Monday, January 18, 2021
Home Political History of India The search for an Ashfaq: We have come a long distance from the times...

The search for an Ashfaq: We have come a long distance from the times of Ashfaqullah Khan

India misses Ashfaq, awaits Ashfaq and pays Tribute to Ashfaq.

We have come to a time where fanaticism is fashionable and no longer frowned upon. The search for another Ashfaqullah Khan appears to be more and more elusive. A few days back, fanatics killed Kamlesh Tiwari in UP, for having made what they assumed to be a blasphemous statement about the Prophet of Islam. Even those who advocated alternate reading of Hindu scripture denigrating Hindu mother Goddess, Durga, on national TV, calling it freedom of expression, maintained a shameless, stoic silence, on the imposition of a draconian NSA, which threw Kamlesh Tiwari into the prison for more than a year.

Read: Rangeela Rasool can kill, but “sex worker” Durga won’t 

I often wonder, why that famous dimpled anchor of NDTV was never put behind the bars under the same act for denigrating Durga? Maybe, better English saves one from many difficulties, even today, decades after the British left. Whenever I read the history of Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqullah Khan, I regret the fanaticism fanned by the lawyer from South Africa who suddenly descended on India, backed by an affluent and elite lawyer’s lobby, in order to sideline people like Tilak, BC Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai from Hindu side and those like Jinnah from the Muslim side, by aligning with a Maulana who could wrap secularism around the ideal of trans-national idea of Muslim brotherhood.

As fanaticism, religious intolerance and even terror in the name of religion is getting more and more normalized from Editorials (there have been on-roll journalists on crafty medial platforms like The Print worrying about who will represent the Muslim voice, citing lack of Muslim MPs among BJP parliamentarians as if Muslims need Muslim leaders to represent their voice as an extension of two-nation theory creeping into India, claiming how the peaceful (not the people, but the religion as she defines Islam) rock after the gory killing of Kamlesh Tiwari, when the names of criminals was not yet out,  to the TV debates where JD (S) spokesperson Abdul Razzak Khan instead of condemning the gory murder justifies it, claiming that Kamlesh Tiwari earned it, and to the United Nations where Imran Khan justifies even nuclear war as a valid response to blasphemy.

We have come a long distance from the times of Ashfaqullah Khan. Today, Ashfaqullah Khan and APJ Kalam and Abdul Hamid, stand isolated in a highly polarized world populated by the hate-machines like Owaisi and such hate figures. The search for an Ashfaq becomes more and more elusive. It has come to such a state that many Muslims would not even want to acknowledge the brave son of the motherland. The way people like Tajamul Hussain who kept on fighting against the term ‘minority’ in the Constitutional assembly anticipating the eventual fracture it will bring about to the Indian society, Ram Prasad Bismil who would today be called a Hindutva fringe for his unapologetic faith in Hinduism and even the brazen sidelining of the great triumvirate, Lal-Bal-Pal, of the Congress under the later westernized and atheist leadership of Congress under Nehru, the family rule he left after him, explains why Ashfaq has been forgotten today. This political forgetfulness also explains, why we must not forget him.

Read: 100 years of the end of ‘Khilafat’: How the Gandhi backed movement unleashed the best of Islamic fanaticism

Born on 22nd of October 1900, Ashfaqullah Khan, in Shahjahaanpur of UP, always had the blessing of a divine vision which could see the truth with great objectivity and a clean soul which could speak the truth without confusion. He explains the aristocratic background of his family on the paternal side, when he explains the affluent lives they led but decidedly kept themselves away from any education and could not produce one graduate. One cannot but feel at once disarmed at such large-hearted honesty. His wit also comes out as nothing short of splendid in this self-descriptive essay, Ashfaq wrote. Bismil, his mentor and closest friend, also refers to this charming honesty of Ashfaq’s soul, when he writes that people looking at the ‘Shuddhikarn’ (purification) or reconversion of converted Muslims to Hinduism which Bismil used to undertake as a staunch Aryasamaji questions why he does not purifies Ashfaq; he says, almost surrendering- “how do I purify a soul which is inherently so pure.”

Ashfaq without hesitation laments about how his paternal ancestors kept out of the struggle against the British, luxuriating in their laziness. On the mother’s side, he had a family of bureaucrats, pro-British who faced the wrath of revolutionaries of 1857. Ashfaq was a nationalist from the beginning and saw the spirit of nationalism first hand when in 1918, Rajaram from Class X was arrested in Mainpuri conspiracy from his school. Ashfaq was in Class VII then. Faced with the spirit of nationalism at such a young age, Ashfaq says he wept when in the course of studies, they were taught ‘Love for Country’ by Sir Walter Scott and a story of Horace. It was around that time, he came in touch with Ram Prasad Bismil and after reading Bankim’s Anand Math (yes, the same which has Vande Mataram which causes much heartburn to many modern 21stcentury Muslims of India), jumped into freedom struggle whole-heartedly, with high spirit and some disenchantment with his own community where he did not find support.

It takes a rare honesty and courage of conviction to accept plainly when Ashfaq writes that as a Pathan, I was stupid and also believed in the beginning on Pan-Islam, and prayed that the Afghans or the Khalifat attacks and defeats the Christian British. He then writes that once he started looking at the selfless sacrifices of the revolutionary, he understood that loyalty towards anything foreign over the nation was such a stupid thing. He mentions a school teacher who was subtly promoting anti-Hindu feeling among the students in the school. Influenced by nationalistic fervour of Rasbihari Bose and Kahaiyalal Dutt, Ashfaq cursing people like his teacher joined the revolutionary organization, Hindustan Revolutionary Army.

9th August 1925 (Congress was still five years from the declaration of Total Independence) an audacious attack on the British treasury was organized under the leadership of Bismil at Kakori. His lawyer during the Kakori trial, Shri Kripashankar Hajela writes that when Ashfaq’s brother-in-law suggested that he should turn approver and gain clemency, Ashfaq was much saddened. Ashfaq responded- “I am only Muslim in this case and I was advised to get a Muslim lawyer to represent me but I trusted you and do not expect you to suggest such betrayal.” He writes the day a bold and buoyant Ashfaqullah entered the court of Sessions Judge wearing Saffron dress, people were amazed at his courage and confidence. When his brothers Riyasatullah Khan and Shahanshah Khan visited him with the nephews, Mr Hajela mentions and I quote, Ashfaq said, “Please tell my brothers not to weep for me. Among Hindus, there have already been martyrs like Khudiram Bose and Kanhaiyyalal Dutt, laid down their lives for the nation; I, among the Muslims, am the first fortunate one to lay down my life for the motherland. My brothers should rather rejoice.” In his last letter, Ashfaq tells his nephews to read about his trial to understand the idea of nationalism.

Read: Tilak, Nationalism and the forgetful Prince

Sadly, the histories have been written post-independence, these details, where Bismil would walk into the courts singing ‘Vande Mataram’ followed by Ashfaq have been pushed to unread pages of the history. When reading about these revolutionaries, two things stand out- one is their understanding of the ground realities of India which were alien to those who lived in houses with 32 bedrooms and two swimming pools, and their incredible intellectual understanding of the world around them. Ashfaqullah Khan then admonishes the communists as well when he charges them for bringing in foreign philosophy to India.

Since it would be of some interest to people who are these days talking way too much about Savarkar and clemency appeal he made to the British; Ashfaq and Bismil too wrote to the British for clemency. Bismil writes that there was a definite purpose to the appeal. One, it exposed the much hallowed British Justice System. Since there was only one bullet fired, and only once death during Kakori, why hang four people. Bismil further writes, “I also wanted to leave an example for my fellow countrymen, that if it comes to charges of sedition under the British, do not count of British benevolence. Make your points strongly because mercy is not going to come anyways. Bismil also says that by postponing a certain death, he wanted to see if there would be a mass uprising of youth in the country on this account. One of the greatest revolutionary and bravest soul India had, Bismil then advises young people to shun violence and try not to get themselves killed. Since it is Congress which has been raising the point of Savarkar’s mercy petition, at the risk of muddying the waters on this solemn occasion, I would want to point out here that the senior lawyer who fought the case against the Revolutionaries in Kakori case was a senior Congress leader and friend of Motilal Nehru, Pandit Jagat Narain Mulla. There is a road named after him, his son was given Iqbal Award because Judge in Allahabad Highcourt in independent India and was sent to Rajya Sabha by Congress during the seventies.

India misses Ashfaq, awaits Ashfaq and pays Tribute to Ashfaq. The torn thread of communal faith around which Congress and Communists tried to weave Indian politics, needs Ashfaq much like we need God in Pascal’s Wager where he contends that if there was no God, we need to invent him. Similarly for the sanity of modern India, if there was no Ashfaq, we need to invent one.

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Saket Suryeshhttp://www.saketsuryesh.net
A technology worker, writer and poet, and a concerned Indian. Saket writes in Hindi and English. He writes on socio-political matters and routinely writes Hindi satire in print as well in leading newspaper like Jagaran. His Hindi Satire "Ganjhon Ki Goshthi" is on Amazon best-sellers. He has just finished translating the Autobiography of Legendary revolutionary Ram Prasad Bismil in English, to be soon released as "The Revolitionary".

Related Articles

Trending now

‘Consensual affair’ between minors and adults not a valid defense, says SC: Here’s why it is significant in view of growing Grooming Jihad cases

The Supreme Court on the 13th of January delivered a very significant judgment in a case involving the kidnapping of a minor.

As India starts world’s largest COVID vaccination drive, media organisations resort to spreading lies and fear

Several media organisations have published headlines that alluded the ward boy who died of heart attack in Moradabad, had lost his life because of COVID-19 vaccine

‘Gaadi se layenge farzi comedian ko’: UP Police reaches Madhya Pradesh to take custody of Munawar Faruqui

UP Police has sought custody of 'comedian' Munawar Faruqui in a 2020 case pertaining to allegations of insulting Hindu gods and goddesses.

Hinduphobic content on OTT platforms and censorship: The case against it and the ironic case for it

Content creators don’t stay away from picking on other communities because they fear lawsuits or court cases. They stay away because they fear raw street power.

‘Jack Ma is safe and sound’, is ‘laying low’ claims founder and chairman of equity firm Primavera Capital Group

Days after his unflattering opinion of the Chinese authorities, Alibaba founder Jack Ma went mysteriously missing

The vaccine diplomacy: The next battleground between India and China to dominate the global COVID-19 vaccine requirements

With apprehensions surrounding Chinese vaccines swelling, India has taken a lead in helping the world to combat coronavirus with its indigenously developed COVID-19 vaccines

Recently Popular

British-Pakistani singer Zayn Malik says he loves India and fans can’t keep calm

Recently, Zayn Malik was heard singing Mohammad Rafi's Chaudavi Ka Chand in the track Tightrope.

‘Madam Chief Minister’ poster row: Bhim Sena threatens to cut off Richa Chadha’s tongue, actress apologises for poster

The poster of 'Madam Chief Minister' showed Richa Chadha holding a broom. Many have called it an offensive stereotyping of the Dalit community.

What the Nidhi-Harvard story reveals about our world: Get off your high horse, you are not that special, anyway

Liberal journalist, Nidhi Razdan, thought she had received an offer from Harvard University to become an Associate Professor of journalism.

‘Not a single NPA in the three decades of its existence,’ Adani Group rubbishes Subramanian Swamy’s allegations

On Friday, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy had put out allegations on Twitter against Adani accusing him of non-payment of loans worth Rs 4.5 lakhs, which has allegedly turned into an NPA.

Congress admits Mumbai police leaked Arnab Goswami chats: Here are all the wild conspiracy theories they generated

Prithviraj Chavan has admitted that it was the Mumbai Police which leaked the private WhatsApp chats of Arnab Goswami.

Pakistan claims India staged Pulwama attack after Mumbai Police leaks chat to embarrass Arnab, Republic hits back: Details

Pakistan has now issued a statement on the nonsensical controversy surrounding the private WhatsApp chats of Arnab Goswami

‘Took his penis out and asked me to feel it’: Actress Sherlyn Chopra accuses Sajid Khan of sexual harassment

Sherlyn Chopra has come forward and alleged that Sajid Khan took his penis out of his pants when she went to meet him in 2006

Director of ‘Tandav’ issues ‘unconditional apology’ for hurting Hindu sentiments after UP Police registers an FIR: Details

Ali Abbas Zafar, the director of the recently released controversial web series Tandav, has issued an "unconditional apology".

‘Consensual affair’ between minors and adults not a valid defense, says SC: Here’s why it is significant in view of growing Grooming Jihad cases

The Supreme Court on the 13th of January delivered a very significant judgment in a case involving the kidnapping of a minor.

BBC ‘Death in Bollywood’ documentary: Jiah Khan’s sister narrates how Sajid Khan harassed the actor, says ‘he asked her to take off her top’

BBC recently come out with a documentary series titled 'Death in Bollywood' that traced the mysterious death of late actress Jiah Khan

As India starts world’s largest COVID vaccination drive, media organisations resort to spreading lies and fear

Several media organisations have published headlines that alluded the ward boy who died of heart attack in Moradabad, had lost his life because of COVID-19 vaccine

India Today CFO and Distribution Head being grilled by ED again in the fake TRP case: Read details

India Today CFO was earlier summoned by the ED for questioning in the TRP case on January 8.

‘Gaadi se layenge farzi comedian ko’: UP Police reaches Madhya Pradesh to take custody of Munawar Faruqui

UP Police has sought custody of 'comedian' Munawar Faruqui in a 2020 case pertaining to allegations of insulting Hindu gods and goddesses.

Hinduphobic content on OTT platforms and censorship: The case against it and the ironic case for it

Content creators don’t stay away from picking on other communities because they fear lawsuits or court cases. They stay away because they fear raw street power.

As ‘Tandav’ controversy erupts, an email written by Amit Malviya to Amazon surfaces

Malviya's email and shared an OpIndia report on the open ideological and political bias of Aparna Purohit, the creative head of Prime Videos.

‘Jack Ma is safe and sound’, is ‘laying low’ claims founder and chairman of equity firm Primavera Capital Group

Days after his unflattering opinion of the Chinese authorities, Alibaba founder Jack Ma went mysteriously missing

Connect with us

245,563FansLike
496,912FollowersFollow
22,800SubscribersSubscribe