Sultan Ahmed fought for united India risking his own life

Question: What is the difference between India and other nations? 

Answer: While other nations of the world construct memorials in the honour of their nation builders and freedom fighters, we Indians do not remember our heroes. Rather, we leave no stone unturned in erasing their memories. 

Recently Sultan Palace of Patna has been in the news for the very same reason. The Bihar Government wants to demolish it while the people of Patna want to save this heritage building. For most of them it is an issue concerning a heritage building but it is much more than that.

Sultan Palace was built by Sir Sultan Ahmed almost a century ago. Sir Sultan Ahmed is mostly remembered as a jurist and educationist but very few in India remember him as a person who campaigned against the partition and put his life in danger to keep India united.

Yes, you read it correctly. On 27 October, 1947, Sultan Ahmed was held hostage at his official residence in Hyderabad by 30,000 Razakars of Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen led by Qasim Rizvi, the leader of Razakars. Wielding swords this huge band of Razakars took an army battalion led by Brigadier Gilbert to stop. 

Why did Razakars want to kill Sultan Ahmed and his associate Nawab of Chhatari? 

In September, 1947, Sultan Ahmed was appointed by Mir Osman Ali Khan, the Nizam of Hyderabad, as one of the four men delegation to hold talks with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Lord Mountbatten for the future of Hyderabad. Sultan right from the outset was of the view that the proposal of Nizam “was a ridiculous plan”. In a meeting concluded on 3 October, 1947, he said  that “the terms offered by India for accession were both fair and reasonable so far as Hyderabad was concerned” and tried to convince the Nizam to join the Indian Union in a respectable manner. After a series of talks with Mountbatten, Patel, and V.P Menon by 22 October, an agreement was prepared by Sultan and Chhatari in Delhi, which was acceptable to both Patel and Nizam. It seemed like a major problem had been solved by statesmanship but something else was in store.

The delegation reached Hyderabad, from Delhi, on 22 October and put the agreement of ‘accession’ in front of the council of ministers of the Nizam. After deliberations, the agreement was accepted with a two-third majority vote. After the Nizam had put his signature on the agreement, the delegation was set to fly back to Delhi on 27 October to formalise the merger of Hyderabad in India. In the early morning of 27, Qasim Rizvi with 30 thousand followers encircled the house where the delegation, Sultan, Chhatari and  Walter Monckton, were residing.       

Majlis-i-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen, the organisation headed by Qasim Rizvi, was already reported to Mountbatten by the Nizam as “all these people [lttehad-ul-Muslimeen] are the followers of a certain gentleman [Jinnah] who used to be in Delhi and who has now made Karachi his headquarters. They consult him in all matters and are his disciples.” Qasim told this armed mob that “Sultan Ahmed, was (described as) a paid agent of the Congress. He informed the audience that Sultan Ahmed had termed the Majlis-i-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen as a “body of goondas” and that if he were the Prime Minister he would have “every member of that body shot and the Majlis banned”. 

In the end the Nizam gave in to the demands of the mob as Sultan, Chhatari and Walter resigned and left Hyderabad. Later, in 1948, Mountbatten wrote to the Nizam that had he controlled Majlis-i-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen the outcome would have been different. He wrote, “But I must reiterate my firm belief that, if these methods of coercion had not been permitted to interfere with the carrying out of your Exalted Highness’s wishes at so crucial a moment, the story of relations between India and Hyderabad would have been written by a very different and far happier pen.”

The official minutes with the government noted that, “Sir Sultan Ahmed agreed that the Nizam by this cowardly refusal to face up to the threat of the Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen had virtually abdicated for himself and his dynasty all powers in Hyderabad, and that it was likely to be the end of the Monarchy. Had he had the courage to go through with it, Mr. Menon confirmed, he would have received protection from the Government of India”  

Sultan was evacuated with the help of the army from among blood thirsty militants of Qasim Rizvi as he wanted to integrate India without bloodshed, which is enough to prove his service to the nation. As a nation what we are returning to him is a question every nationalist should ask himself/herself?   

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Md Umar Ashraf

Md. Umar Ashraf is a Delhi based Researcher, who after pursuing a B.Tech (Civil Engineering) started 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

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