A book on the cook who saved Mahatma
Syed Naseer Ahamed, the journalist-turned-historian, attempts to immortalise the historical figure, Bathaq Miya Ansari (1867-1957), who saved Mahatma in the first-ever assassination bid on Indian soil by Britishers in 1917, in his upcoming book
“He was brave enough to face the British ire by not obliging to their demands and losing everything he had. Therefore, it is a high time that we highlighted the sacrifices of men like him
- Syed Naseer Ahamed
- The book to come out in late March or April
- It will be published in four languages
- Plans to distribute 20,000 books for free of cost across India
Hyderabad: Even as the attempts are being made by some ‘fringe’ elements to idolise the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi, few know about the cook who actually saved Gandhi by not succumbing to the coercive tactics of his British master to poison Gandhi within two years of his arrival from South Africa.
Syed Naseer Ahamed, the journalist-turned-historian who explored the historical records, will be immortalising the historical figure, Bathaq Miya Ansari (1867-1957), who saved the life of Mahatma in the first ever assassination bid on Indian soil by Britishers in 1917, in his upcoming book in four languages (Telugu, English, Hindi and Urdu). With the help of public funding, Naseer plans to distribute some 20,000 copies of the book for free of cost across India, as a gift from Telugu people to the nation in late March or April.
As per his account, Bathaq Miya Ansari, who foiled the conspiracy of the British Indigo Planters to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi with poison, was born in Motihari village of Bihar in 1867 to Mohammad Ali Ansari. The year was 1917 and the Indian National Congress sent Gandhi to Champaran in Bihar to probe into the complaints made by the farmers on the atrocities of the ‘British Indigo Planters’ in Bihar. The British planters feared that their atrocities would be exposed in the inquiry.
One Britisher Irvin conspired to eliminate Gandhi by serving him poisonous food. They planned to send an Indian to serve the food. Thus, they chose Bathaq Miya Ansari, who was then a small time employee in the British government. They exerted pressure on him to serve the poisonous food to Mahatma offering him luxurious life if he obliged, while threatening him of dire consequences if he did not oblige. But, Ansari did not tempt with their offers. He just directly informed Mahatma Gandhi about the conspiracy and alerted him before the feast, for which Bathaq Miya was ousted from his job and treated cruelly by the British Planters.
“He was brave enough to face the British ire by not obliging to their demands and losing everything he had. Therefore, it is a high time that we highlighted the sacrifices of men like him who did their bit for protecting Mahatma,” said Naseer Ahamed, who penned 14 books on the freedom fighters.
How Rajendra Prasad found him after 33 years?
Dr Babu Rajendra Prasad, the first president of India who was an eye witness of the incident, recognised him when he visited Motihari in 1950. He recognized Bataq Mia Ansari, who was living in penury, after he forced himself into a crowd greeting the president upon his arrival. Rajendra Prasad after knowing his well-being immediately sanctioned him 50 acres of land. But, the orders could not be implemented for a long time because of the apathy of the officials.
When Bataq Mia Ansari passed away in 1957, Rajendra Prasad came to know about the news of his death, and he invited his family members to Rashtrapati Bhavan on December 3, 1958, and took immediate action to hand over the land to them.
“Bathaq Mia Ansari’s sacrifice deserves a prominent place in the history of the Indian freedom movement. It came to limelight only when freedom fighter Syed Ibrahim Fikri (Delhi) released his book written in Urdu, ‘Hindustani Jung-e-Azadi mein Musalmanonka Hissa’ in 1999,” Naseer Ahamed said.
Bathaq Miya, who foiled the conspiracy against Mahatma Gandhi, suffered utter poverty throughout his life. Though he rendered a great service to the Indian national movement and to the nation, he could not get due recognition during his lifetime. The promise made by the first president of India is yet to be implemented completely. Due to the efforts of former President Pratibha Patil, the long-pending file seems to be moving, but the government is yet to provide help to Bataq Mia Ansari’s family, Naseer said.