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Book on little-known companions of Mahatma Gandhi

Book on little-known companions of Mahatma Gandhi
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Mahatma Gandhi’s satyagraha, which started following his encounter with ‘discriminatory British law that tried to deprive Indian diaspora of its voting rights and equal citizenship rights, still remains relevant, says Telugu historian Syed Naseer Ahamed.

Hyderabad: Mahatma Gandhi's satyagraha, which started following his encounter with 'discriminatory British law that tried to deprive Indian diaspora of its voting rights and equal citizenship rights, still remains relevant, says Telugu historian Syed Naseer Ahamed.

While most of the historic accounts of Mahatma Gandhi focus on his journey of freedom struggle in India, Ahamed feels that Gandhi's earlier life spanning over two-decades also contains important inspiring moments which transformed him – however, they are little explained.

The journalist-turned-historian Syed Naseer, in his latest compilation of 'Mahatma Gandhi: Muslim Colleagues – Followers' (Mahatma Gandhi – Muslim Sahacharulu Anacharulu), credits Dada Abdullah, the businessman who invited Gandhi to South Africa and his supporters, for helping the 'Barrister Gandhi transforming into Mahatma Gandhi.'

Ahamed who was in the city recently spoke to The Hans India elaborately about his latest compilation starting from Gandhi's journey to South Africa (as legal counsel to M/s Dada Abdullah & Company), on the invitation of Abdoola Hajee Adam Jhaveri (Dada Abdullah), also a native of Porbandar in Gujarat. During the first two-years of stay, Gandhi learned about the discrimination Indians were facing and the height of it through proposed law being brought against the Indians.

"It was through Abdoola, Gandhi was able to construe what the Indians in South Africa were facing. And he was the guiding force in Gandhi's earlier years. In his autobiography, Gandhi himself stated how Abdoola stopped him from adopting local culture, as it would prove detrimental for the aspirations of the Indian diaspora there," said Naseer.

Natal Indian Congress(NIC) formed

Within two years, Gandhi decided to leave South Africa in 1894, but the way British authorities were aiming to snatch away the voting rights of the Indian diaspora through new law there, forced him to stay back. To fight against the prejudice, Gandhi became an important element of the newly formed Nata Indian Congress (NIC), where he was declared secretary and Dada Abdullah being its president. The NIC mostly comprising Muslims, stuck to the 'non-violent' movement and were the motivating force for Barrister Gandhi whom the world would later call Mahatma Gandhi.

"Till Dada Abdulla was alive, he provided all the means both financial and moral support to Gandhi to conduct his Satyagraha from his Phoenix Ashram. Hence, the well-known political commentator Prof Yogendra Yadav, in his essay 'Dada Abdulla and Mahatma Gandhi' cited 'So we can say that Dada Abdullah was first supporter of Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa Satyagraha movement. He taught and supported him like his father," he added.

Amongst others who returned along with Gandhi from South Africa and stayed along with the entire family at Sabarmati Ashram was Imam Sahed Abdul Qadir. Despite being unfamiliar to local languages, they served at his Ashram. The way Gandhi took special interest in his daughter's marriage in 1920 and invited everyone personally remains one of the important historic account.

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