From the red shirts of Peshawar

Osama Siddiqui

If we look at the status of Khudai Khidmatgar Tehreek (a freedom movement) of Bacha Khan, a prominent name Jarnail Ghulam Haider Khan (Late) of Peshawar would definitely attract your attention for his marvelous struggle against the British imperialism in the Subcontinent. 

Ghulam Haider Khan was born in a Hindko speaking Siddiqui family of Peshawar in early 1873. When the Khudai Khidmatgar Tehreek was started under the leadership of Bacha Khan, he was among those few persons who had joined the movement in its preliminary stage from Peshawar. After joining the movement he was more inspired from the personality of Bacha Khan and his philosophy of non-violence amid the freedom movement in the United India, so he got devoted to Bacha Khan and later on that relationship helped him in meeting him with Mahatma Gandhi in Calcutta.

During the struggle against the British imperialism, Ghulam Haider Khan was several times arrested by the government and kept in different jails of the Subcontinent. Here, it is to mention a memorable moment that once when he was released from the prison along with his other comrades and were coming to their homes in a police bus, suddenly, Gaama – a freedom fighter, chanted slogans of independence from Britain which lead to the arrest of all of them once again.

Similarly, he and his other fellows, especially Abad Khan and Waris Chacha helped Subhash Chandra Bose in his visit to Russia. When Bose Ji started his journey from his hometown and came to NWFP (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) to enter into Afghanistan and from there go to Russia, they had already made a Pashtun tribal dress for him in order to keep him unrecognizable among the people by keeping him safe from the police and furthermore they made assured his crossing of the border of Afghanistan. 

However, after that they were arrested by the police and were brutally tortured. During the torture Abad Khan even lost one of his eyes and later on he received a letter from the Congress to compensate his losses during the struggle against the British rule, but he refused that offer and replied that he had been fighting for a cause to make the India’s 30 crore people independent and sovereign.

Despite all the hurdles and difficulties Ghulam Haider Khan kept continued his efforts against the British colonialism and after a time he was known as a bold freedom fighter and a true follower of Bacha Khan and the philosophy of non-violence, and as a result Bacha Khan had given him the title of ‘Jarnail’ in 1938 in order to recognize his struggle and achievements. 

When the United India got freedom from Britain and divided into India and Pakistan, a lot of local Hindus and Sikhs started migration from NWFP (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) to India, Jarnail Ghulam Haider Khan on the directives of Bacha Khan established a relief center with the help of other comrades in Khalsa High School Peshawar where drinking water, food and other necessities were being provided to Hindu and Sikh communities who were migrating to India.

When Pakistan came into being, he reorganized his comrades to keep continue their struggle for the progress and development of Pakhtuns in the country under the leadership of Bacha Khan, whereas he also raised voice for the other oppressed communities of Pakistan. He always used to emphasize and stress on Pakhtuns to be united and non-violent and get modern education. He passed away in 1953 after completing a long life journey and laid to rest at his fraternal graveyard by a large number of people in the Peshawar city. Besides other prominent personalities Bacha Khan also visited his home and offered prayer for him. 

The writer is the great grandson of Jarnail Ghulam Haider Khan. Besides, he is a graduate of the Institute of Management Sciences (IMSciences), Peshawar in business administration and has keen interest in modern South Asian history, cricket, films and history of the Subcontinent. He can be contacted at:

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