Tens of Indian journalists are writing books these days and there are all manner of dedications. But Manoj Mitta‘s The Fiction of Fact-finding: Modi and Godhra stands out from the crowd for who it remembers.
“and in the memory of the journalist Shoebullah Khan, who paid with his life in 1948 for advocating the merger of Hyderabad, my native place, with an India he had trusted would remain pluralist.”
Shoebullah Khan was in his 20s and editor of the Urdu newspaper Imroze, which he had launched because there was no space in the existing Urdu newspapers of the time to advocate the nationalist line.
Most Urdu newspapers back then either advocated independence or merger with Pakistan.
Shoebullah Khan published Imroze from the backyard of the house of Burgula Ramakrishna Rao, who would soon become the first elected chief minister of the liberated Hyderabad state. Rao’s nephew Burgula Narasing Rao, who saw him off at the gate, was the last person to talk to Khan.
He was killed in August 1948 by suspected Razakars as he stepped on to the road and his right palm was chopped off for defying their line.
An archived paper notes:
“On the 19th August, 1948, Kasim Razvi commemorating the “Nanaj Day” in the Zamarrud Mahal condemned the Indian leaders and uttered threats at the so called puppets of India.
“In the course of his speech he declared, ” The hand that rises against the the Muslims should either drop down or would be cut off”.
“This speech was literally taken by one Munim Khan and his associates who on the 21st August, 1948 shot down Shoebulla Khan, the editor of the nationalist paper, Imroze which criticised the Razakars, and when he fell down attacked him with swords and cut off his hands.”
The murder of the heroic journalist provided, in many ways, the impetus for “police action” that led to the liberation of Hyderabad the following month. Kasim Razvi was later convicted for the killing of Khan.
Shoebullah Khan saw the Congress’s Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru as his hero but in recent times, Khan has been appropriated by the BJP. He was remembered by L.K. Advani in 2003, and when Narendra Modi addressed a public meeting in Hyderabad recently, one of the gates was named after Khan.
Osmania University awards a medal in the name of Shoebullah Khan to the best student of journalism each year.
External reading: The Manoj Mitta interview*
* Disclosures apply