Khan Saab, A Veritable Slice of Tolerant and Progressive Deccan History

By: N Venugopal

Demise of Mohammed Tajuddin Khan, popularly known as MT Khan, is particularly sad and untimely at this moment when Telangana is trying to retrace its roots, since he essentially epitomises the composite, multi-dimensional, religious tolerant and progressive Deccan history. Indeed he is a veritable slice of Deccan history.

Called Khan Saab with admiration and love by one and all across left, democratic, secular, Telangana and journalist streams, he commanded a lot of respect for his multi-faceted, erudite, affable nature. He was a teacher, journalist, poet, translator, writer, public speaker, civil libertarian, publisher, and all through a committed Marxist.

Born in 1935 in a mutavalli family that came to Hyderabad during his grandfather’s time to settle down at Purana Pul darwaza, he is a perfect son of the soil, an indivisible part of Hyderabad and integrated all the elements of Hyderabadi tehzeeb. He had his school education at City College, when it was a high school, Intermediate at Vivek Vardhini College and joined BA at Osmania University, which he could not complete. All his educational institutions have great traditions of student activity in national and communist movements and the spirit he imbibed then continued till his last breath. He always used to tell how he had to suckle from a Hindu shepherd mother and how he became a blend of the best in Hindu and Muslim cultures.

As Hyderabad was a cauldron of social movements influenced by anti-Nizam, anti-feudal and anti-colonial struggles of the day, he naturally came into contact with the vibrant communist movement in his youth. By his own admission, the particular influences on him were his neighbour Ramchandar, a trade unionist as well as Makhdoom Mohiuddin, one of the founders of communist movement in Hyderabad, who was also a lecturer in City College.

Khan Saab worked as a teacher in the school section of Dharmavanth College, since he lacked required qualifications, but taught higher courses as he was more than capable. He also worked as a deskman in NewsTime, Eenadu group’s now defunct daily for a long time. Similarly he also worked on the desk of Siasat, the most popular Urdu daily.

However, all that is for record sake. He might have donned various hats as a teacher, lecturer, journalist and translator for his livelihood, but his soul and life were in revolution. Beginning from the late 1940s till the late 1960s he was with the Communist Party of India and then moved towards Naxalbari line and joined Viplava Rachayitala Sangham (Virasam- Revolutionary Writers’ Association). Among many others, he wrote a memorable poem ‘To Jangal Santhal’ the early tribal leader of Naxalbari. Quite naturally he followed Kondapalli Seetaramaiah (KS), who revived the suppressed Naxalbari-Srikakulam spirit in this part of the country, through painstaking building up of mass organisations. As part of that KS began to publish Pilupu, a Telugu fortnightly in December 1972 and MT Khan was printer and publisher of the journal as KS was underground. Within one year, MT Khan was arrested under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) along with Varavara Rao and Cherabandaraju in October 1973. Even as the High Court struck the order and released them, MT Khan along with others was implicated in the infamous Secunderabad Conspiracy Case and was imprisoned again, besides banning a couple of issues of Pilupu. Out on bail, he was again arrested on June 26, 1975 and kept in jail for the entire Emergency period.

Post-Emergency, he concentrated more on civil liberties, consciousness raising and took active part in setting up Hyderabad Book Trust as well as working in AP Civil Liberties Committee. Though he could not give much of his time and energies with failing health, when situation demanded he rose to the occasion and became president of APCLC. He also lent his name and whatever time and energy to a number of causes including protest against firing on Gaddar, protest against death penalty to dalit youth, encouraging budding stream of minority literature in Telugu, etc. He participated in several meetings including the annual conference of Virasam in Warangal in January 2014.

A sudden cardiac arrest just after his breakfast and a glass of milk cut short his dreams and activities, but his spirit, as he wrote in 1973, ‘Leap out, Leap out fast, Snatch the present and Resurrect future’ cannot be cut short.

Courtesy: The New Indian Express

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