GK 20-20: Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan
- Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan was known as Badshah Khan and “Sarhadi Gandhi” and Frontier Gandhi.
- He was born in 1890 and Died on January 1988.
- He was a Pashtun leader and ardent follower of Mahtma Gandhi and was known for his non-violent opposition to British Rule.
- He started the Khudai Khidmatgar movement (Servants of God). Khudai Khidmatgar movement was a non-violent freedom struggle against the British Empire by the Pashtuns or Pathans of the North-West Frontier Province led by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan.
- The Khudai Khidmatgar was founded on a belief in the power of Gandhi’s notion of Satyagraha,
- The volunteers of Khudai Khidmatgar movement were also known as “Surkho Posh” or “Red shirts” and it was initially a social reform organization focusing on education and the elimination of blood feuds from Afghan society but turned more political later.
- British targeted this organization and in 1929, the leadership went into exile and a large number of leaders were arrested. This lead to “Frontier Gandhi” make alliance with
- Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian National Congress in late 1920s. This alliance lasted till India’s independence.
- He was offered presidency of the Indian National Congress in 1931 which he refused saying that he was a simple soldier and would like to serve.
- He was many times arrested by Government in Pakistan because of his association with India.
- He was nominated for Nobel Peace prize in 1985. In 1987 he became the first person who won Bharat Ratna without being an Indian national. (Another Foreign national to receive Bharat Ratna is Nelson Mandela (1990).
- Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan was against the partition of India and he was many times targeted for being Anti-Muslim.
- Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan is known to form Pakistan’s first National opposition party known as Pakistan Azad Party on May 8, 1948.However, due to doubts on his loyalty to Pakistan , he was placed under house arrest from 1948-1954.
- Pakistan’s Prime Minister Chaudhry Muhammad Ali had announced One-Unit Policy on November 22, 1954, which sought to merge the four provinces of West Pakistan into one homogenous unit. This was to counterbalance against the numerical domination of the ethnic Bengalis of East Pakistan, which later became Bangladesh on March 26, 1971.
- Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan had opposed the One-Unit scheme. He was arrested may times between 1948 to 1958. he was released in 1964 due to illness.
- Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan was named “Amnesty International Prisoner of the Year” in 1962. He was again arrested many times between 1972 to 1980 during the government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
- He died in Peshawar in 1988 while he was under house arrest.
- His son Khan Abdul Wali Khan had floated the Awami National Party, a main opposition party in Pakistan and was Leader of the Opposition in the Pakistan National Assembly.
- A documentary on Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan titled “The Frontier Gandhi: Badshah Khan, a Torch for Peace” by T.C. McLuhan received the 2009 award for Best Documentary Film at Middle East International Film Festival.
- Actor Dilsher Singh played the role of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in Richard Attenborough’s 1982 film Gandhi. Khan Bazaar in New Delhi and Ghaffar market of New Delhi are named in his honor.
Links for further reading: Nonviolent soldier of Islam: Badshah Khan, a man to match his mountains By Eknath Easwaran Ref