ISLAM and Muslims and Freedom Struggle of India

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Retrieving the Forgotten History :
ROLE OF MUSLIMS IN
INDIA’S STRUGGLE FOR INDEPENDENCE

-Syed Naseer Ahamed

The Role of Muslims in India’s struggle for independence is glorious
episode in the history of India. It represents the valor, sacrifice
and patriotism of Indians. The movement lasted for about a century.
In this historic struggle Muslims did play a definite role, shared
the responsibility of liberating India from the yokes of British
imperialism with Hindu brethren, underwent untold sufferings, made
great sacrifices and thus served the country commendably

The Forgotten history of the sacrifice of Muslims

The divide and rule policy adopted by the British to
consolidate and perpetuate their power in India, the circumstances
that led to the partition of British India and the gruesome communal
riots that erupted eventually broke the unity of Indian people, who
otherwise fought united against the British. The wars with Pakistan,
and communal disturbances did bring in mental barriers between Hindus
and Muslims. The communal fanatics from both sides and particularly
the Hinduthva forces readily used this perturbing situation
successfully to further widen the gulf.

History written with certain prejudices and improper
perspectives and particularly the ` nationalistic ` way of history
writing contributed towards the development of communal mindset.
Literature produced with a communal bias played a destructive role in
devastating a secular framework of thought. Popular perceptions are
also carved with a parochial view. All these blamed Muslims and
unfortunately the Muslims inevitably become a ` perceived enemy ‘.
This resulted in consciously marginalizing the sacrifices of Muslims.
It’ll not be an overstatement to say that ` the politics of
remembrance and (deliberate) forgetfulness’ played havoc with the
voluminous contribution that Muslims made. Hence we find only passing
references being made that too only about selected ` nationalist `
personalities like Moulana Azad.

As rightly said by Prof. Shan Muhammad of Alighar Muslim
University in his Muslims and India’s Freedom Movement, ` the result
of all this has been the campaign of hatred and the press propaganda
against the Muslims. After the attainment of Independence it was
hoped that our intellectuals would say good-bye to the British
historiography of infusing communal politics and sowing the seeds of
dissension between the two communities in India and usher in the
golden age of freedom. But it was hope, contrary to the expectations;
the role of Indian Muslims in the national movement has not been
given adequate coverage in the press or books. It has either been
side tracked or referred to here and there by scholars. Instead of
factual and secular historiography it has been communalized. The
contribution of Muslim revolutionaries, poets and pose writers is not
known today’. The ultimate result is the creation of a wide gap, a
gap ever widening between Muslims and Hindus in India.

Nawab Sirajuddaula, First Native Ruler who realized
the menace latent in British expansion and tried to check it

Sirajiddaula, Nawab of Bengal was the first native ruler who relised
the menace latent in British expansion and tried to check it in its
inception. The additional fortification of Calcutta by the
British `Provoked the Nawab’s wrath ‘. He marched to Calcutta and
captured Fort William on 20, 1756. Due to the great betrayal by his
unfaithful General Mir Jafar and a group of wealthy Businessmen and
rich financers group under the leader ship of Big Banker Jagth Sethi,
got defeat in the battle of Plassey. However Sirajuddaula stood in
the annuals of history as a first ruled who challenged the
expansionist trends of British and tried to avert the danger to
Mother Land. After the battle of plassey, Nawab Mir Qasim fought
against the British heroically and got defeat in 1764 at Buxar. The
successes in these battles lead the British to capture the states of
Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.

Muslim fakirs unfurled the first flag of revolt.

Muslim Fakirs of Bengal unfurled the first flag of revolt,
roughly 100 years before the First War of India’s Independence. The
British who were getting some hold over the affairs of native rulers
were conspiring to loot the wealth of the natives, and trying to get
control all over Bengal with the active help of native rulers. At
about 1763 for the first time Muslim fakirs revolted against the
English East India Company under the able leadership of Majnu Sha
Fakir. sanyasi leaders like Bhawani Pathak supported Fakir’s revolt
against the company and its stooges. The first and foremost combined
revolt of Fakirs and Hindu Sanyasis against the British was called
Fakir-Sanyasi Revolt. After the death of Majnu sha Fakir leaders like
Musa Sha, Chirag Ali, Nurul Muhammad etc. led these struggles until
1800. Later on in 1820, inspired by the philosophy of Haji Syed
Ahamed Barelvi, Muslims revolted against the British. Gradually it
became a militant revolt under the leadership of Titu Mir. The
followers of Ahmed Barelvi were called Wahabis, and they continued
their heroic fight against the British until 1870. This struggle
remained in the annals of the history of India as Wahabi Movement.
Abdul Aziz, Mahammed Mahashin, Inayat Ali, Vilayat Ali, Peer Ali etc.
played leading role in this glorious movement. The prince of Nizam
estate, Mubarijddaulah, the brother of the nawab also joined hands
with Wahibis in Decaan. Inspite of several conspiracy cases, trails,
severe punishments, the Wahabis continued their struggle. On the
other hand, the father of Farajia struggle, Haji Shariyathulla took
to arms against the British. This struggle has come to be known as
Farajia Struggle. It became very famous during 1830 to 1900. Dudu
Miya, an able son of Shariyathulla, led the struggle successfully for
several years. The Farajia heroes Noya Miya, Amir Miya continued
struggle for a period of 50 years.

Though at the early stages all these struggles were intended
to bring about religious reforms, they gradually changed their
direction against the British. They took arms against the British and
their stooges like Zamindars, Police officers and Mahajans (Money
Lenders), who joined hands with foreign rulers in exploiting and
oppressing Indian masses, peasants, artisans and the rural poor.
Thus Fakirs, Farajis, Wahabis became the forerunners of people’s
struggles against the British for India’s independence. And daring
and dashing characters of these struggles left behind an inspiring
legacy of a heroic and sustained struggle against the British and
also became a model for the formation of a well knit all-India
political organization

The Tiger of Mysore TEEPU SULTHAN

Teepu Sulthan was the first Indian ruler, who cautioned the
native rulers about the imperialistic designs of the British. He, a
prince with foresight enthused the native rulers to give up their
destructive infighting to defend their country from the onslaught of
British colonialism. He continued the struggle initiated by his
father Hyder Ali against the foreign rulers. He addressed letters to
native rulers explaining the true colours of colonial rulers and
their well laid out plans to devour the country. If the native rulers
had lent full support to Teepu Sulthan, we would not have remained as
rulers here, was the statement of a British General Wellsly, after
the martyrdom of Teepu in the battlefield of the fourth Mysore war.
This shows the importance of Teepu’s resistance and foresight.
Fighting on two fronts, one the native rulers and the other the
colonial power, he died on the battlefield on May 4th 1799. The
people of Mysore acclaimed him as the tiger of Mysore. It was only
after the death of Teepu, that the British military officer General
Harris could declare that, from today India is ours. This shows how
Teepu had proved to be a great obstacle in the way of the British.
There was no other hero for half a century, who firmly challenged the
British after the martyrdom of Teepu sulthan.

The first war of Independence

After Teepu, Muslims laid down their lives in the struggle started in
1857, famous as the First War of India’s Independence under the
leadership of the Mughal emperor Bahadur Sha Jaffar. In this
struggle the courageous role played by Begum Hazarat Mahal of Oudh is
laudable. She fought the foreign rulers, challenged them and offered
stiff resistance for a period of 14 months, declaring her child as
ruler of the Oudh. She inspired the native rulers and ruled her
state in the time of crisis. It is remarkable to notice thast I n
those days the so-called developed countries like England did not
have women in military. But here in India, we find women in patriotic
military force with proper training, under the leadership of Begum
Azizun, a woman of just 25 years old. She fought on the side of Nana
Saheb. Azizun sacrificed her life for the sake of motherland. She
preferred death to surrendering to the enemy. There were other
courageous women like Habeeba Begum and a women donned in green
dress, who fought violently for the motherland and courted the
gallows without any fear. Begum Rahima bravely fought the enemy
forces. Asgari Begum was barbarically burnt alive for not disclosing
the secrets of revolutionaries. Moulvi Ahamadulla Sha Fyzabadi
marched forward victoriously and inflicted such heavy losses on the
British that they announced a reward of Rs. 50,000-00 for his head.
The Raja of Powain betrayed and he was shot him to death, and his
head was cut off and sent to the British lords, to get the reward.
Only after seeing the head of Ahamadull Sha, the British officers
with a sigh of relief declared that the most formidable enemy of the
British in northern India was dead. Azimulla Khan, brain behind the
revolt, who was the vakeel of Nana Saheb of Kanpur, wrote several
letters to the native rulers and public infusing in them patriotic
zeal..

Thus there is a long list of Muslim patriots who bravely fought the
British.The list, among the others, includes Moulana Liyakhat Ali
Khan, Hikmatulla Khan, Kahn Bahddur Khan, who became a symbol of
Hindu- Muslim unity. Mahammad Bhakth Khan, the military general of
the first war of India’s independence, Bakshi Ali, who inspired
Jhansi ki Rani to revolt, Shehajada Feroz Sha several others.

Several fatwas were issued by the ulema to wage a war against the
British, which stirred the whole community to fulfill the obligations
enjoined on it. Moulvi Fazle Haq and Moulana Sarfrz Ali who wielded
enormous influence upon the people closely aligned themselves with
the revolt. Haji Imadadullah gave stiff resistance fight to the
British while commanding the Mujahids in the plains of Shamili. In
UP, Moulana Qasim Nanutvi and Moulana Rasheed Ahamed Gangohi led the
rebellious forces during the uprisings. Thus Ulema, along with
others, made it obligatory upon the Muslims to wage a holy war
against the British.

In Southern India several patriots unfurled the flag of revolt at
the cost of their lives. A rebel by name cannon blew up Subedar
Ahmed and several of his men were shot dead in Vishakapatnam. Pathan
Turrebaz Khan, Moulvi Allauddin etc. attacked the British residency
at Hyderabad. Turrebaz Khan was hanged publicly and Allauddin was
sent to Andaman. The list containing the names of such legendary
heroes is very long.

Editors who laid down their lives

Muhammed Bakhar, native of Delhi, editor of DELHI AKHBAR, was one
among the several other editors, whom the British treated as their
archenemy. General Hudson, who was notorious for his cruelty,
arrested him and kept in custody for a week and shot him dead for
writing essays against the British and inspiring the fellow Indians
to revolt against the foreign ruler in 1857. After him, Shoyabulla
Khan, editor of a Urdu magazine IMROJ, published from Hyderabad
(present capital of Andhra Pradesh state) was killed by the Rajakars.
Shoyab, an apostle of Hindu-Muslim unity, mounted scathing criticism
on the policy of the Nizam, and the cruelty of the Rajakars. Enraged
by the kind of intellectual crusade that Shoyabulla carried on, the
Rajakaras butchered him brutally in 1948 when he was on his way to
his home from his office. Except these two, we will not find any
other editor, who laid his lives for the sake of his commitment and
the cause of the Country.

Muslims were made prime targets of British tyranny

Unfortunately, the dream of the rebels did not come true and the
first was of Independence ended in a failure. After the recapture of
Delhi in September 1857, the British unleashed a reign of terror. But
in inflicting punishments they discriminated between the members of
one community and to other. Some of the British officers viewed the
1857 revolt as an Islamic Revolt.

Henry Mead was of the view that, this rebellion, in its present
phase, cannot be called a sepoy Mutiny. It did begin with the sepoys,
but soon its true nature was reveled, it was an Islamic revolt.’
Another narrator of the ` dreadful drama ‘ opined, An English officer
had made it a principle to treat every Muslim as a rebel. He would
enquire from everyone he saw if he was a Hindu or a Muslim, and would
shoot him dead right there if he turned out to be a Muslim. Henry
Harrington Thomas of the Bengal Civil Service wrote a pamphlet in
1858 titled Rebellion in India and our future policy. In that he
observed, I have stated that the Hindus were not the contrivers or
the primary movers of the 1857 rebellion, and I now shall attempt to
show that it was the result of a Mohammad conspiracy…left to their
resources, the Hindus never would or could have encompassed such an
undertaking….’

This attitude towards the Muslims continued to be the cornerstone of
British Policy in Indian for a quite long time. The Muslims were
debarred from lucrative government jobs and were ejected from all
other gainful occupations; their trade was ruined and endowments,
from which their schools were maintained, were confiscated. It was
sometimes openly stated in official notifications for government
vacancies that only Hindus would be considered for appointment. Thus
Sir William Hunter has reproduced extracts from papers, which stated
that the appointments would be given to none but Hindus. Continuing
his comments on the situation Hunter said: ` the Muslims have now
sunk so low that even when qualified for Government employment, they
are studiously kept out of it by government notifications. Nobody
takes any notice of their helpless conditions, and the higher
authorities do not deign even to acknowledge their existence’.

After Delhi had been subdued and the British control was firmly
established over it, there began the public executions. Scaffolds
were built on the thoroughfares and Englishmen treated such places as
centers of entertainment. They would collect there in groups
to `enjoy ` the executions. Several localities of Muslims were
totally wiped out. Historians recorded that Muslims were made special
targets of tyrannical acts. With a view that the Muslims initiated
the rebellion, British turned totally hostile towards the whole
community and directed their wrath against the Muslims. According to
history, 27,000 Muslim patriots were executed, to speak nothing of
those killed in the general massacre. Number of sepoys, citizens
were killed, burned, hanged, and blown up by the cannons. Near about
30 thousand Muslims of both sexes were exiled. One British officer
Lord Robert in a letter to his mother wrote, these rascally Musalmans
that, with God’s help, English will still be the masters of India.

Conspiracy to devide Indians on the basis of religion

The British rulers were afraid of the unity exhibited by Indians
against them and felt that it would be a danger for them in future.
Hence, they decided to break this unity in the name of religion, to
ensure their continuity as the rulers of the country. For this
purpose British historians and civil officers of British Govt. like
Elliot, Dawson, Malcolm, Briggs, Elephinstone were engaged and they
were directed to write the history books that could set the mind of
the people infavour of British, and that their rule was far better
than that of the ` tyrannical Muslims rule ‘. They were specifically
ordered to write about the history of Muslim rule in India as an age
of Muslim tyranny over the Hindus. They depicted ` Muslim rule ` as
a very cruel one towards the Hindus and they described the British
rule that descended from haven as God’s gift, to liberate the latter
from the oppressive Muslim Rule. At the same time, officers like
William Hunter wrote a book INDIAN MUSLIMS, in which, Muslims were
categorized as a separate nationality, and explained at length the
measures to be taken for their development. These books played
divisive role and succeeded in creating misunderstandings and
spreading false notions about the Muslims and Muslim rulers.

The Prominet role in Indian national congress

After the First War of Independence in 1857, the Indian National
Congress, founded in 1885, led the National Movement. In this
historical movement, from the beginning to the end, Muslims played
their due role in each and every agitation. Badruddin Tayabji and
Rahamtulla Sayani served as the presidents of the Indian National
Congress. Moulana Shibli Nomani stood firmly with the Congress in
spite of the criticism of Sir Syed Ahamed Khan. Affluent Muslims like
Mir Humayun Kabir donated Five thousand rupees and leaders like Ali
Bhimji toured across the country to strengthen the INC. Later eminent
leaders like Dr.Ansari and Moulana Abdul Kalam Azad became the
presidents of the Indian National Congress and various personalities
like Moulana Mohammed Ali, Syed Mohammed, Justice Badruddin Taybji,
Hakim Azmal Khan, and Syed Hasan Imam ect. Chaired the All India
National Congress sessions held at various placers. Moulana Abul
Kalam Azad became the president of INC twice, first in 1923 when he
was 35 years old and again in 1940.

The Multifarious role played by the Ulema

In spite of the divide and rule policy pursued by the British, the
religious leaders of Muslims i.e. the Ulemas declared total support
to the national movement. We have already seen how several religious
leaders took part in the First War of Independence. The Ulemas of
Punjab issued a fatwa in 1888 which made it incumbent on the
Muslims to join the Congress and declared it haram ( unlawful) to
join hands with Sir Syed Ahamed Khan and others, who were
discouraging Muslims from joining the Indian National Congress.
Ulemas, who took up sword and spear in the First War of India’s
Independence against British, replaced them with pen and the tongue.
Ulemas of Darul Uloom at Deoband, Shamli, and Fhirangi Mahal
continued the struggle against Brithish. The Moulanas of these
institutions issued Fatwas stating that it was the duty of all
Muslims to participate in the national movement. To this effect an
anthology of hundreds of fatwas was released as a book with the title
NASRATUL ABRAR. Great Islamic theologians like Moulana Mahammad
Hasan, Moulana Mahammad Hasan Madani, Moulana Obedulla Sindhi,
Moulana Saifulla, Moulana Mahammad Shiroji and many others waged war
and lived in exile for a number of years. Ulemas like Moulana Syed
Mahammad declared openly that fighting for India’s independence is as
important and pious as performing Namaj everyday. Thus different
organizations and institutions related to Ulemas lent there fullest
support and participated in the National Movement and guided the
people to march against the British.

In 1905 Lord Curjon conspired to break the Hindu-Muslim amity and win
over the Muslims to the side of the British by dividing Bengal. But
the people offered stiff resistance to the partition of Bengal.
Muslim leaders like Barrister Abdul Rasheed, Liyakhat Hussain, Abdul
Hakim Gajnavi, Yussuf Khan; Bahadur Mahammad etc. were in the
forefront of the movement and suffered much. They popularized
Swadeshi among the Muslims of Bengal and established educational
institutions to impart national education to the students. The slogan
that came in to effect at that time, Vandematharam inspired one and
all. Finally, in 1911, the government withdrew its proposal of
dividing Bengal.

The British left no stone unturned to keep the Muslims away from the
agitational politics of the Indian National Congress. They took
several steps to woo Muslims to their own interests. Due to these
tactics of the British the All India Muslim League came into
existence in 1906, which not unexpectedly was blessed by the
Viceroy. The League, which adopted a hostile attitude towards the
Indian National Congress, could not continue it for long. ML came
closer to the INC and cooperated in all its ventures to keep the
nation united and launch the movement for Swaraj. Ultimately this
attitude culminated into the signing of the Lucknow Pact in 1916.

The sparks of Agni Yug

The Swadesi and the Vande-matharam movements inspired many within the
country and abroad to organize revolutionary groups and to take part
in the national movement. In this period which is characterized as
the Agni Yug ( era of fire ), Dr. Barkatulla Bhopali, Dr. Massur,
Abdul Wahab worked as members of the Gadar party. The first Indian
Government in exile was formed in 1916 with Kabul as the
headquarters. Dr. Barkatulla was the Prime Minister and Moulana
Obedulla Sindhi was the Deputy Prime Minister. A federal constitution
was prepared by Moulana Sindhi, which was acclaimed by one and all as
the best one to India with different religions customs and
traditions.

Muslim women continued the tradition of the women of the First War of
India’s Independence. While the police was searching for the
legendary revolutionary Khudiram Bose, who killed the wife of a
British officer, the sister of revolutionary leader Moulvi Abdul
Wahid gave shelter to him and afterwards became so popular as
Khudiram ki didi in the history of freedom movement.

Moulana Madammadul Hasan of Deoband sent a letter to Indian soldiers
requesting them to revolt against the British. This letter was
written on a silk cloth in code language. Hence this was known as
The Conspiracy of Silk Letters. Shaik Abdul Rahman of Hyerabad joined
hands with the revolutionaries. Rasallulla Khan, Imtiyaz Ali,
Ruknuddin got capital punishment for participating in Singapore
revolt of March 1915. They refused the proposal of repentance and
took the gallows. The Indian soldiers of Mandalay Conspiracy Case,
Musthafa Hussain, and Ali Ahmed were executed. In this Era of Fire
several patriots became martyrs. Not only young men, but also young
women like Razia Khatoon, joined and worked with the spirit of
sacrifice in several revolutionary associations like Juganthar,
Anuseelana Samithi, Gadar Party, Hindusthan Republican Association,
Athmonnathi Dalam etc.

ENTRY OF MOULANA ABUL KALAM AZAD

Moulana Abdul Kalam Azad leaned towards the revolutionary movement in
the early phase of his political life. He founded a revolutionary
organization called DARUL IRSHAD. He made the members of this society
to take an oath on the Koran to sacrifice their lives for the sake of
motherland. This oath taking ceremony was organized in the Burial
ground of Khiddipur. As Moulana was a Muslim, in the beginning Bengal
revolutionaries suspected him; but afterwards followed him in
extending the revolutionary activities to other areas. He started Al-
Hilal a Urdu weekly, with an object of spreading the revolutionary
ideology. Moulana Azad, Jalalluddin Ahmed, the follower of Moulana
Azad successfully organized revolutionary activities in Bengal.
Afterwards due to the influence of Mahatma Gandhi, Moulana Azad
became a non-violent freedom fighter and played prominent role in the
National Movement.

In those days, several Urdu magazines were published which were
supporting the National Movement. To name only a few, Mahamad Ali
published COMRADE and HUMDARD; Jaffar Ali Khan published ZAMINDAR;
Wahiddin Saleem’s THE MUSLIM GAZETTE etc. The editors and publishers
of these magazines were frequently harassed and imprisoned by the
British Govt. The Editors and the management were very often fined
and magazines were put in the block list, and properties of magazines
were ceased and were never returned.

Bataq Miya Ansari, who saved the life of Gandhi

It was Peer Mahammad Munis, a teacher by profession, who first made
public the atrocities committed by the British planters of Neel
Plantation on the peasants at Champaran in Bihar. In 1916 at the
Indian National Congress meeting he met Gandhiji and explained the
sufferings of the peasants. By then Shaik Mahammad Gulab was leading
a peasant movement by consolidating them against the planters.
Gandhiji went to Chaparan to solve the problems of the peasants. The
planters conspired to kill Gandhiji, who supported the peasants. They
forced Bhataq Miya Ansari of Mothihari village to put an end to
Gandhiji’s life by administering poison in his food. The planters
threatened him that his whole family would be destroyed if he did not
accept to do so. Due to the fear of harassment by the officers the
small employee of the British Govt. Ansari agreed to do so. But at
the right time he disobeyed the planters and told Gandhiji that
poison was mixed in the soup and thus he saved him from death. At
that time Dr. Rajendra Prasad also accompanied Gandhiji and he was
the witness of the incident.

In 1950 Rajendra Prasad visited Mothihari village as the President
of India. Then he met Ansari, who was in utter poverty. He had lost
his employment and property, as he did not follow the instructions of
the planters. Dr. Rajendra Prasad remembered how Ansari had saved
Gandhiji in 1917. He sanctioned 50 acres of land to Ansari. It is
saddening to learn that government officials allotted the land to
Bataq Miya Ansari only after his death i.e. in 1957.

JALIAN WALA BAGH MASSACRE

With the passing of the Rowlett Act in 1918, the govt. unleashed
oppressive measures. Gandhiji gave a call not to violate the Govt.
Acts. On a mass scale the people took oaths. The first signatories
on this oath happened to be Abbas Tayabji, Hakim Azmal Khan, Umar
Sobhani, Dr. M.A. Ansari, Moulana Abdul Bari, Moulana Hasrat Mohani,
Yakubkhan etc. All of them contributed significantly to national
movement. Dr. Ansari and Dr. Abdul Rahaman, became the president and
secretary respectively of the Satygraha meeting against the Rowlett
Act. On this occasion there was a grand Hindu-Muslim unity. At the
Jama Masjid in Delhi, the Arya Samaj leader Swami Sraddhanand, and in
Bombay Masjid Mahatma Gandhi and Sarojini Naidu addressed the
meetings organized on March 30, 1919. There was mutual respect to the
religious sentiments and they rose above the traditional norms. The
anti Rowlatt Sathyagraha created history in Amrithsar where the
Govt. ruthlessly oppressed anti Rowlett agitation leaders. Dr.
Saifuddin Kitchlu and Dr. Sathypal were sent on exile as they
organized a protest rally and meeting. To protest the inhuman acts
of the British officers a meeting was organized in Jalian Wala Bagh.
General Dyer opened indiscriminate fire and relentlessly killed 378
persons. Among the dead 55 were Muslims, and it is noteworthy that a
55 years old woman Umaar Beebi, resident of Amrithsar, was one among
them.

Khilafath-Non cooperation movement :
symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity
Khilafath and Non-cooperation movements are to be written in golden
letters in the History of Indian National Movement. There was
widespread fury among the Muslims as the British rulers repealed the
Khalifath institution to which much reverence was paid by the
Muslims in the world. Moulana Abdul Baari of Ferangi Mahaal, Lucknow,
started All India Khilafat Conference against the British Govt.,
after gathering Fatwas from different Ulemas. Moulana Abdul Kalam
Azad, Hakem Azmal khan, Moulana Hasarath Mohani led this committee.
Gandhiji thought this as a good opportunity to unite the Hindus and
the Muslims and hence he supported the Khilafath struggle and gave a
call for non-cooperation movement. People responded to this call and
moved together by forgetting caste, creed, religion and region.
Ulemas and other leaders advised the people not to hurt the
sentiments of the people of other faiths. In this context, Moulana
Azad declared, it is the injunction of Islam that the Muslims should
protect their country from invaders, irrespective of whether the
invaders are Muslims or even the army of the Caliph himself. At the
same time, Moulana Mazrul Haq declared that for KHURBANI (animal
sacrifice) cows were not necessary, on the eve of BAKRID festival.
Honouring the call of the leaders students left their educational
institutions, employees left their jobs, and people renounced their
honours and awards conferred by British Govt. As a part of non-
cooperation movement separate National Muslim Institution JAMIA-
MILIA- ISLAMIA came into existence in October 1920 for those students
who left the Institutions like M.A.O College of Alighar and other
educational institutions run by or with the help of the Govt. Shaikul
Hind Moulana Muhammadul Hasan inaugurated the Jamia Milia Islamia.
Ulemas declared that, it was against the religion for Muslims to
serve under the British govt.

In Khilafath and Non-Cooperation movements Ali Brothers (Shoukat Ali
and Mahammad Ali), Moulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Dr. Ansari, Dr. Zakir
Hussain, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, Hakim Azmal Khan, Mazharulal Haq, Prof.
Muzeeb, Abdul Rahim, Mahammad Musa, Abdul Haji, Akbar Ali Khan, Meer
Muhammad Hussain, Abdul Subhan, Moulana Athavulla Sha Bukhari, Haji
Imdadulla, Gulam Mohiddin Sahib of Vijayawada, Badrul Hasan, Akbar
Ali Khan, Makbul Ali of Hyderabad played a ledingt role. Along with
men, Muslim women also played an equal role sacrificing their might
for the sake of motherland. Abadi Begum Bano, mother of Ali Brothers
declared that, In my country even dogs and cats should not be
imprisoned by the British. Muslim Women leaders like Begum
Nishatunnisa Mohani, Amjadi Begum, Begum Amina Tayabji, Shafatunnisa
Begum, Fathima Ismail, Bibi Amuthusslaam etc participated in the
Khilafat and Non-cooperation movements. Among these some inspired
their husbands and some others assumed the responsibilities of the
arrested husbands. Some by their writings and some by their public
speeches played significant role. Some used their property to support
the families of activists. Referring to Begum Sahmsunnisa Ansari for
her commitment, selfless service and hospitality, Gandhiji declared,
I bow my head before her.

The Fire Brand poet and staunch nationalist, Moulana Hasarath Mohani
moved his historic resolution which aimed at changing the Congress
creed as attainment of Swaraj or Complete Independence, free from all
foreign control, by the people of India by all legitimate and
peaceful means. It was in 1921 at the Ahamedabad Congress session.
All in the session including Subhash Chandra Bose were moved by the
forceful speech of Moulana Mohani and supported his proposal. As
Mahatma Gandhi rejected the proposal it was dropped. Begum
Nishathunnisa, wife of Hasarath Mohani, criticized the act of
Mathama. The argument placed by her in her criticism attracted
Gandhiji. Even though she was highly critical of Gandhi, the latter
appreciated her commitment for the cause of the country. Later on in
1927 at the Madras session held under the presidentship of Dr.
M.A Ansari, the proposal of Moulana Hasrath Mohani was accepted.

In 1927 at the Madras Indian National Congress conference, it was
decided to boycott the Simon Commission. As per the instruction of
the INC, in Bombay a young man by name Yusuf Meharali led the
procession. It was a very big demonstration that attracted the whole
of India and Yusuf became a symbol of inspiration to the youth.
Accordingly he organized several Militant Youth Leagues to help the
INC. He gave an advice to people on this occasion reviling the
British that, the British rulers are like dogs. If you kick them,
they will lick you, but if you lick them, they will kick you.

The outbreak of Malabar Moplahs

The Malabar Moplahs had a very long history of fighting against the
zamindars, who acted as the agents of the Britishs. Right from 1800
onwards they fought against them with arms, and such Moplahs played a
special role in the Khilafat and Non-cooperation movements under the
leadership of Moulvi Ali Mussaliyar. Away from their militancy,
Moplahs were non-violent in this movement. But they were incited and
consequently they revolted and took to arms against the British.
British officers along with their police ran away from Mophal
dominated area. Moplahs organized their own style of people’s rule
and thus created a new history. Later the British military took
vengeance and hundreds of Moplahs were killed.
A train tragedy famous as the ` Bellary Train Tragedy ` took place
in Malabar. The British military sent 127 activists from Thirur to
Bellary jail. They were packed in a small wagon, which is
insufficient to accommodate all the 127 Moplahs. It caused
intolerable suffocation resulting in the death of more than 70
Moplahs by the time the train reached Coimabtore.

In this struggle 252 Moplahs were shot dead by British military, and
another 500 were sentenced to life imprisonment. Along with Moulvi
Kunyi Khadar, Moulvi Ali Mussaliyar, several of them were executed.
Moplahs leaders like Mahammad Abdul Rahman Saheb, Moulvi Khadar
Mohiddin, Mohiddin Koya etc. played an admirably prominent role in
this movement.

When the Khilafat and the Non-cooperation movements were at their
zenith , the violence that erupted at Chowri Chowra made Mahatma
Gandhi suspend the movement infavour of constructive programmes. The
abrupt decision of Gandhi was criticized by youth and some of the
elder leaders of Indian National Congress also resented such move.
Young men thought that there was no other way except armed struggle
to drive the British out of India. The decision of Gandhiji, which
caused much dissatisfaction, protest and anger, paved way for the
second phase of revolutionary.

Kakori hero Ashfhaqulla Khan

The youth like Ashfhakhulla Khan, who believed that there was no
other way except taking up armed struggle to achieve independence,
became the members of the Hindustan Republican Army. In the Kakori
Train Robbery, planned by the HRA, he played a significant role. One
year after the heroic act the British police arrested him. It was
hinted that simple confession involving his comrades would secure his
release. But Asfhaqullah scornfully rejected the proposal. Later on
he was hanged in the year 1927. One day before his execution,
surrounded by the lamenting relatives, he said if I am not allowed to
observe the last ceremony of the noblest ordeal with all dignity and
steadiness, then the sanctity of the occasion will be tarnished.
Today I feel myself worthy of honour with the hope that a sacred and
great responsibility for the liberation of motherland has been
entrusted to me. You should feel happy and proud that one of yours is
fortunate enough to offer his life. You must remember that Hindu
community has dedicated geart souls like Khudiram and Kanailal. To me
this is a good fortune that belonging to the Muslim community, I have
acquired the privilege of following the footsteps of those great
martyrs.
His was only 27 years old at the time of execution. He wrote an
appealing letter addressing the people of India. It read :
Irrespective of your religion, tradition cooperate with each other in
the service of country. Don’t quarrel among yourselves. Though the
ways are different our aim is one. When it is so, why should we waste
our energy in fighting? Rise against the British unitedly and make
the country free. From the execution platform he declared his wish
as, Hamara wathan rahe sadaa khayam aur aabad, Hamara kya, ham rahe,
Na rahe, and laid down his life to liberate motherland from the yoke
of British. As he was very fond of his native place, he asked his
people to place some earth of his village in his Coffin. The couplet
in this regard goes like this: Kuch arju nahihai, arjutho yah hia
rakhdo koyi jazarsi khane wathn kafan me.

In the second phase of the Agni Yug Moulvi Gayajuddin, Naseeruddin
Ahmed, Abdul khader of the Juganthar party, Altaf Ali, Mahammad
Ismail, Jahiruddin etc. of the Anuseelan party and so many other
revolutionaries fought bravely against the British. Fazululla Khan a
Deputy Magistrate in the British Govt. assigned 60 acres of land to
Alluri Sitharama Raju, who led the famous Rampa rebellion in Andhra
Pradesh. Mr Fazululla supported Alluri’s anti-British activities and
the Rampa rebellion. Unfortunately he died due to the severe illness
at an early age; otherwise he would have take part in Rampa movement
as a comrade of Alluri Seetharama Raju.

The suspension of Non-Cooperation movement created vacuum in the
political arena. To assess the situation the INC formed a Civil
Disobedience Enquiry Committe in June 1922, which was headed by Hakim
Aajmal Khan. At this juncture the question of whether to contest or
not to contest in the elections (Under the 1919 Act) divided the INC
into two camps. Those who wish to contest were called ` Pro-
changers `, and those opposed were called ` No Changers ‘. Hakim
Azmal Khan was with the pro-changers, and Dr. M A Ansari was with the
no-Changers. Later on Hakim Azmal Khan became one of the founders of
the Swaraj Party headed by Mothi Lal Nehru. Due to the efforts of
Moulan Abul Kalam Azad, a compromise was arrived in Delhi in a
special session of INC the held under Moulana’s presidentship in the
year 1923

Inspired by Bolshevik revolution

Youth inspired by the success of the Russian Bolshevik revolution
went to Russia to examine the socialist experiment. Some of them
started educating the masses in this direction. In this context we
cannot but remember Amir Hyder khan, who introduced communism and
organized the communist party in South India. Showkath Usmani,
Dr.Jainullabuddin and his wife, Hajara Begum, Mujafar Ahmed,
popularly known as Kaka Babu, Dr. Mahammad Jaffar, Shamshul Huda, Dr.
Ashroff, famous poets like Sardar Ali Zafri, Sajjad Jaheer, Quaji
Nazrul Islam, and Makdum Mohiuddin of Hyderabad, Moulana Hasrath
Mohani etc. were inspired by Bolshevik revolution The British Govt.
foisted several conspiracy cases like Peshawar conspiracy case and
Meerut conspiracy case against Amir Hyder Khan, Mujaffar Ahmed and
Showkath Usmani and several others. All of them were imprisoned for
several years.

Khuda-I-khidmathgar Movement : A non-violent struggle

In April 1930 Salt Sathyagraha movement was launched under the
leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. The March reached Dandi and salt was
prepared there violating the British laws. On this occasion Gandhiji
appointed Abbas Tayabji as his next `dictator’ of the Dandi March. In
the North Western Provinces the Pathans under the leadership of Khan
Abdul Gaffar Khan, led a nonviolent struggle, which dismayed many
including Gandhi. Even though the Pathans traditionally lovers of
arms, they did not gone out of the non-violent path even when the
military attacked with arms and killed several of them
indiscriminately. Hundred of Pathans became martyrs in Khissa khani
bazaar of Peshawar, receiving bullets from the British police Khuda-I-
Khidmathgar (Servants of God) marched forward and sacrificed their
lives and created a new chapter in the history of nonviolent
movements of the world.

During the Civil Disobedience movement, Moulana Altaf Hussein, Abdul
Hayat, Tayyab Ali, Pathan Gayajuddin, Jalaluddin Hashmi, Prof.
Humayun Kabir, Abu Hasan Circar, Riyazul Karim, Fakruddin Ali Ahmed,
etc. had undergone long-term imprisonment. After the Lucknow
conference in 1936, people with socialist ideas like Rafiq Zakaria,
Hussain Jaheer, K.A. Abbas, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, took active role in
the Congress party. Along with the individuals, several institutions
like Khuda-e-Khidmathgar, Jamayath Ulema-I-Hind, Muzlis-I-Arhar,
Nationalist Muslim Party, Momin Party, Shia Conference, Anjman-I-
wathan, Krishik Praja Party etc. also played important roles.

According to the Local Self-Government Act of 1935, elections were
held and in those elections Congress got thumping majority against
the Muslim League. In the Northwest also Congress got good majority
by the unstained support provided by Khan Abdul Gaffaar Khan, Allah
Buksh Sumrroh, Abdul Samad Khan, Dr. Khan Saheb etc. All these
leaders fought against the communal politics of the Muslim League,
and were against the proposal of the division of the country. They
firmly stood against the Two Nation Theory. As a result of this,
Muslim League leaders killed leaders like Allah Buksh Summrroh who
fought against the communal forces until death. Communal forces
murdered him in 1943. Abdul Gaffar Khan, known as the SARHAD GANDHI,
was in prison for three decades before and after 1947 and was in
exile for some more years. Abdul Samad Khan, known as BELUCHI GANDHI
was imprisoned for several years.

Mahamad Ali Jinnaha who went to London in 1930 returned in 1934. With
his reentry into politics, Nationalist movement had taken several
turns. Gandhiji did not take Dr. Ansaari to the Second Round Table
Conference. The absence of nationalist Muslims gave the League a
basis and a chance to proclaim itself as the sole representative of
Muslims. Thus it became a good excuse to propagate communal politics.
Jinnaha started invigorating the Muslim League. Irrational decisions
taken by Pandit Jawaharlal and other leaders of the Indian National
Congress belonging to Uttara Pradesh, Bihar and Bombay after the
elections in 1937, added strength to the arguments of the Muslim
League. Abul Kalam, in very clear terms, blamed Jawaharlal stating
that Jawaharlal’s action gave the Muslim league in the UP a new ease
of life…it was from the UP that League was reorganized. In 1940
the Muslim League declared that Hindus and Muslims were two different
nationalities and the two-nation theory was reiterated. In the Lahore
meeting Jinnaha proposed the resolution on Pakistan.

In fact the two-nation theory was not the brainchild of Jinnaha. It
emerged out of the ideological acceleration of Hindu fanaticism and
hate Muslim policy adopted since the creation of Hindu Mela in 1864
by Raj Narayan Bose. Later, in 1923 Bhai Premanad, president of the
Hindu Maha Sabha, had demanded a division of province on the basis
of Hindu and Muslims majority. In 1924 Lala Lajpath Rai, in his
articles published in THE TRIBUNE (26th November to 17th December
1924) supported the idea of Bhai Permanand. In 1930 Khawja Abdur
Rahim used the word PAKISTAN. Later when Chowdary Rahamath Ali
published a brochure on this issue, Md. Jinnaha ridiculed the Idea of
Pakistan stating that it was a wild musing of an irresponsible
student.

Moulana Abul Kalam Azad became the president of the INC for the
second time at Ramghar Session 1940. He believed in the concept of
one and undivided nationality. The Ramghar session passed
resolutions that reflected the views of the Moulana. His advocacy of
and conviction in one nation at Ramghar must have provoked the ML to
publicize the Pakistan scheme only three day later on the basis of
the two-nation theory. In the meanwhile Hindu communalists came
forward and shook hands with the ML, declaring that Hindus-Muslims
constituted separate nations. Azad paid a deaf ear to these communal
outfits.

In the month of August 1940 Gandhiji announced the ` Quit India ‘
agitation. As per the findings of Dr. AU Sahik IPS, Yusuf Meharali of
Bombay created the slogan Quit India. Even he wrote a book titled
Quit India, which has become very popular and gone into several
prints. This movement led the arrests of several INC leaders like the
Moulana Azad, Dr. Syed Mahumad, Asaf Ali and others. They were kept
in Ahamednagar fort. Even though the ML called the Muslims to keep
themselves away from Quit India movement, nationalist Muslims took
active part and played prominent role in the Same.

After the release from the jail Moulana Azad represented the INC at
Simla Conference in 1945. On this occasion the ML claimed to be the
sole representative of the Muslims. Hence the conference failed.
During the tenure of his leadership Moulana Azad successfully
launched the Individual Sathyagraha, had negotiations with Sir
Stafford Cripps and led the Quit India Movement.

The confidants of Netaji

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose accepted the help of Japan for the
liberation of the motherland. There were several Muslims in the Azad
Hind Fouz as officers and soldiers. General Shanwaz Khan, Colonel
Aziz Ahmed, Ashrafuddin Ahamed Chaudary, Colonel Habiburahaman, and
Abid Hasan Safrani of Hyderabad etc played a key role in the Fouz.
Akbar Sha was with Netaji when Bose escaped from India. In the
submarine journey of Bose from Berlin, Abid Hasan Safrani followed
Netaji as his personal secretary. In his last journey in airplane
from Tokyo, Colonel Habiburehaman was with him. There were several
martyrs like Ashroff Mandal, Amir Hayat, Abdul Rajq Ali, Akhtar Ali,
Mahamad Ali Sha, Ata Mahamad, Ahmad Khan, A.K. Mirja, Abu Khan, S.
Akhtar Ali, Ahmeadulla. Abdul Rahaman Khan and Abid Hasan Safrani,
Khamrul Islam, Tajuddin from Hyderabad ect., who served in the Azad
Hind Fouz in different positions. Abid Hasn Safrani who is from
Hyderabad coined ` Jai Hind ‘ and ` Nethaji’ , which had become
house hold slogan in the history of freedom struggle.

In 1943 while in Japan, Nathaji formed a Provisional Government of
Free India that included some of the trusted lieutenants such as Col
Aziz Ahamed, Lt.Colonel MZ Kiyam, Lt. Col. Ehasn Qadir, Lt. Col
ShahnawajKhan, Karim Ghani and DM Khan.

The British govt. foisted several cases and treated the members of
the Azad Hind Fouz as traitors. General Shanawaaj Khan rejected the
proposal of Mahamad Ali Jinnaha that the later would argue their case
in the court, if the former separated himself from other Hindu
Brethren, by declaring that we have stood shoulder to shoulder in the
struggle for freedom. My comrades have died on the field of battle
inspired by our leadership. We stand or fall together. In the trail
that continued, Rasheed Ali was sentenced with 7 years imprisonment
that was resented by the people of India.

The last revolt

During the Quit India Movement defense forces could not
remain unaffected from expressing the spirit of patriotism openly.
One of the causes for the discontentment among the defense forces was
racial discrimination to which they were being subjected. It caused
the revolt of Royal Indian Navy. It could be called as the last pin
in the coffin of British Rule in India. And it would be treated as
the last phase in India’s struggle for independence. The revolt
erupted in February 1946 against racial discrimination of the British
in the Royal Indian Navy (RIN). Indian National Congress and the
Muslim League fought against the British Navy Officers. Common
people supported the revolt as they did in 1857. The unity of 1857
was exhibited once again in 1946. The British indiscriminately shot
at the Jawans and common people who demonstrated their resentment
against the discrimination towards the Indians in the Navy. As usual,
several Muslims laid down their lives in this last revolt. Moulana
Azad interfered in this matter and sought the assurance from the
Commander-in-Chief of the Indian forces that there would be no
victimization of the naval personnel.

Freedom of India at the cost of partition

The Labour Party came into power in Britain. It held soft
attitude towards the Indian Independence and was prepared to transfer
power due to various reasons. A commission called Cabinet Commission
was sent to India in March 1946. In the discussion with the
commission the INC leaders opposed Partition of India and the ML was
insistent on Partition. Rejecting the invitation to join in Interim
government the League launched DIRECT ACTION programme, which
resulted in to outbreak of communal riots. Moulana Azad firmly held
the view that demand for Partition would cool down if some time was
allowed to pass on between formation of Interim Government and the
final transfer of power. But other congress leaders were very anxious
to get the power transferred even at the cost of partition. So the
Moulana’s plan was not allowed to run in its full course. In July
1946 Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru succeeded Moulana Azad as the president
of the Indian National Congress.

Nationalist Muslims leaders offered stiff resistance to partition

On 20th February 1947 British Prime Minister Attlee announced
that the British would quit India by June 1948. Lord Mountbatten was
sent to India to arrange for transfer of power. He brought forward a
plan on 3rd June 1947.

Moulana Azad was deeply distressed to find that Mountbattan
was engaged in planning the partition of the country. He perceived
that India was moving towards a great jeopardy. He was of the
opinion that the Cabinet Mission Plan was the best solution for the
unity of India. It could preserve unity and give every community an
opportunity to function with freedom and hounour. Azad thought that
the real problems of the country were economic and not communal…the
differences related to class’es and not to communities. The Moulana
pleaded his colleges, particularly Pandit Nehru not to take final
step towards the partition of India. He emphasized in quite unequal
terms that to accept partition was to accept Jinnaha’s two-nation
theory. In his view, the partition instead of removing communal
fears would perpetuate them by creating two states based on communal
hatred. He declared, if we acted in haste and accepted partition, we
should be doing permanent injury to India.

In Bengal Muslim legislators vehemently opposed partition
while Hindu legislators demanded partition of India. According to Mr.
A. Leonard Gordon, out of a total of 79 legislators from Hindu
majority area 21 voted against the partition, 58-demanded partition.
Likewise out of 141 legislators of Muslim majority area 106 voted
against partition and 35 supported the demand for partition. It makes
it crystal clear that a majority of Muslims were not infovour of
partition and that they were deeply concerned about the unity of the
country.

Even after relentless efforts by Nationalist Muslimsin the
AICC session in New Delhi held on 14th June 1947 Pandit Govinda
Vallbhai Panth moved the resolution accepting the June 3 Plan, which
was in favour of partition. Apart from Moulana Azad, other leaders
of INC like Abdul Ghani, Hafizur Rehaman, Dr.Saifuddin Kitchlew,
Ansar Harvani opposed it and described the resolution as a surrender
to JInnah’s obstinacy. Resolution was carried out by with the
support of 157 to 29 votes. 32 members remained neutral. E.W. R.
Lumby observed, that the opposition came mainly from…Nationalist
Muslims, who felt that the congress had let them down. The efforts
of Mahatma Gandhi, Moulana Azad, and the Frontier Gandhi Khan Abdul
Gaffar Khan became futile. After the resolution was passed Gaffar
Khan felt that they were thrown to the mercy of wolves.

History sans Muslims is incomplete

It can be said that from 1940 onwards until we got independence
Gandhi-Moulana leadership guided the national movement. Azad, the
then President of the Congress party understood the danger of two-
nation theory. So he gave precedence to Hindu-Muslim unity than the
attainment of Swaraj. He said on one occasion that ` If an angel
descends from heaven today and proclaims from the Qutub Minar that
India can attain Swaraj within 24 hours provided I relinquish my
demand for Hindu-Muslim Unity, I shall retort to it: ` No my friend,
I shall give up Swaraj, but not Hindu-Muslim unity, for if Swaraj is
delayed, it will be a loss for India, but if Hindu-Muslim unity is
lost, it will be a loss for the whole of mankind. This makes us
clear that he preferred Hindu-Muslim unity to Swaraj for India. He
warned that there was nothing to lose even if Swaraj was delayed, but
if the unity among the Indians was broken, it would be a potential
danger to the existence of human race itself. He vehemently refuted
the arguments of communalists who held a nefarious view that religion
would unite people forever.

In this regard Moulana said, it is one of the greatest frauds on
the people to suggest that religious affinity can unite areas that
are geographically,economically, linguistically and culturally
different. If it is true that Islam sought to establish a society,
which transcends racial, linguistic, econimic and political
frontiers. History has, however,, proved that the first few decated
or at the most after the first century, Isliam was not able to unite
all the Muslim countires on the basis of Islam alone. He was hopeful
that political divisions of the country would not, in any way, affect
our cultural unity. Indian culture was indivisible. Moulana explained
this fact with a simple illustration: If we put a stick in the water,
it may appear that the water has been divided but the water remains
the same and the moment the stick is removed, even death appearance
of division disappears. Thus Moulana fought ferociously against
Partition and pleaded for Hindu-Muslim Unity.

Indian culture and civilization with out Muslims is

On 14th August 1947, the June 3 Plan was put into effect and India
was partitioned. On 15th August India was declared as an Independent
State. The rich, English educated, capitalists, land lords,
industrialists, big business magnates, among Muslims, who wanted to
grab the opportunities in a new country, the politicians who were
power hungry left for Pakistan. But those Muslims the poor and the
masses, who loved their motherland, continued to live in India. They
became an inseparable part of India by participating in several
developmental activities, and contributed their fullest might for the
progress of India.

To conclude in the apt words of Moulana Abdul Kalam Azad, I
am indispensable to this noble edifice. With out me this splendid
structure of India is incomplete. I am an essential element that has
gone to build India. I can never surrender this claim…I am proud of
being an Indian. I am part of the indivisible unity that is Indian
nationality.

(Author of this article has write several books on the ` the role of
Muslims in the freedom movement of India. His books are 01. Indian
Freedom Movement : Muslim Women, 02. Indian Freedom Movement :
Muslims, 3. Indian Freedom Movement : Andhra Muslims, 04. Indian
Freedom Movement : Uprisings of Muslim patriots, 05. Mysore puli :
Teepu Sulthan, 06. Shaheed-e-Azam Ashfhaqulla Khan, 07. Indian
Freedom Struggle : Muslim Heroes (First Part). Interested readers can
communicate with the author to this address : House No. 3-506,
Apnaghar, UNDAVALLI CENTRE – 522501, Tadepally Mandalam, Guntur Dist.
Andhra Pradesh. Phone: 08645-272940, Cell. 9440241727. )