Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Maulvi who blackmailed the Nawab

Blackmailers are an integral part of our society. They work at various levels but when they strike the rich and famous they become or rather create history. We will discuss one such who chose to cause some discomfort to the Nawab Salar Jung III (pic on left), who had a passion for collecting manuscripts and antiques. His collections form the nucleus of the famous Salar Jung Museum in Hyderabad.

Maulvi Anis Ahmad, the man who blackmailed Salar Jung, is said to have studied at Aligarh University and Deoband. He had taken upon himself to get Muslims away from Gandhi and Congress. In 1930, he was touring the length and breadth of the country meeting Muslim Nawabs and rulers to impress upon them the need for Muslims not to align themselves with the Civil Disobedience Movement.

He impressed Sir Charles Watson, the then political secretary to the Government of India and secured from him a supporting letter for himself. He made the Britishers believe that he was doing useful propaganda work for them and gained their confidence.

On May 3, 1930 he reached Hyderabad and met T H Keyes, the British Resident in Hyderabad. Keyes introduced him to the nobility and even got him an audience with the Nizam on May 8. Ahmad's logic was that Nizam's donations to Jamia Millia Islamia and Deoband would help the British use Hyderabad to exert pressure on the Ulemas to stay away from the Congress. And who better to convince the Nizam than himself, as he had studied at Deoband and knew the Ulemas.

In a similar visit to the Nawab of Bahawalpur he had managed to get Mufti Kifayatullah of the influential Jamiat Ulema Hind and some others for a meeting to discuss exclusion of Muslims from the freedom struggle. However, nothing came out of it and the Mufti was in fact later arrested for taking part in the Civil Disobedience Movement.

Anis Ahmed was enjoying his stay in Hyderabad. He was put up as a state guest and was paid Rs 300 for his expenses. But he wanted more and had a perfect plan for it.

Living with him at the guest house was a woman who he had brought from Bombay. The woman's daughter had a liaison with Salar Jung and it seems there was some police case in Bombay relating to it (though no documents can be seen on this). He wanted to use the woman in blackmailing Salar Jung. He had already made an impression by meeting senior officers like Sir Akbar Hyderi, Nizam's key minister in Hyderabad.

Anis Ahmed gave feelers to Salar Jung who was at Ootacamund. A concerned Salar Jung got in touch with Keyes and made him aware of Anis Ahmed's conduct and intention. A furious Keyes confronted Anis Ahmed. As he was the one who had introduced Ahmed in Hyderabad he advised him to leave. However, Ahmed was well prepared. He told Keyes that one Lieutenant Russell of the Bombay police had asked him to look into the case. To support his case he showed a letter signed by Russell.

Keyes, however, was least interested. He was convinced that Anis Ahmed was a common blackmailer. He went ahead and also informed Sir Charles Watson. He wrote to Sir Watson that, 'he (Ahmed) brought with him from Bombay well known demimondaine whose daughter had had a liaison with Salar Jung'. An alarmed Sir Watson went on to write to several people that he disowns the letter of introduction given to Maulvi Anis Ahmed.

Keyes himself had wanted to take away Sir Charles Watson's letter from Ahmed but couldn't. Maulvi Anis Ahmed told him he had a 'photographed copy of the letter and had lost the original'. My guess is even Salar Jung, who was a passionate collector of rare objects, would not have been able to locate the original letter.

Interestingly, Maulvi Anis Ahmed was the secretary of Central Muslim Federation, Delhi (he used the organisation's letterhead to market himself) whose President was Shamsul Ulama Maulana Syed Ahmad Sahib, Imam, Shahi Juma Masjid, Delhi.


  1. Why Should a blogsite called the world of Urdu, engage it self, not with issues that relate to Urdu but, with Muslims,

    A site on Muslims and their problems, discriminations against them, modernisation v/s tradition etc etc can be dealt with in a seperate blog site why on a site that has ostensibly been started in the cause of Urdu.

    An overwhelming majority of Muslims of Indian origin have nothing whatsoever to do either with Urdu or with the problems of Urdu. And there is a population of Non Muslims, though a small one, that engages it self with Urdu.

    The moment you mix the two, you keep out the non Urdu Knowing Muslim and also the Urdu Knowing Non Muslim. You harm both causes.

    And finally why drag in a blackmailer who sucks up to the british and blackmails another lackey of the british into this discourse on Urdu, keep these titilating details of the depravities of the RAJ for those who wallow in saliscious gossip and try to pass it as history.

  2. Very interesting. History gives evidence on many occasions that Maulvis and Sadhus have often used their power to blackmail, threaten and coerce both the vulnerable and the powerful for their benefits. I also like the idea that you use this blog 'the world of urdu' to explore beyond the language of urdu to the many hidden and interesting facets of urdu society, culture and history.

  3. Thank you for your comments, Mr Sohail and Mr Mohammad Azeem.
    Mr Sohail: I do not intend to restrict this blog only to discuss about Urdu as a language. The blog title was chosen keeping in mind
    that it would explore the events, lives and times of people from the Urdu/Muslim world and ALSO from the Indian sub-continent. If you read the blog description you will get an idea about what the blog intends to cover. Raghupati Sahay and Gopi Chand Narang are not Muslims. They are from INDIA and renowned Urdu figures and hence are discussed here.
    The Hindu, which is a major newspaper in India, does not restrict itself to cover only issues/news relating to the Hindus! The Washington Post, to give another example, does not cover only Washington.
    The post on Maulvi Anis Ahmad is not 'gossip' but a historical fact. I got the details after studiously going through the records/archives at the British Library.