Bards and local historians in Sindh and Balochistan to this day regale their audiences with the narrative of Bungah – referring to a big battle in the Balochi language. The battle of Bungah was fought between Rind and Magsi tribes over cattle-rustling in 1829 A.D. The British traveler Charles Masson also mentioned about this battle in his travelogue.
The memory of the Battle of Bungah remains confined to bards. However, it was recorded by some of the Sindhi writers. Some of the eminent bards of Sindh and Balochistan composed poetry on this battle.
According to the bards, the Battle of Bungah started after the Jamalis indulged in cattle rustling. Jamalis and Buledis stole animals of Mugheris. The Mugheris inhabited territory which fell under the control of a Magsi chieftain. They petitioned Magsi Sardar Nawab Ahmed Khan Magsi against cattle rustling by Jamalis. Cattle rustling was widespread in Sindh and Balochistan in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The main objective of this was to weaken the opposing tribe, politically and economically. In the past the numbers of livestock designated the status and the position of individual or tribe in the society and culture of both the Sindhis and the Baloch.
In their retaliation, the Magsis also took the animals of Jamalis. In an ensuing clash, both Mir Ali Murad Khan Jamali and Dildar Khan Jamali were killed while Mir Beira Khan sustained injuries. Mir Beira Khan Jamali was the chief of the Sobadrani lineage of the Jamali tribe. The hostility continued between both tribes for quite a long time. They frequently clashed with each other over cattle.
In order to avenge the Magsis, Sardar Ghulam Muhammad Khan Jamali, then chieftain of the Jamali tribe, along with his tribesmen marched against Sardar NawabAhmed Khan Magsi at Shadihar. The tribes clashed and a battle ensued. The Jamalis suffered a defeat and were forced to retreat. According to oral traditions at least 200 Jamalis and Burdis were killed. After the defeat, Sardar Ghulam Ahmed Khan went directly to Shoran, to ask for help from Sardar Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Rind. But Mir Sher Muhammad Khan had gone to meet Mir Noor Muhammad Khan Talpur (then ruler of Sindh) at Hyderabad.
Sardar Ghulam Muhammad Khan then set out for Hyderabad where Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Rind was staying at the palace of Mir Noor Muhammad Khan Talpur. Sardar Jamali told his whole story about war and casualties that his tribe had suffered. On hearing this, Mir Sher Muhammad Rind vowed to take revenge from the Magsis and sent a message to Sardar Nawab Ahmed Khan Magsi to prepare for war.
At last, the troops of both Sardars met at Panjuk, in present Jhal Magsi town and fought fiercely. The battle continued for several hours, in which many from both sides were killed. During the battle, Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Rind was also killed. When news of his death spread, his tribesmen associates lost hope of winning and began to retreat.
Local bards meticulously mentioned the names of those Sardars and generals who sided Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Rind: prominent among those were Hosh Muhammad Sheedi sent by Mir Noor Muhammad Talpur to assist Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Rind, but he also retreated from the battlefield after the death of Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Rind. Apart from him, those who fought were Kehar Khan Khoso, Haji Khan Sabayo, Dol Khan Nizamani, Mubarak Khan Chang, Baith Khan Jamali, Ali Bakhsh Khan Jamali, Shadi Khan Jamali, Bakhsho Rind, Bakhsho Luhar and Khan Muhammad Buledi. According to local bards’ estimation, there were more than 13,000 people under the command of Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Rind while the army of the Magsis could not exceed 2,000 including six hundred Chandias who fought by the side of the Magsis. Sardar Abdul Nabi Abro and Sardar Khan Mugheri could not join the Magsis because before they reached the battlefield, the Rinds were already on the run.
Nawab Ahmed Khan Magsi was the chieftain of the Magsi tribe when a battle between the Magsis and Rinds took place. According to the local bards who still sing the songs praising Sardar Nawab Ahmed Khan Magsi’s valour and intrepidity displayed at the battle, Sardar Nawab Ahmed Khan Magsi is believed to have been the cultural hero of the Magsi tribe in general and the Battle of Bungah in particular.
At a mere walking distance from Jhal Magsi town is located a necropolis which contains three historic and imposing tombs of Nawab Sardar Ahmed Khan Magsi, Mehoon Khan Magsi and Qaisar Khan Magsi and recently constructed tombs of Nawab Saifullah Khan Magsi and Mehboob Ali Khan Magsi. Apart from these mausoleums, there are a number of tombs of Magsis and graves of Chandias who died in the Battle of Bungah. The principle tomb in the cemetery belongs to Nawab Sardar Ahmed Khan Magsi.
The tomb of Nawab Sardar Ahmed Khan Magsi is noted for its grandeur. The tomb is believed to have been built by Nawab Sardar Ahmed Khan Magsi during his lifetime. It is built in a square plan superimposed with onion-shaped dome resting on the octagonal drum. The façade of the tomb carries vertical panels which were probably created for embellishments. The most distinctive feature of the structure is the corner kiosks but all of these are now in ruins. It is interesting to note that only royals’ tombs belonging to the ruling family could carry such fascination. Formerly, there existed a wall enclosure around the tomb which could not withstand the vagaries of weather. At present, one can only notice the remains of the wall enclosure. Previously, the structure was adorned with paintings. Today, all the paintings look drab.
To the north of the tomb of Nawab Sardar Ahmed Khan Magsi is located the octagonal mausoleum of Meehon Khan Magsi, who was the nephew of Nawab Sardar Ahmed Khan Magsi. He also took part in the Battle of Bungah. Like his uncle, he also displayed his gallantry and heroism in the battle. The tomb of Meehon Khan Magsi is also in a dilapidated and derelict condition. The dome of the structure is partially collapsed. From inside, it is decorated with floral designs. However, the paintings have lost their original beauty due to direct exposure to sunlight and rainwater.
Nawab Amir Khan Magsi, a descendant of Nawab Ahmed Khan Magsi, has kept in his custody some of the swords and guns that were used in the Battle of Bungah.
The author is an anthropologist. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.