When Gaffar Khan refused to bow to the British Born on 6 February 1890 in the Peshawar valley of British India, Khan Abdul Gaffar, more popularly known as ‘Frontier Gandhi’ in India and ‘Bacha Khan’ in Pakistan was the pioneer of a Gandhian-style, non-violent struggle against the oppressive British regime. He was a close friend of Mahatma Gandhi and also a political and spiritual leader for the Muslims and the rest of the country. In 1929, he founded the Khudai Khidmatgar or ‘Servants of God’movement, that achieved tremendous success in India. Its success invited the wrath of the British administration and it came down heavily on Bacha Khan and his supporters. He was also against the All-India Muslim League’s demand for the partition of India.
So, when ultimately the Indian National Congress conceded to the Muslim League’s demand to divide India into two nations without consulting the Khudai Khidmatgar leaders, he was extremely disappointed and told the Congress ,”you have thrown us to the wolves”. Galvanizing pathans to join the freedom struggle The persona and charisma of Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan are beyond description. He was one of the tallest leaders of the Indian freedom struggle not only in physical height but also in his contributions and sacrifices. He played a major role in organizing the Pathans and channeling their energy towards the cause of freedom struggle. The Pathans at that time were uneducated and the British wanted to keep them backward in order to control them easily.
Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan’s Khudai Khidmatgar instilled a new sense of confidence in the Pathans and encouraged them to actively participate in the freedom struggle He also opened schools for Pathan women and children to impart proper education to them. For this, he was arrested by the British government. After he was released, he published a national newspaper called Pakhtun which became really powerful. Gandhian by spirit In 1928, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan came in contact with Mahatma Gandhi who helped him shape his thoughts and impacted his life in a big way. Khan was again arrested during the freedom struggle for his prominent role in the Khudai Khidmatgar movement. The Muslim League offered no help whatsoever, but the INC came forward to help him and his supporters provided the Pathans join the Indian Freedom Struggle. The request was granted and Khan was released in 1945. He finally died in 1988 and his funeral procession was attended by thousands of teary eyed Indians.
Abdul Gaffar Ghan earned the respect of people all over be it India, Pakistan or Globally. For instance, Peshawar’s airport was renamed after Abdul Gaffar Khan and the Indian government bestowed the Bharat Ratna for Abdul Gaffar Khan besides he is also the recipeient of Amnesty International Prisoner Of Conscience.
The Logical Indian salutes Abdul Gaffar Khan, it is only regrettable Gaffar Khan’s voice was sidelined, had his voice been taken seriously, he would have altered the course of history for good, would have saved millions of lives that were lost due to the partition besides making lasting impact on the stability of south Asia. Despite what could have happened, Gaffar Khan’s love for unity, secularism and peace is unique and worth emulating.