Sialkot District - History


Sialkot District was agricultural region with forests during the Indus Valley Civilization. The Vedic period is characterized by Indo-Aryan culture that invaded from Central Asia and settled in Punjab region. The Kambojas, Daradas, Kaikayas, Madras, Pauravas, Yaudheyas, Malavas and Kurus invaded, settled and ruled ancient Punjab region. After overunning the Achaemenid Empire in 331 BCE, Alexander marched into present-day Punjab region with an army of 50,000. The Sialkot was ruled by Maurya Empire, Indo-Greek kingdom, Kushan Empire, Gupta Empire, White Huns, Kushano-Hephthalites and Shahi kingdoms.

In 997 CE, Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi, took over the Ghaznavid dynasty empire established by his father, Sultan Sebuktegin, In 1005 he conquered the Shahis in Kabul in 1005, and followed it by the conquests of Punjab region. The Delhi Sultanate and later Mughal Empire ruled the region. The Punjab region became predominantly Muslim due to missionary Sufi saints whose dargahs dot the landscape of Punjab region.

The legendary history of the District is connected with Raja Salivahan, the reputed founder of the town of Sialkot, and his famous son Rasalu. Pasrur is also an ancient place. At an early date the District fell to the Rajas of Jammu, and under the Mughals formed the Rechna Doab sarkar of the Subah of Lahore. Under Shah Jahan the sarkar was entrusted to Ali Mardan Khan, the famous engineer, who dug a canal through it to bring water from the Chenab river to the imperial gardens in Lahore. On the decline of the Mughal empire Ranjit Singh Deo, a Rajput hill chief, extended his sway over the lowlands, owning a nominal allegiance to Delhi. In 1748 he transferred his allegiance to Ahmad Shah Durrani, who added Zafarwal and two other parganas to his fief. Before his death in 1773 Ranjit Deo had secured possession of the whole District, except the Sialkot town and its dependencies, which were held by a Pashtun family.

After the decline of the Mughal Empire, the Sikh invaded and occupied XXXXX District. The Muslims faced severe restrictions during the Sikh rule. During the period of British rule, Sialkot district increased in population and importance.

During the Indian Rebellion of 1857 the station was denuded of British troops; and the Native regiments which were left behind rose, and, after sacking the jail, treasury, and courthouse, and massacring several of the European inhabitants, marched off towards Delhi, only to be destroyed by Nicholson at Trimmu Ghat. The rest of the Europeans took refuge in the fort, and on the morning after the departure of the rebels order was restored. The only events of interest in the subsequent history of the District are the plague riots which occurred at the villages of Shahzada and Sankhatra in 1901.

Numerous mounds are scattered about the District, which mark the sites of ancient villages and towns. None of them, except that on which the Sialkot fort stood, has been excavated, but silver and copper utensils and coins have been dug up from time to time by villagers. Most of the coins are those of Indo-Bactrian kings. The excavations in Sialkot revealed the existence of some old baths, with hot-water pipes of solid masonry. The fort itself, of which very little now remains, is not more than 1,ooo years old, and is said to have been rebuilt by Shahab-ud-din Ghori at the end of the twelfth century.

In 1859, Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Sialkot were placed in the new division of Sialkot. But in 1884, Gurdaspur along with Amritsar again became a part of the Lahore Division.

According to the 1901 census the district had a population of 1,083,909 and contained 7 towns and 2,348 villages. The population at previous three enumerations were: 1,004,695 (1868), 1,012,148 (1881) and 1,119,847 (1891). The population decreased between 1891-1901 by 3.2, the decrease being greatest in the Raya tahsil and least in Daska. The Chenab Colony was responsible for this fall in population, no less than 103,000 persons having left to take land in the newly irrigated tracts.

The predominantly Muslim population supported Muslim League and Pakistan Movement. After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the minority Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India while the Muslim refugees from India settled in the Sialkot district. Most of the refugees have since settled and inter-married into the local population. Ever since, Sialkot has become one of the major industrial centres of Pakistan and is well known for its manufacture and export of surgical instruments, musical instruments, sports goods, leather goods, textile products and other light manufactures.

The district was subdivided into five tehsils namely: Sialkot, Pasrur, Zafarwal, Raya and Daska, the head-quarters of each being at the place from which it is named. The chief towns of the district were Sialkot, Daska, Jamki, Pasrur, Kila Sobha Singh, Zafarwal and Narowal.

Tehsil Area (sq mi) Towns Villages Population (1901) Population per sq mi Population variation 1891-1901 Number of literate people
Sialkot 428 1 637 312,668 730.5 +3.2 12,101
Pasrur 394 2 443 193,746 491.7 -5.0 5,601
Raya 485 1 456 192,440 396.8 +10.4 5,586
Daska 360 2 332 206,148 572.6 -0.6 4,103
Total 1,991 7 2,348 1,083,909 544.4 -3.2 31,341

In 1930, the tehsils of Raya, Daska and Pasrur were split up and parts of these were amalgamated into Gujranwala District. In 1991, the tehsils of Narowal and Shakar Garh (which was tehsil Shankar Garh of Gurdaspur district before partition) were split up and formed into the new Narowal District.

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