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Published in the 1-15 July 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Lucknow: righting historical wrongs

By Rizvi Syed Haider Abbas

The Milli Gazette Online

Lucknow: The voice over the phone was delicate and forthcoming. The follow-up visit to her apartment found her to be an absolute embodiment of Muslim culture and tradition. Meet Dr. Durfeshan Dalazak ‘Chandni’ writer and a historian rolled into one.

We talk about her book Bharat Vibhajan aur Muslim Rajniti (India’s partition and Muslim Politics) published simultaneously in Hindi and Urdu and released by Professor R.P Singh, Lucknow University Vice Chancellor on April 23, 2005. “The book is an effort to throw light on the real facts about the two-nation theory which divided the country and is wrongly attributed to Allama Iqbal and Mohammad Ali Jinnah as VD Sawarkar is the one who propogated this venomous dictum.”

Why did you not write in English? “I chose Hindi as a medium to reach the maximum readers and Urdu to speak to Muslims to break away from the misnomers heaped upon them since independence.” Came the answer. She then elaborated on how Sir Syed not only worked for Muslim emancipation but for Indians as a whole, and of course, Iqbal the poet is the forerunner in firing any Indian imagination when the Tarana-e-Hind Saare jahan se achcha rents the air.

The book is a must read for any student of history and politics as it not only gives an overview of the likes of Sir Syed, Sir Mohammad Iqbal, Maulana Adul Kalam Azad, Rafi Ahmad Qidwai and establishment of Muslim League but also discusses threadbare the politics of Mohammad Ali Jinnah — reason enough to make the book controversial. “My intention is not to create any controversy but I do recommend that a very serious effort by academicians be made to study Jinnah’s politics.” Durfeshan, then took a look into historical reasons of why Muslims were left behind in India. She quoted from her book George Campbell’s letter to London Times that the revolt against Britishers was coming from the Muslims in India. That was 1857, and thereafter, the political, economic, academic, military, sciences and practically in all spheres of life there was a systematic effort to bring about the deterioration of Muslims by the state ruled by the British.

The Muslim struggle against the colonists continued from 1857 to 1900. There have been countless examples of Muslims sacrificing their lot against imperialists. The likes of Maulana Jafar, Mufti Sadruddin ‘Azurda’, Rasheed Ahmad Gangoi, Maulana Mohammad Qasim Nanotvi, Maulana Tufail Haq Hyderabadi, Maulana Imam Baqsh Sawaii laid their lives and thousands of Muslims were thrown in jails in what is called Kala Pani. “I went to Andaman and Nicobar and found hundreds of Muslim names engraved in the Central Jail Museum,” she reminisced.

Another reason was the English language becoming the state language and the Muslim elite proficient in Persian was left to fend for itself and slowly the state apparatus moved out of their hands. “The country which they had ruled for seven centuries,” she would stress. Then, how come Muslims just left this country and opted for migration to Pakistan in 1947? "Here I refer to a great revealing book by Ram Manoher Lohia who wrote in Guilty Men of India’s Partition that the lure of power ultimately led to partition. The sharing of seats was the main reason or else the combined government of Congress and Muslim league would have run smoothly." 

It may also be known that while during the ceremony on April 23, Roop Rekha Verma, Ex. Vice Chancellor Lucknow University took time to quote extensively from her book. She referred to her book where VD Sawarkar for the first time gave a definition of a Hindu. According to Sawarkar ‘Hindu’ is one who considers the land between Sindhu river and Indian ocean to be his father’s land and worships it like a goddess and it is only he who in 1937 while addressing a meeting of Hindu-Mahasabha had said that India cannot be homeland of everyone living here as there are two constants which are different — Hindus and Muslims — and hence they are two nations.

The two-nation theory apart, what do you think is the main reason of partition of India. “As I did say about Lohia let me refer to him again. It was precisely that both Hindus and Muslims were skeptical of being overwhelmed by each other in case of either Hindu rule or Muslim rule. Hence, the ultimate solution was the undesirable partition of the country.”

Was MA Jinnah solely responsible for India’s partition? “Certainly not,. Jinnah has been made a scapegoat. Allama Iqbal is branded as a communalist which is a great falsehood. Iqbal just advocated separation of land having Muslim majority within the confederation and the same suggestion was given by Lala Lajpat Rai in 1924 that Punjab, North West Frontier, Sindh and Bengal may have Muslim rule. No single individual can be made responsible for it. Iqbal was an advocate of Muslim aspirations like today Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have been divided into Uttranchal and Jharkhanad and no one has been called anti-Indian,” she elaborated.

Being an Indian how did you feel writing on Jinnah? “Well, I came across very interesting anecdotes about him. He was called an Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity, Modern Akbar, The Big Hearted Prince Amongst Indian Nationalist and The King Without a Crown of Bombay. Before he left for Pakistan he gave Rupees 50,000 to Aligarh Muslim University, Rs 35,000 to Bombay’s Anjuman-e-Islam, Anglo-Arabic School and to Delhi School.

She continued that the khaksars had once attacked him during the last meeting of Muslim League in Hotel Imperial, Delhi. Allama Mashriqi led his cadres in throwing stones and chairs to disrupt the meeting in protest against Jinnah’s agreeing to the “moth-eaten Pakistan”. “Apne aur begane dono hi naraz hain”, (Both his own followers and the opposition are not happy with him) she said in Urdu.

It was almost three hours before the meeting wound up, but not before informing me that her ancestors were from Dalazak — a place in Central Asia — and that her forefather Mulla Agha Baqar Khizweni was a Judge in the court of Jahangir, the Mughal king during 1605-1627. What else have been you writing? “Well, I have written quite a few novels too as my novel in Urdu Ghubar once got me UP Urdu Academy best novel award in 1997. The story is against the backdrop of Partition with the heroine having been left behind in India and the main protagonist opting for Pakistan. He returns only to forget his beloved. The novel was a hit in Pakistan and there is still a demand for it. My other novel Amar Tara’s story was usurped and a film Dahak was made based on it. I am planning to initiate legal proceedings against the company.”

One last question. Whom did you personally symbolise in Ghubar? “Obviously, with the heroine and now don’t ask me if I really knew the protagonist too,” she laughed and then told that she was married at sixteen and completed her studies after her marriage. Her husband is a regional manager in a nationalised bank, and the inspiration for his writings. 
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