25 July 2009

Postal Systems in Pre-Mughal Period - Under Allauddin Khilji

MEDIEVAL INDIA (1030-1757 A.D.)
Part 3

Under Allauddin Khilji (1292 - 1318)

A horse and foot-posts runner service was established in 1296 primarily for latest military news and prices of commodities. The military and civil mail of the soldiers was also served. Horses were stationed at every manzil and dhawahs appointed every half a kos or one-fourth of a kos (2 miles). A new feature was the News writer or Munshi posted at every town. He was to report every day or by every third day to the central administration, for which special horse couriers and runners were kept ready at every kos.

A postal department called ‘Mahakama-i-Barid’ under the supervision of two postal officers ‘Maalik Barid-i-Mamalik’ (Minister of State News Agency) and his deputy ‘Naib Barid-i-Mamalik’ fulfilled the dual needs of barid (post) and espionage. All this was under personal supervision with rigid laws laid down for the network. The fresh concept of a two-way news transmission was adopted, wherein the people were also kept informed about the well being of the ruler. This served as a deterrent for any insurgency.

The role of a Barid took on new dimensions during this regime. He was the confidential agent of the administration, whose work included intelligence gathering, classification and regular despatch, to the departments or direct to the sovereign at his discretion. Stationed at the headquarters of every administrative sub-division, a high level of integrity and prudence was demanded of these Barids, for which they were well paid

Another significant contribution was the first recorded Dak – chawkis and Thanas of this period. The latter were established between Delhi and Warrangal in South to receive daily military updates.

The precedent of despatching news-letters was made with the taking over of Devagiri in the Deccan. Thereafter, a regular postal communication became fully operational throughout the Deccan by 1318.This system of news-letters and news-writers became the hallmark of the communication system of this regime.

The entire series is part of an ongoing research project and can be accessed as a work in progress. Readers are requested to comment, share any resources, materials (maps, covers, books) or information that they feel is pertinent to the research. The same will be duly acknowledged as desired by the reader, collector or dealer.

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