The Dawn newspaper published on Saturday 3 June 2017 a full page on ‘Genesis Dhakka 1906: the All India Muslim League’, with three rows of photographs and one row of text distorting the history of the All India Muslim League and freedom struggle. The actual facts are as follows.
Nawab Khwaja Salimullah, the Nawab of Dhaka, had sponsored the All India Muhammadan Educational Conference from 27 to 29 December, 1906 in Dacca, which was capital of the separate Muslim majority province of East Bengal and Assam, created on 16 October 1905, and Hindus were agitating against it. The conference decided to hold a political session on 30 December 1906.
Nawab Salimullah proposed the name of Nawab Viqar-ul-Mulk, who was unanimously elected chairman of the inaugural session on 30 December 1906. Nawab Salimullah proposed a political organization of Muslims, named All India Muslim League. It was seconded by Hakim Ajmal Khan. All delegates to the educational conference were registered as members of the proposed party. The stalwarts of the Aligarh movement and the Urdu Defence Association, Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk and Nawab Viqar-ul-Mulk, were nominated joint conveners of the All India Muslim League to frame a constitution.
The second meeting of the All India Muslim League was held in Karachi on 29 and 30th December 1907. Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk had died by then, and Nawab Viqar-ul-Mulk proposed that Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy, who had donated Rs. 1,10,000/- to Science College at Aligarh, be elected president. Nawab Ali Chaudhry and Mian Muhammad Shah Din seconded and supported the move. Thus Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy was elected first president of the All India Muslim League at Karachi on 29 December 1907.
The third meeting of the All India Muslim League was held in Aligarh on 18 and 19 March 1908. Mr. Fazl-i-Husain proposed and Mr. Muzamil-ullah Khan seconded the name of Mr. Muhammad Shah Din, who was unanimously elected president. Rs. 500 was received from H.H. Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, the Aga Khan, from which Rs. 50 was deducted as his admission and membership fee of the All India Muslim League, and Maulvi Rafiuddin Ahmed proposed and Mian Muhammad Shafi seconded, supported by Haji Muhammad Khan, that His Highness Sir Aga Khan, G.C.I.E., be elected President of the All India Muslim League. The resolution was unanimously adopted and communicated to His Highness by wire.
The fourth meeting of the All India Muslim League was held in Amritsar on 30 and 31 December 1908, where Syed Ali Imam was elected president.
The fifth meeting of the All India Muslim League was held in Delhi on 29 and 30 January 1910 where H.H. the Aga Khan made an appearance and proposed Sir Ghulam Ali Khan Bahadur, K.C.I.E., the Prince of Ascot, as president.
Now the first requirement of becoming president of an organization is to pay the membership fee and become a member. The second requirement is that the person should be proposed, third is that he should be seconded, fourth is that he should be elected. All this took place in March 1908 at Aligarh. The fifth requirement is that such a person should accept it. However this did not take place therefore Ali Imam was elected president of the All India Muslim League in December 1908 in Amritsar.
The Aga Khan in his biography confirms that he was not present in Dacca. Actually the Aga Khan wanted harmonious relations between various religious communities, and considered Muslim League to be communal. He supported ‘the All-India Muslim Conference’, that held its meeting in New Delhi on 1 January 1929 and in Simla on 8 September 1929, to organize a deputation to London under the Aga Khan’s leadership.
The All India Muslim League held it’s meeting the same year in Delhi on 3 March 1929 and on 30 March 1929 with Muhammad Ali Jinnah as president.
In the light of the above facts the two group photos taken at Dacca in 1906 published by Dawn do not represent the meetings of the All India Muslim League, and H.H. the Aga Khan did not become a member till 1908. Nor did he make an appearance at a meeting of the All India Muslim League till January 1910, yet Dawn includes his photograph in ‘Genesis Dhakka 1906: the All India Muslim League’.
Actually, the first office bearers of the All India Muslim League were joint conveners, Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk and Nawab Viqar-ul-Mulk, and the first president was Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy.
Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy was born on 13 Auguest 1846 at Dhoraji in the Princely State of Gondal in British India, now Gujarat, in a very poor Dawoodi Bohra family. He started his career at age of 13, as a street vendor in Bombay, selling match boxes and his is one of the "rags to riches" stories who by his untiring efforts and ability, by the turn of the 19th century became one of India's largest cotton manufacturers and wealthiest men. At one point he employed more than 15,000 workers in his cotton mills and supplied the canvas used for the tents and khaki uniforms of the British soldiers during the Second Boer War. He established several factories manufacturing thousands of tents and shoes for British soldiers and was also the owner of the Western Indian Tanneries, one of the largest tannery in Asia.
Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy was also a philanthropist. When plague hit various parts of Bombay in 1892, he appointed doctors, arranged for vaccines and medicines from abroad and treated the public free of cost at the Amanbai Charitable hospital. Among his other philanthropic works were distribution of grain during the drought of Gujarat in 1877 and 1897, relief works in Burhanpur in 1866, relief works in Yemen, the building of rest houses in Mecca, Medina and Karbala. He started an orphanage and schools in Kathiawar. He also built mosques, a sanatorium, a qabristan and a hospital.
Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy was appointed as the first Indian Sheriff of Mumbai in 1897 and Justice of Peace. In 1900 he was honoured with by the title of `Qaisare-Hind'. In 1907 he was made a knight and given the title of `Sir’ by the British Government. Though an illiterate, Sir Adamjee was honoured by the Mohammedan Educational Conference to be its president. He was known as 'Rafiuddin' in the Bohra community, as the 49th Dai, Sayedna Mohammed Burhanuddin had conferred this title on him.
He died on 11th August 1913.