Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal was a Punjabi freedom fighter and folk hero also known famously as Amo Kharal (1785–1857), He was the first line of defense against the British raj in the Saraiki Region during the Indian War Of Independence 1857.
Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal belonged to a rich landowning family of the Kharal Rajput Clan settled in the Sandal Bar region of Punjab, Nowadays a part of Pakistan. To be precise they were settled in Chak 434 Gb Jhamra village 23 km from Tandlianwala Faisalabad District and 57 km from Faisalabad city. The Valiant was born in 1803.
Young Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal
He was valiant from the fertile land of Punjab who raised his weapons against the Sikh intervention into their region as a young Lad and later in his 70 he raised his voice against the British oppression and finally met his fate and got martyred fighting valiantly in the Indian War Of Independence 1857.
Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal Response to EIC.
The 1857 War Of Independence was an important point in the history of the subcontinent as it brought many ethnic and religious factions to join hands against British operation in an armed struggle to hinder the growing influence of the British East India Company. Another Frightening thing for the British Forces was the revolt within their ranks as many local solders left EIC to join the revolt, so in Such Circumstances, EIC needed men to join them against Freedom Fighters.
So in this desperation, they approached various local Chieftains from Punjab and NWFP region to get soldiers into their ranks for a promise of jagirs and titles from the British Raj. Similarly, an Envoy was sent to Sahiwal who met Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal, the leader of the Kharals who were concentrated in Gogera near Okara. Amo Kharal was a bold and valiant leader who did not fear the British Raj, so he turned down their request and openly declared his support to the King in Delhi. This was not taken lightly by the British, so they started to oppress kharals in every way possible.
Read More : BERKE KHAN
Another development that invited the colonial wrath was that tribes in and around Sahiwal refused to give revenue to the British government. This was an open rebellion that posed a serious challenge to the authority of the British administration. The British were not expecting such a revolt from the local tribes.
Berkely, the assistant commissioner of Sahiwal, was put in charge to check this rebellion and force the tribes to pay taxes to EIC. Berkley was given a free hand to penalize the rebels so he took a bold stance and arrested a large number of rebels and confined them to Gogera jail. Gogera in those times was the headquarters of Sahiwal. This was not acceptable to Ahmad Khan Kharal so he consulted his comrades and decided to attack Gogera Jail knowing that it will be an open rebellion to British Raj.
The brave men were ready to embrace all the consequences so in the darkness of night he attacked the Gogera jail and successfully freed many of his comrades with few casualties on their side, after that he took refuge in the jungle of Gishkori situated a few miles in the neighborhood of Gogera. This act was open defiance to the British Raj and the British administration resorted to extreme actions – including burning down villages.
Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal opted to fight in guerilla warfare style to help his people and keep them safe from massive troops of the British East India Company after his bold attempt at Gogera jail. The British were ready to take any impulsive step to put an end to the kharals so they arrested the close family members of Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal, which forced him to surrender to British forces so they will not harm his family.
The arrest of the valiant of Kharals led to widespread unrest in the region with massive protests and violent steps by locals, As EIC was dealing with the War of Independence they were not able to tackle the unrest so Rai was released on a condition that he will not leave Gogera. But he was not ready to sit and watch British oppression so he started his struggle. In a covert meeting of his close friends and allies held in a jungle, it was decided that all tribes from both sides of River Ravi would get together and attack the check posts, which were symbols of the British establishment in the area.
Rai was not easy to kill for British forces as he was well equipped with battle tactics and new the terrain of the area, which he could use to his own advantage. So EIC needed a person who could help them by betraying his comrades as in the case of Tipu Sultan and Sarajudullah. So, two persons from their camp sold their Soul to British forces. One was Sarfraz Kharal and the other was Nehan Singh Bedi.
Treatourous people like Sarfraz Kharal helped Britishers in strengthening their hold in the subcontinent. As he was part of the secret meeting, he immediately informed Berkley of the movement of Rai kharal who decided to cross river Ravi to meet with his allies. Berkely, who had been told about Rai Ahmed Kharal’s movement by Sarfraz Kharal, hastened to River Ravi to pin Rai down before his crossing of river Ravi. Rai Ahmed Kharal, however, was faster and crossed Ravi before Berkley could reach there.
Rai Ahmad khan Kharal and his comrades fought bravely against the Berkley troops and forced them to retreat. It was a great victory for them. Rai Ahmed decided to offer his prayers. Berkley and his forces were not very far away. As Rai Ahmed was offering his prayers Berkley attacked. Rai’s friend, Bedi identified him and according to some sources, it was he who fired the first bullet. The day was September 21, 1857 – the 10th of Muharram – and the great freedom fighter breathed his last.
To celebrate their victory, the British set the villages of the rebels on fire. Rai’s death was a big blow to his friends and to the local tribes. One of his friends, Murad Fatiana, promised to avenge Rai’s death and killed Berkley just two days after Rai’s death.
The deeds of this brave and noble warrior are still remembered and sung by Punjabi poets in dholas and vars, types of poems.
Here is famous quote by Rai Ahmed Khan Kharal.
Whoever is born, shall die
Life can’t even stand a thud,
much like the house of cards
I, Ahmad Khan, shall fight the British with the vigor
that a moth fights with the flame