The Baloch are a Muslim community found in the state of Gujarat in India. They are descended from Baluch tribesmen who settled in this region of Gujarat in the late Middle Ages. The community use the surname khan. In Gujarat, the tem Baloch is restricted to the Sulaymani Baloch, while Makrani Baloch now form a distinct community.
History and origin
The Baloch claim a mixed ancestry, asserting that they are descended, on the one hand, from Amir Hamza an uncle of the Prophet Mohammed, and on the other, from the Kurds living in the area of Aleppo, Syria from which they were expelled in A. D. 580 by the Sasanian Persian King Chosroes I Anoshervan. Their migration took them first to the area of Alborz Mountains and Qazvin to Kerman, then Sistan, and finally into Makran. In time, most of the territory of Makran has come to be known as Balochistan (“Land of the Baloch” in the Persian language). In the 13th century, some of the Baloch moved into Sindh (where they are known as the Sindhi Baloch) and also into Punjab.
Mir Jalal Khan was one of the Baloch historical rulers, and from his four sons— Rind, Lashar, Hot and Korai spring the four main Baloch tribes. The Jatoi are the children of Jatoi, Jalal Khan’s daughter. These main sections are now divided into innumerable septs. Historically, in Gujarat, the term Baloch denoted any Muslim camel-man. The word has come to be associated with the care of camels, because the Baloch settlers of the Western plains took to the grazing and breeding of camels rather than to husbandry. This has often led to confussion between them and the Jath, another Muslim community who are associated with camel breeding.
About the beginning of the 16th century the Balochis were driven out of the Kalat valley by the Brahuis and Turks. Yielding to pressure they moved eastward into the Sulaiman Mountains, drove out the Pashtuns, and settled along the banks of the Indus. Three Baloch adventurers Ismail Khan, Fatteh Khan, and Ghazi Khan, founded the three Dehras (encampments) that bear their names, and established themselves as independent rulers of the Lower Derajat and Muzaffargarh, which they and their descendants held for nearly 300 years. The three brothers founded the settlements of Dera Ghazi Khan, Dera Ismail Khan and Darya Khan. Thence the southern Balochis gradually spread into the valleys of the Indus, Chenab, and Sutlej, and in 1555 a large body of Balochis, under their great leader Mir Chakar, accompanied the Emperor Humayun into India. A small number of Baloch began to immigrated from Multan and Sindh into Gujarat from the at least the 14th Century.
The earliest Baloch settlers of Gujarat came with Fateh Khan Baloch, who was given the jagir of Radhanpur and Sami by Sultan Ahmad Shah II of Gujarat. Another Fateh Khan was given the jagir of Khadia in Junagadh by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. In the 18th Century, the Gohil Rajput rulers of Bhavnagar invited a number of Baloch to serve as their bodyguards. They were granted the jagir in Sehor.
The Baloch are distributed in Rajkot, Junagadh, Khadia, Keshod, Veraval, Mangrol, and Bhavnagar. Important Baloch villages include Budhana & pingali in Bhavnagar District, Kundhada village in Junagadh District and Baspa and Kerwada in Radhanpur. They tend to live in their own villages, or have distinct quarters in the towns they reside in. The community is split inti six clans, or ataks as they are known in Gujarati. Their main clans are the Gabol, Lashari, Birri, Gopang, Sukhe, Hooth and Korai. A small number of Gabol have immigrated to Pakistan, and are now found in Karachi. The community speak standard Gujarati, while those in Kutch speak Sindhi. Most Baloch also have knowledge of Urdu. The Baloch are strictly endogamous, although there are some cases of inter-marriage with the Pathans and Muslim Rajput communities such as the Malik, Miyana and Molesalam. They prefer marrying close kins, and practice both parallel cousin and cross counsin marriages.
The Baloch are now mainly marginal farmers, with many also employed as agricultural labourers. Land reform has led to the breakup of the larger jagirs, and many jagirdars have emigrated to cities like Ahmadabad and Mumbai. There villages now have electricity, and many now use electric pumps. Many Baloch are also employed as truck drivers, with a small number owning their trucks. Their general economic circumstances are poor. Like other Gujarati Muslims, they have a caste association, the Baloch Jamat. This acts as a welfare association, as well as an instrument of social control. Most Baluch are Sunni, but members of the Sukhe clan are Shia.