'ĪSĀ KHĀN, an early eighteenth-century Muslim Rājpūt chief, of Mañjh clan, claimed descent from Prince Kailoṅ of Jaisalmer, who had carved out for himself a small separate principality in the Punjab in 1425. During the Muslim invasions, the descendants of Kailoṅ, like many other Rājpūts of this area, had accepted Islam as their religion. 'Īsā Khān, whose grandfather and later his father, Daulat Khān, had been leaders of robber bands, managed to establish himself as the overlord of an extensive tract along the left bank of the River Sutlej. In 1700 he founded Koṭ 'Īsā Khān, now in Fīrozpur district, but he had his headquarters in Tihāṛā, an old village now in present-day Ludhiāṇā district. In the battle of Jājaū (1707), fought between two sons of Auraṅgzīb for succession to the throne, 'Īsā Khān offered his services to Prince Mu'azzam, later Emperor Bahādur Shāh, and was enrolled as a petty mansabdār.

         Kapūrā Brāṛ, chief of Koṭ Kapūrā and an ancestor of the princely house of Farīdkoṭ , who also claimed descent from the ruling family of Jaisalmer, was a rival of Īsā Khān for ascendancy in the cis-Sutlej region. 'Īsā Khān, finding Kapūrā more than a match for him, resorted to a stratagem. Cultivating friendship with him, he once invited him to his house and treacherously killed him (1708) .

         'Īsā Khān's fortunes rose with the accession of Bahādur Shāh to the imperial throne. He collaborated with the faujdār of Jalandhar in his campaign against the Sikhs, then rallying under Bandā Siṅgh Bahādur. In the struggle for succession that followed Bāhādur Shāh's death, 'Īsā Khān helped the winning contender, Jahāndār Shāh, who on his accession conferred on him a mansāb (rank) of 1500, the title of Khān and the faujdārī of Jalandhar Doāb. He ruled over the Doāb with a heavy hand. The power he possessed and the terror he struck in the hearts of the people have been described by the author of Ma'āsir-ul-Umarā in these words: "Through fear of him the tiger used to draw its claws back. Nobody could dare interfere with his possessions." He amassed great wealth through extortionist measures and through robbers and plunderers he harboured in his territory. As a news item, dated 11 December 1714 included in Akhbār-i-Darbār-i -Mu'allā indicates, his activities were being reported to the royal court and the government was watching with concern his increasing power and possessions. The ambitious Khān also considered himself a rival of 'Abd us-Samad Khān, the governor of the Punjab, and tried to supplant him. In 1718, the latter despatched a force under shāhād Keshgī of Kasūr to chastise 'Īsā Khān. The Brāṛs of Koṭ Kapūrā who had nūrsed a grievance against him for the assassination of Chaudharī Kapūrā also joined the expedition. The combined force attacked Tihāṛā, and in the battle that ensued both 'Īsā Khān and his father Daulat Khān were killed .


  1. Bhaṅgū, Ratan Siṅgh, Prāchīn Panth Prakāsh. Amritsar, 1962
  2. Janak Siṅgh, tr., Asrār Samadī. Patiala, 1972
  3. Griffin, Lepel, The Rajas of the Punjab. Delhi, 1977

Bhagat Siṅgh