Friday, September 17, 2021

Book on life of revolutionary freedom fighter Sher Ali who had assassinated Viceroy Lord Mayo

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Revolutionary freedom fighter Sher Ali, who was hanged by the British in Andaman and Nicobar islands, was among the early revolutionaries on whose path Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Madanlal Dhingra and many others, walked, later. 
Though Sher Ali's sacrifice is well-known, but the need was felt for a long time to have a proper book on his life. Dr Md Shahid Siddiqui Alig has written the book on the revolutionary who was executed in Andaman and Nicobar. 
Sher Ali was hanged as he had attacked and assassinated Lord Mayo. No other such high-ranking British official faced such an attack on Indian soil. Sher Ali's life and patriotism, how he turned into an anti-imperialist, in the company of other freedom fighters, is a long story.
Sher Ali Afridi was born in Tirah valley. He had assassinated Lord Mayo when the latter made a visit to Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 1872. He was immediately overpowered. Subsequently, he was arrested, incarcerated, faced trial and was executed. 
The author delves deep into history though Colonial era documents, and brings to fore the entire turn of events. The reader also gets to know about Andaman islands, the harassment and extreme torture meted out to freedom fighters who were kept in the prison.

Author brings to us British officials' comments about Sher Ali, as well. WW Hunter wrote that Sher Ali was a 'hillman of immense personal strength and when heavily fettered in the condemned cell overturned lamp with his chained ankle, bore down English sentry by brute strength of his body & wrenched away his bayonet with the manacled hands'.

We know well about great revolutionary leaders--Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Chandrashekhar Azad who planned the assassination of Saunders. Also, about Madanlal Dhingra, who in England assassinated William Hutt Curzon Wyllie, but a dedicated book was needed on Sher Ali's life. 

In foreword, M Ahmad Mujtaba mentions that earlier an event was held every year in Hopeland on March 11, in memory of the pioneering revolutionary of Indian's independence struggle. He mentions that not even a street in Andaman and Nicobar is named after Sher Ali. 

Dr Shahid Siddiqui Alig went through historical texts, documents, visited multiple libraries, accessed archives' records and also visited Andaman and Nicobar, before he began penning this book. It's an important book and must be in your collection, if you are interested in history and Indian freedom struggle.

You can get the book through a local Urdu publisher in your city. It has been published by All India Urdu Taleem Ghar. The cost is Rs 150, 10 US dollars for readers abroad. In case, you want to communicate, write to publishers at this Email:

READ: Remembering Sher Ali on the anniversary of first war of independence

Monday, September 13, 2021

Time for a new, articulate Muslim leadership to appear: Lack of leaders in Lucknow is a cause of concern

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

While there is considerable interest regarding politics in the society, the lack of initiative towards entering political arena, is intriguing.

This article deals with the issue of Muslims in Uttar Pradesh. Already, the community is facing a serious issue of poor representation in political sphere. Major parties are not giving tickets to Muslim candidates, as they feel polarization will affect their chance of victory.

Every community needs a voice and its members must reach echelons of power--at all the three levels viz. civic body, state legislature and houses of parliament. Besides, there is also social, intellectual leadership that is needed, apart from electoral politics.

What is surprising is that we don't have more people emerging as leaders in our centres. Cities like Lucknow need leaders, voices. It takes sometime before a person gets recognized in the society. This is through sustained efforts, speaking up, learning how to 'emerge' as leader in a society. 

Sometimes, a person who was never even a legislator or councillor, is seen as an important person or a leader of the region, because he has a forum or speaks up on important issues. On the other hand, there are people who win and have held public offices for several terms, but are not recalled or considered 'leader'.

It's about vision, taking initiative and several other factors. Basically, how you present yourself, how you engage with your regional media. There are certain tricks of the trade too. We need leadership that talks about real issues and also gives hope to community. 

Firstly, let's talk about a leader who got elected as MLA from one of the constituencies of the city, after a long time. It's rare for a Muslim to get elected from Lucknow, because of the manner in which delimitation of constituencies took place.

The person got ticket, he won, he was highly educated, had party chief and the cadre's support, yet he  remained silent for whole tenure. Even after loss in the next polls, could have raised issues as 'ex-MLA', because person is known, established as a leader.

Surprisingly, one never heard his statements, support to people when it was needed or any intervention, let alone positive work that could have changed perceptions or helped people in his constituency. Isn't it weird? Why does a person get into politics.

At least for sake of furthering own career or strengthening your image, you should speak an act. But you remain totally inert, then how does it help you or the electorate and the community. Capital's MLA has power, can speak on state issues, raise them, present self as face of community in state. 

Gets more media exposure, has opportunity to be known across state and country. But when someone wins, and remains inactive, then this issue. Rehan Naeem was MLA in the term 2012-2017. He lost in 2017. He lost in 2017. However, he failed to make any impact. Not party's fault. 

Earlier, it was in 1985 that a Muslim legislator had won from the seat, during the Rajiv Gandhi wave. Easy to dismiss others as 'old school, 'out of touch' but if modern, highly educated and well-connected person, fails to act, then it's really depressing. 

Not visible or taking up issues. Even as ex-MLA, leaders take delegations, hold demonstrations, meet Chief ministers and Governors, call press conferences, speak for people but when you don't do these basic things, who is responsible.

You are considered a leader when you speak up, when you are visible, you speak, stand with citizens. Now imagine, in a city where Muslim MLAs don't get elected easily due to certain factors, you get elected & yet no one thinks about you when talking of leadership in your own city.

This city has such a huge educated elite among Muslims, yet, so less engagement with politics. If you don't engage with politics, avoid social or political or any kind of leadership, and then rue that some non-serious person is seen as your representative, then what's the solution?

New generation must take up leadership role, come forward. If you've no proper leader and just those 3-4 religious faces representing you from the city that is seen as heart of Indian politics as well as Indian Muslim politics, then what can be more depressing!

There is need for not just 1-2 but 10-12 faces. Alas 0. Own failure. Accept. There is no death of people with political understanding. Every second person is an expect and has 'siyasi shaoor'. But if you can't even project yourself as leader or get into mainstream politics, then something is definitely wrong, seriously.

You've a population of nearly 1 million Muslims in  district now. But you have one sellout joker who is seen as representative. Two-three more Sunni, Shia personalities. Where is politician, where is leader?Join any party but get in politics, there's space, don't let the void remain. Take it as a profession or along side your main job, but get into active role.

Contest, lose, but at least be in politics, there should have been many leaders for such a big population, visible real netas in many parties What you do best is labelling or being minor party activists, fighting for one party and running down the 'other'.

There are people who never won LS or VS elections in their lives but are seen as big leaders. In fact, people generally don't even realise that the guy has never won a election. So, you are basically, not even able to present yourself as a neta. That's the saddest part of the story. One can't leave the field wide open.

READ: Indian Muslims need to seriously take up politics, reasons for failure in the field