As we have seen, there were many Muslims in Hyderabad who opposed the political policy of the last Nizam in the ‘40s, which were dictated largely by the razakars. These courageous men supported the demand of the majority of the population for responsible government, and accession to India.
Mir Akbar Ali Khan was one such outstanding person. He was born in 1899, to Mehboob Ali Khan, a minor jagirdar in Bidar and the commander of one of the irregular troops of the Nizam. In 1919 as a graduate student of the Aligarh Muslim University, he came under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi and gave up his studies to join the non-Cooperation Movement. Later he completed his graduation from the Osmania University. Thereafter, he went to England and became a barrister from the Middle Temple, London. He returned to Hyderabad and set up his practice in 1927.
He was a devout Muslim. Every Thursday he would get up at four in the morning and walk up to the Dargah-e- Yusufain to offer his Morning Prayer. For seventy-five years he attended without fail the annual urs at Ajmer. Yet he was without a trace of religious bias. He personified true secularism.
In 1929, as a reaction against the communal policies of the Nizam’s Government, he joined some othes like-minded persons like Padmaja Naidu, B. Ramakrishna Rao, Baqar Ali Mirza, Madapati Hanumantha Rao, Ali Yawar Jung, M. Ramachander Rao, M.H. Jafferi and Fazalur Rehman and set up the ‘Society of Union and Progress’.
The name and inspiration for it was derived from Mustafa Kemal Ataturk of Turkey. No one belonging to any communal party was accepted as its member. The members signed a pledge affirming their belief in responsible government. It had a small membership, was moderate in its outlook, and had a limited impact.
Akbar was elected Mayor of Hyderabad and later, a member of the State Legislative Council. He believed that the State was conservative but not communal till the advent of the Ittehad party, particularly under Kasim Razvi. He felt that there were a number of secular persons but they were not willing to take any risk to rectify the situation. Razvi was crude and insensitive but capable of rousing mass hysteria. Mir Akbar Ali Khan met the Nizam several times. The latter listened to him, but according to Akbar, did not react.
Razvi offered him the prime ministership of Hyderabad after the departures of the Nawab of Chhattari in 1946 on condition that he join the Ittehad party. Akbar turned down the offer.
In 1948, on the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, he organized a public meeting. Razvi disrupted the meeting and his razakars assaulted Akbar. For his protest against the atrocities of the razakars he was constantly harassed. Every evening a group of ruffians used to come and chant murdabad slogans outside his residence in Saifabad. But Akbar remained firm in his resolve.
After the Police Action, when Hyderabad became part of India, Mir Akbar Ali Khan joined the Congress party. He was the Vice-President of the Reception Committee of the State Congress when its session was held in Hyderabad in 1949. In 1956 he was elected to the Rajya Sabha and served for three consecutive terms spanning eighteen years. Out of that for eleven years he was its Vice-Chairman.
He was an ardent social worker and a builder of institutions. He started the Hyderabad Polytechnic by donating 15 acres of his land at Ramantapur, and 50000 rupees in cash. It was renamed on Jawaharlal Nehru after Nehru’s death. He was also one of the founder members of the Industrial Exhibition of Hyderabad.
In 1975 he collected donations in cash and kind for the establishment of the ‘Yusuf Baba Ward’ in the Nampally Hospital. He also founded the ‘Old Boys Association of the Aligarh Muslim University. He used to organize help and relief for widowed women to last them for five years. He was awarded Padma Bhushan in 1965
In 1972 he was appointed Governor of Uttar Pradesh. Mrs. Gandhi, the e Prime Minister felt that he was not helping her put down the then Chief Minister, Bahuguna. He was transferred to Orissa in 1974. In April 1976, his old friend and the renowned Socialist leader, Jaya Prakash Narayan visited Orissa. Akbar invited him for dinner at the Raj Bhavan. Mrs. Gandhi had clamped Emergency on the country and ‘JP’ was fiercely opposing it. Mrs. Gandhi considered him her enemy.
One of her aides rang up the Governor advising him to cancel the dinner. Akbar replied that he was inviting an old friend privately and could not do so. He was told that the Prime Minister was not happy about it. That evening the two friends had dinner together. The next morning Mir Akbar Ali Khan sent his resignation to the President and returned to Hyderabad. He had the good grace not to give any reasons.
In Hyderabad he continued to exhibit immense energy and goodwill and immersed himself in social, cultural and educational causes.
In 1994, just short of five years of a century of a life devoted to public causes, Nawab Mir Akbar Ali Khan passed away into history. He had four children out of whom three are alive. The eldest, Riazat Ali Khan served the UN and later took up business. He is settled in Switzerland.
The second daughter, Faizunissa became Hyderabad’s second lady advocate. She tended her father with great devotion after her mother’s death in 1960 and was his constant companion and hostess. She continues her father’s tradition of social service. Her son, Ishaq Anwar is an electronics engineer and runs an ad agency. The daughter, Waseem Kabir is an architect and an interior decorator.
The third, a daughter, Nayeem is a physician and is settled in Canada.
I had the privilege of knowing and working with this man of unusual courage, rectitude, and affection. And I cherish the association. #KhabarLive