Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan: Muslims for Composite Indian Nationalism
the recent communiqué from Chief Minister of Haryana M.L. Khattar’s, the
Government of Haryana has decided to change the name of Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan
Hospital in Faridabad to Atal Bihari Vajpayee Hospital. So far we have
witnessed the name changes by present ruling dispensation aplenty. Most of
these changes involved the changing of names of roads/cities, which had names
of Muslim rulers. Aurangzeb Road was changed to APJ Abdul Kalam, Allahabad to
Prayagraj, Mughal Sarai to Pundit Deen Dayal Upadhyay and Faizabad to Ayodhya.
In recent elections in Hyderabad the UP Chief Minister Adiyanath Yogi said name
of Hyderabad should be changed to Bhgyanagar. Shiv Sena, which was a long time
ally of BJP, has been calling for name change of Aurangabad, Ahmadnagar, and
Pune among others. While Shiv Sena has woken up to electoral advantages of name
change from Muslim rulers names to Hindu rulers lately, BJP is adept to this
game and playing it to the hilt. Its major propaganda has been against Muslim
Kings (Temple destruction, forcible conversion, oppression of Hindu women etc.)
and reflected on the present Muslim community.
different this time in Haryana Governments’ move is that it is not the Muslim
King whose name is being changed. It is the name of one of the great Indian
Nationalists, one who stood rock solid against British rule, one who opposed
the partition in the name of religion and one who was the devout follower of
Father of the Nation: Mahatma Gandhi, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan. He is also
addressed as Badshah Khan or Bacha Khan with love and affection. He is also
known as Frontier Gandhi.
He was a
major leader from NWFP, who due to his anti British stance had to be in British
prison and later was jailed by Pakistan authorities for his standing for
plural, democratic values. Khan had founded Khudai Khidmatgar, which pledged to
work for the nation, oppose British rule and follow the path of non-violence
and amity. Khudai Khidmatgar’s agitation and resistance to British rule was
best reflected in Kissa Khwani Bazar. This incident happened in
Peshawar in 1930 when British armored vehicles trampled and shot the
protestors, who were peacefully demonstrating.
the one who was totally against the concept of partition and when Congress
leadership had to reluctantly accept the partition and NWFP was to be part of
Pakistan, Khan said to Congress leadership, ‘you have thrown us to the wolves’.
After partition many of his followers who migrated to Faridabad, built this
hospital in the memory of their leader. Some of these followers of his who are
still alive do say that they have no problems with the name of Atal Bihari
Vajpayee, but probably a new hospital can be built in his name sparing the
cherished memory of one of the great freedom fighters, one who stood for his
principles to the end.
present ruling dispensation, which was not the part of freedom movement, wants
to erase the imprint of Islam and Muslim’s contribution to the building of
Indian nation. While medieval Muslims kings have been demonized to the hilt,
now BJP seems to be turning its attention to the Muslims who were inseparable
part of freedom movement. The understanding being spread is that Muslims had
been separatists and so the Pakistan was demanded by them. This is a totally
superficial understanding of the history of Independence movement. The Muslim
League which had its roots in the nawabs and landlords did not represent the
majority of Indian Muslims. Surely Muslim League did succeed in attracting some
middle class elements but the large majority of Muslims never supported it.
Only elite, property owners and degree holders had the right to vote some of
who stood with Muslim League while the average Muslims were with the freedom
League did succeed in forming ministries in Sindh and Bengal in collaboration
with Hindu Mahasabha but average Muslims kept aloof from its separatist
politics. The point is that while Jinnah is known as the Muslim
leader, it is not generally known that there were other Muslim leaders who were
either part of national movements or through their organizations they supported
the politics of freedom movement in opposition to the separatist politics of
the communalists who believed in ‘two nation theory’, nation based on religion.
Shamsul Islam in his book ‘Muslims against India’s partition’ brilliantly
brings forth the politics of ‘Nation loving Muslims’ (as he calls those Muslims
who stood with the values of Composite nationalism).
response to Jinnah’s Pakistan resolution, Allahbaksh who was twice the premier
of Sindh Province not only returned his titles to support the 1942 Quit India
movement. He had earlier formed ‘Azad Muslim Conference’ to oppose the demand
of partition of India. He organized this Conference to oppose the demand of
partition with huge response from the average sections of Muslim community.
Allah Baksh in his speech stressed that our religions may be different but we
have to live as a joint family respecting the different opinions of our family
members. There are many other significant leaders who had substantial following
among Muslims and were for Hindu Muslim unity. Shibli Nomani, Hasrat Mohani,
Ashfaqulla Khan, Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari, Shaukutllah Ansari, Syed Abdullah
Barelvi, Abdul Maziz Khwaja are some of these.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was a tall leader who led the Congress number of times
and it was under his President-ship of Congress in 1942 that the call of Quit India
movement, the greatest anti- British campaign, was given. Many a Muslim
organization like Jamiat-E-Ulema Hind, Momin Conference, Majlis-E-Ahrare Islam,
Ahle Hadis, Maualans of Barelvi and Deoband and many others stood unflinchingly
to support national movement. Muslim League was totally against these
the name of the hospital in the memory of Bacha Khan symbolizes the further
growth of sectarianism where ruling party wants to undermine and erase the
contribution of Muslim freedom fighters, who contributed immensely in the
making of modern India.