Research & Review: “History of Khaksar Movement in India”

Thoroughly research and written by Prof. Amalendu De


The militant role of the Indian Muslims became quite clear during the Wahhabi and Faraizi movements (1818-1871) and the Revolt of 1857-58. On these occasions the Muslims made determined efforts with arms in their hands to re-establish their lost powers free from alien domination. With the collapse of these movements a section of Indian Muslims tried to channelize their energies in other directions, viz, religious and educational. The followers of the first group actually kept alive the processes of lslamization started by the Wahhabis and the Faraizis without its anti-British aspect. On the other hand the leaders of the second group thought of Muslim renaissance through the spread of modern English education in close co-operation with the British. Both these groups Strength en ed the forces of Muslim exclusiveness giving pro-British orientation to Muslim politics in India. By the end of the Nineteenth century these movements were founded on solid grounds.
Various Muslim organizations flowing from these two broad streams had both positive arid negative aspects. On the positive side we find the growth of consciousness among the Indian Muslims, i.e. they became more conscious about their backward position. On the negative side we find that they thought of their development as a separate and distinct community isolated from the main stream of Indian Nationalism No positive efforts were made by them to study the question of Muslim backwardness in its historical context under alien domination. Naturally from the beginning of the 20th century Muslim separatism played a part in thwarting the growth of Indianism. Besides isolated efforts here and there for joint action with the Indian National Congress the main trend of Muslim politics was on the whole directed towards achievements of their objects through negotiation and co—operation with the British. Most of the Muslim organisations moved in that direction.
Among these the Khaksar organisation founded and led by Inayatullah Khan (1888-1963), popularly known as Allama Mashriqi or Wiseman of the East, struck a different note. By reviving the spirit of militarism of the early days of Islam and by upholding at the same time the harmonious relationship among the Hindus and the Muslims the Khaksar leader wanted at first to re-establish Muslim rule, and then set up a joint Hindu-Muslim rule in India. For this Khaksar leader made an endeavour to adjust the main tenets of Islam with the people of different other faiths. Combining orthodox and unorthodox principles in Islam and founding a well—knit semi—military organisation he thought of Muslim renaissance as well as the emancipation of India from foreign yoke within the context of Indian unity. He also aimed at expanding the sphere of influence of the Khaksars beyond the geographical limits of India.
The emergence of this militant socio religious-cum-political organisation as an all-india body during the period 1931-1940 was a new phenomenon in modern Indian politics. It not only revealed the militant aspect of Muslim politics, but it also uncovered various aspects of Indian national struggle as well as the political and administrative issues confronted by the Government.
Without studying this no clear picture would emerge about modern Indian politics during the period under review. But it has not received adequate attention from the authors who have enriched the literature of Indian national movement and Muslim politics. Notwithstanding the importance of the Khaksar movement in modern Indian politics it has not yet been placed in its proper perspectives and no comprehensive account of it is available, though there are some brochures and papers on it. Before the emergence of Indian Union and Pakistan State in 1947 only two brochures were published on this movement, viz., Hiralal Seth, The Khaksar Movement Under Searchlight and the life story of its leader Allama Mashriqi, Lahore, 1943 (in English), and Dr. K.N. Islam, Amir Allama Mashriqi O Khaksar Andolan, Calcutta, 1944 (in Bengali). The latter also wrote a short biography of Allama Mashriqi and published it in the Id Number of the ‘Palashi’, a Bengali daily, in 1942. Besides these, some papers were written on the Khaksars by Amiya Chakravarty (‘Mystery of the Khaksars,’ in Asia, August 1939 Gopinath Srivastava (‘The Khaksar Movement,’ in Amrita Bazar Patrika, 13 October 1939), and Phillips Talbot (‘The Khaksar Movement,’ in Indian Journal of Social Work, 1941). W.C. Smith (Modern Islam in India, Lahore, May 1943) and R. Coupland (Constitutional Problem in India, Part II, April 1944) incorporated chapters on the Khaksars in their works. Moreover, articles on the Khaksars were published in various newspapers like The Sunday Statesman (‘Indian Dictator’s 400,000 Khaki-clad Soldiers—Khaksar Movement’s Rapid Rise,’ 26 March, 1939, New Delhi Edition) and The Tribune (‘The Khaksar Movement,’ Lahore, 20 January, 1940).
These authors deserve credit for their pioneering efforts to throw new light on an unknown topic namely the history of the Khaksars. But such works mainly depended on some Khaksar literature, or on a few other easily available documents, and data collected by interviewing Allama Mashriqi or other Khaksar leaders.
No attempt was made to utilize the vast Khaksar literature and confidential official papers—published and unpublished—available in the Record Rooms. Hence the information about the Khaksar movement was limited and partial.
The first serious venture in writing an authoritative account of the Khaksar movement was made by Dr. Y.B. Mathur of the University of Delhi. Depending mainly on the pre-closed materials (i.e. papers open to all scholars) available in the National Archives of India, New Delhi, Dr. Mathur wrote a lengthy paper, consisting of 36 printed pages, entitled ‘The Khaksar Movement,’ published in the Studies in Islam January 1969. He not only traced the Khaksar story up to the year 1944, but even concluded his studies by referring to the last days of Allama Mashriqi in the Pakistan State. Subsequently he wrote a separate book entitled Muslims and Changing India (New Delhi, 1972), by incorporating the above paper with some facts relating to the years 1945-1946 in a Separate chapter containing 42 printed pages. It was not, however, possible for him to discuss in detail various aspects of the Khaksar movement within such a short space. Nor did he make any such claim. Besides, he did not consult the vast Khaksar literature, the archival materials of the closed period (1946-47) and some other important papers of the Khaksar Files which were already available to the scholars.
The second important venture in this field was made by Dr. Shari Muhammad of Aligarh Muslim University. Depending mainly on the pre-closed period archival materials and some selected Khaksar tracts and pamphlets he wrote, a book entitled Khaksar Movement in India (Delhi, 1973), containing 164 pages. Like Dr. Mathur, he also did not consult original Khaksar works, viz. Tazkira, Isharat, Maqalat, etc. written by Inayatullah Khan himself. Nor did Dr. Muhammad utilise some important Khaksar documents, as for example, Khaksar Constitution, and alsoSapru Papers, in writing this work. As he did not thoroughly examine the Khaksar literature and papers on ‘Nazi Cell’ of the Aligarh Muslim University; he made some erroneous conclusions regarding the ‘Nazi Cell’ and the Khaksars’ attitude towards the Indian national question. Moreover, for want of archival materials of the closed period (1946-1947) he could not give a proper shape to the whole movement. Thus while both Dr. Mathur and Dr. Muhammad supplied new facts regarding the history of the Khaksars, they failed to build up a full- fledged Khaksar-image through their writings.
In this dissertation I have made an humble attempt to fill up this gap in our knowledge of modern Indian politics and to give an exhaustive and complete account of the Khaksar movement. The sources utilized by me in this work may be classified under following heads:
(1) In National Archives: Pre-closed Period—
(a) Proceedings of the Home Department (Political Section), Government of India, (b) Proceedings Reforms Office, Government of India, (c) Proceedings of the Home Department (Police), Government of India, (d) Proceedings of the Home Department (Public), Government of India.
(2) In National Archives: Closed Period (1946-1947) — Proceedings of the Home Department (Political Section), Government of India.
(3) Proceedings of the Central Legislature as well as of the Legislative Assemblies and Councils of Bengal, U.P. and the Punjab.
(4) A.I.C.C Papers ; (5) Papers on Muslim League; (6) Papers on Hindu (7) Sapru Papers; (8) Khaksar Papers in India Office Library4ndia Office Records, London; (9) Transfer of Power, Vols, I-V; (10) German materials; (11) Japanese materials; ( 1 2) Khaksar literature — books, pamphlets, leaflets, letters, etc. written by Allama Mashriqi or other Khaksar leaders in Urdu, Arabic, Bengali and English; (13) Khaksar and pro Khaksar Jouranals — Urdu and in English; (14) Musilm League dailies and other journals; (1 5) Nationalist Papers in Vernacular and in English; (16) Files of Statesman—Calcutta and Delhi Editions; (17) Other journals; (18) Correspondence and interview notes—with foreigners and Indians; (1 9) Unpublished Diary of Late Professor Nirmal Kumar Bose and Gandhi papers (in Asiatic Society Calcutta); (20) Contemporary or other published works.
It is needless to point out here that this work is mainly based on original and unused source materials—published and unpublished. I have referred to the secondary sources here and there just to fill up the gaps in our information but these have been used critically and cautiously. Some materials have been procured by me from London, America, Japan, Germany, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In September 1966 I wrote a long paper entitled ‘Khaksar AndolanerItihasa’ which was published serially in the Itihasa, a historical research journal in Bengali (Edited by R. C. Majumdar, N. K. Sinha and AmalesTripathi, see Itihasa, Navaparjaya, Vol. I No. 3, 1373 B. C. and No. 3, 1374 B. S.). At the request of the editors and readers of this journal I published an expanded version of this theme in the form of a book named Khaksar AndolanerItihasa (180 pages, Calcutta, 1968. In Bengali). It was translated into Japanese under the tide ‘The Way to the Partition’ (Foreword by Dr. Takeshi Hayashi; contribution by Prof. H. Nakamura; Postscript and Translation by Mr. Hiroshi Sato; Published by the Institute of Developing Economies, Tokyo, 1970). This was the first book translated from original Bengali into Japanese.
Encouraged by the favourable response from the academic circles to my humble efforts, I approached the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, for permission to consult and use all the materials relevant to the Khaksar movement, including the files of the closed period (1946-1947), preserved in the National Archives of India, New Delhi. The kind permission of the Ministry enabled me to utilise those materials in this works and write a fuller account of the Khaksar Movement. No other scholar has got the privilege of consulting the Khaksar materials of the closed period before me.
In order to give a clear idea about different aspects of the movement I have thoroughly utilized the Tazkira, Isharat and other Khaksar pamphlets and tracts published from 1924 to 1947 as well as the official notes and pamphlets (1931-1947), and quoted passages from these documents. As I had to cover all the Indian Provinces, Native States and tribal areas of North-Western parts of India, along with the role of the Central Government, and as multifarious issues cropped up in connection with it, this dissertation on an all-India movement has naturally become bulky. I have sought to avoid sweeping generalizations and reconstruct the history of the Khaksar movement without any preconceived idea.
To preserve the originality of the sources I have not always maintained uniform spelling with regard to particular Khaksar words or terms. Various technical or unfamiliar words or terms have been explained in the main body of this work. Nevertheless a selective glossary has been appended to this work for ready reference. A short note on the officials and persons who had to deal with the Khaksars in their different capacities has also been given.
I wish to express my gratitude to all who have helped me in the preparation of this work. Dr. S. P. Sen, Director, Institute of Historical Studies, Calcutta and Dr. Jagadish Narayan Sarkar, Professor and Head of the Department of History, Jadavpur University, Calcutta, offered me ungrudging help from the beginning of my work. They advised me to submit it for the highest degree of the University. They also made valuable suggestions for its improvement. Some changes have been made in Chapter I at the advice of Prof. H. K. Sherwani, the noted Indian historian.
Mr. H. A. Von Rohr, Deputy Consul General, Federal Republic of Germany, Calcutta, supplied me important information about Khaksar Nazi relations. Mr. Hiroshi Sato of the Institute of Developing Economies, Tokyo, helped me to properly utilize Japanese works on the subject. In reply to my queries, Mr. Akhter Hameed Khan I.C.S. (Retired), Son-in-law of Allama Mashriqi and a former Khaksar leader, and Director, Pakistan Academy For Rural Development, Kotbari, Comilla, East Pakistan, sent me valuable information about the Khaksars. Sri B. N. Sapru Judge, High Court at Allahabad, greatly helped me by allowing me to utilize Sapru Papers. My friend and colleague, Dr. NemaiSadhan Bose, Professor and Head of the Department of History; Jadavpur University; took much trouble for me for collecting materials from India Office Library; London, and the U.S.A. Mr. S. M. Hasan, Deputy Librarian, National Library, Calcutta, kindly brought Allama Mashriqi’s work Isharat for my use from the Maulana Azad Library; Aligarh Muslim University, and also placed before me all other important works of Allama Mashriqi preserved in the National Library, Calcutta.MaulaviMumtaz Ahmed of Mominpore, Calcutta, helped me in utilizing materials from Urdu and Arabic sources. Mr. Dilip Mukherjee of Max Mueller Bhavan (1ndo Association), Calcutta, helped me in utilizing German works relevant to my topic. Mr. A.H.M. Wazir All, I.A.S. (Retired), who had the opportunity of studying the Khaksar movement from very close quarters, took keen interest about this work and supplied to me valuable information about the Khaksars. But, alas he passed away before the completion of this work.
In its preparation I have received generous assistance from the authorities of the National Archives of India, New Delhi, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library; New Delhi, India Office library— India Office Records, London, Asiatic Society Library; Calcutta, National Library; Calcutta, and Bangla Academy, Dacca, Bangladesh. I am grateful to all of them.
Amalendu De.

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