Friday, August 28, 2020

Revolutionary freedom fighter Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi who was jailed in Andaman Nicobar: Exiled, died in prison, buried in Port Blair




Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Revolutionary freedom fighter Allama Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi who had given an open call for armed struggle against British, in the capital of India, rests in eternal sleep in his grave in Andaman Nicobar where he was exiled.

Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi had given this open call in Delhi, also giving the speech after over 14,000 soldiers had arrived, soon after uprising in Meerut and Awadh. He had issued the diktat at Jama Masjid. 

The widely respected scholar and author had taken upon himself the role to exhort Indians to fight the British. In fact, soon after reports of rebellion came, he had left Alwar and arrived in Delhi. He took part in framing the constitution for the the rebel army that had now set up administration in Delhi. 

In 1815-16, he had joined royal service. A farsighted man, as early as in 1826, he had petitioned to the Emperor Akbar Shah II [Saani], as a people's representative. In this Persian letter, he had mentioned how Company rule was crushing the people, and this was resulting in misery, loss of jobs.

He wrote that how trade was captured by foreign 'taajirs'--from cloth to horses, everything was in their hands and also gave insight about farmers' poor condition. Besides, wrote about the situation that had actually arisen due to Metcalfe's orders--thehardships in Delhi and around. This gives an indication about Allama Fazl Haq Khairabadi's vision.

In 1831, he had left Delhi for Jhajjhar. Zafar was now the Emperor and he was saddened to see him leave. He served at top posts in several princely states and made valuable suggestions to Mirza Ghalib, about his divan. 

From 1857 to 1859, he remained active from Delhi to Awadh, however, he was finally captured. He was made to face trial. A man of conviction, he said, 'I issued the fatwa and I stand by it'. His property was seized and he was sent to Kala Pani i.e. Andaman Nicobar islands. 

In the 'Sage journal' article, Jamal Malik, points out how Fazl Haq Khairabadi's role was ignored and his contribution sidelined despite his role and the fact that he drafted the constitution based on democratic ideals. It also cites his prison diary, letters and texts. 

Allama Fazl-e-Haq [also spelt, Allama Fazl Haq Khairabadi, Fazal Haq Khairabadi] was incarcerated and in his jail diaries, he wrote about his sentiments against the East India Company. In the prison in Andaman, he wrote, 'I did not commit any crime, I did not like British who...".

British government considered him one of the biggest threats and he was among the initial freedom fighters who were sent to Kala Pani. One must remember that, 1857 was not mutiny, but revolution across North India. 

People from all cross-sections were part of it--farmers, land owners, artisans, religious leaders, workers, sepoys. In 1857, when the revolution began, he was in Alwar. Allama came to know about situation in Meerut and Delhi. Hence, he returned to Delhi. 

Due to his stature and authority, there was massive support in favour of the rebels. He had also told last Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar that royal employees were inefficient and that there was need to ensure food supply. 

Born in 1797, Fazl Haq Khairabadi was son of Allama Fazl Imam Faruqi Khairabadi, who was Sadr-us-Sudoor, Delhi, was a scholar of immense repute and wrote 'Muraqqat' on Ilm-e-Mantiq. Fazle Haq Khairabadi learnt from his father, also from Abdul Qadir Muhaddis Dehlvi and Shah Abdul Aziz Mohaddis Dehlvi. 

He had quit royal service as he was not happy with the way things were going on, and he joined the court of the Ruler of Jhajhar, Nawab Faiz Mohammad Khan. Later, he went to Alwar. Subsequently, stayed in Saharanpur and also Tonk. Later, in Lucknow, where he was posted as Sadar-us-Sudoor. 

In 1856, he met great freedom fighter Maulvi Ahmadullah Shah Madrasi. Allama wrote several famous books. He also wrote his memoir in Andaman, which reached India through Mufti Inayat Ahmad Kakorvi. In 1857, when General Bakht Khan arrived with his army of 14,000 from Bareilly, Allama gave the speech at Jama Masjid. This created a stir. 

Soon tens of thousands of soldiers gathered. There were several reasons that led to the failure of the first war of independence and this included treachery as well. However, Delhi fell, finally, and he reached Oudh in 1858. Subsequently, he was arrested. 

On January 30, 1859, he was arrested and accused of inciting Indians to rise against the British. On October 8, 1859, the ship Fire Queen took him along with other freedom fighters to Andaman. He died in 1861. He was 64,

The great revolutionary was buried in Nicobar islands. The Andaman Nicobar waqf board takes care of the grave that is visited by lot of people who pay respects to this great soul of India. Locals also organise the Urs annually. In Khairabad too, tributes are paid to him on his birth and death anniversaries.

Abdul Shahid Sherwani mentions that as per his son's will that after the British would leave India, Najmul Hasan Razwi and a big crowd reached the grave on August 15, 1947, and organised an event--milad and recital of fatiha, paid respect to the valiant revolutionary.

[Photo shows location of his mazar in Andaman. Inset, Allama Fazl Haq Khairabadi. Photo of poet Chander Bhan Khayal paying tributes to the revolutionary. The phorotgraph of mazaar, courtesy Mohammed Obaid Khan.]