VIEW: The Ilam Din fiasco and lies about Jinnah

 —Yasser Latif Hamdani

Courtesy Daily Times

In the recent debate over the blasphemy law, a group of Jamaat-e-Islami-backed right-wing authors have come up with an extraordinary lie. It is extraordinary because it calls into question the professional integrity of the one man in South Asian history who has been described as incorruptible and honest to the bone by even his most vociferous critics and fiercest rivals, i.e. Mohammad Ali Jinnah. The lie goes something like this: ‘Ghazi’ Ilam Din ‘Shaheed’ killed blasphemer Hindu Raj Pal and was represented by Quaid-e-Azam at the trial who advised him to deny his involvement in the murder. ‘Ghazi’ and ‘Shaheed’ Ilam Din refused and said that he would never lie about the fact that he killed Raja Pal. Quaid-e-Azam lost the case and Ilam Din was hanged.

To start with, the story is entirely wrong. First of all, Jinnah was not the trial lawyer. Second, Ilam Din had entered the not guilty plea through his trial lawyer who was a lawyer from Lahore named Farrukh Hussain. The trial court ruled against Ilam Din. The trial lawyer appealed in the Lahore High Court and got Jinnah to appear as the lawyer in appeal. So there is no way Jinnah could have influenced Ilam Din to change his plea when the plea was already entered at the trial court level. Nor was Ilam Din exactly the ‘matchless warrior’ that Iqbal declared him to be — while simultaneously refusing to lead his funeral prayers. Indeed Ilam Din later filed a mercy petition to the King Emperor asking for a pardon.

The relevant case — in which Jinnah appeared — cited as Ilam Din vs. Emperor AIR 1930 Lahore 157 — makes interesting reading. It was a division bench judgement with Justice Broadway and Justice Johnstone presiding. Jinnah’s contention was that the evidence produced before the trial court was insufficient and the prosecution story was dubious. To quote the judgement, “He urged that Kidar Nath was not a reliable witness because (1) he was an employee of the deceased and, therefore, interested. (2) He had not stated in the First Information Report (a) that Bhagat Ram (the other witness) was with him, and (b) that the appellant had stated that he had avenged the Prophet. As to Bhagat Ram it was contended he, as an employee, was interested, and as to the rest that there were variations in some of the details.”

The court rejected this contention. The judgement continues that “Mr Jinnah finally contended that the sentence of death was not called for and urged as extenuating circumstances, that the appellant is only 19 or 20 years of age and that his act was prompted by feelings of veneration for the founder of his religion and anger at one who had scurrilously attacked him.” The court rejected this contention as well referring to Amir vs. Emperor, which was the same court’s decision a few years earlier. Interestingly, the curious reference to 19 or 20 years deserves some attention. Why did Jinnah as one of the leading lawyers refer specifically to an argument that had been exploded by the same court only two years earlier? That only Mr Jinnah can answer and I do not wish to speculate. Perhaps he was trying to argue what Clarence Darrow had argued successfully a few years ago in the famous Leopold and Loeb case involving two 19-year old college students who had committed the ‘perfect crime’. Clarence Darrow’s defence converted a death sentence to a life sentence.

Another corollary of the argument forwarded by our right-wing commentators is that since Jinnah defended Ilam Din in this murder trial, he favoured the ‘death sentence for blasphemy’. It is an odd derivative even for average intellects that most Pakistani ultra-rightwingers and Islamists possess. First of all, it is quite clear that Jinnah did not defend the actions of Ilam Din. He had attacked the evidence on legal grounds. Second, it is clear that there was no confession and Jinnah did not ask Ilam Din to change his plea. Third, when the court rejected Jinnah’s contentions, Jinnah’s argument was simply that a death sentence was too harsh for a man of 19 or 20, with the obvious implication that sentence should be changed to life imprisonment.

We can only conjecture as to what Jinnah’s reasons as a lawyer and politician to agree to be the lawyer for the appellant before the high court were. In any event, a lawyer’s duty is to accord an accused the best possible defence. Just because a lawyer agrees to defend an accused does not mean that the lawyer concurs with the crime. One is reminded of the famous Boston Massacre in 1770 when British soldiers opened fire and killed five civilians who were protesting against them. The British soldiers hired John Adams as a lawyer, who got five of the accused acquitted, arguing that a sentry’s post is his castle. Does that mean that John Adams was in favour of British rule in the US? If so, it is rather ironic that he was the prime mover and the guiding spirit behind the American declaration of independence. Similarly, when Clarence Darrow defended Leopold and Loeb, was he in any way suggesting that the crime that those two young men had committed was justified?

Jinnah’s record as a legislator tells us a different story altogether. He was an indefatigable defender of civil liberties. He stood for Bhagat Singh’s freedom and condemned the British government in the harshest language when no one else would. In the debate on 295-A of the Indian Penal Code, a much more sane and reasonable law than our 295-B and 295-C, Jinnah had sounded a warning against the misuse of such laws in curbing academic freedoms and bona fide criticisms. I have quoted that statement in my previous two articles.

There cannot be any question that Jinnah the legislator would have balked at the idea that his defence of a murder convict is now being used by some people to justify a law that is ten times more oppressive and draconian than the one he had cautioned against. To this day, I have only found him alone to have had the courage to state in the Assembly on September 11, 1929: “If my constituency is so backward as to disapprove of a measure like this then I say, the clearest duty on my part would be to say to my constituency, ‘you had better ask somebody else to represent you’.”

The writer is a lawyer. He also blogs at and can be reached at



Filed under Pakistan

127 responses to “VIEW: The Ilam Din fiasco and lies about Jinnah

  1. YLH

    I have not come across any evidence either way about the fee … but even if it were true I don’t see how it proves “Jinnah’s stand on the issue”. He was defending a murder accused pure and simple from a poor background whose community claimed that he was being wrongfully entangled and who himself claimed that he did not do it. That Jinnah warned against the misuse of 295 A on the other hand proves what his stand was.

    My reference to Bhagat Singh was pertaining to civil liberties.

  2. pankaj


    A lot of water has flown down the Indus since this case.

    The Benign thoughts AND spirit of jinnah over the Pakistani Nation, which moderates like you are so passionately searching and invoking relentlessly HAS been driven away quite a long time ago by the fundamentalists

    Even if Jinnah was not involved in this case from a religious point of view and assuming that Jinnah was treating it as just another murder case ; the only ” casualty ” NOW in this case , is the attempt to modify the existing blasphemy law.

    Jinnah being associated is a BONUS ammunition for the fundamentalists.

    The fundamentalists care two hoots for Jinnah

  3. YLH


    “I thoroughly endorse the principle, that while this measure should aim at those undesirable persons who indulge in wanton vilification or attack upon the religion of any particular class or upon the founders and prophets of a religion, we must also secure this very important and fundamental principle that those who are engaged in historical works, those who are engaged in bonafide and honest criticisms of a religion shall be protected”

    Jinnah on 295 A.

  4. R Alam


    I’m glad you got this information out there. I had tried earlier to sift through some of the stuff available. Most of it is nonsense. Yours is the sharpest account so far (if I find the very interesting Khaled Ahmed piece on Ilm Din, I’ll post it as a comment here). Ilm Din is kind of like our Christopher Columbus 😉

    Keep up the good fight.


  5. Samachar

    It would be interesting to know what death penalty appeal cases Jinnah accepted, and which ones if any, that he turned down.

  6. Samachar

    SECOND OPINION: The legacy of Ghazi Ilam Din Shaheed —Khaled Ahmed’s Review of the Urdu press

    We destroy public property after reported desecration of the Quran. Many people think it is a message to the government. In fact it is a message to the United States. It may be suicidal and may not be received in Washington

    We have been showing violence to desecrators of the Quran. Before partition it was also a kind of message to the British who ruled over us and ‘favoured the Hindus’. Today, when we go bonkers over desecration and damage our own public property, we are actually sending a message to the United States. It is suicidal but it is a message.

    Writing in Nawa-e-Waqt (November 1, 2005) Mahmud ur Rehman Qureshi stated that Ghazi Ilm ud Din Shaheed heard in 1929 the great orator Syed Ataullah Shah Bokhari on the book Rangila Rasul published by publisher Rajpal which insulted the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). He went home and inquired who had written the book. He was told that it was written by the editor of Pratab Lahore, Mahashay Krishna, who was a follower of Swami Dayanand of Arya Samaj. He went and killed Rajpal in his shop in February and was hanged in October 1929.

    Ghazi Ilam Din Shaheed could not get to the man who had written the book. He killed someone instead who may not have even read the book. The message was to the British Raj. Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar wanted to campaign for punishment to insulters of the Prophet (PBUH) — not death — but was not supported by Allama Iqbal. Violence is also indirectly unleashed by politicians who normally use extreme language. Newsweek in its May 9, 2005 reported that the Quran had been desecrated at the prisons run by the United States at Guantanamo Bay. Pakistan’s popular cricket icon and reputable political leader Imran Khan alerted the Muslim world to the outrage. It was a measure of Mr Khan’s popularity that flag-burning tribesmen in Afghanistan came out into the streets in various cities and carried out vandalism on public property to express their anger against the United States. At least 15 Afghans died. The punishment for the desecration of the Quran in Afghanistan is death. Many in Pakistan think that here too it should be death and not life. This sentiment could partially be behind the wave of destruction that follows a desecration report.

    According to Sarerahe in Nawa-e-Waqt (October 28, 2005) a police inspector, after being accused of a death in custody in his police station, immediately betook himself to the pious ritual of etekaaf. Sarerahe thought that the police inspector’s decision to improve his chances of going to Heaven by sitting in etekaaf was similar to the namaz of those travelling in trains without a ticket. When the ‘ticketless’ passengers saw a checker approaching, they immediately went down in sajda pretending to say namaz.

    Who can blame the above writer for making fun of etekaaf? The ritual disrupts our public life, gives an excuse to public servants to desert their jobs and criminals to shelter behind false piety. The ritual has spread like disease only in recent times. The founding fathers never said that they demanded Pakistan so that the Muslims of India could go into etekaaf. One wonders if the Quaid knew what was meant by etekaaf.

    According to Nawa-e-Waqt (October 29, 2005) UK suicide bomber of July 7, Tanvir Shehzad was brought from London and buried in a village in Samundari in Punjab. His father belonged to Azad Kashmir from Mangla and had migrated to the UK. Tanvir’s brother and sisters ran a restaurant in London while Tanvir was a student. He was buried in Samundari because his father was given alternative land for the one he had lost to Mangla Dam. People of Samundari who attended his funeral said he was a not a terrorist.

    It is our tragedy that we are in denial about things that require reform. Alas, reform cannot come without self-criticism, and as long as we are in denial we cannot even begin to criticise ourselves sincerely. If we are not inclined to self-reform then the only thing we can do is force the rest of the world to submit to us. The world is not willing to submit. And it has the ability to defend itself against us and also to punish us.

    Writing in Nawa-e-Waqt (October 29, 2005) Irfan Siddiqi said that now that the West was not willing to pay cash to Pakistan for the relief of the quake-stricken, Pakistan should open the safe (tijori) of $12 billion in foreign exchange reserves and help the people. He said one could not go on wearing the jewel (jhoomar) of Islamabad’s capitulation on its Afghan policy.

    When tijori is empty and Pakistan can’t buy its imports and the country comes to a standstill then the columnist will gather his army of believers to attack other nations for ghanima (booty).

    Quoted in Nawa-e-Waqt (October 29, 2005) Lahore chief of Jamia Ashrafia Mufti Hamidullah said that the film The Message being shown on a TV channel must be stopped forthwith because it was showing the likenesses of some Companions of the Prophet (PBUH), which was forbidden. He said the film was a conspiracy against the Muslim ummah and a most heinous plot to bring insult to the names of the Companions. He said that the TV channel showing the film should be punished for showing it. The NWFP assembly had already tabled a resolution against the film.

    It is tragic that Jamia Ashrafia should fly off the handle on The Message. This is one film that the Muslims all over the world have found inspiring. Scholars are not in agreement over the showing of the Companions in likeness. Mufti Hamidullah’s statement is too extreme.

    Writing in Jang (November 3, 2005) Ahmad Nadeem Qasimi wrote that he thought at first that the 1973 Constitution was signed by everyone but he had been informed that three MNAs had voted against it. They were: Mian Mahmud Kasuri, Ahmad Raza Khan Qasuri and Maulana Shah Ahmad Noorani. As for signing the Constitution Sardar Khair Baksh Marri and Abdul Hai Baloch had not signed it. A third Baloch member, Bizenjo, had signed it. All three Baloch leaders were members of NAP.

    Lack of consensus today in Pakistan is at its peak but the 1973 Constitution is alive after many changes in its contents. Those who did not sign were not able to convince the people that they should boycott it. But looking back today many of us want to remember the dissenting voices. *

  7. Kashif Jahangiri

    One cool reading. Awesome stuff, Yasser. Keep on.

  8. krash

    Thanks for setting the record straight.

  9. no-communal

    If the other side is using this incident to make their case, then one has to counter it. Hence I have nothing to say about the Ilam Din incident. One quibble, however, about the following comment:

    “He stood for Bhagat Singh’s freedom and condemned the British government in the harshest language when no one else would.”

    I guess the incident being referred to is Jinnah’s speech in the Central Assembly on the hunger strike of Bhagat Singh and his comrades in Lahore Jail (please correct me if I am wrong). If that is correct, then the part “…no one else would” gives an incorrect impression of history.

    In fact, the whole country was with Bhagat Singh, B K Dutt, Jatin Das, and comrades on their demands to end racial discrimination in prisons. Among prominent leaders there were Motilal Nehru, M.R. Jayakar, M. A. Jinnah (all three spoke in favor of Bhagat Singh and friends in the Central Assembly), S. C. Bose, B. C. Roy etc. After Jatin Das (after whom there is Jatin Das Nagar in Kolkata) died in this marathon hunger strike, M. L. Nehru forced an adjournment of the Central Assembly to actually censure the Government. Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom and the inability of Congress to save him infuriated Bose and that was the point he actively started a movement opposing Gandhi and his methods.

    Below is an excerpt of an article by Harish Puri (which includes Jinnah’s comments) that captures the mood of the moment beautifully.

    “The third factor that turned the public attention towards him and forged an emotional bond with Bhagat Singh was the hunger-strike he and Dutt started in the jail for the rights of political prisoners. That has been rightly described as a ‘Gandhian method”. One of the most revolting manifestations of the British rule and of India’s bondage was related to treatment of political prisoners in the jails. That the European prisoners be given additional privileges was unacceptable. That had to be fought inside the jails with a method available and suitable. Kuldip Nayar thought that Bhagat Singh “wanted to prove to Gandhi that the revolutionaries knew how to go through the rigours of fasting and the torture of approaching death” (2004: 80)

    We learn from BK Dutt that Bhagat Singh conveyed to him during the train journey from Delhi to the Jail that the two of them would begin a hunger-strike for claiming the rights of political prisoners as soon as they reached the jails. Accordingly, they started the hunger-strike on 15th June 1929. They had reportedly enjoyed better facilities in Delhi jail. What was it which led to his determination to start the hunger strike straightaway? On reaching Mianwali Jail Bhagat Singh told his co-prisoners that the hunger-strike by Kakori case prisoners had not led to any improvement in their conditions despite the reforms promised by the British authorities; that the Babbar Akalis were being treated as criminals. However, to the best of my knowledge no lead is available in the literature about why he considered the starting of the hunger strike for that purpose as topmost item on his agenda. But we are surely able to see its impact.

    His letter to I G of Prisons on 17th June stated that he lost 6 pounds already. On 10th of July when proceedings of Saunders’ murder case opened, those present were shocked to see a pale and weak Bhagat Singh being brought to the court lying on a on a stretcher. “our eyes became wet” recollected Shiv Verma. (Verma, op.cit. 47). On 13 July all their other comrades in jails went on hunger-strike. Soon there were reports of prisoners in more than half a dozen jails –- Meerut, Agra, Bareilley, Mianwali, Rawalpindi etc. and joined by prisoners of Kakori case, Dakshineshwar Bomb Case, the Communist leaders of Meerut Conspiracy Case, the Babbar Akalis and many others. Many of these were subjected to torture and additional punishments for joining that strike. Newspapers reported about brutal methods to feed them forcibly, leading in some cases to serious complications. The Tribune reports such as “Bhagat Singh bore marks of violence on his body”, or that “The court in fact had all the appearance of a police office”. These were followed by more and more in a large number of newspapers in north India:

    “The condition of Das was still serious and he had developed pneumonia, temperature being 103 degrees”,

    Jatin’s condition distinctly worse. Temprature – 95 degrees F, pulse 52-pm. Very weak and exhausted. Extremities are cold. Complained of loss of sensation in the legs. Condition grave.

    “Shiv verma and Jatin are considered unfit for artificial feeding. Placed on dangerously ill list”,

    “I wish to die” says Jatin,as Gopi Chand Bhargava talked to him in Jail . “Why”?
    “For the sake of my country, to uplift the status of political convicts”.

    “The condition of Shiv Verma has suddenly taken a critical turn yesterday as a consequence of forced feeding. He is reported to have vomited blood”.

    “Bijoy, Ajoy and Kishori Lal . . . also vomited blood.

    “500 convicts and under trial prisoners in the Borstal Jail did not have the evening meal yesterday.

    “Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthy told the press after his interview with Das that “Das was lying in a precarious condition”.

    The proceedings of the court had to be successively adjourned from 26 July to 24 September 1929 and again in February 1930, owing to some of the accused being unfit to attend the court.

    Let alone the other newspapers, even the Civil and Military Gazette wrote a leading article on the hunger-strike reporting particulary on the condition of Jatin Das. (Das 1979: passim)

    As the details of the forced feeding, the stories of resistance and the consequent further worsening of their physical conditions were reported by newspapers, the public attention was getting more and more focused on their suffering and their courage. Apprehensions, sympathy, anger was in the air.

    Jatin Das’s brother Kiron Das wrote that from 14th July, processions, public meetings and house to house visits by leaders of the Congress and Naujawan Bharat Sabha, including a large number of ladies, were organized to sypmathise with the hunger-strikers. A sum of Rs. 10000 was collected for the defence of the hunger strikers. (Das 1979: 22) Resolutions were passed at the provincial and local meetings of the Congress and student organizations.

    Doctors like Mohd. Ansari and B C Roy intervened to warn the Government and jail doctors, from a medical point of view, of the dangers of forced feeding. Moti Lal Nehru referred to the lessons of forced feeding of the Irish nationalists in British jails when the practice had to be abandoned after Thomas Agase died of heart failure caused by forced feeding by doctors. Apprehensions were expressed about similar kind of anger and strong feelings after the death of Bhagat Singh and Dutt, as it happened in Ireland following the Terrence MacSwiney.

    The under trial prisoners gave warnings in the court. Ajoy Ghose addressed the Court. “Das is on deathbed, if anything happens the court will be responsible for this. The treatment that we are receiving is simply callous and inhuman”. (Das:26)

    The Viceroy was anxious. In his telegram of 12 August 1929 to the Secretary of State for India

    “Reports from the Punjab Government say that public sympathy with the strikers is increasing, and was manifest even in quarters where it was not expected that it would arise. This sympathy is not confined to the Punjab, and there are definite signs that the Lahore situation is arousing great public interest all over India. . . .The death of any one of the accused would consequently be followed by a profound disturbance of public opinion . . . “ (cited Das:33)

    The Communist Party of Great Britain wrote about the so-called trial, “unparalleled in the history of political persecution, characterized by the most inhuman and brutal treatment”.

    A large of highly respected national political leaders and legal luminaries of the time, such as Motilal Nehru, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and M R Jayakar joined in questioning the government in the Central Assembly, about their designs, expressing the public’s anguish and pleading for a civilized response to the legitimate demands of the political prisoners. In one of his historic speeches, Mr. Jinnah said:

    ‘”Sir, You know perfectly well that these men are determined to die. It is not a joke. I ask the Hon’ble Law Member to realize that it is not everybody who can go on starving himself to death. Try it for a little while and you will see. . . . the man who goes on hunger strike has a soul. He is moved by that soul, and he believes in the justice of his cause. He is no ordinary criminal, who is guilty of cold blooded, sordid wicked crime…. I do not approve of the action of Bhagat Singh… I regret that rightly or wrongly the youth of today is stirred up… however much you deplore them and however much you say they are misguided, it is the system, this damnable system of governance, which is resented by the people
    . “(Text in Noorani : Appendix III)

    Besides meetings and demonstrations, there was an intense Press agitation. Subhas Bose recollected a few years later that ‘There was intense agitation throughout the country over the hunger-strike and there was a public demand that the govt. should remedy their just grievances “(1934: 226). Bose was one of many who were arrested In connection with a demonstration of this kind in Calcutta in September 1929 and sent up for trial for sedition ( 226-27)

    On 13 September, Jatindranath Das died. Hartals followed all over India. As his dead body was being taken to Calcutta, the train was stopped at the major railway stations where a large number of leaders and other people, particularly Congress men, were waiting to offer their tributes. Subhas Bose was in-charge of all arrangements for the last rites. Moti Lal Nehru tabled a motion for the adjournment of the Central Assembly to censure the government on their condemnable attitude towards the hunger-strikers,

    “It is said, Sir, that Nero fiddled while Rome was burning. Our benign Government has gone one better than Nero. It is fiddling on the deathbeds of these youngmen, misguided they may be, but patriots they are, all the same”

    The Government of India issued the New Jail Rules on February 19, 1930. Henceforth no special privileges were to be given to prisoners on grounds of race. Many demands were conceded, though it was still far short of the desired reforms. ”

    The murder was forgotten. Bhagat Singh and his comrades were brave patriots who were undergoing intense physical and mental suffering in fighting the evil empire. Bhagat Singh understood the immense significance of their hunger-strike. “Our suffering has brought positive results. A revolution is going on through out our country. Our objective has been achieved”, he wrote in his letter to Sukhdev.

  10. Bade Miyan

    Why did Jinnah take the case in the first place?

  11. YLH

    Jinnah was considered an outsider and a westernised Muslim. I am sure it made sense for him to take the case politically.

    That is not the point of the article. There is no way Jinnah’s role as the counsel for the appellant can be used to whitewash his commitment to freedom of conscience and expression he fought for all his life.

  12. Girish

    BTW, what is little known is that Section 295-A of the IPC (the only blasphemy-style law in the Indian law books) was directly added as a consequence of the Ilam Din / Rajpal murder case. Section 295 of the IPC as originally enacted criminalized only an attack on a place of worship or a sacred object, but not spoken words or actions that were mailiciously meant to insult other persons’ religious beliefs. 295A criminalized these actions and came about due to the public demand (mostly from the Muslim community) to criminalize blasphemy against the prophet.

  13. Chote Miyan

    “I am sure it made sense for him to take the case politically.”

    Umm..Then the fuss about the fallout? This is what happens when you handle a double-edged sword.

  14. Chote Miyan

    Then *why* the fuss..

  15. Chote Miyan


  16. Fellow-Pakistani

    Arya Dharm
    Hindu Consciousness in 19th-Century Punjab
    by Kenneth W. Jones
    University of California Press
    Published 1976

    I have come across this book in a library. I have not read it yet, only browsed.

    Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (HMGA) sahib had extensive published debates with Hindus belonging to Arya Dharm sect of their religion. Stalwarts of Arya Dharm included Swami Dayanand, Pundit Lekh Ram, Lala Lal Chand etc. HMGA prophesized about death of Pundit Lekh Ram, and circumstances surrounding it. His prophecy was precisely fulfilled.

    Kenneth Jones has given the background information, objectives, strategy, and planning of Arya Dharm. He has commented on their literature. He has also provided short biographies of major characters in the movement. And how movement leaders ended up locking horns with Muslims.

    Page 149: “In 1887, Pundit Lekh Ram published his first tract specifically against the Mirza [HMGA], Takzib-I-Burahin-I-Ahmadiyah (Refutation of Ahmadiya Arguments), Volume I subtitled, “A Gunfire to break the flanks and tyranny of Mohammad’s Islam”. Thus opened a war of words between Lekh Ram and Ghulam Ahmad. Each tract incited a counter-blast of criticism and condemnation, culminating in Lekh Ram’s infamous pamphlet, Risala-I-jihad Ya’ni Din-I-Muhammadi Ki Bunyad (A treatise on holy war, or the basis of the Muhammadan Religion). In Jihad Lekh Ram drew on the sections of the Satyarth Parkash which charged Islam with violence, slaughter, and a love of loot. He also turned to history for his ammunition.”

    Page 149 footnote: “Ghulam Ahmad responded to Lekh Ram’s attacks in 1887 with Surma-I-Chashma-I-Arya (Antimoney to open the Eyes of the Aryas). Lekh Ram replied in Nuskha-I-Khabt-I-Ahmadiya (A Prescription for the Madness of the Ahmadiyas) (Amritsar: Chashma-I-Nur Press, 1888). He followed this with Radd-I-Khilat-I-Islam (Rejection of the Islamic Robe of Honor) and Ibtal-I-Basharat Ahmadiyah (Refutation of Ahmadiya Statements)”.

    Page 193: “Lekh Ram continued in his speeches to denounce Islam, while his writings drew constant criticism from the Muslim press. “Takzib-I-Burahin-I-Ahmadiya….. is calculated to cause great mischief. The book purports to be a refutation of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s ‘Burahin-I-Ahmadiya’, but the Pandit, in utter disregard of the cannons of strict criticism has used the most offensive and insulting language towards Islam, its leaders, its followers, including the Prophets, and things held sacred by the Muhammadans [Paisa Akhbar]”.”

    Page 194: “Three days later, the Punjab Samachar stunned the province—Pundit Lekh Ram had been murdered, assassinated by “a Muhammadan who was living with Lekh Ram under [the] pretension of becoming a Hindu again”.

    Page 196: “Mirza Ghulam Ahmad published a tract in which he thanked God for the fulfillment of his prophecy that Lekh Ram would die a violent death. Rumor had it that prayers of thanksgiving were said for the death of Islam’s arch enemy [Tribune].”

    This book creates a vivid picture in words, of charged environment of 19th century Punjab and clash between two champions of their respective movements i.e. Pundit Lekh Ram and HMGA. I think it is a good book for those who have read HMGA books on Arya Dharm/ Hinduism and are interested to know the complete picture of the circumstances.

  17. no-communal

    Okay, and your point is? How does anything, absolutely anything, justify killing for the guilt of spoken word?

  18. Chote Miyan

    We should thank fellow Pakistani for this post. In light of the events he describes, the question that I initially asked, i.e., “Why did Jinnah take the case in the first place?”, becomes more important.

    Would love to hear Ylh’s input on this.

  19. Girish

    Let me correct an error. It was not the murder trial per se that led to the enactment of Sec 295A, but the events preceding it, with a no holds barred pamphlet battle between the Arya Samajis and Muslim groups, with Hindu gods/goddesses and the prophet of Islam being subjected to vilification on both sides. The Ilam Din trial was held after the enactment of this section, so what I previously stated could not have been true. However, the broader point is true, which is that the events that led to that case were the prime motivators for the enactment of 295A.

  20. no-communal

    Actually, given a choice, I would leave Jinnah out of this debate. He was a politician and a prominent lawyer from the Muslim community. As a politician he probably saw value in the case, as a lawyer argued for a reduced sentence, and lost. I don’t have much problem with that, even though I wish such episodes didn’t come to light. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I have problem with those who are still justifying murder for the guilt of the spoken or written word. They don’t realize much water has flown through the Indus in the interim.

  21. Samachar

    Look up John Alexander Dowie in wikipedia.

  22. Samachar

    Islam and Ahmaddiya jama’at: history belief and practice, by Simon Ross Valentine has a more gross description of Pandit Lekh Ram’s death.

    Ahmad’s biographer [A.R. Dard, Life of Ahmad: Founder of the Ahmaddiya Movement] describes with an obvious sense of satisfaction how Lekh Ram:

    had started the day muttering his prayers in the usual Hindi mode in a squatting posture with his body uncovered except for a loin-cloth. When he had finished his [prayers], he straightened himself in his position, thus exhibiting his bare abdoment o full view. It is related that just at that moment, a dagger flashed out from the hands of the would-be convert who was lying huddled up next to the Pandit. Like lightning, the knife plunged in the soft folds of the bulging belly up to the hilt, throwing out, instantaneously, the intestines, and the Pandit collapsed with a big yell resembling the bellow of a bull; he expired shortly afterwards in hospital under a surgical operation.

    Waheed Ahmead in his “Book of religious knowledge for Ahmadi Muslims”, declares triumphantly: ‘the fulfilment of this prophecy was a great sign of the truth of the Promised Messiah’. Although some suspected Ahmad’s hand in the death of this pamphleteer, nothing could be proved.

  23. Fellow-Pakistani

    Interesting info:
    Lekh Ram, was taken to hospital in Lahore and an elder of Lahori-Ahmadiyya Movement Dr. Bisharat Ahmad tried for couple of days to save his life.

  24. Fellow-Pakistani

    December 1, 2010 at 1:05 am
    Nothing justifies killing for the guilt of spoken words. Just the way MURDER OF FAKHAR-UD-DIN MULTANI was absolutely WRONG. His fault was that he publically demanded from Qadiani Khalifa 2 Mirza Mahmud Ahmad to EXONERATE him from the charges of RAPE levelled by Abdul Rehman Misri the NUMBER 2 man in Qadiani organization. (Abdul rehman Misri was NEXT to Qadiani Khalifa2).

  25. Chote Miyan

    I don’t know how we can leave Jinnah out of this. This article was about Jinnah. Interestingly, this refers to an incident in 1930. So, if we ascribe political motive to Jinnah’s taking up the case, then can we say that even Jinnah concluded that that was the best way to gain traction with the Muslim community? I am surprised, however, as to how long this public spat by idiots on both sides carried on. Compare that to present times where a single word or act would get you in trouble from all quarters.

  26. Fellow-Pakistani

    December 1, 2010 at 1:05 am
    Nothing justifies killing for the guilt of spoken words. Just the way MURDER OF FAKHAR-UD-DIN MULTANI was absolutely WRONG. His fault was that he publically demanded from Qadiani Khalifa 2 Mirza Mahmud Ahmad to EXONERATE himself (Qadiani Khalifa 2) from the charges of RAPE levelled by Abdul Rehman Misri, the NUMBER 2 man in Qadiani organization. (Abdul rehman Misri was NEXT to Qadiani Khalifa2).

  27. T.S. Bokhari

    I wonder why YLH did not refer to the records of the case, copies of some of which I saw in a book, in Urdu, on Ilam Deen, published by Jang Publications not long ago. It contained a copy of the statement of ID before a magistrate wherein the accused had denied having committed the murder of Raj Pal. This book also states that ID had, after his sentence, repented about the lie, which he avowedly made due to coaxing by his father who wanted to save his life.
    Again, according to the book, Jinnah had taken the plea of provocation at the blasphemous writings in the impugned book, but the prosecution had rebutted the plea by saying that the writer had added nothing from himself but had simply reproduced some authentic Ahadees on the family life of the prophet.

    Interestingly, a public debate on Blasphemy Law has started in Aasiya Bibi’s case wherein the supporters of the death sentence in the law have invoked ahadees when faced with the argument that there is no punishment ordained by Quran in such a case. But if we rely on ahadees, there are some which exhort straightaway lynching of the accused without any trial whatsoever. The BL has therefore added tyranny to the terror with no remedy.

  28. YLH

    No communal has succinctly put the entire purpose of this article.

    Jinnah’s relevance, if any, to the debate between pro and anti blasphemy law lobbies can be on the positions he took as a legislator and not the fact that he argued for a reduced sentence. Girish is absolutely correct that 295-A came as a direct result of Rajpal v Emperor … So for pro-blasphemy law lobby to use Jinnah they would have to show where Jinnah suggested anything even remotely similar to the laws on Pakistan’s statute books today …on the contrary he warned against the misuse of 295 A.

    TS Bokhari has added valuable information which is something I recall seeing on a photocopy of the same.
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  29. Bade Miyan

    Would you take up such a case?

  30. YLH

    If Aafia Siddiqui approached me for some odd reason and if I were competent to appear before the US superior judiciary to appeal the harshness of her sentence I would appear for her, even though I consider her an Al-Qaeda terrorist and will NOT change my view on that. Same for Ajmal Qasab.

    That is a very stupid question btw Bade Miyan as the issue is entirely different.

  31. YLH


    I know the English language is not your forte but Bukhari’s comment only reinforces my point contrary to whatever you are reading into it. The plea of provocation was for extenuating circumstances as to why death sentence was too harsh.

    I have mentioned that clearly in the article.

    “Mr Jinnah finally contended that the sentence of death was not called for and urged as extenuating circumstances, that the appellant is only 19 or 20 years of age and that his act was prompted by feelings of veneration for the founder of his religion and anger at one who had scurrilously attacked him.”

  32. Bade Miyan

    There is more to it than meets the eye. The Afia analogy is not entirely accurate recreation of that episode, but let’s go with it. You are a Muslim, though a MINO(Muslim in name only). Afia is a Muslim too. And, say Afia won the case and went on to create more mayhem. Now, I know that you took that case as a professional, the people here would know that too, but what about the masses? Would they think the same? To add to that, imagine you were trying to secure a foothold among Muslims. Do you think most Americans would take your claim for impartiality without any doubt whatsoever? I don’t think so. By taking up the case of a person whose ideology you hate the most and, moreover, have actually accused others of stoking, you unwittingly give fuel to the more atavistic elements of that ideology. I am not surprised about how they twist Jinnah’s stand to suit their convenience. That is their signature capability. As for Jinnah’s innocence, well, let’s leave it at that. I highly doubt he was that gullible.

    “when you play with cats, expect to be scratched” — Cervantes in Don Quixote.

  33. YLH

    “went on to create more mayhem”.

    I don’t have time for stupid comments but only a genius can explain how arguing for a less harsh sentence can mean that she would go onto create more mayhem.

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  34. Rajaram

    Very busy you are! But Mr. Bukhari’s comment is still there.

  35. YLH

    Yes it is. And I don’t see anything in Mr. Bukhari’s comment that contradicts my narration of facts.

  36. YLH

    Dear Rajaram,

    I have already answered that post of yours. Why don’t you open your eyes?

  37. Rajaram

    edited for repetitive nonsensical abuse.

  38. Alakshyendra

    the very fact that jinnah chose to appear for ilam din shows where his loyalties lay. all this nonsense about “best ambassador of hindu-muslim unity” is just that: plain unadulterated nonsense; the man was a thorough communalist cloaked in english garb and manners.

  39. YLH

    Yes just like John Adams was an agent of the British. Because by appearing for British soldiers in a court of law against sons of liberty showed where his loyalties truly lie. All that nonsense about being the “founding father of America” is just that; plain unadulterated nonsense.

    You Indian types need to get a life.

  40. pankaj

    Pakistani leaders often talk of the CANCER of extremism

    Taliban, sipah -e – sahaba , Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan , and all other new sectarian outfits like Deobandi , wahabi are getting more and more supporters and resources

    The number of the general population who are now in awe of these right wing fundamentalists is steadily rising

    In such difficult circumstances all this talk of Jinnah’s thoughts, views , ideas, is like giving vitamin pills to the cancer patient

  41. @ Alakshyendra (December 1, 2010 at 3:28 pm) & YLH (December 1, 2010 at 3:30 pm)

    In the early 1940s, when the German Afrika Korps, under Erwin Rommel, was forcing the British army in North Africa into a headlong retreat into Egypt, Winston Churchill got up in the House of Commons and paid a tribute to Rommel. Then, again, when the Americans wanted to assassinate Adolf Hitler and end the war, Churchill objected. Churchill was a life long foe of communism and yet when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, Churchill was the first one to offer Stalin an alliance against Hitler.

    Did Churchill’s tribute of Rommel make him into a supporter of the German army and did his objection to killing Hitler make him into a Nazi supporter of Hitler and did his help to Stalin make him into a communist?

    George Washington, the American who fought the British during the American Revolution (1776-1783) with the help of France, fought for the British army during the Seven Years War (1756-1763) against France. Does that make him a friend or foe to France?

    Cardinal Richelieu, a Roman Catholic priest, when he was ruling France from 1622-1642, made France fight in the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) on the side of the Protestant cause against Spain, which was fighting to defend Catholism. Does that make Cardinal Richelieu into a protestant?

    Cyrus the Great, the Persian king, who was a Zorastrian, freed the Jews from their Babylonian Captivity. Does that make Cyrus into a Jew?

    Suliman the Magnificiant, the Ottoman ruler, offered to accept the Jews who were being killed by the Spanish Inquistion in the late 1400s and offered them a place to stay in his empire. Does this mean that Suliman was a closet Jew ruling the Ottoman Empire?

    Jinnah, who was born in India, created Pakistan out of India, but does that mean Jinnah was not born in India because he created Pakistan?

    Alakshyendra, the simplication of history and the historic personalities to fit a certain set of political or personal believes and values does not in any way, form or shape changes or alters the reality of history. History, like the people who lived it, is too complex and too nuanced to be made into simple truisms.

    In this case, Yasser by showing the irony of John Adams defending British troops is trully reflecting history, which is filled with ironies and my above examples were directed at you to only highlight the absurdity of your statement that Jinnah was a communal because he defended a person who killed in the name of religion.

    In the same sense, Gandhi could be called a supporter of British imperialism because he fought in the Boer War (1898-1902) on the side of the British and Nehru could be called an Anglophile, because he was educated in British schools. How about Nelson Mandela? He was jailed by the South African apartheid regime for acts of terrorism in 1964. Does that mean Mandela, who got the Nobel Prize is a terrorist? Does it also mean that when he reached a rapprochment with F. W. DeKlerk (sp?), the president of South Africa when apartheid was still in force, Mandela became a supporter of apartheid?

    Let me put it in another way; when you love your wife, does that mean you do not love your mother and vice versa?


  42. Samachar

    If one accepts YLH’s narrative of Jinnah as a secular democrat; then Jinnah was somewhat singular; when he passed from the scene, there was no one of significance to uphold secular ideals. Jinnah should then be seen as someone attempting **political** reform of Muslim society but not so much **social** reform (except insofar as civil law governing Muslims was rewritten).

    The Hindu contemporaries of Jinnah very much recognized the need for social reform in Hindu society to go along with political reform. They, of course, could push for reform in Hindu society only – calls for Muslim reform would not go down well. That is one of the reasons they don’t always appear secular; because their social reform program was “Hindu”.

    Reading the essays on PTH, I see a lot of call for political reform and for religious reform; but IMO, the underlying mechanism for building a constituency for such changes is social reform. I think somehow social reform is seen as getting people to act more in accord with Islam, and is thus consigned to the religious column. But to build a base for secular thought, the issues, e.g., of education for women, or support for divorced women, child custody, etc., have to be seen through a secular rather than Islamic angle. The message to Hindus was that Hindus are not bound by outdated traditions and customs, religious or otherwise.

  43. YLH

    Yes. Read my article in The News on Sunday’s “Secularism” debate this coming Sunday in which I have argued something similar
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  44. Salman Arshad

    @ YLH:

    Did Jinnah not foresee the mullahs coming into power one day, that too simply because he would be dead one day?

    Was he ever proactive, or intended to be, in differentiating his point of view about the role of Islam from the point of view of the Islamists of his time ?

  45. bciv

    @ samachar

    [..]calls for Muslim reform would not go down well.

    indeed. however, congress could have stayed away from the mullahs instead of embracing them just because they could and did oppose, bitterly, jinnah and the liberal side of muslim society that he came to represent (no matter how much it lagged behind its hindu counterpart). jinnah was able to take the initiative away from the mullahs (and congress) for a while. but, yes, the small but significant victory died with him, in essence. moreover, it was the congress-backed mullahs who claimed the pakistan they had viciously opposed as their own. an illegitimate establishment was happy to facilitate them in this naively thinking it was only using them when it was itself being used.

  46. Salman Arshad

    @ YLH

    He was very clear about how the Muslim minority areas would suffer under united India due to Hindus in power, likewise, did he ever at least WARN the Muslim public of the menace of Islamists?

    Or did he FAIL to see that there were other forces in India detrimental to the Muslims of India ?

  47. T.S. Bokhari

    (December 1, 2010 at 11:00 am)
    I agree. The facts I stated in fact go to support the stand taken by YLH that Jinnah acted perfectly as a professional lawyer in the ID’s case, without showing any personal involvement whatsoever with its political, religious or moral fall out of the case.
    The case as pleaded by Jinnah, however , brought out some facts which show that ID had denied having killed Raj Pal before the magistrate at the very start of the case and it was only the circumstantial evidence which led to his conviction for murder. And it was, according to the book I mentioned above, only after that conviction that he repented having lied and started to be proud of the murder. The question arises; why should not one, especially as a legal councsel, doubt that ID was falsely implicated in this case and the ‘credit’ for the murder of Raj Pal goes to some one else.

  48. Fellow-Pakistani

    @Feroz Khan
    “Cyrus the Great, the Persian king, who was a Zorastrian, freed the Jews from their Babylonian Captivity. Does that make Cyrus into a Jew?”

    FYI: Cyrus in persian called ‘Kharoash’ and in arabic called ‘Zulqarnain’ was the same prophet mentioned as ‘Zulqarnain’ in Holy Quran.

  49. Girish


    Just as it makes no sense to paint all Muslims with one brush, it makes no sense to paint all the ulema in pre-independence India with one brush. There were enlightened Maulanas as well as bigoted ones. Both Jinnah and the Congress embraced Maulanas – only of different kinds. It is tempting to divide them into the Barelvi and Deobandi kinds and then classify them all as having identical views within each camp and ascribe good/bad labels to them, but that would be a mistake too. If one goes to the messaging on the two sides during the 1946 elections, a very complex picture emerges, which puts a lie to the simplistic views that are often presented on this issue.

  50. Girish

    The very essence of the rule of law is that everybody has the right to a fair trial, and that the accused has the right to be represented by a lawyer. This applies even if the person has pleaded guilty and/or the evidence of the crime is crystal clear. If lawyers did not represent the accused, the entire criminal justice system would cease to function. Hence, it makes no sense to question the decision of a lawyer to represent the defendant. Jinnah was a practicing lawyer and had as much of a right to take up the case as any other lawyer.

  51. Girish


    Also, I am curious to know what is the basis of your conclusion that Jinnah represented the liberal side of Muslim society in 1946 (and by extension , the conclusion that the illiberal side of Muslim society was represented by others)?

  52. YLH


    The Muslim intellectual circles were divided into two main broad groups ie Aligarh modernists and Deoband traditionalists … the former by and large sided with Jinnah, the latter with Congress. Jinnah’s movement was broadbased and consisted of shias, sunnis, ahmadis, ismailis and mahdavis. The main Muslim opposition to him was sectarian and straitjacket sunni.

    Jinnah’s Muslim nationalism insisted on bringing women out and increasing participation of women in politics and commerce etc. His opponents by and large opposed him and many Congress allies attacked Muslim League women as “be-pardah khawateen”.

    I think the Shah Bano case -happening 30 years later is further illustrative. Against Shah Bano were Congress’ erstwhile Deoband allies, the lawyer representing Shah Bano was none other than Daniyal Latifi, veteran Muslim Leaguer, Jinnah’s junior and a prominent leftist.

  53. Samachar

    It was the perceived Congress “embrace” of various Ulema that rendered them less than effective in the electoral race. Remember, a lot of the orgs. of these were not against Pakistan as such, but against the insufficiently pious Muslim League’s leadership of the movement. Congress no doubt hoped for a division among Muslims and played that way; and the Muslim League liked to portray these groups as pro-Congress because that way Muslim public opinion moved against these groups; but for these groups, being anti-Jinnah did not mean being anti-two-nation theory or wanting a unified India.

  54. Bade Miyan

    @Feroz Khan
    December 1, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Very thoughtful post and I fully agree with you. I believe that your arguments, if carried to its logical conclusion, would be uncomfortable for people who say that Gandhi was a fundamentalist based on his support to the Khilafat Movement.
    Thanks for a very enlightening post.

  55. Bade Miyan

    “Against Shah Bano were Congress’ erstwhile Deoband allies, ”

    If you persist in spreading half-truth based on the belief that somehow one day it might become truth itself, you are deluding yourself. I mean, who were the Deoband allies, can you name? Was Rajiv Gandhi deobandi? MJ Akbar ? Arun Nehru? Arjun Singh?
    We have gone over this, friend.

  56. Bade Miyan

    “Jinnah was a practicing lawyer and had as much of a right to take up the case as any other lawyer.”

    No one is questioning his right. We are merely doubtful of the wisdom behind taking such a case. The present result is somewhat expected.

  57. YLH

    Dear idiot miyan,

    Congress undid the SC verdict on Deoband’s insistence.

    You seem to be a rather odd fellow for asking me if Arjun Singh and Rajiv Gandhi were Deobandis…since we are talking about the main agitators and not Congressmen.

    Please don’t participate in debates that you are incapable of fully comprehending.

  58. Bade Miyan

    Is MJ Akbar deobandi?

  59. YLH

    Another stupid question. Is MJ Akbar a pro-Jinnah pro-Pakistan writer who believes Muslim League was right in asking for Pakistan?

    I am surprised by just how incredibly stupid you are.

  60. Bade Miyan

    Oh and totally forgot Syed Shahabuddin..

  61. Bade Miyan

    MJ Akbar has written approvingly of Jinnah. Are you suggesting that all liberal Muslims were supportive of Jinnah? MC Chagla was a Muslim, no?

  62. YLH

    My dear chote dimagh wallay
    To spell it out … my contention is that those opposing the Supreme Court verdict in shah bano case represented the non-liberal trend. The counter argument is not how many non-deobandis opposed but whether Congress’ supporters in Deoband supported the verdict and the answer is no…not even one.

    MC chagla broke with Jinnah very early on. MJ Akbar is a fan of Nehru and Congress wallah.

  63. YLH

    Nor do I know what Chagla’s position on the issue was.

  64. Bade Miyan

    The issue is more complex than you describe here. There were many liberal Muslims in favor of the bill.

    Congress capitulated as much to Muslim section as much to the Hindu fundamentalist side, so much so that it became a baby that no one was willing to adopt. The controversy could have been nipped in the bud if Rajiv Gandhi had firmly rejected calls to overturn the SC judgment at the start. The whispering campaign by BJP about Muslim appeasement had started way before and it culminated at the time of Shah Bano’s judgment. That the election year was close by didn’t help. It was also the time when Bofors started making the news. The more Hindu fundamentalists supported the judgment, the more eager the Muslim parties became to introduce the bill at any cost. In the end, it, proverbially, became a naak ki ladai. We are still paying the cost.
    If you can, get your hands on Illustrated Weekly of India of those days. It’s a good source of things happening at that time.

    As for MJ Akbar, we all agree that he is a liberal Muslim. Why was he supporting the bill? Is the support for Pakistan a certificate of liberalism for Muslims or what? Do you want me to forward you the article he wrote about Jinnah?

    Arif Mohammad Khan on the opposing side representing Muslim voices against the bill is a great admirer of Azad and, if I may remind you, published the interview of Azad on this website. Does that make him a Sunni fanatic?

  65. Bade Miyan

    “my contention is that those opposing the Supreme Court verdict in shah bano case represented the non-liberal trend.”

    That is a bit simplistic. As the fight over the bill reached a crescendo, the ancient war cry that “Islam khatrey mein hai” was brought out and trust me a lot of liberal Muslims bought into that. Don’t go by just the big names.

  66. Pankaj

    You are unnecessarily criticising Indian Muslims

    In India you will find Muslims in ALL states

    The outlook of Muslim community varies from state to state

    The Shah Bano case is quite old .It happened in 1988

    Since then the Indian Muslim community has gone through a lot of
    honest soul searching AND internal reforms and today there is a fast growing Muslim middle class in India.

    The Indian Muslim community has through sustained pressure on the clergy and other religious heads brought about reforms in the personal laws

    The Muslim leaders say that reforms are best brought about internally and if the parliament and judiciary intervenes the hard liners start their antics

    And this is true

    Unlike in Pakistan In India the Muslim clergy is UNABLE to impose its views on the Muslim population

    An Indian Muslim is free to live his life as he wants

    So you fill find many liberal muslims in India living without the fear of clergy

  67. YLH


    You’ve missed the point altogether. I have not argued that Pakistan is perfect or better. Pakistan is a victim of its constitution …

    However on the issue of family laws, Pakistan’s situation is much better legally than Indian Muslims.

    My point in any event was not Pakistan v India but the trends that Jinnah represented in the 1940s and the trends his Muslim opponents represented.

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  68. YLH

    Bade miyan,

    I don’t think anyone opposing the Shah Bano verdict can be a liberal Muslim.

    Even Islamic theocratic Pakistan has more liberal family laws.

  69. Bade Miyan

    “Even Islamic theocratic Pakistan has more liberal family laws.”

    That I fully agree and is one of the sore points for people back home. Things, however, are changing, beginning with a growing chorus among a large section of Muslims to do away with the Haj subsidy.

    “I don’t think anyone opposing the Shah Bano verdict can be a liberal Muslim.”

    While it may have been true initially but it became a communal issue soon after. Even Muslims who were supporting the SC verdict had to bow down to the corrosive voices from among their community. It was a classic case of what Azad said(or reportedly said) that the support of Hindu fundamentalist for a particular issue made Muslims oppose what, in all fairness, was an excellent judgment.

  70. YLH

    Azad? About the Shah Bano case?

  71. Bade Miyan

    No. I was referring to what Azad said, I think in his book, as to why Hindu leaders were opposing Pakistan or why Muslims were gunning for Pakistan or something like that(I have to check for exact wordings.) The more stridently they opposed especially the ones from Mahasabha, the more the undecided Muslims began to see the virtues of Pakistan. Now, this was Azad’s view. It may have had limited significance then but in case of Shah Bano, it was 100% accurate.

  72. poke

    Enough show of useless intelligence … ylh and bade miya….. no one is bothered… jinnah was communal ..period
    go on a messenger chat as much as you like … congratulate each other … call urself liberal …..
    this is for ur eyes only

  73. Alakshyendra

    feroz ji, churchill is hardly an example of wisdom; the man was – despite his leadership skills – a borderline nut who was very unpredictable and did whatever tickled his fancy. anyways, in any profession, proximity to or the advocacy of an usavoury character can bring instant disrepute; but lawyers can easily avoid opprobrium by saying that they are doing their professional duty. jinnah’s case is the same. despite pleading for ilam din, we’re supposed to believe that the man was a great secularist, all because he was merely doing his “professional” duty.

  74. YLH

    So in other words the law firm representing Aafia Siddiqui in the US is Al Qaeda.

  75. Alakshyendra

    ylh, as always, indulging in lawyerspeak – hyperbole and exaggeration. aafia’s lawyers are at best ordinary americans (do you even know their names?) earning their bread. they’re not the ones who’re being looked upon to by ordinary americans as the gold standard. in contrast, jinnah by then was a well known leader of the muslim league. when it came to his famed honesty, he asked ilam din to deny that he had killed raj pal. nice qualities to have in the founder of a nation!

  76. YLH

    I have already proved Jinnah said no such thing to Ilamdin … infact Jinnah could not have said such thing to ilamdin…. perhaps you didn’t attempt to read the article properly. My claim in the article was further proven by T S Bokhari’s first (and possibly only) comment.

    Btw is John Adams merely an ordinary American or founding father of America?

  77. pankaj

    Jinnah was not considered a good Muslim because of his westernised ways of living like drinking wine, ham sandwiches , parsi wife

    Jinnah was also desperate to amend his image in the Muslim community because he wanted to be undisputed leader of Indian Muslims

    So he must have taken this case merely to do something positive for Islam and improve his standing in the Muslim community

    But he could not have foreseen that so many decades later his act of defending a murder accused would go against his otherwise liberal principles and become a USEFUL TOOL for the fundamentalists

  78. Girish


    The Shah Bano case is irrelevant to the Jinnah discussion. The case and the events surrounding it were the result of the political dynamics of post-independence India, very very different from those of pre-independence India. Who represented Shah Bano, who supported the Supreme Court decision and who opposed it has nothing to say about the politics of Jinnah and his opponents.

    I do think that the characterization of Jinnah’s followers/supporters in the period leading up to independence as liberals and his opponents as traditionalists is an oversimplification. His supporters included liberals as well as some of the most bigoted traditionalists, as opposed to women’s liberation for instance as some of the Deobandis. Ayesha Jalal has also written about some of these people. And amongst the ranks of the muslims on the other side, leaders and supporters alike, were people who were liberal in their views on many social issues as well as others who were bigoted in their views. Jinnah won his 1946 elections by trying to unite every shade of Muslim opinion behind him, and in the process took on board everybody willing to come on the ride. This meant that he had more than a fair share of crooks on his side. Even more so in the Muslim majority provinces where he had to gain support by making people switch sides rather than building support for the AIML from the ground up.

  79. YLH


    The point I was making is that Jinnah’s task being to unite all sections of Muslim society, he had to throw a broad net which by definition was liberal- so to Jinnah Ismailis, Ahmadis, Madhavis etc were all Muslims …and women had to participate in politics …

    Doctrinally Barelvis are considered part of the popular Islam and Deobandi part of the straitjacket. The former by and large supported the league, the latter the Congress.
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  80. @ Alakshyendra (December 2, 2010 at 3:23 pm)

    The point of my previous post to show that when you are judging historic personalities, it is a good idea to see the entire specturm of their lives and not generalize their life, ideas and deeds based on one solitary act or reference.

    It is interesting that you avoided commenting on my other examples besides Churchill. The “nut” Churchill is credited by the world for saving it from Hitler and won a Nobel Prize for literture, but I guess that would be impossibe since a “nut” like Churchill could not write! If you personally do not wish to accept a fact of history; it does not make that historical fact moot. I am sure you will find good company with those Pakistanis, who wish to bend history to their personal whims and twist it to suit their views.

    I guess, that would make you an “honorary Pakistani” and so my next question to you is; when are you planning your next book burning activity? 🙂


  81. T.S. Bokhari

    December 2, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    “My claim in the article was further proven by T S Bokhari’s first (and possibly only) comment.”

    Yes, I had a photocopy of the court’s record of the question/answers relating to ID’s case wherein Id denied having murdered RP. I will try to trace it out and send you a copy of it to end this unfounded blame that Jinnah had advised ID to deny. In any case, Jinnah had appeared only in the appeal of ID in the High Court, where no fresh evidence can perhaps be presented. All this nonsense about ID case has been spread perhaps by Wikipedia’s totally false article on the topic which requires to be edited drastically.

  82. Alakshyendra

    feroz ji, let’s cut the cr@p and come straight to the point: did churchill cause as much bloodshed as jinnah did?
    as for your comment: {” it is a good idea to see the entire specturm of their lives and not generalize their life, ideas and deeds based on one solitary act or reference”}, all i can say is if gandhi can be called to account for what he did in south africa (and more importantly, when he had no pretensions about being the voice and conscience of indians in the struggle against the british) despite being the only one amongst thousands of so-called “leaders” to have lived, dined and even cleaned the night soil of india’s untouchables, i’m sure jinnah’s actions in defending the indefensible can also be called out.

  83. Alakshyendra

    and feroz ji, i presume you would also agree with churchill’s unflattering comments about indians?

  84. YLH


    I’ll let feroz answer but facts about partition are quite clear … This Jinnah causing bloodshed is your bias and hatred speaking given the events that are now well known. If you insist on suggesting that by asking for Pakistan Jinnah caused Pakistan, by rejecting Cabinet Mission Plan and all efforts of cooperation, Gandhi and Nehru are equally responsible if not much more so.

    Ofcourse history is not what you are interested in. You are interested in crap that you want to believe.

  85. Alakshyendra

    ylh, i’ve been lurking around this website for quite some time and i know your views very well, which is that jinnah could do no wrong, so excuse me. so i can say the same thing about you and with more certitude and evidence, but i don’t wish to make this a battle between you and me. i’m more interested in knowing what other pakistanis think.

  86. Alakshyendra

    ylh, i’ve been lurking around this website for quite some time and i know your views very well, which is that jinnah could do no wrong, so excuse me. i can say the same thing about you and with more certitude and evidence, but i don’t wish to make this a battle between you and me. i’m more interested in knowing what other pakistanis think.

  87. YLH

    Have it your own way. You really don’t have an argument. Unlike you my comments are backed by facts and sources. Yours is hearsay and prejudice.

    You still haven’t answered if John Adams would be considered an ordinary American or an American founding father… besides you can’t argue on something if you haven’t bothered to read the article have you now?

  88. @ Alakshyendra (December 3, 2010 at 10:10 am)

    Churchill’s comments about Indians were racist and besides his comments towards Indians, there are many aspects of his policy decisions, with which I disagree. I do not agree with his decision to order the RAF to use poison gas in Iraq in the 1920s revolt against the British. Historians disagree with his support to Edward VIII during the Wallis Simpon crisis and even the British public did not support in that incident just as they held him responsible for the Dardanelles fiasco.

    As to Churchill being responsible for killing the same or greater number of people as Jinnah and causing as much bloodshed as Jinnah, that is an open-ended statement, which is at best is a case of relativity of opinions. Churchill was, if there is a moral slide rule to judge a mea culpa, more likely to cause a greater amont of bloodshed because his tenure in positions of responsibility, where he could make the decisions that affected peoples’ lives was far greater than anything Jinnah enjoyed. Churchill was a lord of the admirality in World War I from 1914-1915 and was influential in debating Britain’s war aims and then, in the making of its military plans against Germany and then he was the minister of muniations and such, was responsible for making the weapons to kill the Germans more effectively and and then, as the prime minister of Britain from 1940-1945, he directed the British war effort against Germany.

    He enjoyed a decision making position much longer than Jinnah ever did, where he could affect lives of the people and that is why, I would judge him to be a far greater cause of bloodshed than Jinnah. The context of Churchill’s circumtances of being in a position of power, are vastly different than from Jinnah’s and also, we must bear in time that Churchill, in contrast to Jinnah, was a leader during two world wars, with the power to make decisions had that would affect many people; British and Germans.

    Jinnah can be held responsible, but not on the same scale as Churchill and then is there is a very public disagreement between Churchill and Lord Louis Mountbatten, at a party, when Churchill accused Mountbatten, personally, for killing over a million Indians due to his haste in leaving India.

    Please remember,this is the same Churchill who is blaming Mountbatten for killing over a million Indians who was also, as you said, was guilty of saying “unflattering things about Indians”.

    So, does this make Churchill a bad person, because he said unflattering things about Indians or a good person, because he was not condoning the killings of the Indians due to a British policy decision made by a representative of the British Crown – Lord Louis Mountbatten?

    To hold Jinnah solely responsible for the bloodshed, without reviewing the role of Nehru, Patel and Gandhi in the decisions, which led to paritition would be intelllectually dishonest. Partition was not lone handicraft of Jinnah, but an end result of a complex interplay of circumtances and choices in which all the political personalities of the indepedence movement share a responsibility.

    As to Gandhi and Jinnah, despite our misgivings about them, they were complex personalities and also being politicans, they had innate sense to change with the times.

    You are more than welcome to skew history in any manner you please and make it fit any explantion you wish, but that does not mean that what you believe as the truth is necessarily the reality of what actually occured. If you wish to understand history, you have to develop the capacity to view history “from the other side” also if you trully wish to hold the past accountable to the present.

    Characterizing disagreements as “crap” is a more a testament to your own levels of knowledge than it is a refutation of my arguments. At the present moment, you are full of conviction in the soundness of your judgements and your words reinforce that sentiment, but in years to come; as you grow and your understanding matures, and with experience gained, your views will change over a period of time, because such is the evolutionary growth of a person and your own understanding of history will also change.

    History is about perspective, and each new generation brings different perspective to the narrative and this perspective changes over time, which is why our understanding of history also changes as new facts come to light and as we accomodate those facts with our understanding and knowledge of the past.

    Incidently, what are your opinions on Thomas Jefferson? Jefferson once said that liberty is when goverments fear the people and when the people fear the governments, it is despotism. Jefferson was a feudal slave owning Virginian, who also wrote the Declaration of Independence but did not include the slaves in the proposition, when he wrote that “all man are created equal” in the Declaration of Independence.

    In his farewell address as a president, George Washington intoned that a good government must be based on the strong pillars of religion and morality and this was after the United States had created its consitution in 1789, which included the First Amendment, which stated that there must be a wall of separation between Church and State and where Washington was present as a constitutional delegate from Virginia. Does this make Washington into a hypocrite?

    What about Abraham Lincoln? Lincoln is credited by history with freeing the slaves, but he was also responsible for suspending the act of habeus corpus in the country during the civil war and ruling the United States as a virtual dictator. So, does that make Lincoln a good person or a bad person?

    What about Pierre Elliot Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, who was democratically elected in 1968 and also imposed a period of martial law in Canada, when the activities of the Quebec separatists became violent. So, was Trudeau a democrat or an ursurper of political power?

    As to John Adams and YLH’s question; Adams was both an American citizen who was also one of the founding fathers of the United States. Likewise, in our case and to be objective, Nehru, Gandhi and Patel along with Jinnah were the founding fathers of both India and Pakistan, because India and Pakistan, as independent nations, resulted from their actions and policy choices and we must hold them equally responsible for the consequence of their actions.

    Alakshyendra, when we selectively cherry pick history, we distort it and in that distortion, we sow the seeds of our own ignornance in appreciating the lessons of the past.


  89. Alakshyendra

    {{You are more than welcome to skew history in any manner you please and make it fit any explantion you wish, but that does not mean that what you believe as the truth is necessarily the reality of what actually occured. If you wish to understand history, you have to develop the capacity to view history “from the other side” also if you trully wish to hold the past accountable to the present.}}

    ferozji, “skewing history” did you say? if there is one nation that has done more to skew history than any other in the history of mankind, it is pakistan. the wholesale characterization of a people as “baghal mein churi moonh mein ram ram”, the description of hindus as sly and cunning is but the result of the rewriting of the whole pre-partition history as that of the victimization of muslims at the hands of the sly hindu. why, even on this site, despite loud and clear proclamations by muslim league leaders (led by jinnah) about their intent to have a separate homeland for muslims, self-proclaimed intellectuals here say pakistan is a nation thrust upon them by the congress coterie. ferozji, please, the next time before you talk about someone skewing history, take a look at your own selves.

    {{Characterizing disagreements as “crap” is a more a testament to your own levels of knowledge than it is a refutation of my arguments. At the present moment, you are full of conviction in the soundness of your judgements and your words reinforce that sentiment, but in years to come; as you grow and your understanding matures, and with experience gained, your views will change over a period of time, because such is the evolutionary growth of a person and your own understanding of history will also change.}}

    ferozji, have you never come across the idiom “cut the crap” before? i never meant to call your arguments or mine crap. if you took it that way, i apologize, but no disrespect was ever meant.

  90. @ Alakshyendra (December 4, 2010 at 10:16 am)

    I will answer your comments in detail. However, I have noted that you are not answering my questions on the multiple personalities I had listed. Any reason why?


  91. sai

    Did Jinnah take up the case purely in his professional capacity? If yes, it is difficult to find fault with it. But this was not just another criminal case, it was an important religio-political event as well, and Jinnah being one of the most important leaders of one of the muslim community – I think its a fair question to ask whether his taking up the case was not motivated by political considerations as well. I think the only way to satisfactorily answer that question is know what Jinnah’s view on this event was as a political leader. As a liberal muslim leader, one would have expected nothing less than a swift and unequivocal condemnation of a such gruesome murder, purportedly to defend Islam. Did the he do that? Note that this murder was not a one-off event – a prominent Arya Samaj leader (Swami Shraddhanand) was similarly brutally murdered in the mid-1920s. Someone has already mentioned the murder of Pt. Lekha Ram. Adding insult to injury, these madmen are celebrated as great heros by sections of the community. If Jinnah and Muslim League are indeed the voice of liberal muslims, why did they not raise a strong voice against such perversions?

  92. sai


    This is no way related to your debate with Alksyendra – just a quibble about Churchill. Churchill’s war policies were primarily responsible for the Great Famine on Bengal in 1943 which killed an estimated 3 million people. To my mind, Churchill as a human being is only little better than Hitler. And of course, his criticism of Mountbatten for being responsible for the horrors of partition is mere hogwash – he was bitterly opposed to British leaving India and was just taking Mountbatten to task for being a prime mover of that event. Churchill, I would thing, couldnt care less about the death of a million Indians.

  93. sai


    This is no way related to your debate with Alksyendra – just a quibble about Churchill. Churchill’s war policies were primarily responsible for the Great Famine on Bengal in 1943 which killed an estimated 3 million people. To my mind, Churchill as a human being is only little better than Hitler. And of course, his criticism of Mountbatten for being responsible for the horrors of partition is mere hogwash – he was bitterly opposed to British leaving India and was just taking Mountbatten to task for being a prime mover of that event. Churchill, I would think, couldnt care less about the death of a million Indians.

  94. YLH


    I don’t think you bothered to read the article. Nor are your questions logical.

    Jinnah was a lawyer at the high court defending a client. Even if there were political motivations, the questions I asked are completely different ones. This article was written as a rebuttal to the Mullah argument. Instead it seems to have upset Indians into reacting with usual illogical and historically inaccurate knee jerks.

    I suppose the Mullahs who supported the Congress represented liberal Muslim opinion instead. Can you produce the condemnation by Maulana Azad for example of this event?

    Jinnah atleast is on the record cautioning against misuse of 295-A. Where are Congress’ Mullahs and their reaction. Jinnah opposed his community on Child Marriages bill…what was the Mullah reaction… Jinnah fought for mixed marriages bill…what was Congress backed Mullahs saying about that.

    So please have some shame at long last.

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  95. @ sai (December 5, 2010 at 3:42 pm)

    My point in using the example of Churchill with Mountbatten was to show Alakshyendra that history is never black and white and it should not be construed as black and white. Churchill, notwithstanding, the British Raj over India was an unsurpassed example of an offical indifference towards the average Indian (of all religions). British imperial policy, and this includes India, was racist, bigoted and prejudiced.

    There is an excellent book called Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World by Mike Davis on this very issue; the role of political economy of imperialism and how it created the third world. I think you will find that the book documents your obseverations that the British really did not give a hoot about the Indians.


  96. @ Alakshyendra (December 4, 2010 at 10:16 am)

    I agree, with you that history in Pakistan has been grossly distorted and abused and being a historian of sorts, I am completely opposed to idea of a politically correct history. In a similar sense, this problem is not only associated with Pakistan, but is also present in India where history is twisted to favor the Indian version of the events leading up to partition and like Pakistan; there is also an intellectual discourse underway in India, which demonizes those explanations of history, which deviate from the offical gospel of the events.

    This problem can be also be seen in Bangladesh and it seems that objective history has never been the forte of scholarship in the subcontinent and history in the region has been more a misunderstood victim in our part of the world. Political considersations and interests have destroyed history by making it partisan to the politics of the day and in the process, there has emerged what I refer to as the myth of righteousness in the historic documentation of facts and personalities and whereby, critical review of history is considered heretical if it punctures the politically created myths of the past.

    When you castigate history in Pakistan as being re-written to paint a wrong impression of Hindus, can you say the same about the Hindus’ descriptions about the Muslims as well? Without denying the flaws of history writing in Pakistan, Indian history of the partition is also not objective and is also a selective case of political mythology.

    As to Congress and its role in the creation of Pakistan, that is a fact. Congress was a participant in the process, which ended in parition and such, it must be held accountsable for its role in that process, which finally lead to partition. It was the policy decisions of the Congress; their abilities to compromise or not compromise, which created the circumtances that offered the political, social, historic and cultural context to the arguments of the period.

    To blame Jinnah and the Muslim Leaque as being responsible for partition is wrong, without considering the role of Congress. It takes two to tango and as such, partition was a complex interplay of Congress and Muslim League politics and to say that Congress was not responsible for partition is giving too much credit to Jinnah and Muslim League for the events of 1947.

    Alakshyendra, to borrow your words, the next time you blame some one of twisting history, look at your yourself also, because the reflection might be very luminating.

    As to the idiom, I am well aware of the idiom and if you never considered the debate to be “crap”, then why did you use the phrase in the first place? If you never inteneded to show disrespect by using that phrase, did you really think that disrespect would not be implied? If you do not wish to give disrespect, please do not imply disrespect and then please do not apologise; once disrespect is given and taken, apologies really do not matter. Words, once spoken cannot be retracted, so for future references, carefully weigh your words and how they will be understood before writing them.

    Incidently, there was no need for an apology and no disrespect was eludicated.


  97. Feroz Khan:

    If Obama does not get his new START treaty through the Senate, is it the Democrats’ fault or the Republicans’ fault?

    The question you have to ask as a historian is – is the compromise asked of the Muslim League or the Congress fundamentally detrimental to the interests of their constituencies? With people on PTH even saying that Pakistan was forced on them because of the Congress, isn’t the answer clear?

  98. sai

    Sorry to disappoint you, but I actually did go through the entire article. And a question doesnt become illogical just because you do not have a answer to it. Think of it, if Jinnah had actually made a statement condemning the murder, the mullahs who now deceptively claim that Jinnah supported anti-blasphemy laws, would not have a leg to stand on. You wouldnt need to make

    The amusing part is you accuse me of being illogical – but then come with a rant against the congress which is absolutely ridiculous and irrelevant to the topic. I have never claimed that congress supported liberal section of muslims. Why do you argue that the reaction of the muslim Congressmen should set the benchmark for how a supposedly secular party like the Muslim League and an avowed liberal like Jinnah should respond to the murder?

  99. YLH

    The argument I am making here is that Jinnah who took a clear stance on blasphemy law on 295-A in the assembly cannot be used in the blasphemy law debate to argue the exact opposite simply because he appeared in the appeal and argued for life sentence instead of death.

    In 1929 Jinnah was an Indian Nationalist leader and largely an outsider in Muslim politics of majority areas. He was certainly no spokesman for Islam. And by the way I have not even researched the issue of what his reaction was but the debate on 295-A happened after Rajpal v. Emperor …and Jinnah’s stance on it was clearly the most progressive and liberal in the debate …in an assembly that consisted of many stars of Indian liberalism.

    Jinnah’s connection to Ilamdin case was entirely on professional lines and certainly not as a political leader… He did not participate in any agitation or raise the Ilamdin question at any political meeting or legislative meeting (remember around the same time he raised Bhagat Singh’s issue in the Indian legislature) … and Jinnah certainly did not make press statements. If Jinnah wanted to draw some political mileage would he not have attended Ilamdin’s funeral?

    So I am afraid I can’t accept the Indian/Islamist point of view on this.

  100. no-communal

    @Feroze Khan
    “When you castigate history in Pakistan as being re-written to paint a wrong impression of Hindus, can you say the same about the Hindus’ descriptions about the Muslims as well? Without denying the flaws of history writing in Pakistan, Indian history of the partition is also not objective and is also a selective case of political mythology.”

    Feroze Sb,
    Government sanctioned history in India is not biased against Muslims. Remember the same history is taught to 150 M Muslims. So by construction there is very little scope of deliberate bias. This was partly the reason why Azad was chosen the first education minister. He was instrumental in giving a stern secular outlook to overall education in India.

  101. sai

    Well, I completely agree with the central point of your article that Jinnah’s appearing for the case, by no stretch of imagination, be seen as supporting the “death for blasphemy” cause.

    But I am raising a larger issue here. Jinnah was not just a top-notch lawyer, he was also leader of a political party which sought to represent indian muslims. Surely, a man as perceptive as Jinnah, would have realized that his appearance in a politically and communally charged case as this, would lead to unwarranted inferences within the muslim community. I would presume more than three-fourth of the community would be illiterate, and hence hardly in a position to differentiate between Jinnah’s act as a professional and as a politician.

    Irrespective of whether he was appearing in the case, it was important for liberal muslims like Jinnah to come out strongly against this kind of barbarism. Given that he had appeared in the case, IF he had not taken a political position on the larger issue, it is quite unacceptable.

  102. YLH

    Jinnah does not require your approval. And his position on 295-A is clearer than anyone else’s.

    So I am afraid I cannot accept your point of view. It is your bias speaking.
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  103. sai

    “Jinnah does not require your approval”

    In other words, you do not have a counter to the question posed by me – on Jinnah’s silence regarding the murders committed by lunatics like Illam Din or

    “And his position on 295-A is clearer than anyone else’s.”

    And therefore its okay for him to keep quiet and not take a stance when when islamic fanatics kill people because they have allegedly blasphemed the religion? What a pathetic argument!

    “So I am afraid I cannot accept your point of view. It is your bias speaking.”

    Sentiments that I heartily reciprocate.

    Good Night!

  104. YLH

    Sai aravindh,

    No I don’t have any answer (primarily because I have not even investigated whether Jinnah did or didn’t publically condemn the murders) to your question anymore than you have an answer to why Azad, Gandhi, Nehru and others did not publically condemn Ilamdin’s actions either … or for that matter Fazli Hussain, Muhammad Ali Jauhar, Dr Ansari, Aga Khan, Madani, Asaf Ali, Kidwai etc did not publically take a position.

    So I am afraid I still don’t understand why Jinnah- who at this time was still considered an outsider and who was as alien to Lahore’s Muslim politics as Gandhi or Nehru- was suddenly required to condemn the actions of an unknown in Lahore (though he might just have we don’t know because I am not bothered with such incidentals). Oh I get it …because Jinnah appealed on Ilamdin’s behalf where he argued :

    1. That Ilamdin didn’t do it.

    2. And when 1 didn’t work he argued against death penalty.

    So because Jinnah appealed in the high court on behalf of a murder convict, he ought to be gotten on a roof top and shouted his position on an issue where he had made his position quite clear in the assembly.

    Fair enough. Jinnah’s position is unacceptable to you. As for me – I think you argue like our run of the mill Mullah.

  105. @ Arun (December 5, 2010 at 8:22 pm)

    As a republican, I will have to blame the democrats since I cannot break the 11th commendment – thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow republican. 🙂

    I am not sure if anyone on PTH is blaming the Congress for partition as much as holding it equally responsible for it. Do you agree or disagree that the actions of Congress were significant in shaping the events leading to partition? In India, Muslim Leaque and Jinnah are held responsible for partition while the role of Congress is rarely reviewed and when it is; there is an almost knee-jerk reaction to the shoot the messanger. I am not even alluding to Jaswant Singh and his book, but merely speculating whether an honest review of history, with partition still a living memory, be undertaken on both sides?

    @ no-communal (December 5, 2010 at 10:06 pm)

    Indian history may or may not be biased against the Indian Muslims and that is none of my concern.

    I am interested in knowing whether Indian history, from 1947, is biased towards Pakistan or not?


  106. YLH

    PS it is kind of like asking John Adams – who did not own any slaves and considered slavery despicable and inhumane and unchristian- why he didn’t condemn Washington or Jefferson publically or privately for owning slaves …or why he allowed Franklin to omit the word slavery from the declaration of independence..when neither Franklin nor himself were too keen on seeing slavery continue.

  107. YLH

    Arun mian,

    You are making all the wrong analogies. Read League’s terms , Cabinet mission’s statement, League’s subsequent acceptance and Congress’ ultimate acceptance and show me how Congress’ withdrawal was consistent with your claim?

    The problem is that you rely too much on that your sister of yours but don’t bother to actually read stuff yourself.

    Many Congressmen were ready to accept the Cabinet Mission Plan. Even Mountbatten who was a fan of Gandhi wrote very clearly a year later that it was Gandhi alone who coerced the Congress to wreck it.

    Politics is the art of the possible. Both Congress and the League were representative parties. Congress was voted largely on the basis of its stance of independence and united India. Muslim League was voted for on the basis of Pakistan. Muslim League showed willingness to scale back its Pakistan demand to reconcile the demand with United India. Congress did not want reconciliation. Congress rejected United India for a strong center.

    I am sorry but H M Seervai is right when he wrote in the prologue of his brilliant Constitution of India commentary that it was Congress that went against its manifesto, Congress that divided India along religious lines and Congress that caused partition…

    If you were an honest man you would admit it now.

  108. no-communal

    Feroz Sb.
    Until high school, which is the level I am familiar with as far as official history books are concerned, the period after 1947 is not included in the syllabus. I studied under West Bengal Board of Education, but I suspect this is the case with other boards also. May be someone like Girish will have more information on this. If this period is included in the college level history books, I am not sure.

  109. @ no-communal (December 6, 2010 at 2:56 am)

    Thank you, for your comments.

    If the period after 1947 is not covered vis-a-vis Pakistan, then how are the historic benchmarks in Ind0-Pak relations explained? I am not sure if leaving period from 1947 blank is a good idea, because that is same as us, in Pakistan, ignorning our history before 712 AD and jumping from the end of the Mughul rule, over the British colonization, into the independence movement.


  110. no-communal

    Feroz Sb.,
    I think in some boards, history books go as far as the Constitution making, but no farther. I don’t know if the decision to stop at that has anything to do with Pakistan, but I doubt it. I think it’s more to do with what R.C. Guha said in his book “India after Gandhi” that there is a view among Indian scholars that ” In the academy, the discipline of history deals with the past while the disciplines of political science and sociology deal with the present”. For us the “past” stopped at 1950 or thereabouts. I don’t know if that’s right or wrong.

  111. @ no-communal (December 6, 2010 at 4:01 am)

    Thank you for some very insightful comments.

    Having a background in political science and international relations and in history as well, I tend to see political science as more theoretical than practical, when it comes to the application and execution of political power. Political science, certainly, does offer the required framework to the understanding of the events, but the experience of predicting and understanding the seemingly disconnected and chaotic events requires a historic background to place the events in their proper context.

    If we assume political science as a means to predict the future, then one has to question as to on what premise is the speculation to be based? The judgement, if you will, to understand the events and make the correct decision comes from understanding the past process and how it has arrived at the present situation.

    I am also linear in my thinking and being a history teacher, as well, it seems strange that I do not feel a strong sense to hold on to the past, because the past to me is only a guide to the future and future is best extrapolated by inweighing the lessons of history and from them; to discern those trends and patterns, which enables a more comprehensive synthesis of knowledge with experience. One of the flaws of political science and its weak point, as subject of rational enquiry into the nature of political power, is the ad hocism of its explanations, which seem so transient and so mutable to events.

    The Greek historian Herodotus defined history as a means to hold the past accountable and then, we can well ask the metaphysical question as to what purpose the past needs to be held accountable for? Is it, because the past provides the documentary evidence by which we judge and if that is the case, what are we judging? The diffrence between pre-history and history is not a consequence of an arbitary chronological determination, but rather the idea of preserving records; pre-history is considered as time before there were written records and history, as a time period, when they were records.

    Therefore, what source does political science draw upon to lend weight to its conclusions and even if political science is an attempt to decipher the future, it still relies, for the basis of its predictions, upon the records and experiences of the past and what are those, but the annals of history.

    Indeed, political science can be aptly termed as a more “contempoary history” but then modern history, by most scholarly agreements starts from 1789 – the year of the French Revolution and as some historians quip; everything after 1789 is political science!

    I am not making any sweeping statments or settling ancient arguments or being a partisan in the endlessly predictable debate on India and Pakistan, but I do wonder that if the past is being left behind for the sake of a future, in India as well as in Pakistan as far as history is concerned, what does that make of our understanding of that future, when we have no comprehension as where that future arrived from and what course it took to present itself before us in its present avatar?

    In any case, please disregard this post, as I am only musing my own wonderment at that what you have said, because it interested me and as this is an estoteric post more true to my own biases and inclinations, please ignore it.


    Feroz R. Khan

  112. Arun

    YLH, a thousand pronouncements of the scripture will not render fire cold. The fact remains that after the Lahore Resolution, Jinnah and the Muslim League rejected any workable form of unified India. They only accepted provisionally certain things with the proviso that they could secede as a way of getting more than the moth-eaten Pakistan that the Two-Nation theory entitled them to.

  113. Arun

    The Central school – NCERT – syllabus has social studies books such as “Bharat Aur Samkaleen Vishva” (Bharat and the Contemporary World) for IX and X standards, for instance. If you look you can find them for download. They may not count as “Itihaas” but whatever, they are taught in schools.

  114. YLH

    Arun mian,

    I have already proved your stance to be a historical lie.

    How many times must you act like a Mullah?

  115. no-communal

    Yes, I found those books online. But Feroz Sb. and I were talking about History books. In any case, the NCERT History books are probably the most politically correct books possible. I noticed that the class XII History book even has a chapter on partition which I found slightly tilting towards the minority sentiment. They were written by JNU professors -Romila Thapar, Bipan Chandra, Irfan Habib, etc. – who are routinely criticized as Children of Macaulay, Marxist and so on by RSS ideologues.

  116. Bade Miyan

    For some reasons, there has been a spate of articles, especially in Pakistani newspapers, painting a different story that what we think is true. These commentators want to convince us that the present rise of India is a hoax, a sort of a charade, or as one of the venerable gentlemen put it, an “orwellian spell.” I must say I do wonder sometimes whether we are in a sort of a “matrix.” Then I remember times from 20 years ago and it just doesn’t square up with what these people are saying. The pied piper is, of course, Ms. Roy, but there are a lot of similar cliches spewing writers(Jawed Naqvi seems to be stuck with Sukhi Lala. This might provide fresh grist to PMA.)

    What do you think? I can vouch for Bihar that things have definitely changed.

  117. @ no-communal (December 6, 2010 at 9:41 am)

    Speaking of history books, Pak Studies which is a required course in Pakistan and covers the the general history leading upto to 1947 and then, the events afterwards, is so riddled with falsehoods that I refused to teach it and said so to my principal, who was very supportive of my decision. The fact that the person who wrote it did not reference one single sentence and had comments, which were simply outlandish and to me, they appeared to be a work of an addled mind.

    Pak Studies replaced the history of the subcontinent, which was required reading from grades 4 onwards and used to start with the Indus Civilization all way to 1947. Then came Z. A. Bhutto and changed that to Pak Studies and this must be about the middle of 1970s. Pak Studies did favor the PPP and the role of Bhutto, as a leader, but it was secular-minded but then came General Zia-ul-Haq and Pak Studies started to adopt an overt religious color.

    As far as history is concerned, I missed the Zia years as I was out of the country and was, most likely, one of the last group of students to have studied the history of the region from the pre-Islamic period. There is no hope of revising the curriculum in Pakistan, because it is so jaded with politics and there is so much political interests involved mixed with an inflated dose of ubermensch syndrome, that if the truth were ever to emerge, it would humble the WikiLeaks “Cablegate” fiasco in comparsion.

    The only sanity, which seems to prevail is that when students reach their “O” and “A” levels, they are exposed to “dissenting opinions” on history and for the first time, have to start to rationalize their thinking and question what was simply preached to them as the offical gospel. Still, history is taught as a rote and the emphasis is on dates, but not on understanding the events or their peripherial contextual implications.

    On the university level, and again I am refering to Pakistan, history is more ideological than it is objective and mostly professors, with rare exceptions, teach history based on their own personal opinions and where they stand on the political issues of the day and with which political party they affiliate.

    I am not sure what methodology of teaching is followed in India and if the learning of history there is also marked by an emphasis on dates and memorization or is there an attempt to critically study history. I would be very much interested if any Indian, on this site, could provide an answer.


  118. Bade Miyan

    “I am not sure what methodology of teaching is followed in India and if the learning of history there is also marked by an emphasis on dates and memorization.”

    That is sadly true for India as well, but it’s the fault of students and teachers and not the textbooks. A few months ago, we had a discussion here with regard to this subject, and Girish provided links to the present NCERT textbooks. They are superbly written. I have some issues with the writers, however. Most of the historians in India are professed marxists or leftist. Nothing wrong with that, except that their thinking, ingenious as it may be, is quite antiquated and fossilized with respect to the times. One of the grating aspects is their desire to whitewash events in History that conflict with their narrative(yeah, BJP is not the only culprit here.) So, all the historical events referring to sack of temples or cities are either quietly expunged or explained with fatuous theories. This leads to a peculiar situation. For example: almost 14 years ago, when I first moved to Delhi, we went sightseeing to Qutub Minar along with some relatives. There written in introduction is a reference to some 30 odd temple destroyed to make that monument. My cousin was quite angry about that event not even mentioned in his textbook. Apart from taking us as gullible fools, what these historians don’t realize is that people when they come to know of these events go to search for interpretations from a different source, which is even worse. That’s where distortions and the infamous rumor mill comes into play and you hear of staggering theories of Taj Mahal in reality being Tejo Mahalya or something of that sort. You would be surprised how many buffoons I have met who believe that nonsense.

  119. no-communal

    Another example of this funny political correctness is what I found in the chapter on partition in the class XII NCERT history book. It starts off well, says that the joy of independence was tarnished by violence and brutality of partition etc.. It then goes on to give three eyewitness accounts recorded by a researcher. Unbelievably, all three eyewitnesses are Pakistani, who tell the stories of how their communities were massacred by Hindu ruffians. After reading this section, I felt sorry for all the one-sided brutality the Muslims had to suffer at the hands of Hindus.

    I shall try to respond to your post on the other thread “Giant in the east II”.

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