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A Sulaimani Bohra Muslim and grandson of the merchant prince Mullah T.A. Bhai Mian through his son Shamsuddin, was born on 1 February 1854 in Baroda state and was educated in England, where he lived for eleven years. He was an early proponent of women's rights, supporting women's education and social reform. He broke with the prevailing custom of the times by disregarding purdah restrictions and sending his daughters to school. He was a freedom fighter, who once served as the Chief Justice of the (Baroda) Gujarat High Court. His daughter, Sohaila, was mother of noted Indian historian Irfan Habib.  Mahatma Gandhi appointedhim, at age seventy-six, to replace him as leader of the Salt Satyagraha in May 1930 after Gandhi's arrest. He was arrested soon afterward and imprisoned by the British Indian Government. Gandhi and others respectfully called him the "Grand Old Man of Gujarat". He died in Mussoorie, (now in Uttarakhand) on 9 June 1936. After his death, Gandhi wrote: “At his age and for one who had never known hardships of life it was no joke to suffer imprisonments. But his faith conquered every obstacle… He was a rare servant of humanity. He was a servant of India because he was a servant of humanity…He believed that God was to be found in the humblest cottages and among the depressed of the earth. Heis not dead, though his body rests in the grave. His life is an inspiration for us all.”
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This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 July 2015 on page no. 22

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