In Memoriam

Nawab Ali Sarwar Khan

Born 15th. May, 1924- Died 21st. July, 1995

 

Seasons come and go. Days, months and years flit away. Time never stops it ticks away. People are born, play their part and pass away to the next world; humans are mortal. Soon memories too fade away. This is the way of the world; it has always been like this and always will be. But, some people are no ordinary men they leave their indelible imprints behind and are remembered for their work and contributions. Those are special people with special qualities and attributes. For their work they become part of history and heritage and live on forever. On the 9th death anniversary of my late father Nawab Ali Sarwar Khan these thoughts crisscross my mind. Going through his life remembering the words he spoke and the things he did, the values and principles he espoused and strove for, the visions and ideas that he held I am more than convinced he was no ordinary man and was special in many ways to the people and region he belonged to and his family which remembers him lovingly and prays for him now that he is not of this temporal world, but has journeyed away from this life, far away where no one can reach him. I am sure, as I write and memories flood my mind, there are many who share the same thoughts as me as his death anniversary nears. Long after he has passed away he is remembered ruefully for his work and compassion which touched innumerable lives. There are fond memories of him that rekindle fondness and love we share for him.

My father Nawab Ali Sarwar Khan was the third and the youngest child of Nawab Ali Haider Khan of Prithimpassa, Langla (kulaura). He was born in 1924 in Kolkata in his father’s house named ‘The Sylhet House’. He went to school in Shillong, Assam and later went to Aligarh Muslim University, India. After completing his education he settled down in his father’s Estate at Prithimpassa and involved himself in different activities and assisted his father in the development and progress of the Estate. He had especial interest in tea, so he focused on the Tea Estate of the family and there he developed his skills and expertise and contributed greatly to the development of the Tea Estates. His diligence, acumen and different other qualities were regarded as invaluable for the family business. Historically too, the family had special affiliation with tea as an industry. My great grand father Nawab Ali Amjad Khan was one of the pioneers of tea plantation in the country and in the late 19th century set up Rungicherra Tea Estate in Moulvibazar district. It was one of the earliest tea estates of the country. Since coming to Prithimpassa my father showed interest in other areas too, like politics. This too was basically ingrained in him through the family’s long involvement with politics. His father was one of the major political catalysts for Assam in the 30s and 40s. He as a leader of United Muslim Party played a pivotal role in the cabinet of Sir Syed Muhammad Sadullah, Premier and G. Bardalai, Premier, both of Assam ( Both these men were Premier at different times during the period from1937 to 1950). In the referendum which led to the separation of Sylhet to become a part of East Pakistan my grandfather’s role was momentous having far-reaching impacts. So, naturally this environment rubbed off on my father and soon he was a political leader in his own rights. He had the innate qualities that a politician needs to make his mark and those were the charisma and communication skills. Quickly through his sincerity, honesty and sense of empathy with concomitant hard work he touched people, won hearts. As days went by he immersed himself more and more into politics and eventually joined Awami League. His interaction and communication with political stalwarts and luminaries led a great deal to the development of his political persona, mindset and depth essential for becoming a leader. From Awami League he contested the elections in 1970 and 1973 and won hands down. He romped home with unprecedented victories in both the polls. They were testimony to his endearing personality and popularity. These traits formed mainly due to his down to earth relationship with people irrespective of their social affiliations. He developed his political instincts in the course of his life with his father and political elite he came across. Hussain Shaheed Shuharwardy also had enduring influence on his mind and thoughts and added to the culmination of the political direction he embarked upon.

There was another interesting facet of my father and that was love for his family. He was a doting father and a responsible and caring husband. He devoted special attention to his family and the development of his children setting aside time for the family and taking keen interest in education and extra curricular activities. He always, without any compromise, was committed to our development in all areas and took time from his pressing schedule to guide and help us. His sense of commitment and responsibility were the bedrock of our development and the harmonious progress of the family.

He had many other qualities and one was his mastery over musical instruments and was gifted with a melodious voice. Some of the instruments he played accompanied by his lilting voice enraptured the listeners. He played the instruments with ease and élan and as the musical notes and his voice wafted in the air and filled the room listeners would be transfixed, enchanted by his virtuosity. Fashion was another area he had mastered and was envy of all. His wardrobe had wide array of clothes pertaining to latest designs and his panache for fashionable clothes was incomparable. His collection proved without doubts the sartorial elegance he had attained. He kept himself constantly informed and updated regarding the changes in the world of fashion. He moved in the highest strata of society and was equally at ease and comfortable in the midst of the common man these were the qualities that quickly won hearts. His individuality doesn’t end there. He was a voracious reader and collector of books. All kinds of books were on his shelves. Whenever he could snatch some time he would immure himself in his study room and bury himself in his tomes. His shelves were chock-a-block with precious and unique books and some were collector’s items; as well as, ordinary books and latest best sellers. He was a connoisseur of antiques and our ancestral home was filled with rare pieces collected from different places and sources. His knowledge of fire-arms, hunting was astonishing. He had a fantastic collection of guns and was knowledgeable about the nitty-gritty of guns, shooting and hunting wild games. In his lifetime he shot many big games and the souvenirs are many from his days of shikar. He excelled in marksmanship.

The area which he was always gravitating to was moving and socializing with the literati, savants, statesman and eminent personalities of his time. This exercise developed him immensely and gave him direction. He gave his best to the development of the masses. He never lost sight of his mission and responsibilities and worked relentlessly for the emancipation of the people of the region. During his tenure as Member of Parliament he contributed to the total development and it was due to his farsightedness and single minded efforts that electricity was introduced and the villages lit up as supply of electricity was installed in 1974. This and abundant other consequential matters he undertook and positive efforts prove without any doubt that he was a visionary leader with a mind focused on balanced development in all essential areas. The symbiosis between him and his people was exemplary and set the trend for future politics, leadership traits and defined relations between the politicos and the masses. He led a trail blazing life. His life exuded love, confidence and positivity. He never relented till he accomplished his mission. He faced challenges with fortitude and conviction. In the liberation war of 1971 he was Member of Parliament from Kulaura constituency and later member of the Constituent Assembly after the liberation of Bangladesh. During the war of liberation provincial revolutionary government in exile was formed at Mujibnagar within Bangladesh border and he was the member of the government as Member of Parliament elected in the 1970 elections. He played a very important role giving leadership and direction in his sector. Today the people remember him for his visionary leadership, honesty and selflessness, which were his hallmark.

On his 9th Death anniversary we express profound gratitude and love. He is deeply and fondly remembered and missed by his people and family who join together to pray to the Almighty Allah for the salvation and eternal peace of his soul.

 

By

Ali Hamid Khan

House#16 (1st. Floor), Road 5, Sector 5

Uttara, Dhaka.

Bangladesh

 

Tel: 8915051

Mobile: 0171480318.