Unknown Hero’s (Taj Sultana)

We are familiar with numerous personalities of the world and turn them into our hero’s due to their excellent performances in any field such as sports, movies, wars, social work. The heroic work of these personalities has been promoted by media, historians or their regular appearance’s which made them famous and an admirable figure, always been praised and remembered with good words. But there are so many heroic personalities which were neither promoted by media nor been known due to any reasons such as these personalities didn’t tried to fore frame their efforts in front of people or some other took advantage of their work and become famous.

Taj Sultana was one of those unknown female heroic figure and a front line worker of Pakistan Movement 1947, worked shoulder to shoulder as a team mate of Mouhtarma Ms. Fatima Jinnah (sister of Quaid-e-Azam, Mr. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Founder of Pakistan) for an independent Muslim state. Taj Sultana was born in 1899 at Shabaad (the then District Karnal-Ambala, British India), and died in April, 1989 (21st Ramadaan) at Lahore  (buried at Model Town Graveyard, Lahore), belong to an educated, religious and rich family of Shahbad, the then Ambala State (a state of Indo-Pak subcontinent before 1947). Her father Syed Ghulam Shabbir Zaidi (1860—November 26, 1949) was a renowned philanthropist and Chief Superintendent Engineer of Shahbad Town-Ambala (current Kurukshetra District-Haryana State) a highest state position  and husband as Assistant Commissioner of Patyala city (under Maharaja Dheeraj Patiyala, ruler of Patyala State-India). She had two brothers out of one died during his medicine studies (before partition) was a gold medalist and other was late Syed Muhammad Ibrahim Zaidi (December 1890—September 11, 1958), one of the pioneer Muslim B.Sc engineers of the entire Indian sub-continent, and Aligarh College graduate as well as a poet, novelist, intellectual and prose-writer; and also served as Senior Vice Chairman of Lahore Board of Education during the 1950s (father of Syed Ijlal Haider Zaidi (late), former Chief Secretary of Azad Kahsmir & KPK as well as Defense Secretary of Pakistan). After the death of her brother’s wife, Taj Sultana took care of his three children’s (including Mr. Syed Ijlal Haider Zaidi) and it was due to her efforts as well as up-bringing that Mr. Syed Ijlal Haider Zaidi stood at the highest bureaucratic position in Pakistan.

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Grave of Taj Sultana at Model Town Lahore Graveyard

Taj Sultana was a companion of top women activists of 1947 Pakistan Independence Movement, Begum Salma Tassaduq Hussain, Begum Ameena Ghuman, Fatima Begum, Shaista Ikram-ullah, Begum Jahan Ara Shahnawaz, Begum Saeeda Waheed.

“Taj Sultana met Begum Salma Tassaduq Hussain during train journey from Ambala to Lahore. Both informed each other about their work for All India Muslim League and then Begum Salma Tassaduq Hussain took Taj Sultana to her home located at Mozang, Lahore where she (Begum Salma Tassaduq Hussain) was living at first floor along with her husband and one male child. They both became good friends & decided to work together along with Begum Fatima. They made an office (at Temple road, Mozang, Lahore) and then many other women joined their efforts at Lahore”

During 1946-47, Taj Sultana was part of a team struggled to bring out Muslim women’s abducted by Hindue’s & Sikh’s who illegally held  as well as made them their wife’s & servants, were raped after the barbaric killing of Muslim men as well as their families during migration from India to Pakistan and when announced an independent Muslim country. Most of the Muslim women’s were got pregnant after rape by Hindu’s & Sikhs & refused to go along with them (team of Women Muslim League Workers) with a argue that no body of their family members is alive & no Muslim family in Pakistan could accept them because of this situation.  The women workers of All India Muslim League Lahore move in a form of convoy (use local police as well ) before 1947 & after Independence to rescue abducted Muslim girls/women’s from Hindu’s & Sikhs in entire Punjab state of India. According to some of her colleagues (as told by my father), her team rescued more then 5000 (five thousand) abducted Muslim women’s. These Women All India Muslim League Workers used to organize small events such as “Dohlki” at homes to console with these rescued women’s brought back from the abduction.

We (Taj Sultana, Salma Tassaduq Hussain, Saeeda Waheed & others) used to wear a uniform ”overall” given by Beghum Fatima to identify as workers of All India Muslim League

Taj Sultana was part of a team when 14 year old Ms. Fatima Sughra pulled the Union Jack from the Civil Secretariat and replaced it with a green Muslim League flag fashioned out of her. Sughra later received gold medal of service in Pakistan’s history. May be efforts of Taj Sultana with Sughra was never noticed reason being her covered face with Islamic veil, ordered by her religious family.

 

Taj Sultana

Taj Sultana siting ( in Green Circle, 2nd from right) along with female workers of Pakistan Movement 1947. She was a part of a team when 14 years old Ms. Fatima Sughra (sitting in white clothes at 1st left side of the picture) pulled the Union Jack from the Civil Secretariat and replaced it with a green Muslim League flag fashioned out of her

As told by Taj Sultana (grandmother) to my mother,

“The passion for a new country was on such a great level that I normally used to eat boiled chickpea with water during whole day instead of eating regular food which was not available due to the extensive work especially in the field and to the complete the task”

After the migration of her own family to Lahore, Taj Sultana was made Women Secretary of Lahore Muslim League, Settlement Officer in 1947 and Lady Superintendent of Zanana Darul Shafqat, Himayat-e-Islam Lahore during the period when Ms. Saeeda Waheed (Worker of Pakistan Movement) was a Honorary Secretary of this institution. She later served and was a first Principal of Fatima Girls High School (A joint effort of Fatima Begum & Taj Sultana for female children’s) at Justice Jameel Hussain Road adjacent to Lahore High Court in 1953. Taj Sultana & Beghum Fatima used to move house to house to persuade parents to send their daughters to the school at that time.

Taj Sultana informed my mother;

“Taj Sultana, Saeeda Waheed, Salma Tassaduq Hussain, Fatima Beghum & other workers were sitting at Data Darbar Shirine Lahore on 27th Ramadan 1947 night/early morning and were reciting “Ayat-e-Karima”. One worker slept during the recitation and saw a dream that announcement for Independent Pakistan has been made (Pakistan Ban Gia hai). She suddenly got up and told other colleagues about the dream. After some hours they got the same news as she did saw in her dream”

She also told my mother that her team (including very high prominent names of AIWML) used to survey the houses left by Hindu’s & Sikhs at Lahore & adjacent areas after 1947 to allocate to the Muslim families left India for settlement in Pakistan. These houses were full of ornaments, jewellery left by Hindu’s & Sikh’s but she never took off a single thing/penny from the houses (Some high prominent names did took off the jewellery during the survey & even persuaded her (Taj Sultana) but she refused).

Several hundred migrated families lived at her residence in Lahore for quite a long time and she helped these families financially till they were settled. The migration of Muslim families continued till 1977 or even till early eighties in many forms from India. She made a School at her residence for these families which served as a free hub of education till 2010.

Endorsement Letter by Saeeda Waheed (Worker of Pakistan Independence Movement 1947)

Endorsement Letter by Ms. Saeeda Waheed (Worker of Pakistan Independence Movement 1947)

I was just seven years old when she (Taj Sultana) my grandmother died and still remember hundreds of men as well as women were present on her funeral. I still remember, all old age women’s sitting nearby her expired body were mourning, crying bitterly like they had lost their own family member. These women’s were not our relatives but belong to the families who took refugee at our house after migration from India and some were rescued by Taj Sultana & her team from the abduction of Hindue’s & Sikh’s during partition. I had always saw these mourning women’s coming to our house almost every day, sitting with Taj Sultana (my grand mother) side by side for several hours, and she always used to distribute money, clothes, food items in form of help among them.  She made a school at her residence in late 70’s for the needy children’s of the area which served till 2010. My mother informed that Begum Fatima, Begum Salma Tassaduq Hussain, Saeeda Waheed and others regularly used to come and sit for several hours at her residence.

I watched a news/program video on PTV News Channel during late nineties in which Chief Minister of Punjab, Mian Shahbaz Sharif was awarding Gold Medal to the workers of Pakistan Independence. I went to Tehrik-e-Pakistan House at the Mall Road Lahore (built to commemorate workers of Pakistan’s Independence) in 1998-99 to know about her contributions and claim Gold Medal.  I was been told by the administrator of Tehreek-e-Pakistan House who also was an 1947 Independence worker that claim could be accepted if her name may been found in any book written by prominent historian or if her co-workers recommend. The administrator opened a book taken from the House library and showed me by saying;

 ”there are only around 45 names of female workers in this book but no name like u told son

I didn’t been able to find a single evidence at home about her contributions except one endorsement letter by Mrs. Saeeda Waheed (1947 Independence Co_worker). I searched her name across numerous books, as well as went to several seminars to inquire from 1947 Independence Workers but failed to get any evidence of her contributions. I inquired from my father if any of her co-worker still alive and can help but unfortunately found out that all had passed away except one, Begum Ameena Ghuman who was in the ICU of hospital and then later expired. I asked my father that why her work was never highlighted and no historian wrote her name even she was companion of late Begum Salma Tassaduq Hussain. My father told me that the same was been asked by him, and on that she replied;

 “whatever I had contributed for the independence of Pakistan in 1947 was neither for the Medal nor for any fame or recognition, it was my duty“.

There could be so many unknown hero’s of 1947 Independence struggle who are still behind curtains and to be acknowledged. I was also amazed to know that one of my relative who was at the key bureaucratic position in Government of Pakistan claimed a Gold Medal & got it through approach for his father who didn’t contributed a single inch for Independence of Pakistan 1947 except lost his life during migration from Patyala to Lahore.

Pakistan became a reality because of great struggle, effort and sacrifice by our ancestors and role of these brave women’s for 1947 Independence will never be forget.

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An article written on my grand mother “Taj Sultana” in the Family Magazine of Nawa-i-Waqt (Publication date: 10th August 2014)

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About ***** Azfar Abbas *****

My name is Azfar Abbas I am an MPA, a Development Sector Consultant & Operations Management Specialist. Worked with the IBRD (The World Bank), PIFD and international organizations. A Lahoree by birth, Taurian by Star, music freak, a writter, singer and a food lover from Lahore, Pakistan
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2 Responses to Unknown Hero’s (Taj Sultana)

  1. Hammad Mian says:

    Very informative article

  2. Great Job Azfar Abbas…….n thank you so much for sharing this untold story. You just made my job easy as I’m a children’s book writer and InshAllah soon you’ll see a beautiful illustrated book on your Grandmother on my website.
    I’ll appreciate if you can provide me some of her other photographs as well.
    My email is mariam070a@yahoo.com.

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