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Shah Muhammad Zubair: Barrister turned Farmers’ Leader

Shah Muhammad Zubair is known for his active role in the Indian Freedom Movement. He was born in Arwal (Gaya district at the time), in the state of Bihar in 1888. His father, Shah Ashfaq Hussain, was a rich Zamindar. After attaining primary education at home, he pursued higher education at the T.K. Ghose Academy in Patna. He went to England in 1909 to study law. Called to the bar in 1910, he later returned to India as a Barrister in 1911. Upon his return to India, he first practised law in Patna from 1912 to 1913. His marriage in Munger led him to settle there finally.

Shah Muhammad Zubair took an active part in making Bihar a separate state and played a leading role in the Bankipur Congress Session of 1912. He gained popularity both as a lawyer and as a leader while making efforts to find solutions to the problems faced by people as a result of the actions of the British Government.


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Joining the Indian National Congress

In 1914, he gave up his law practice and started participating in the activities of the Indian National Congress, joining the Non-cooperation movement in 1920. He played a key role in the Non-cooperation and the Khilafat Movements in Gaya with Munger as his centre of activity.

As an active member of the Bihar committee of the Indian National Congress, Shah Muhammad Zubair actively oversaw the National Schools and colleges established for educating Nationalist students involved in the Indian National Movement. The British Government arrested him in December, 1921, sentencing him for a year. Unshaken by the arrests and imprisonments, Shah Muhammad Zubair became more active in the programmes of Congress. He served two terms as Chairman of the Munger District Board, elected in 1923 and 1927.

During the period of his arrest, his wife, Siddiqa Khatoon actively participated in the freedom movement. She visited different parts of Bihar motivating the people to fight against the Britishers.


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Founding President of Kisan Sabha

Shah Muhammad Zubair was a founding President of the first farmers’ organization Kisan Sabha, which was founded in 1922. Shri Krishna Singh was the first vice president of the same organization, who later became the Chief Minister of Bihar.

After having worked as a member of Bihar State Executive Committee of Indian National Congress in 1926, he presided over the Bihar regional congress conference. He was a member of the Bihar-Orissa council in 1925. Shah Zubair attended the Muslim Conference in Delhi, in March 1927 and was a delegate to the All-Parties Convention called by the Congress in Calcutta in December 1928. He attended the annual session of the Muslim League in Delhi in 1929.

He resumed his law practice in 1927 and resigned from the membership of the Bihar-Orissa Council in 1930 in response to the call given by Indian National Congress. Shah Muhammad Zubair suggested reforms in the traditional practices of Muslims. He practised these himself as an advocate of modern ideas.


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Enduring Legacy

Shah Muhammad Zubair took active part in the salt satyagraha in 1930 organising several meetings during which he fell ill. His health reportedly declined steadily over time, leading to his eventual demise. The cause of his death remains shrouded in speculation, with some attributing it to a gradual-acting toxin.

He passed away on September 12, 1930 at a young age. Devastated by his death, his wife, Siddiqa Khatoon tragically passed the following year. During this time Shah Zubair’s brother, Shah Muhammad Umair was also imprisoned for fighting against the Britishers.


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Shah Muhammad Zubair is also the grandfather of Tariq Anwar, Congress Leader and former minister of India.


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Md Umar Ashraf

Md. Umar Ashraf is a Delhi based Researcher, who after pursuing a B.Tech (Civil Engineering) started heritagetimes.in to explore, and bring to the world, the less known historical accounts. Mr. Ashraf has been associated with the museums at Red Fort & National Library as a researcher. With a keen interest in Bihar and Muslim politics, Mr. Ashraf has brought out legacies of people like Hakim Kabeeruddin (in whose honour the government recently issued a stamp). Presently, he is pursuing a Masters from AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, JMI & manages heritagetimes.in.