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Published in the 16-31 March 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Death of a socialist

By Rizvi Syed Haider Abbas

The Milli Gazette Online

Lucknow: Chaudhry Sibtey Mohammad Naqvi aka Chaudhry Sahib lived life king-size, dressed like a pauper. His zest for life and love for the nation was second to none. He would himself say his life was a perpetual struggle against the inequalities in society and would often be found among youngsters telling them how to use their energies to build the nation and remain free from ailments, the way he himself remained aloof from them- until the fatal accident on December 24, 2004.

Chaudhry Sahib had a ball in his left hip girdle replaced and thereafter was shifted to Madarasa-tul-Waizeen run by Raja of Mehmoodabad. His will to survive and grit made him still edit the five newspapers he was running. He used to oversee the cutting, pasting and formatting of Tauheed Mail (twice a month in Hindi) and Hamari Tauheed (thrice a month in Urdu) and then would give dictation on matters relating to those aspiring for doctorates in Urdu literature and also translate from Persian.  Chaudhry Sibtey Mohammad Naqvi aka Chaudhry Sahib


Relationships and their accountability remained his priority throughout his political career of over six-decades and perhaps also became the reason for his final adieu. On the fateful day he hired a car and set out to attend a marriage function in Barabanki, 30 kms East of Lucknow, where suddenly the steering wheel failed and the car took a tumble breaking his left-girdle. He braved the night and managed to get back to Lucknow and got admitted at Trauma Centre, King George Medical College, Lucknow. Friends, colleagues, disciples and relatives poured in. The Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav himself, Ex. MP Mukhtar Anis, who is also his son-in-law, Jagjivan Ram and Raja Amir Sulaiman Khan of Mehmoodabad visited him.

His twenty-five days confinement in KGMU saw a beeline of his well wishers praying for his health including Zafaryab Jilani of Babri Masjid Action Committee, Ex. BSP Education Minister Rajbhar, Maulana Kalbe Jawad, Lawyer Javed Murtuza, Muslim Majlis President Khalid Sabir, Prof. Wali-ul-Haq Ansari, Prof. Anees Ashwaq and hordes of well wishers cutting across all party-lines.
“Aapne Lohiaji ka naam sab ko yaad dilaye rakha ye aapne bahaut achha kiya” (you made people remember the name of Lohiaji and you did a very good job) he said to CM Mulayam Singh Yadav and evoked a response “Aapne bhi bahut sangharsh kiya hai. Aap theek ho jao to sab theek ho jayega” (you have also struggled throughout your life. You recover soon then everything will be well), said the CM.

Chaudhry Sahib had a ball in his left hip girdle replaced and thereafter was shifted to Madarasa-tul-Waizeen run by Raja of Mehmoodabad. His will to survive and grit made him still edit the five newspapers he was running. He used to oversee the cutting, pasting and formatting of Tauheed Mail (twice a month in Hindi) and Hamari Tauheed (thrice a month in Urdu) and then would give dictation on matters relating to those aspiring for doctorates in Urdu literature and also translate from Persian. His command over languages was total as was his fluency over Persian was that of the era of Hali and Iqbal.

What surprised everyone was his impeccable memory as he was always ready with perfect anecdotes in Persian from luminaries like Meer Taqi Meer, Meer Anees, Mirza Dabeer and Iqbal and this was coupled and contrasted with his Avadhi language when he would enumerate countless legends and sayings and branding them as village wisdom, Kabeer, Raheem, Malik Jaisi and the most incredible poet of country side- Ghag.

Scholars would just sit with him for hours to collect pearls of wisdom from him for his grasp of history of Avadh, political struggles, personal interactions with over a half a dozen CMs of UP, his study of various movements and then his own village wisdom was as invaluable as a recurring fixed deposit. Research scholars from as far away as Oxford Centre for Oriental and African Studies, England, Royal Holloway College, London and journalists from Kayhan Times, ArabNews, IRNA and correspondents from Le Monde, Paris would drop-in to get to know the nitty-gritty of Lucknow’s tryst with the roots in Iran and Iraq. Dozens of books would come to him annually from Pakistan for reviews by him 
“It would be better to summarise him as a virtual encyclopedia of history of Lucknow and its tradition and culture and unfortunately that river of knowledge has stopped flowing. No one can replace him,” said Prof. Wali-ul-Haq Ansari. His contribution to the Babri Masjid campaign was also acknowledged again. “His statement of putting forth the Shiite theological view point vis-a-vis Babri Masjid has been of a great help to us and we will all miss his fatherly presence,” said Zafaryab Jilani.

Chaudhry Sahib, was bedridden and because of this he got bed sores too but he was never late in tuning to the 7 pm news on the radio He would never make a young man feel let down and help him in whatever capacity he could. His income despite his paltry belongings was mostly consumed for making arrangement of food for the visitors and accommodation for those who had arrived from outside Lucknow. 

He left behind his children his lands and property but surely he can never be replaced. His sense of humour, his knowledge of our age-old systems of medicine, his sense of responsibility of always meeting deadlines, his services to his guests, his exhortations to beautiful and brilliant India are all now a part of history.

He wrote the book Amjad Ali Shah: The Fourth King of Avadh and edited seven books on topics like socialism and on Urdu poetry and Urdu literature. Chaudhry Sahib died at 8:45 pm on Feb. 18, 2005 and was buried in his ancestral village Akbarpur, in district Faizabad, UP. CM Mulayam Singh Yadav and Ahmad Hasan, Minister for Family Welfare represented the government amid hundreds of mourning well wishers. 
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