Today Sindh commemorates 78th death anniversary of Shaheed Allah Bux Soomro, premier of Sindh for two times before partition, highly principled politician, social reformer, promoter of religious harmony, who never bowed before the forces of intolerance, ignorance, darkness, backwardness, tyranny and injustice
By Azhar “Azad” Mughal
Shikarpur is always proud of its fertile soil that produced icons, towering personalities, educationists, honest pro-people politicians, renowned literary figures, philanthropists and poets who contributed significantly towards Sindh’s and Shikarpur’s betterment, development and progress. Shaheed Allah Bux Soomro was one of the true sons of the soil who opened his eyes in 1900 in an affluent family of large landowners and contractors. After completing his matriculation in 1918, he joined his father’s contractor business and subsequently entered the world of politics. When he defeated an influential landlord for Upper Sindh seat in the erstwhile Bombay Legislative Council in 1926, it were his outstanding and excellent efforts which saw the construction of the Sukkur Barrage project which helped boost and revolutionize the agricultural lands in Sindh. It stands even today. He took care of others and preferred to work for people’s well-being. He formed the party of his own the Itehad (unity) Party in the light of the introduction of provincial autonomy through the Government of India Act, 1935. It emerged victorious in 24 out of 35 Muslim seats in a house of 60. His growing popularity was a cause of grave concern and posed a major threat to the divisive Muslim League. He served as the premier of Sindh for two terms from March 1938- April 1940 and March 1941 to October 1942.
Shaheed Allah Bux Soomro, strong proponent of secularism and true freedom fighter dealt with the controversial issue of Masjid Manzilgah between Muslims and Hindus claiming ownership simultaneously, which guarantees to lead both parties to communal riots.
During his tenure, not only did he ensure the return of great revolutionary leader and freedom fighter Ubaidullah Sindhi, who was living a life of exile in Afghanistan but also welcomed him warmly. Moreover, he also reduced the salaries of ministers of his cabinet whereas today’s rulers feel extreme pride in raising their ministers’ pays, perks and allowances when the common people are living miserable lives.
He never bowed before the forces of darkness, ignorance and extremism but became torch bearer of secular traditions and fought against the British imperialists valiantly, who were busy exploiting the rich natural and mineral resources with both hands. He renounced the titles of Khanbahadur and Order of the Empire (OBE) in protest against the attitude of the British meted out to the people of Sub-continent. His actual words are stated here, which he wrote in letter on Sep19, 1942 while renouncing the honors conferred upon him and resigning from the Defence council during the World War II.
“Convinced as I am, that India has every right to be free and that the people of India should have conditions in which they could live in peace and harmony, the declaration and actions of the British Government have made it clear that instead of giving their cooperation to the various Indian parties and communities in settling their difference and parting with power to the people of the land allowing them to live happily in freedom and mould the destinies of their country according to their birth right, the policy of the British Government has been to continue their imperialistic hold on Indian and to persist in keeping her under subjection, to the use the political and communal difference for propaganda purposes, and to crush the national forces to serve their own imperialistic aims and intentions….I feel I cannot retain the honors I hold from the British Government, which in the circumstance that have arises I cannot but regard as token of British imperialism.”
When he was later asked whether he wanted to extend the hand of friendship with the Nazis and Fascists, he replied: “I believe in two things – to defeat British imperialism and fight against Nazism and Fascism at the same time. It is my birthright to fight against both evils.” Allah Bux Soomro earned popularity among masses through his untiring efforts and services for betterment and welfare of general public. No doubt, he was dynamic charismatic leader who made every possible effort to please his subjects.
This man of humble nature, embodiment of peace and progress, religious harmony and secular credentials was brutally assassinated by religious zealots, inimical to peaceful coexistence and religious harmony, in broad daylight in his hometown Shikarpur when he was traveling on a tonga on May 14, 1943. He was just 43 years old when he was murdered. Allah Bux Soomro earned popularity among masses through his untiring efforts and services for well-being and welfare of general public. Not only did he work untiringly and ceaselessly for the welfare of the people of his province without any discrimination and out of sheer spirit of service but also toiled day and night for well-being of marginalized segments of society on priority basis. No doubt, he was dynamic charismatic leader who made every possible effort to please his subjects.
Today Sindh is commemorating 78th anniversary of Shaheed Allah Bux Soomro, premier of Sindh for two times before partition, highly principled politician, social reformer, promoter of religious harmony, who never bowed before the forces of intolerance, ignorance, darkness, backwardness, tyranny and injustice but rather encountered them with strong determination, political acumen, will, moral courage, consistency, steadfastness and intrepidity.
He was not like seasoned and traditional politicians who prefer their self-vested and self-motivated interests to the noble ideals and interests of general public. His labor of love, laudable efforts and commendable services for betterment of the people of Sindh will always be remembered in the annals of history.
His true followers and political heirs are still battling the war of their future generations’ survival against fanatics and extremist elements and contributing significantly towards social services by mitigating their sufferings and sorrows. This immortal soul of Sindh is really a great source of inspiration for them. They have vowed and renewed their pledge to follow his footprints in letter and spirit by keeping alive the spirit of service and well-being of people. He preferred and welcomed his death wholehearted rather than surrendering his lofty and sublime ideals to the very forces inimical to and devoid of human values. He will always be remembered on account of his outstanding and splendid part he played; services he rendered and became immortal by getting martyrdom at the hands of some misguided people.
Following his footsteps in their true sense is the best tribute we can pay him. This country desperately needs politicians such as Shaheed Allah Bux Soomro at present to get rid of extremist elements and to usher in new era of people’s welfare.