Rescue of Mollie Ellis, captured by Afridi bandits in NWFP, 1923

Rescue of Mollie Ellis, captured by Afridi bandits in NWFP, 1923
In 1923, a small article with the headline “Another Frontier Outrage: One Lady Killed and One Kidnapped” appeared in the London Times. According to it, Mollie Ellis, the daughter of Major Ellis, was kidnapped and her mother killed in a bungalow adjoining that of the Commanding General of the Station of Kohat, NWFP. This news was picked up by the New York Times which said: “Captive English Girl is Seen with Savages big, rawboned, devil-may-care fellows of great strength and hardihood, many of whom devote their whole existence to hunting, fighting, and brigandage.”
She was apparently rescued and by by April 27 was said to be in Peshawar, telling of her sufferings when her only protection from the severe cold of the hills was “a coat belonging to a brutal Afridi, named Shahazada (sic), the man who killed her mother.”

While reporting was scant on the motivation for the kidnapping, the London Times said it was the result of “a vow by the ringleader to avenge the humiliation inflicted on him when some police rifles were recovered from the Bosti Khel”. That ringleader was Ajab Khan Afridi, Shahzada’s brother. Ajab Khan had vowed to avenge his tribe’s honour as the British had violated the purdah of his family’s women in order to seek revenge for the stolen rifles.
Mollie returned to Pakistan in 1983 when newspapers published pictures taken in 1923 and gave her story a romantic twist. There were rumours that she had fallen in love with Ajab Khan Afridi.

This photograph showing Mollie is part of the latest release of photographs published in the Cambridge Digital Library by the Royal Commonwealth Society department. The photographs date from the 1860s to the late 1920s. This image is from the Church Missionary Society collection.

SOURCE: Ajab Khan Afridi by Dr. Wilma Heston, Mumtaz Nasir in Bazar of the Storytellers, Lok Virsa c. 1998, Pakistan