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Captain Abbas Ali: a true patriot and son of the soil

By Qurban Ali,

Captain Abbas Ali was born on 3rd January 1920 at Khurja, Bulandshahr district of Uttar Pradesh in a Muslim Rajput Zamindar family. He belonged to the family of freedom fighters and one of his grandfather Rustam Ali Khan was hanged at Kala Aam in Bulandshahr district of then United Province now Uttar Pradesh after the mutiny of Great revolt of 1857. His father Janab Ayyub Ali Khan was Dafadar in British Army during First World War and served in Aden (Yemen). From his early days Captain Abbas Ali was inspired by the revolutionary ideas and somewhat romanticized towards the freedom movement.

When Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh was hanged on 23rd March, 1931, at Lahore in the united Punjab, Capt. Abbas Ali was a student of 5th standard and was just eleven year old but he participated in a protest march on 25th March 1931 at Khurja to denounce death sentence to Shaheed Bhagat Singh. In the protest march/Juloos, a patriotic song was sing in the memory of Shaheed Bhagat Singh and couplets were:

Captain Abbas Ali (TCN file photo)

“Bhagat Singh Tumhain Phir se Aana Padega, Hukumat ko Jalwa Dikhana Padega.Ae Darya-e-Ganga Tu Khamosh Ho ja, Ae Darya-e-Satluj Tu Siyahposh Hoja, Bhagat Singh Tumhain Phir se Aana Padega, Hukumat ko Jalwa Dikhana Padega”.

Capt. Abbas Ali used to sing this song throughout his lifetime in the memory of Bhagat Singh. Soon after Bhagat Singh’s hanging, he joined Naujawan Bharat Sabha established by Bhagat Singh and actively participated in the activities of NBS, while he was in School. His attraction towards Bhagat Singh was so committed that three years ago when he heard the news from across the border that some enthusiastic persons in Pakistan is going to celebrate Bhagat Singhs birthday on 30th August 2012, he immediately congratulate them.

After completing High School in 1937, from JAS High School Khurja, Bulandshahr, he went to Aligarh Muslim University for higher studies. While pursuing his studies in Aligarh Muslim University he came in contact with great communist leader of his time Professor Kunwar Muhammed Ashraf. On his inspiration he first joined All India Student Federation (AISF) a student wing of left parties established in 1936 and later on joined British Army (R.I.A.S.C) in 1939 as junior commissioned officer (JCO) during Second World War II (1939-45).

His mentor Prof. K M Ashraf was of the view that this country cannot be liberated from Britishers through Gandhian means of non-violence and for that his suggestion was that a large number of Indian youth should registered themselves in British army and revolt from within.

During Second World War Capt. Abbas Ali was associated with Royal Indian Army Supply Corpse RIASC, and posted at various places in then United India and South East Asia starting from officers training school Bangalore, RIASC Depot Ferozpur (Punjab), Waziristan (N.W.F.P), Naushera (N.W.F.P) Khanpur Camp (Delhi), Bareilly Cantonment (United Province), Bhiwandi Army training Camp (Maharashtra), Singapore, Ipoh, Penang, Kualalampur (Malaya now Malysia) and Arakan, Rangoon(now Yangoon-Burma-Maynmar).

When Japanese forces attacked British forces in South East Asia, being part of British forces, Capt. Abbas Ali fought with the Japanese forces but when General Percival surrendered with more than one lakh British army after the Japnese destroyed two major British war ships “prince of wales” and …. , Capt. Abbas Ali became prisoner of war (POW) with Japanese. During this captivity he joined Indian National Army (INA) or Azad Hind Fauj established by General Mohan Singh.

In 1945, when Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose reached Singapore and reorganized Azad Hind Fauj, Capt. Abbas Ali actively participated in his mission Dilli Chalo. And when Netaji presented order of the day and addressed his Indian National Army at the tomb of last Moghul King Bahadurshah Zafar, Abbas Ali was present there.

Later, he fought with his own Indian Army in Arakaan but when Japanese surrendered before the allied forces Abbas Ali was also arrested along with sixty thousands fellow soldiers of INA. While three of the INA heroes namely Dhillon, Sehgal and Shahnawaz was put in red fort and trialed there, Abbas Ali was put in Multan fort along with three of his colleagues, tried, court marshaled and awarded death sentence in 1946. Since Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru became interim prime minister on 3rd September1946 and India gained Independence in 1947, he was released by Indian Government.

After his release in 1947, Capt. Abbas Ali was not a happy soul. Although his mission was accomplished in his lifetime and country got independence from Britain but he was in great pains since the new government of free India didn’t treated him well. He was hoping to join Indian army of free India but then army chief General Carriappa, who himself was loyal to his British masters announced that he cannot take ex-soldiers of erstwhile British Indian Army into the new army of independent India since they were no more disciplined soldiers and his diktat was approved by the then Congress government.

The devastated soldiers of INA were not given any compensation either and were recognized by the central government as freedom fighters of late in early seventies. This was the main reason for true nationalist Capt. Abbas Ali not to take any perk or reward from the central government. He never applied for the freedom fighters pension since he was of the opinion that it was the duty of the government of free India to recognize the services of the freedom fighters and reward them adequately but on the contrary they were treated badly.

After the partition and making of Pakistan most of his family members migrated to Pakistan but he and his father decided to stay here and to serve their motherland.

In 1948 Capt. Abbas Ali joined Socialist Party led by Acharya Narendra Deva, Jayaprakash Narayan and Dr Rammanohar Lohia and remained associated with all the Socialist streams namely the Socialist Party, Praja Socialist Party, Samyukta Socialist Party and Socialist Party till its merger with the Janata Party in 1977.He was General Secretary of the Uttar Pradesh unit of Samyukta Socialist Party (SSP) in 1966-67, and of Socialist Party in 1973-74, respectively and was member of the National Executive of the Socialist Party and of its Parliamentary board during 1974-77.

In 1967, when he was state secretary of Samyukta Socialist Party, SSP, he played key role in formation of the first Non-Congress Samyukta Vidhayak Dal (SVD) government in Uttar Pradesh led by late Chaudhry Charan Singh, who becomes Prime Minister of India in 1979. During the Socialist movement (1948-74) he was arrested more than 50 times in various civil disobedience movements. During the infamous emergency of (1975-77) he was imprisoned for 19 months under DIR and MISA in various jails of Bulandshahr, Bareilly, Agra and Naini in Allahabad, and when emergency was lifted in 1977 and Janata Party came into power he became first President of the Uttar Pradesh unit of Janata party.

In 1978 he was elected to UP Legislative Council for six years. He was a member of UP Sunni Central Waqf Board for six years and passed away peacefully on 11th October 2014 after a brief illness at Aligarh.


(Son of Captain Abbas Ali, Qurban Ali is Delhi based senior journalist.)