Wednesday 26 January 2022

Posthumous Injustice to Memon Abdul Habib



Posthumous Injustice to the Dhoraji- Gujarat  born

Greatest  Donor of  Azad Hind Fauj of Netaji Bose 

PM Narendra  Modi for installation of a statue of Netaji Bose but a  request to have  a road in
the name of Memon Abdul  Habib, Subhas Chandra’s darling donor,  thrown in dustbin

Calling Spade a Spade : Dr.Hari Desai 

One feels happy that the statue of “Desh Nayak” Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is being installed near the India Gate at New Delhi. Every Indian and even Netaji’s 79 year old daughter Prof. Anita Bose Pfaff  feels happy about the statue at the most important area of the capital of India.  Of course, in an interview with an Indian TV media, Ms Anita, who is a German citizen, does mention that she thinks if not Netaji’s only Mahatma Gandhi’s statue should have been there. She may be aware that originally it was planned to install life-sized statue of the Father of the Nation at that particular place. Even after differences with Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel which led to Netaji leaving the Indian National Congress, Bose was the first person to call Mahtma the “Father of our Nation” on 6 July,1944 in his Ragoon Radio broadcast and sought Bapu’s blessings as the Supreme Commander of the Indian National Army (INA).

Till 1968 there was statue of King George V at India Gate, it was removed and placed in Coronation park. Until the installation of the actual statue of Netaji is completed, a hologram of Bose will be projected at the site of the statue. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced: “At a time when the entire nation is marking the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, I am glad to share that his grand statue, made of granite, will be installed at India Gate. This would be a symbol of India’s indebtedness to him.” The canopy at the India Gate, which has been lying empty since 1968, will now house a granite statue of Netaji, with official sources saying its installation will be a case of India "reclaiming" its history.

When entire nation is celebrating the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Gujarat which is the home state of not only the Prime Minister but also of Amit Shah, the Home minister of India, is not only ignoring and insulting a small request on 24 November, 2020  from Haji Afrojbhai Lakkadkutta, the President of Anjuman-e-Islam Memon Moti Jamat, Dhoraji along with Nayan Kuhadiya, a local journalist, to at least name a road in the name of Memon Abdul HabibYusuf Marfani, a Dhoraji born greatest donor of his entire fortune for Netaji’s Indian National Army (INA) in Burma (now Myanmar) !

In fact, Habib Sheth was so closed to Netaji that he donated  Rs. One Crore in cash and jewellery worth Rs. 3 lakh in 1944. Habib Sheth made other Gujaratis in Burma donate for INA. In fact, the Azad Hind Bank was established with the initial donation of Habib Sheth. A Dhoraji based Historian and a relative of Memon Abdul Habib family Yusuf Chitalwala says Marfani was among the first donors and Netaji expressed his gratitude by awarding him a Sevak-e-Hind medal. Not only Netaji’s lieutenant  in INA  Lt. Col.  A. C. Chatterji but other  celebrated historians like Raj Mal Kasliwal and Sugata Bose also praised the contribution of Habib Sheth. A great grand nephew  of Netaji and a Harvard Professor of History Sugata Bose records: One such millionaire turned Fakir was Abdul Habeeb Saheb who gave away his entire fortune amounting to one crore and three lakhs of rupees to the Azad Hind movement. At a public meeting in Rangoon in 1944 Habeeb Saheb walked up to the platform and emptied a basketful of diamonds and jewellery into a silver tray, placed a bundle of title deeds in one corner, and then lifted the tray and handed it over to Netaji with a smile. When His Excellency Netaji pinned the medal Sewak-e-Hind, he said, “I felt so proud and happy.”

Even Saeed Khan has written in The  Times of India  on 16 July, 2012 : “Marfani is not the only Gujarati Muslim to have contributed to INA. Surat’s Ghulam Husein Mushtaq Randeri was the recruiting officer for the army. During the recent celebration of Bose’s birth centenary, Marfani’s grandson Yacoob Habeeb was felicitated in New Delhi for his ancestor’s action. However, these references were missing from Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on the occasion last week, when he donned the INA cap and tried hard to establish the Gujarat connection with Bose.”

Today not only Gujarat but even Dhoraji Municipality is being ruled by PM Modi’s party i.e. Bharatiya Janata Party. None from the ruling party has bothered to attend the simple request to name a road after Habib Sheth’s name in Dhoraji. In fact, Memon Abdul Habib Yusuf Marfani should have been awarded posthumous Bharat Ratna by Indian  Government for his yeoman  service .       (To be continued) 

(The writer is the former Editor of Indian Express Group Daily from Mumbai. E-mail:

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