Shahi Jirga Records
Shahi Jirga Records
Jirga refers to an indigenous practice of referring disputes to a council of tribal elders among Baloch and Pashtun tribes. Under British colonial rule, Jirga's were formalized and integrated into the colonial administrative system with the object of ensuring political stability and obtaining the support of the chiefs of Baloch and Pashtun tribes inhabiting the northwest frontier of India. Jirga system was administered under the infamous Frontier Crimes Regulation of 1890 which gave summary powers to the British Political Agents to try cases. This system was contrary to the regular laws in force elsewhere in British India. The regular laws, namely, the Criminal Procedure Code and the Indian Penal Code, gave some measure of due process and fair trial to indigenous people convicted of an offense. Under the Jirga system, local cases were referred to local assemblies of tribal elders whereas inter-tribal disputes and the more prominent civil and criminal cases were decided upon by a Shahi Jirga which met twice a year, once at Sibi and once at Quetta. Theserecords cover the activities and proceedings of the Shahi Jirga's annual meetings and Durbars held at Sibi, Balochistan. They cover a wide range of subjects such as disputes over land ownership, blood feuds, the trial of anti-colonial activists and leaders such as Yousuf Aziz Magsi, the leaders of the GokProsh rising in Mekran, and the Marri tribesmen who fought against the colonial forces in the Anglo-Marriwar of 1917.
The original records of the Shahi Jirga are housed in the Vernacular/Urdu Record Room of Deputy Commissioner Sibi and the office of the Deputy Commissioner is the custodian of these records. Balochistan Archives is presently assisting Deputy Commissioner Sibi's office in the proper cataloguing and safekeeping of Shahi Jirga records. The Directorate of Archives plans to acquire and accession these records from the Deputy Commissioner Sibi and house them in Quetta where they will be better preserved and will be more readily accessible to the researchers and the general public.