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Sleepy village gets set to make history
By Zafarul-Islam Khan

Situated in the lush green environment on the banks of river Tons in the Eastern UP district of Azamgarh, Badharia is a small sleepy village. As is usual with villages in the area, important families and men-folk have gradually moved to larger cities and even gone abroad like the Gulf, Malaysia and the US for education and better prospects. Seldom do they come back to even look at their roots and the heritage left behind by their forefathers. Old houses are collapsing, new ones are coming up with little or no occupancy. Whole families, or some of their members are moving to nearby towns and cities to ensure good education to their children and seek better employment opportunities. The once thriving villages are simply crumbling with no social life or modern facilities to encourage people to stay on. Those remaining behind are divided into clans or political groups and often indulge in bloody feuds which lead to murders and jail terms. 

Flanked by Saraimir and Phariha, one famous for its Madrasatul Islah and the other for the great mufassir Maulana Hameeduddin Farahi, Badharia is not different from its neighbours. Once a thriving village which was the home of Allama Iqbal Suhail, the great poet, it has nothing of late to boast except that Maulana Wahiduddin Khan belongs to this village although he lives in Delhi and it is perhaps decades since he last visited his ancestral home.

But it seems the village is about to shake off its image and if the predictions are correct it will soon emerge as an important centre of knowledge not only in Azamgarh but in the whole country. For many decades it had a 'madrasa deeniyat,' that is an Islamic school, which imparted elementary education in Urdu. Two months ago it witnessed a new phenomenon in the area: an English-medium junior college for girls, Ziauddin Khan Memorial Girls Junior College, to be precise. It was formally inaugurated on 2 November in an unprecedented function which was attended by members of the community who came not only from other parts of the district but from other parts of the country and from abroad as well. 

The college commemorates Ziauddin Khan who first came to this village from Lidarhi (Jaunpur). His progeny thrived and with its various branches, acquired most of the land in and around the village. His great great grandsons are now scattered all over the world and hold important positions in almost all walks of life. Family properties lie in ruins and large tracts of land are exposed to occupation by outsiders, without the remotest possibility that Ziauddin Khan's progeny would one day come back to his village. They are now scattered all over the globe. 

It was during one of his discussions with his uncle Maulana Wahiduddin Khan that the idea of establishing a school or college struck Shakil Ahmad Khan who is the eldest son of the Maulana's elder brother, late Abdul Aziz Khan, and has emerged as a successful businessman in the Gulf. He spoke to Yaminul Islam Khan, son of late Allama Iqbal Suhail, whose side of the family owns about half the property and lands in Badharia. His response was a spontaneous yes. He was ready to donate his share to the proposed school and convince others to do the same. Next he talked to Dr Safi Ansari who teaches at the Shibli National Degree college in Azamgarh. The idea was that Dr Ansari should take up the immediate responsibility. He readily agreed to volunteer all his spare time for the school. Next was Dr Abdus Sattar of Chennai who runs schools in south India. He readily agreed to supervise the academic side of the school provided there was no interference. Thus a dream project was born, with Shakil Ahmad Khan ready to see it through. 

Construction started in earnest early this year and the school started functioning early September with basic support from Chennai. The school is slated to gradually grow into a college. In the course of time a boys English-medium school and college will also be established and the work will not stop there. Shakil Ahmad Khan is dreaming of establishing a modern university there which would compete with any university in the world and the emphasis will be on technology and science, something like the Aligarh Muslim University if not better.

It was thus that a multitude converged on the sleepy village and announced the beginning of a new era for the village and the whole area. Darul Musannifin's director, Maulana Ziauddin Islahi, was the chief guest who said in his speech that this land has already given birth to people like Allama Suhail and Maulana Wahiduddin Khan. Shakil Ahmad Khan in his speech spoke of his commitment to provide quality education whose products could go even to the US. Engineer Yaminul Islam Khan's voice choked and he sufficed with reciting the following verses from a poem his illustrious father Allama Suhail composed in 1947:
Nayey bootay, nayey gul 
Phir karen khak-e chaman paida
Nai saj-dhaj ho gulshan mein, 
Naya ho bagh-pan paida
Ilahi phir dilon mein ho naya dard-e watan paida
Ghulamon ko bhi ho azaad rahney ki lagan paida
Unhen bhi ho junoon jo hum ko deewana bataty hain
(Let new blossoms and new flowers create a new garden
Let there be a new beutification in the garden
Let there be a new sense of 
God, let there be a new pain in people’s hearts
Let slaves too yearn to live as free people
Let those too be afflicted with insanity, who call us mad).

I also spoke at the function and said that a great event is taking place today. A well has been dug but to fetch water from it will be the responsibility of the people of the area. Our coming generations will remember those who laid the foundation of this institution here as the 'Sir Syed' who established AMU in what was village like Badharia some fourteen decades ago. Performance of the children of a barely two-months-old school, which followed the speeches, was a living evidence that a lot could be achieved with proper instruction and guidance. Who knows a hundred years from now Badharia too will be an Aligarh!

Left to Right: Late Allama Iqbal Suhail, Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, Er Shakil Ahmad Khan, Dr Abdus Sattar of Chennai, Qamar Rasheed Khan, Er Yaminul Islam Khan, Mr Jawwad from Chennai and Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan

Photos: Ahmad Rahmani

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