko, Pushto and Gojri are spoken by the majority while Urdu being the national language is spoken and understood throughout the District. Kohistani and Kashmiri are spoken by a very small number of people who migrated to Mansehra in different times from Kohistan and Kashmir respectively. Some important and prominent tribes are discussed as below:
About the origin of the Swatis the historians hold different views but the Swatis relate their lineage to Qais Abdur-Rasheed the remote ancestor of the Pathans. During the rule of Mohammad Ghuri they came to Swat where they defeated the Hindus and established their rule Sir Denzil Ibbitson is of the opinion that the original Swatis were a race of Hindu origin who once ruled the whole country into the hills of Swat and Buneer. Later on the Yousafzais expelled them from those places and drove them east and west into Mansehra and Kafristan. they are considered a very heterogeneous people not a pure race.
According to a tradition of the Swatis they ruled over Swat and Bajaor for four centuries before the Yousafzais invasion which drove them to Mansehra about the end of the 17th century. The Swatis came to Mansehra, when the Turks ruled over this territory, under the command of Syed Jalal Baba. They ousted the Turks and captured the hilly and plain areas. Jalal Baba divided the whole country among the lashkar except one fourth of it which he kept for himself. Since they came from Swat, therefore, are called Swatis. They occupy the whole of Mansehra district except Tanawal. The are divided into three great clans, Ghebri, Mamiali and Mitravi of which the first claim Tajik, the Mamiali Yousafzai, and the Mitravi Durrani origin. The Ghebri a section of upper Pakhli occupy Kaghan, Balakot, Ghari Habibullah, Mansehra, Dhodial, Shinkiari, Batagram, Thakot and Konsh while the Mamiali and Mitravi dwell in Bherkund, Agror, Takri and Deshi. In Allai Inhabit both the groups. These groups have been further divided into many subsections. Both educationally and politically they are in a strong position.
Many writers have advanced different theories about the origin of the Awans. Hair Krishan Ray considers them to be of purely Hindu origin.. He says the word Awan is of Sanskrit language which mcans helper. He further says that these people got this name due to successful defence against any foreign aggression. After their conversion to Islam they attached themselves with Qutb Shah and started to call them Qutb Shahi Awan. Major Wace is inclined to give them a Jat origin. Raverty considers them the blend of Badri tribes which was originally Hindu.
According to H.A. Rose the Awans have an Arabian Origin and are descendants of Qutb Shah. He traces their lineage to Hazrat Ali. In his view the descendants of Ali assisted Sabuktageen in his Indian adventure for which he bestowed the title of Awan on them, which means assistants. Malik Fazal Dad Khan has supported this theory but with some modification. He also considers them of Arabian origin and traces their lineage to Hazrat Ali. But according to him Abdullah Rasul-Mirza was the remote ancestor of the Awans. In 8th century, he was made a commander of the army of Ghaur by Caliph Haroon-ur-Rasheed, with the title of Awan and his descendants are called the Awans. Sabiha Shaheen, in her theses for her M.A. degree considers this theory as tenable. She further says that Qutb Shah fled to India along with a small group of people due to Mongol attack, and joined the court of Altamash. His descendants are called the Qutb Shahi Awans. They settled themselves in the Punjab but when the Mongol ravaged Punjab probably at that time the Awans came to Hazara. They are split up into numerous clans. The best known of these clans are the Chauhans, Khokhar, Golra, Kalga, Rhan, Chajji, Shial, Jand, Mumnal, Sadian, Parbat etc. the Awans are Scattered Throughout the district. The are good cultivators and most of them are Qutb Shahi.
The Syeds are the descendants of Hazrat Ali, the Prophet’s son-in-law, who married Hazrat Fatima. They accompanied every Muslim Lashkar either as its leaders or preachers. The Syeds came to Mansehra in both ways. Syeds Jalal Baba, a descendent live in Kaghan and Swabi Maira.
The Syeds helped Syed Ahmad Shaheed in his campaign against the Sikhs. The Syeds of Kaghan for a long time remained independent masters of the glen. The British subdued them in 1852. Major Abbot drove them out from Kaghan but in 1855 they were permitted to get back their territory. During the war of independence, 1857, they helped the British in arresting 55 freedom fighters. The Syeds in Mansehra belong to Tirmazi, Gilani, Mashadi, Bakri and Bukhari sections.
The Syeds are settled in every tehsil of Mansehra. They are very influential and are respected everywhere.
The origin of the Tanaolis is uncertain. Wikely and Watson are of the opinion that a genealogical table shows them to be connected with the janjuas. Another theory is brought forward by Sardar Mohammad Ayub Khan retired session Judge of Azad Kashmir who says the Tanaolis are Abbassis. The Tanaolis themselves claim that they are Barlas Mughals. They trace their lineage to Amir Khan. Syed Murad Ali Shah, the writer of “Tarikh-i-tanaolian”, supports their claim saying that the forefathers of the Tanaolis lived in the Tanal Pass, the then famous pass in Afghanistan. He further says that Sultan Sabuktageen, after defeating a Hindu Mahraja Jaipala conquering the area up to Attock, brought five thousand people from the Tanal Pass who were a mixture of the Mughals, Syeds and Afghans and settled them in Swat where Anawar Din Khan Mughal was appointed the ruler. For a long time they ruled Swat and gradually settled in Mahaban. The ancestor of Tanaolis was Amir Khan Beerdewa who had six sons namely Pall Khan, Hind Khan, Thakar Khan, Arjin Khan and Kul Khan. After the names of Beerdewa’s sons there are six main clans of the Tanaolis. They are also split up into numerous smaller sections, whose names all end in at.
The Tanaolis came from across the Indus, being pushed out of the Mahaban country by the Yousafzais when they increased in numbers and power. Their pressure compelled the Tanaolis to cross the Indus in search of new land for their dwelling. So they, under the command of Maulvi Mohammad Ibrahim, Crossed the river Indus and after defeating the Turks’s lashkar settled there. Their settlement took place in 1472 when Chara and Mamara were their prominent leaders. The area was divided by the brothers into two parts – the upper and the lower Tanawal. The former occupied by Hindwal and latter by Palal. Haibat Khan and Suba Khan, after eleven generations, became prominent Khans of whom former founded Amb state. His grandson, Painda Khan, became independent master of the area and he not only fought with Sikhs but also with Mujahidin who were under Syed Ahmad Shaheed’s command. the Amb state remained up to 1969. The Tanaolis are an industrious and peaceful race of cultivators. They are settled only in tehsil Mansehra and make up 11% of the total population.
The Gujars are the oldest tribe of Mansehra. There are differenees of opinion about their origin (for detail see Chapter two). Many writers recognised them as Gurjara who came to India with the Huns and settled in Punjab and Rajputana. After the decline of the White Huns they established Gurjara state in Rajputana.Sinee at that time Buddhism was the dominant religion, therefore, they accepted it. On Buddhism ‘s decline the Hindus once again established their dominanee over India. The Hindu Rajput Rajas got dominance in the pungab and made the Budh Gujars the vietims of their tyranny. Because of the Rajputs oppression they migratted to Hazara, Dir and Swat around 9th century A.D. Afterwards these people Were contnuously overpowered by the other tribes.
The Gujars had come to Hazara earlier then other tribes. They were the sole occupants of Hazara before the advent of the Muslims. The Muslims made them their subjects when they reached the soil of Hazara. The Afghan tribes one after another came to Hazara and deprived the Gujars of their possessions. The Dilazaks were the first people who disturbed their peaceful life. On the Gujar’s compliant the Mughal emperor Jahangir expelled them from Hazara. During the reign of Aurangzeb Alamgir the Gujars lived a peaceful life. On Alamgir’s coming to Hassan Abdal a Gujar namely Daulat Baig welcomed him and got the title of Muqaddam from him. In Hazara Jagal Gujars of Haripur and the Khatana Gujars of Kot Najibullah Whom Daulat Gujar belonged, were the only powerful and well to do families of the Gujars.
When a widespread revolt started in the Frontier many tribes crossed the Indus and captured the lands of the Gujars. In Mansehra the Swatis under Syed Jalal Baba captured the fertile lands and forests and pushed the Gujars to poorer lands on the hilltops where there was no fertility of land.. Thus gradually the other tribes got dominance over them. This is why the Gujars perforce remained the herdsmen.
When Syed Ahmad Shaheed selected the soil of Hazara for his freedom movement against the Sikhs, the Gujars were powerless then because the other tribes had got the dominance over them. Nevertheless, they served Syed Ahmad whenever the need arose. The Gujar not only guided the to sit on Mujahidin Passages to present them milk and curd. The Gujars not only guided the Mujahidin but also cleaned snow covered routes. They proved themselves as a good hosts as well. Some people accuse them that it was they who helped the Sikhs come over from Dadar and on to Syed Ahmad at Balakot. But the Gujar reject this blame having said that there is no proof of the Gujars treachery. They further say the crime of one man cannot be attributed to the whole tribe.
At the advent of Sikhs the Gujars were living on mountains height, in valleys and plains. But after the establishment of the British rule their condition became more critical and many people were deprived of their lands. They started living as tenants of the local Khans whose tyranny made them lower creature. They worked under duress for the Khans day and night. Thus they became an ineffective group of the area. It was in 1950 when their life changed and they gained occupancy rights of land due to late Abdul Qayum Khan’s land reforms. The force labour did not finish unless Z.A. Bhutto’s era came. For the first time in the election of 1970 their candidate Sardar Abd-ur-Rehman contested the election. It was Bhutto’s era which created in them political awareness. Thus the Gujars appeared on political scene and in 1985’s election Sardar Mohammad Yousaf Contested P.F. 45 and won it. Now he is the member of National Assembly from N.A. 14. the Gujars have changed themselves and are no longer an oppressed people of a lower status. They have been raised from the abysmal depth of debasement.
In addition to the above mentioned tribes Dhunds, Qureshis, Gukhars, Mughals, Rajputs, Turks, Akhun Khel, Utmanzai, Hassanzai and Nusrat Khel are other important and worth mentioning tribes and Khels in Distt. Mansehra but due to the limitations of this thesis, I am compelled to content myself without going into further details.