Monday, August 22, 2016

Muslim freedom fighters' sacrifices, role in Indian freedom struggle: Syed Naseer Ahmad documenting the immortals of Independence movement

By Shams Ur Rehman Alavi  
Innumerable Muslims sacrificed their lives for India's independence. Thousands were hanged soon after 1857. Along with Hindus, Muslims too played a major part in the freedom struggle, up till 1947.
However, the role of Muslim freedom fighters doesn't get properly reflected in text books. In voluminous history books, names are mentioned but everyone doesn't have access. Besides, role and contribution of many leading figures of Indian freedom movement, have been relegated to background or just kept in footnotes.
Realising that how contribution of Muslim freedom fights has been ignored, a man has made it his lifelong mission to document the role of Muslims in freedom movement. Meet the man who has been selflessly documenting it and publishing books, with his own resources.

Syed Naseer Ahamed, who took up this huge responsibility on his shoulders, hails from Andhra Pradesh. For years, he has been dedicated to the cause. The result are his series of books that throws light on the immense sacrifices of Muslim freedom fighters.

The Immortals is his most famous book. It is a momentous work and a must in every bookshelf. The 350 page book carries rare photographs along with information about the major Muslim figures of Indian freedom movement.

The Immortals documents the freedom struggle across a span of nearly two centuries--much before 1857. Apart from well-known figures of the freedom struggle, it informs us about those who have been denied their rightful place in the books.

While it tells the readers about the most well-known figures and their sacrifices, role of Bahadur Shah Zafar, Begam Hazrat Mahal, General Bakht Khan and Azimullah, it also delves into the role of freedom fighters like the revolutionary Sher Ali, who had assassinated Lord Mayo, and was hanged in Andaman.

From Shaikh Bhikari to Barkatullah Bhopali, the leader of Ghadar party who had formed the first government of India in exile with Raja Mahendra Pratap, it tells the reader about the people who devoted themselves to their motherland, but today are relegated to a few lines in texts.

'Immortals' focuses on the lives of 155 freedom fighters along with their portraits. It took years of effort that he managed to get photographs or sketches of the freedom fighters from libraries, universities, kin of the freedom fighters or other sources.

Another aspect of the book is that it also tells us about many Muslim women freedom fighters. Abadi Bano Begam, Beebi Amatus Salam, Kuslum Sayani, Masooma  Begum, Hajra Begum, Jamalunnisa Baji, Hajara Bibi Ismail, Anis Begum Kidwai, are among them.

Syed Naseer Ahamed hails from a small town in Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh. 'Immortals', is one of his major works. 
In fact, he has so far written ten books on Muslim freedom fighters, in English and Telugu. He also intends to publish his next works in Urdu and Hindi as well.
Ahamed, 59, was born in Purini, a village in Nellore. He had his early education in Purini and later studied at different places including Kavali, Narasaraopet, Bhopal, Chitradurga and Guntur.
He gave up government job to practice law. Later, he took up journalism. However, he realised that a work of such magnitude needed full-time research.

Hence, he took voluntary retirement and dedicated himself to rediscovering the role of Muslim heroes of freedom struggle.

The result is 'Immortals'. His works have been translated in many languages. However, this book is a must in every household. In fact, it is one of the most attractive books one has come across in years. Syed Naseer Ahamed truly deserves a salute for this monumental work. After the first volume, the second is ready.