The Lockdown – Day Fifty-Three

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Homage to a Great Peasant Leader

  • Comrade Hyder Baksh Jatoi was par excellence socialist and Sindhi nationalist, who never disowned his ideas. His motto was ‘Dare, Discipline, Vigilance, and Hard Work.’ Having a body like that of Roman gods and sparkling eyes, he was a Sindhi folk’s replica. He was the youth’s inspiration and Haris’ true companion.

  • Hyder Baksh Jatoi succeeded in realizing the political actors of Pakistan that peasants on their own are distinct class; they have their own social, economic, and political issues. Apart from it, he successfully demonstrated that Sindhi peasant is neither dull and nor indecisive. It as a class has leadership qualities, organizational skills, and it has a will to challenge the oppressive power.

Zaffar Junejo

Today, the 21st May is Comrade Hyder Baksh Jatoi’s day, as it’s his death anniversary. Therefore, this lockdown note is about him. This note focuses on three parts – one what were catalyst factors that matured him to resign from English Empires’ prestigious service, second what was his contribution in making Sindh Hari Committee as a political entity, and last what role he played in making Pakistan as a true federal state. Therefore, in the last section his pamphlet ‘Democracy and Justice of Chief Justice’ would be discussed. But be clear – don’t be confused with the last phrase of the pamphlet. It has nothing to do with the present Chief Justice of Pakistan. I think it deems fit to explore the first point of this note – why Comrade Hyder Baksh Jatoi being a young, energetic, committed, and competent civil servant resigned and jointed the Sindh Hari Committee.

There may be various factors, but Comrade Hyder Baksh Jatoi’s sensitive nature and continuous reflection over his immediate environment and exploration that what role he has to play in changing society had decisive points. In addition to that his service also exposed him to witness the poverty and suffering of peasants. Poor peoples’ helplessness, and insults at the hands of Waderas, and petty government officials always made him sad. Although in all odd situations he usually helped peasants, considering the provisions of law. Comrade Sohbo Giamchandani has written that once Comrade Hyder Baksh Jatoi came to their village Bindi (District Larkana) to collect the land revenue. Jatoi stayed at their Autaq, and the Kotar and Tapedar (both low-grade revenue officials) started confiscating utensils, ploughs, and oxen of the defaulters. While knowing it, Comrade Hyder Baksh ordered for an immediate return. Comrade Hyder Baksh Jatoi on 2nd May 1931 became Mukhtiarkar and served at various places of Sindh. But he was fed up with the ‘Rasai’ tradition of English administration, thus decided to get sideline position. Agha Ghulam Hussain, another competent officer, helped him get the position of Deputy Manager, Encumberment. Later, in 1943 he was appointed Special Recovery Officer, Co-operative Societies in Sindh, where he exempted poor peoples’ loans, considering their legal eligibility for exemption. Afterward, he was promoted as Deputy Collector, and later became Assistant Manager Encumbered Estates and Courts of Wards. On the other hand, he continued his intellectual pursuits, and regularly attended literary gatherings and meetings of Hyderabad Theosophical lodge. It was commonly known as Annie Besant Lodge. He liked its broad humanism and tolerance. At Anne Besant Lodge Hyderabad meetings, he met with Jethmal Parsram, GM Syed, and other founder members of the Sindh Hari Committee and supporters of the peasants’ cause.  He also remained in close contact with groups of the communist party.  Hyder Baksh Jatoi’s continuous reflection, injustice, readings, and participation in social, political, and cultural groups’ meetings catalyzed his decision to resign. He discussed it with his communist friends Sobho Gianchandani and Gobind Malhi. Their suggestion was divided. But Sobho announced that Jatoi should resign. Comrade Hyder Baksh Jatoi also consulted with Pir Ali Muhammad Rashidi, who suggested him to continue the service. On the other hand, the idea of resigning was also shared with Syed Jamaluddin Bukhari, who too was in favor of resigning. He also perused him to join the Sindh Hari Committee. At last, he discussed it with his wife. She agreed on conditions that the family would not move to the village, and children would study in Hyderabad.

GM Syed has summarized that landlords’ atrocities, peasants’ suffering, the government officers’ corruption, self-centered agenda, and insulting to people, who were against the British Government, played a decisive role in Jatoi’s resignation.

Now briefly, I am looking to Comrade Hyder Baksh Jatoi’s contribution. Considering the space limit, and other aspects, I have focused on peasants’ rights. Comrade Hyder Baksh Jatoi’s last serving department was Encumbered Estates and Courts of Wards, from where he resigned in 1945. Soon, he joined Sindh Hari Committee. Immediately, he established Sindh Hari Committees’ various branches across Sindh. In 1947, he launched ‘Weekly Hari Haqdar’ from Hyderabad. Late in 1947, at Ratodero Annual Conference of Sindh Hari Committee, he was elected as the President. In this tenure, from 1946-47, Comrade Hyder Baksh Jatoi wrote Sindh Hari Committee’s constitution and got it approved in 1950. Lately, it was decided that the Sindh Hari Committee should take part in the provincial elections. Resultantly, Comrade Hyder Baksh Jatoi filed the nominations from many different locations. However, Sindh Government on the fabricated reasons rejected most of the nomination papers or supported the opponent candidates in rigging the polls. On the other hand, violation of peasants’ tenancy rights and their ejections from lands were taking place everywhere in Sindh. Comrade prioritized it, although, even before the partition peasant tenancy rights were under discussion. The Sindh Tenancy Act bill (STA) was at table in the Sindh Assembly in March 1950 for the discussion, and deliberations were held on 1st April 1950. However before the report of the Select Committee, Comrade Hyder Baksh Jatoi called the peasants to come to Karachi. The call was responded positively. The peasants gathered at Karachi, where a sit-in was staged outside Sindh Assembly to highlight peasants’ issues and demands – a charter of demands (a proposed draft of the STA) was handed over to the Assembly Members. On 2nd April 1950, a huge conference was held in Karachi to discuss the situation and work out the next plan. Consequently, on 3rd April 1950, a protest rally was held from the Chief Minister’s House to Sindh Assembly, and a sit-in was staged in front of the Assembly. Finally, on 4th April 1950, Sindh Assembly passed the STA and it became law on 11th May 1950. It clearly defines the rights and responsibilities of the landlord and peasant.

If I summarize this part of the note, I suggest, Comrade Hyder Baksh Jatoi succeeded in realizing the political actors of Pakistan that peasants on their own are distinct class, they have their own social, economic, and political issues. Apart from it, he successfully demonstrated that Sindhi peasant is neither dull and nor indecisive. It as a class has leadership qualities, organizational skills, and it has a will to challenge the oppressive power. In addition to its passing of STA and carrying on peasant, agenda are great milestones of Sindh’s Peasant Movement.

The last part of this note is about Comrade Hyder Baksh Jatoi’s intellectual role in making Pakistan a true federal state.  However, let me submit that imposition of One-Unit changed the priorities of   Comrade Hyder Baksh Jatoi as well as the Sindh Hari Committees. On the other hand, he wrote a series of pamphlets against the One-Unit Scheme, Tax Collection, Restoration of Sindhi Language, and inclusion of Karachi as an integral part of Sindh. Some of the titles of his authored pamphlets are ‘Democracy or Dictatorship in Pakistan,’ ‘Unjust Land Assessment Rates in Sindh Districts, ’ ‘Lands in Sindh – Who Should Own Them’, ‘Disposal of Evacuee Property’,  ‘Disposal of Gudu Barrage State Lands’, ‘Haris Petition of Rights,’ ‘Shall Sindhi Language Stay in Karachi or Not?,’ ‘Stop Ejectment of Population from Makhi Lake Area’.

In this part of the note, I am discussing Hyder Baksh Jatoi’s pamphlet ‘Democracy and Justice of the Chief Justice.’ Please allow me a bit of twist for setting the context of the pamphlet. In 1954, Pakistan’s Governor-General Ghulam Mohammad dismissed the Constituent Assembly. Moulvi Tamizuddin Khan challenged the dismissal in the court. He filed the case on 7th November 1954, however, the High Court overturned it, but the Federal Court under Justice Muhammad Munir upheld the dismissal.

At this crucial time of the history of Pakistan, while a decision on Moulvi Tamizuddin Khan’s petition came out in support of Governor-General, Comrade Hyder Baksh authored the pamphlet ‘Democracy and Justice of the Chief Justice.’ The author with great regret mentioned that Mr. Muhammed Munir, Chief Justice of Pakistan’s has dismantled the foundation of the democracy in Pakistan and its highest judicial forum. The author showed his intention that at all costs the democracy in Pakistan should be defended. He displayed his determination that whoever the enemy of the democracy, might be the states’ head, the chief justice, or even the Governor-General of Pakistan – all should be opposed in the interest of the democracy.

He sadly wrote to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mr. Muhammad Munir in connection with his judgment regarding the case of Moulvi Tamizuddin Khan and pointed out that the judgment and detailed discussions are not allied with the spirit of the democracy. However, he showed the sensitivity that how one can go against the supreme judge, and there is no option to appeal. Therefore, he lodged appealed to the court of the people of Pakistan. He started with the brief that earlier he wrote ‘Shikwah’ – a Complain – and the poem brought trouble for him from the religious section of the society. He narrated that he has written three pamphlets entitled, ‘Injustice to Sindh – I,’ ‘Injustice to Sindh – II,’ and ‘Let Us Save Pakistan’ the contents were addressed to Ghulam Muhammad, Governor-General of Pakistan. He said that the publication of these pamphlets caused him detention for several months and then he was prosecuted in a court. After saying so, he reminded the reader that his current pamphlet against the Chief Judge would too invite the trouble, but despite all this, he was ready to bear the cost. He pities himself being too expressive, and realized that insisting on writing, he has had opted for the oral complaint. He pinpointed that oral evidence is a known phenomenon for Muslims. He wrote that the Muslim kings’ judiciary was always there to support the kings. Their Chief Justice (Qazi-ul-Kuzzats) was ready to prescribe Judgements (Fatwas) considering the kings’ will and political actions. The same historical spirit manifested in the judgment of our Chief Judge. Comrade Jatoi cited the act of Ghulam Muhammad, Governor-General of Pakistan who debarred Muhammad Ayub Khuhro from disqualification. It was done just to implement One Unit Scheme. The author mentioned that his colleague and he challenged the Governor-General that he could not alter the Public and Representative Office Disqualification Act because there is no provision. The Federal Court was approached, and the decision came what was expected – Chief Justice allowed Muhammad Ayub Khuhro to resume his duties as the Chief Minister of Sindh. Finally, Muhammad Ayub Khuhro proved himself the hero of the One-Unit Scheme. This plan of the greater Punjab was on the run from the initial days of Pakistan.

Comrade Hyder Baksh Jatoi reminded the judiciary that Chief Justice not only persecuted an event or a person, but he also tried himself before the annuls of history. He summarized that Justice Munir has failed to perform what was expected from the judiciary. He has betrayed the country, democracy, and even the judiciary. Comrade Jatoi went on to say that such a person should not be part of the country’s judiciary. The pamphlet ends with slogans in support of democratic Pakistan and Independent Pakistan.

I am of the view that if the constitutional assembly was allowed to work, and no conspiracy was hatched, there might be chances of the better federal-state – Pakistan.

Comrade Jatoi in his political career, which starts from 1945 onward, had to suffer a great deal. He was arrested, detained, deported many times. He was jailed eight times, its duration ranged from five months to three years. In total, he was behind the bars for seven years and six months.

Comrade Hyder Baksh Jatoi was par excellence socialist and Sindhi nationalist. He never disowned his ideas. The motto of Hyder Bakhsh Jatoi was ‘Dare, Discipline, Vigilance, and Hard work.’ Comrade Hyder Baksh having a body like of Roman gods and sparkling eyes was a Sindhi folk’s replica. Comrade Hyder Baksh Jatoi was the youth’s inspiration and Haris’ true companion. Later, he was diagnosed probably with a liver cancer, and it became the cause of his death. He passed away on 21st May 1970 at Hyder Manzil, Hyder Chowk Hyderabad.

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Zaffar Junejo is Ph.D. Scholar at Department of History, University of Malaya Kuala Lumpur – The areas of interest: Peasants’ Studies, Social History, Cultural History, Colonial and Post-Colonial Periods.
For author’s previous blog click on Sindh Courier

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