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Dr Faridi - a forgotten giant
By NA Ansari

Dr Abdul Jaleel Faridi, born in December 1913 in a respectable and well-to-do family of Lucknow, was one of the topmost doctors of the city. Even if he would have continued his practice as an honest doctor, he could have easily earned millions of rupees but being an extremely kind and sympathetic person, his sincere and keen desire was to remove the pains and afflictions of his patients rather than extract exorbitant amounts from them. He was a TB as well as heart specialist. He used to see and treat 50-60 patients every day in the morning free of charge and a limited number of patients in the evening on a nominal fee.

He was very polite, courteous, soft spoken and sympathetic to his patients and talked to them very frankly as if he knows them since long. All these had a very salutary effect on their physical afflictions and to a considerable extent served as their psychological treatment. Rest of their afflictions were removed by medicines. It appears that he was endowed with God-given healing power. Even otherwise, his general behaviour towards everybody, high and low, rich or poor was very kind, sincere and sympathetic.

After independence (or partition of the country) when Muslims were almost everywhere looked down upon and considered mainly responsible for partition of the country, they were suspects in the eyes of most of the people. A very large section of the majority community, specially those with RSS mentality wanted them to be deprived of all rights and to be treated as second class citizens in the country. They were passing through a very difficult phase of their life. Communal, anti-Muslim riots were taking place at different places very frequently. Those were the periods of Congress rule. That is why Dr Faridi was a strong opponent of Congress and considered it as the biggest enemy of Muslims.

Any how, seeing the deplorable condition of Muslims he was overtaken by a strong feeling of sympathy and desire to restore their confidence, self-respect, honourable place in society and to improve their lot. In spite of his very busy schedule as a doctor, he devoted as much of his time, energy and money as he could for the welfare, development and respectable position of Muslims and other deprived and backward sections of society. It was not only the difficult position of Muslims but also that of other poor and oppressed sections of society that afflicted him.

He started a daily newspaper ‘Qaed’ (Leader) in Urdu to highlight the voice and problems of Muslims and other down-trodden people of society and also to convey the views and programmes of secular leaders and well-wishers to those people whose cause he was keen to promote. But since the readership of this paper was limited it was always running at a loss. It was Dr Faridi who used to make up this loss from his own income. 

When some people associated with this paper, including its editor, suggested to him that if he should start charging even one rupee from the 50-60 patients which he treats every morning free of charge, it will not at all be pinching to these patients and also generate a fairly good amount which will make this paper financially viable to some extent at least, he did not seem to relish their suggestions. He called those people nearer to him and showed his ears. There were thick corns on both of his ears because of constant use of stethoscope. He said to them that these are the most precious assets of his life. When he will be presented to God after his death, he will show these corns to Him and beseech for His forgiveness and benedictions in return for the selfless service he rendered to His slaves and because of which he acquired these corns.

He also told them that whatever money is with him or whatever he earns in future is not only for him and his family but also for the cause of his paper and for the well-being and development of Muslims and other oppressed sections of society. And indeed he virtually spent all his wealth on them and also for the organization or party (Muslim Majlis) which he later founded.

He whole-heartedly devoted his spare time for the welfare and upliftment of the people being looked upon with bias and contempt in society because their cause was very dear to him. He thought that this can better be achieved through politics or by sharing political power with secular and like-minded people. 

Congress Party was ruling the country for a long time at the centre and also in most of the states and Muslims were generally supporting this party. But later on Congress realized that Muslims were feeling dissatisfied with them and drifting towards other political groups and parties. In order to stop this trend and woo them, the Congress High Command selected one of its senior members, Sayed Mahmood to remove their misgivings and to impress upon them to give their support to Congress.

With this object in view Sayed Mahmood founded Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat in May 1964 with the blessings of Congress with a 9-point programme. These were (1) making Urdu as the second official language of UP, (2) setting up of an Urdu University, (3) teaching of Urdu from primary to higher classes in schools, (4) restoration of minority character of Aligarh Muslim University, (5) grant of licence to Muslims to enable them purchase arms for self defence, (6) payment of suitable compensation to Muslims affected by anti-Muslim communal riots, (7) employment of Muslims for government jobs in proportion to their population, (8) vacation and rehabilitation of mosques and other religious places occupied by government, and (9) deletion of anti-Muslim articles or passages in Hindi or other books.

Though Dr Faridi was opposed to Congress, he too joined the Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (Mushawarat) for some time because it was not a political wing of the Congress but an organization for the benefit of Muslims. Later on, however, he left it but he exhorted Muslims that they should join political parties whose programmes are more or less similar to these points or who would implement as much of these points as possible.

Later on, another political outfit which came to be known as ‘Sanyukt Vidhayak Dal (SVD)’ was formed by a combination or merger of some smaller parties. This SVD was formed with the support of Mushawarat which, in fact, had accepted these nine points even before the elections. But even when SVD formed a government in UP, not much could be done for the betterment of Muslims. 

When SVD also failed to do much for Muslims, Dr Faridi formed his own organization, ‘Muslim Majlis’ in 1968 whose aims and objectives were as follows: 
(1) To awaken the political sense among the 85 per cent oppressed and backward people like Muslims, Harijans etc so as to enable them face the oppressors and exploiters, (2) uniting the Muslims, who are scattered and victims of inferiority complex, under the banner of Muslim Majlis and removing their sense of inferiority complex, (3) to struggle for protecting and safeguarding the life, property honour, culture and civilization, language, religious beliefs and places of Muslims, (4) to try to remove political, economic, social and educational backwardness of Muslims, (5) to try to remove communalism from the country with the help of secular-minded non-Muslims, (6) to try to create a society and atmosphere in the country so as to enable every citizen to lead a peaceful and respectable life, (7) to oppose and fight against the government policy based on injustice, inequality, bias and prejudice and set up a secular system in the country, and (8) to try to prevent poor and weaker people in the country from exploitation by capitalists and oppressive rulers. 

Many so-called secular people and even Muslims criticised Muslim Majlis by dubbing it as a communal Muslim political organization and said that such a Muslim communal organization cannot be allowed to function in India. Dr Faridi retorted by impressing upon the so-called liberal and secular politicians that Muslim Majlis is not the organization of Muslims only but of 85 per cent Indians who are being exploited by 15 per cent upper caste Hindus. He also bluntly told those who were treating Muslims as suspects and wanted to deprive them of all rights that the slogan of Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan will not be acceptable to majority of the people because this is the country not only of Hindus but of Muslims also who are living here for centuries.

As stated above, Dr Faridi believed that his programme of improving the lot of Muslims and other oppressed and backward people can be better achieved by joining politics and sharing political power. Also, being a famous doctor and a very prominent citizen of Lucknow, he was invited to almost every big function, political, religious or social. In one such political function, Chandra Bhan Gupta, who was the Congress chief minister of UP two or three times and was known as the iron man of UP was the chief speaker. During his speech when he saw Dr Faridi in the meeting he taunted him and said in sarcastic tone that the presence of Muslim Leaguers in this function is somewhat odd. Dr Faridi did not like his remarks and his intention of joining politics became stronger. So he started his political career by joining the Praja Socialist Party, though later on he found himself to be a misfit in the filed of politics. 

Dr Faridi and CB Gupta became arch political enemies. Though later on he became a Member of Legislative Council (Upper House) of UP, he himself never fought any election for the UP Assembly but he used to travel and canvass for candidates standing against CB Gupta an a Praja Socialist tickets. Dr Faridi for several days canvassed in support of his friend and party colleague Trilok Singh. One day someone telephoned him and threatened that if he does not stop canvassing against CB Gupta, he (who gave his name as ‘Pahelwaan’) would kill him. Without taking any notice of this threat he continued his support to Triloki Singh against CB Gupta who was defeated. After some time a by-election was held for Modha Assembly constituency. In this election also Dr Faridi supported Rani of Modha against CB Gupta. Mr Gupta was once again defeated. Two consecutive defeats brought CB Gupta’s political career almost to an end. 

Some years later, once Dr Faridi and CB Gupta were travelling from Lucknow to Delhi and by chance both of them happened to be travelling in the same first class compartment. Mr Gupta suffered a massive heart attack near Ghaziabad. Dr Faridi, being a doctor, always used to keep a medical kit with him for emergency purposes. As soon as he came to know about it, in full spirit of medical ethics he attended on Mr Gupta and administered the necessary injections and medicines to him out of the stock he had with him at that time which gave fairly good relief to Mr Gupta. On reaching Delhi he took Mr Gupta in an ambulance to Wellingdon Hospital (now Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital) where he was admitted. As long as Mr Gupta was in the hospital and Dr Faridi was in Delhi he used to visit him. Soon Mr Gupta fully recovered and was discharged. Thereafter both enemies became close friends and used to meet each other frequently. 

When Mr Gupta happened to be in good mood he used to tell his friends, sometimes in the presence of Dr Faridi, ‘Faridi is a very cruel person. He is my biggest enemy in this world. When I wanted to live, he did not allow me to live and made life difficult for me and when I wanted to die, he did not allow me to do it. I can’t decide whether I should call him my friend or my enemy’.

Dr Faridi was a staunch crusader for Urdu and as stated earlier in this article, he demanded Urdu to be made the 2nd official language of UP. In the Legislative Council on many occasions he took CB Gupta to task on the question of Urdu. He insisted that whatever he speaks in the Council should be written in Urdu script and that his language should always be termed as Urdu and also written as such. This also implied that Legislative Council’s recognized language should be Urdu also along with Hindi.

A special characteristic of his personality was that he not only demanded but also firmly declared that unless he is granted the right to speak in his mother tongue Urdu and unless his language is given the status of Legislative Council’s official language, he will continue boycotting the House. He stuck to this demand faithfully knowing full well that prolonged boycott of the House will cost him his membership of the House but he didn’t care about it. And this is what actually happened also. Because of long absence from the Legislative Council, his membership was terminated. By sticking to his demand, he created such an example in independent India which no one else could do.

When Shia-Sunni riots broke out in Lucknow, he did not confine himself to simply making speeches and writing articles against such senseless riots but took practical steps in meeting the people and their leaders on both sides in brining about peace and reconciliation. 

He was undoubtedly a very sincere, honest, sympathetic, God-fearing person and man of sacrifice. He was a deeply religious person and performed ‘Haj’ twice. He spent almost all his money, time and energy for the cause of his newspaper ‘Qaed’, his organization, his community and other oppressed and deprived people, the welfare and development of whom was very dear to him. No Muslim leader gave so much sacrifice of his profession and his personality for the sake of service to humanity and Life Hereafter, overall problems of his community and nation nor so devotedly spent his life for this purpose as he did. 

All the qualities of a ‘Mard-e-Momin’ (true Muslim) described by Allama Iqbal were found in him. He joined politics for certain causes but he did not gain anything out of it. Rather, on the contrary, he lost his profession, wealth, health and finally his life. In the February 1974 elections for UP Assembly, he made extensive tours of far flung areas and delivered hundreds of speeches, ignoring strict advices of his doctor friends and colleagues. Dusty atmosphere and physical exertions are even otherwise extremely harmful for heart patients. These strenuous tours had a devastating effect on his already indifferent health and proved fatal.

How ironical it is that a man who was one of the topmost heart specialists and who successfully treated hundreds, or probably thousands, of heart patients himself became a victim of heart attack and breathed his last on 19 May 1974.

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