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Murdered in 1943 like Gandhiji, Allah Bakhsh fought Muslim League's 'nefarious' Pak plank

By Shamsul Islam* 

The search for the real culprits behind the Partition of India in 1947 seems to be an endless exercise. It is despite the fact that there is no dearth of writings on the Indian Freedom Struggle against the British rule in India and specially partition of the country on the basis of religion.
Historians have rightly held the Muslim League, led by Mohammed Ali Jinnah, basically responsible for this unnatural and tragic Partition which became a kind of license for both Hindu and Muslim communal elements to indulge in mass butchery of innocent children, women and men.
However, there has always been a school of historiographers under the influence of Hindutva which has been spreading the canard that all Muslims in pre-Partition days supported the Muslim League’s call for Pakistan. Hindutva tries to cover up the fact that it subscribed to the two-nation theory like Muslim League long before the latter subscribed to it and wanted to have an exclusive ”Hindu Rashtra” on the lines of ”Islamic State” of Muslim League.
Unfortunately, this kind of discourse has secured more credibility specially among the Hindu middle class with the recent upsurge of anti-minorityism led by Hindutva fascism. The crucial fact should not be missed here that Hindutva has mainly succeeded in its attempts because facts of significant contributions of those Muslim individuals and organisations that opposed Muslim League with all their resources and might remains buried even today. This criminal silence on the part of the secular state and organisations has only galvanised the Hindu communalists to malign the Muslims of India.
One such example is of Allah Bakhsh who at the grassroots level among Muslims of India organised an effective and massive opposition to the nefarious designs of Muslim League in pre-Partition days. Allah Bakhsh was the Premier (those days chief minister was known by this designation) of Sind during the eventful days of ‘Quit India’ Movement of 1942 as head of the ‘Ittehad Party’ (Unity Party) which did not allow Muslim League to have any foothold in the Muslim majority province of Sind. Allah Bakhsh and his Party were not part of the Indian National Congress but when British Prime Minister Winston Churchill made a derogatory reference to the Indian freedom struggle and the ‘Quit India’ Movement in a speech in the British Parliament, Allah Bakhsh renounced in protest all titles conferred by the British Government.
While announcing this renouncement he stated: “It is the cumulative result of the feeling that the British Government does not want to part with power. Mr. Churchill’s speech shattered all hopes.” The British administration could not digest this dissent of Allah Bakhsh and he was removed from office by the Governor, Sir Hugh Dow, on October 10, 1942. This great sacrifice of a Muslim leader for the freedom of the country remains unknown even today.
The fact that Nathu Ram Godse, closely associated with Hindu Mahasabha, VD Savarkar and the RSS killed MK Gandhi on January 30, 1948 is known by all but how many of us know that Allah Bakhsh a great fighter for the independence of a united India and prolific opponent of the idea of Pakistan was murdered on May 14, 1943, in Sind by professional killers hired by the Muslim League. 
Allah Bakhsh needed to be liquidated because he was able to muster massive support of common Muslim masses throughout India against Pakistan. Moreover, Allah Bakhsh as a great secularist with massive support in Sind and opposed to the formation of Pakistan could prove to be the greatest stumbling block in the physical formation of Pakistan as without Sind, the ‘Islamic State’ in the west of the country just could not have materialized.
It is a well-known fact that the dismissal of the Allah Bakhsh Government in 1942 and his murder in 1943 paved the way for entry of Muslim League in Sind. One could see the open ganging up of the British rulers and Muslim League in political and physical liquidation of Allah Bakhsh and his kind of anti-communal politics. It is important to remember that after the assassination of Allah Bakhsh Hindu Mahasabha led by Savarkar joined the coalition government in Sind led by Muslim League.
Sind Muslim League leader MA Khuhro was put on trial as the main conspirator in the killing of Allah Bakhsh. He was found not guilty, as the state could not produce an ‘independent’ witness to prove his involvement. Significantly, it was the same ground on which Savarkar secured acquittal in Gandhiji’s murder case later.
It really needs a serious inquiry that why powerful anti-two nation political trend led by Allah Bakhsh among Indian Muslims got pushed to oblivion. It suited the British masters and both Hindu-Muslim communalists. They saw India as a land of perpetual conflicts among religions. But the Indian secular state, which has the name of Sind in its National Anthem, became totally unmindful to this legacy which stood for a secular, united and democratic India. Allah Bakhsh spent all his life countering communal politics of Muslim League and its two-nation theory. In fact he laid down his life for this cause.
Within 5 weeks of the Pakistan resolution of the Muslim League at Lahore, Indian Muslims organized Muslim Azad Conference in Delhi (Queen's Park, Chandni Chowk) between April 27-30, 1940 (it was to conclude on April 29 but was extended by one day due to tremendous participation and large number of issues to be deliberated) with 1,400 delegates from almost all parts of India attending it.
The leading light of this conference was former Premier of Sind, Allah Bakhsh, who presided over the conference was one of such heroes. The major Muslim organizations represented in this conference were All India Jamiat-ul-Ulema, All India Momin Conference, All India Majlis-e-Ahrar, All-India Shia Political Conference, Khudai Khidmadgars, Bengal Krishak Proja Party, All-India Muslim Parliamentary Board, the Anjuman-e-Watan, Baluchistan, All India Muslim Majlis and Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadis. The Azad Muslim Conference was attended by duly elected delegates from United Province, Bihar, Central Province, Punjab, Sind, NWF Province, Madras, Orissa, Bengal, Malabar, Baluchistan, Delhi, Assam, Rajasthan, Delhi, Kashmir, Hyderabad and many native states thus covering the whole of India.
There was no doubt that these delegates represented “majority of India’s Muslims.” Apart from these organizations a galaxy of leading intellectuals of Indian Muslims like Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari (who was in the forefront of struggle against the communal politics of Muslim League, died in 1936), Shaukatullah Ansari, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Syed Abdullah Brelvi, Shaikh Mohammed Abdullah, AM Khwaja and Maulana Azad were associated with this movement against Pakistan. Jamiat and other Muslim organizations produced large number of booklets in Urdu against Two-nation theory and in support of co-existence of Hindus and Muslims in India.
The conference resolved that the Pakistan scheme was “impracticable and harmful to the country’s interest generally, and of Muslims in particular.” The conference called upon Muslims of India “to own equal responsibilities with other Indians for striving and making sacrifices to achieve the country’s independence.” 
Muslims like Allah Bakhsh who opposed the Muslim League and challenged its communal politics had done thorough homework, as is clear from the contents of presidential address delivered in Urdu by Allah Bakhsh at Delhi Conference. He advanced historical facts to counter postulations of Muslim League and invited its leadership to respond to the ideological issues raised.
Facts of how Muslim individuals and organisations opposed Muslim League with all their resources and might remain buried even today
While decrying the concept of a theocratic state itself he said stated:
“It was based on a false understanding that India is inhabited by two nations, Hindu and Muslim. It is much more to the point to say that all Indian Mussalmans are proud to be Indian Nationals and they are equally proud that their spiritual level and creedal realm is Islam. As Indian nationals-Muslims and Hindus and others, inhabit the land and share every inch of the motherland and all its material and cultural treasures alike according to the measure of their just and fair rights and requirements as the proud sons of the soil…
"It is a vicious fallacy for Hindus, Muslims and other inhabitants of India to arrogate to themselves and exclusively proprietary rights over either the whole or any particular part of India. The country as an indivisible whole and as one federated and composite unit belongs to all the inhabitants of the country alike, and is as much the inalienable and imprescriptible heritage of the Indian Muslims as of other Indians. No segregated or isolated regions, but the whole of India is the Homeland of all the Indian Muslims and no Hindu or Muslim or any other has the right to deprive them of one inch of this Homeland.”
He made it clear that communalism was the creation of high castes among Muslims and Hindus. According to him:
“These feelings and ambitions among those who hope to constitute the ruling caste among Hindus or Muslims, as successors of the present Imperial Rulers [the British], revive and invent excuses for popular consumption from historical or other sources, and by securing the support of groups, manoeuver themselves into a position to play the political chess, which promises a possible prospect of success in their aim of becoming the rulers of the masses either integrally of the entire country or of a delimited region.”
He asked the Muslim Leagures and other flag-bearers of Muslim separatism a question based on Islamic historical experiences:
“Had the imperialistic structure of society been a guarantee of the prosperity of the Muslim masses and had empires not carried the germs of their own decay in them, then the mighty Omaiyad, Abbasid, Sarasenic, Fatimide, Sassanic, Moghal and Turkish empires would never have crumbled, leaving 1/5th of the human race, who live by Islamic faith in the condition in which they find themselves today-disinterested, and destitute in the bulk. Similarly those Hindus who entertain similar dreams, and who out of tendentiously written pages of history or out of the stimulating examples of the modern imperialists select ingredients for the nourishment of their imperial dreams, or dreams of exploitation, imposition and domination will be well advised to discard such ideals.”
He was right in complaining (which also throws light on how Muslim League got prominence) that "Indian Mussalmans have a legitimate cause of complaint against the Congress on the ground that it has not found it possible so far to confer with them [anti-League Muslims of India] for a settlement of the communal issue.”
Allah Bakhsh in his address defended greatly the composite Indian culture:
“When they talk of Muslim culture they forget the composite culture which the impact of Hindus and Muslims has been shaping for the last 1000 years or more and in which is born a type of culture and civilisation in India in the production of which Muslims have been proud and active partners. It cannot now merely by creating artificial States be withdrawn to segregated areas. To art and literature, architecture and music, history and philosophy and to the administrative system of India, the Mussalmans have been contributing for a thousand years, their share of coordinated, composite and syncretic culture which occupies a distinctly distinguished place in the types of civilisations which hold a prominent place in the world. 
"It would be a disastrous loss to civilisation if it was proposed to withdraw all this to two corners of India and leave nothing behind the ruins and debris of this contribution. Such a proposal can only emanate from defeatist mentality. No, gentleman, the whole of India is our motherland and in every possible walk of life we are co-sharers with other inhabitants of the country as brothers in the same cause, viz., the freedom of the country, and no false or defeatist sentiment can possibly persuade us to give up our proud position of being the equal sons of this great country.”
Allah Bakhsh, while calling upon to guard against communalism, declared that the goal of the anti-communal movement must be, “to build up a vigorous, healthy, progressive and honoured India enjoying its well-deserved freedom.” It is really shocking that we have Savarkar’s statue in Parliament who was an ideological co-traveller of Muslim League but no place for Allah Bakhsh. It is only a living testimony to the communal political structure which secular India is forced to live today.
I have done detailed study of Azad Muslim Conference in my book "Muslims Against Partition of India: Revisiting The Legacy of Patriotic Muslims" (5th edition published by Pharos Media & Publishing Pvt. Ltd. Delhi with website: www.pharosmedia.com). It is also available in Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Kannada, and Punjabi.
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*Formerly with Delhi University, click here for some of Prof Islam's writings and video interviews/debates, and here for his books.  Facebook: https://facebook.com/shamsul.islam.332.Twitter: @shamsforjustice. Blog:  http://shamsforpeace.blogspot.com/

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