Did Indians in Dubai fight for Indian Freedom? Story of Dhamanmal Isardas

The Indian Freedom Struggle was not a struggle for geographical boundaries and the right to rule over it but it was a war between ideologies of colonialism and humanism. That is why Indian revolutionary activities transcended geographical boundaries and we see people like Shyamji Krishan Verma, Raja Mahendra Pratap, Barkatullah, Ubaidullah Sindhi, Sufi Amba Prasad, Sardar Ajit Singh and Subhas Chandra Bose leading a fight against the colonial atrocities from far off lands with the help of non-Indians. 

People often ask why people who have left India are referred to as – ‘Non-Resident Indians’ (NRI) or ‘Pravasi Bharatiya’. The answer lies in the idea of India we have. We can be Indians while not living on the land of our forefathers by following the ideology of humanism taught to us through our culture.

The Second World War (WWII) had started. The Asian nationalists, like Subhas Chandra Bose, were rallying behind Germany and its allies and organising themselves to win independence for themselves. The United Arab Emirates was not untouched by this zeal. 

In 1940, the British Government found people in UAE indulged in anti-British propaganda. It was quite similar to the pattern found in India at that time. While some high officials were also found to be part of this, one Indian was specifically ordered by the British Government Representatives in UAE to leave the country.

The Residency Agent at Sharjah wrote to the Political Agent, Bahrain (both were representatives of the British Empire), “a British subject (Indian) in Dubai named Tiradas Dhamanmal, manager of the firm Dhamanmal Isardas is reported to be anti-British”. The matter was taken seriously and the Political Resident in the Persian Gulf directed that this ‘Hindu’ man should be ‘returned to India’. Dhamanmal Isardas were ordered by the British Government to send Tiradas back to India. 

An application was moved through Dhamanmal Isardas for not acting against Tiradas but the government would not listen and remain firm. On 14 August 1940, Tiradas Dhamanmal was sent back to India for his anti-British activities. It is a tragedy that today when talking about the UAE and Indian National Movement, we do not remember the role of such heroes who would not forget the debt of their motherland even when earning bread and butter thousands of miles away.  

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