Settlements in Haryana

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Jat Habitations: Jats are found today mainly in Punjab, Rajasthan and on the banks of the Yamuna and the Ganges. They first appeared around the Sindh, gradually moving into Punjab and the Yamuna valley and then settled in the Gangetic plains. They were involved in colonising the lands around the banks of the Yamuna river as warrior cultivators and semi-pastoralists.

Hissar, Rohtak, Gurgaon and Panipat, with their bhai-chara (co-sharing) tenures and the khudkasht (peasant-propreitor), were part of the Jat heartland.

Categories of Jats: Two main groups of Jats that live here were the Deswali or Hele and the Dhe and Pachchhade.

The Deswali claimed to be the descendants of the 'original' Jats settled in the region about a thousand years ago, while the Dhe were later arrivals who extended their sphere of influence following the disintegration of the Mughal empire.

In Rohtak (situated west of the Yamuna), the Deswali Jats settled some seven or eight hundred years ago while the Dhe Jats, probably the descendants of immigrants from Bagar, a tract just beyond the border of Bikaner, moved into the western parts of the Hissar district around 1783 and took up the land abandoned after the terrible Chalisa famine of that year. Some of them came from Bikaner and Nabha in the early nineteenth century. The areas adjoining Bikaner and to the west of Bhiwani, such as Hissar and Fatehabad were called Bagar, a term meaning 'dry country' in common parlance. The term 'Bagri' was applied to a Hindu Rajput or Jat from the Bagar region. The Godaras and Punias, too, considered themselves to be Bagri Jats.

While the Bagri Jats forged cultural links and matrimonial alliances with the Jats living in Rajasthan, the Deswali Jats did the same with their counterparts in western UP living on the other side of the Yamuna.

There were some Muslim Jats in the region as well. They were called Mula or Mule, a few of whom were found in the Rohtak. They called themselves Sheikhs interacted with the Hindu Jats.

The relationship of the Jats with the other groups was defined through their Got(Gotra). The Deswalis were members of 12 different gots which were further divided into at least 137 sub-clans. Locally they were organized under the tappa system, a territorial and not a kinship grouping. The tappa was controlled by the dominant landholding Jat clan in a given area.

Among the main clans in Rohtak, the stronghold of the Ghatwalas (Malik) was at Ahulana in the Gohana tehsil of the district. The Dagars lived in Delhi and Gurgaon, while the Dahiyas inhabited the northeastern border of Sampla and the adjoining portions of the Sonipat tahsil in Rohtak and Delhi. The Rathi Jats were concentrated in Gurgaon, Delhi and Rohtak and the Golias in Rohtak and Karnal. The Dalals lived in the adjoining territory of Delhi, Hissar and Jind. The Deswals were more numerous in Rohtak, Gurgaon and Karnal; the Dhankars in Jhajjar (Rohtak); the Phogats in Jind, Gurgaon and Rohtak; the Sangwan]s in Jind, Hissar and Rohtak.

An important feature of Jat society in pre-colonial Haryana was the absence of political authority or a monarchical system. This was different from either Bharatpur in the South or the Sikh states of Patiala and Jind in the north. Generally speaking, the Haryanvi Jats, with their distaste for headmen and chiefs, had their village managed by their 'panch', a committee of elders known as 'Panchayat'. Several villages formed Sarvakhap, and a number of Sarvakhaps were known as 'Paal' panchayats which wielded great influence over a big chunk of the region. Even today the Sarvakhaps enjoy authority over the social issues of the people.

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