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Muslim Weavers' Politics in Early 20th Century Northern India

Throughout the early 20th century, lower status weavers tried to critique the upper caste Ashraf-dominated Muslim politics in northern India. From sharing an occupational class identity, the weavers mobilised and asserted themselves as a caste group, seeking special recognition as Momins or Ansaris within a broader Muslim identity. The multiple axes around which their identities had to be asserted and negotiated lend a special character to their political articulation. Yet due to both the complexities of religious dichotomies and local exigencies, the All India Momin Conference could not lend effective voice to a counter-hegemonic stance in Indian Muslim politics. This paper documents the multiple ways in which the politics of weavers unfolded in early 20th century United Provinces.


Muslim Weavers’ Politics in Early 20th Century Northern India

Locating an Identity

Santosh Kumar Rai

Throughout the early 20th century, lower status weavers tried to critique the upper caste Ashraf-dominated Muslim politics in northern India. From sharing an occupational class identity, the weavers mobilised and asserted themselves as a caste group, seeking special recognition as Momins or Ansaris within a broader Muslim identity. The multiple axes around which their identities had to be asserted and negotiated lend a special character to their political articulation. Yet due to both the complexities of religious dichotomies and local exigencies, the All India Momin Conference could not lend effective voice to a counter-hegemonic stance in Indian Muslim politics. This paper documents the multiple ways in which the politics of weavers unfolded in early 20th century United Provinces.

Santosh Kumar Rai ( is with the department of history, SGTB Khalsa College, University of Delhi.

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he politics of weavers in early 20th century United Provinces (UP) unfolded in multiple ways. The Muslim J ulaha weavers who formed almost 90% of the weavers’ workforce were at the centre of this politics. From sharing an occupational class identity, the Julahas mobilised and asserted themselves as a caste group, seeking special recognition as Momins or Ansaris within a broader Muslim religious identity. The multiple axes around which their identities had to be asserted and negotiated lend a special character to their political articulation. Weavers’ politics was not just about formation of organisations and interaction with political parties like the Indian National Congress or the Muslim League. Their politics had local meaning shaped by local circumstances.

The continuing interaction of the hereditary pre-industrial occupation of weaving with evolving capitalist relations also provided a framework for the weavers’ political stance. Thus the emerging nationalist political environment, the late colonial state and the rising tide of communal politics in the period under study provide the backdrop for understanding the emergence of political organisations like the Jamait-ul-Ansar and the All India Momin Conference. Their politics displayed a quest for an alternative worldview, seeking to challenge existing social hierarchies on the one hand and create an autonomous political space on the other. In this attempt, Islamisation was one of the most important strategies in staking wider p olitical claims. But the process of Islamisation itself spawned several contradictory tendencies which went on to shape weavers’ politics.1

Local pressures and competing community identities further accelerated this process. The politics of the Julahas presents an interesting paradox. Here was a community which was undergoing a process of Islamisation which tended to sharpen their differences with their communal “other”, i e, the Hindus. Yet at the same time, their main political formation, the All India Momin Conference scrupulously avoided identifi cation with the Muslim League which emerged in the period under study as the proponent of Muslim separateness from the mainstream nationalist politics of the Congress. Instead, the Momin Conference identified itself with the Congress based on a shared antipathy to British rule, and common cause on swaraj and swadeshi ideas of indigenous cloth production. What proved crucial for this identification was the pronounced antipathy of the Julahas as caste group towards the upper class/caste Muslim elite who were the main political base of the Muslim League. These cross-currents of political a rticulation however were deeply contingent on local confi gurations of power.

The weaving localities of the eastern UP were sites of n ationalist political mobilisation. Yet, the weavers’ political i ssues and aspirations were varied and guided more by local concerns and configurations of power. Under the nationalist umbrella were grouped a variety of responses from weavers. After the intense activity during the Non-Cooperation-Khilafat movement of 1920-22 when a large number of Muslim weavers were actively involved, from the mid-1920s onwards, police reports began noticing the emergence of more organised political formations such as the Jamait-ul-Ansar and the All India Momin Conference.

Politics of Muslim Weavers

By the mid-1920s, the formation of an all-India body to organise Julaha weaver communities became imperative. Local and regional Ansari associations had already begun to rise in the second decade of the 20th century. But a resurgence of caste and sectarian organisations at an all-India level, aimed at u pward mobilisation of their respective communities, would have certainly influenced this community as well. Immediately before the formation of a national level body, several l ocal Jamaits were active in UP and Bihar to work for the unity and betterment of the Ansari community. The nature of their demands as well as the work of these organisations focused on assertion of a distinct political and social identity for the J ulaha weavers.

Migrant Julaha weavers from UP in Bengal initiated attempts to organise the community. In 1912, Maulana Hafi z Obedullah Ghazipuri and some others established the social welfare organisation Anjuman-i-Islah-Bilfalha (Organisation for Reform for Success) in Calcutta. Migrant Julaha workers working in the mills of Calcutta were the initial members of this organisation. It was the forerunner to the local Momin Conference held at Kakinada in 1915, chaired by Hakim Abdul Gani Ghazipuri; other participants were Maulana Abu Shoeb Saif “Banarsi”, Maulana Abu Shoeb “Khurjawi” and Maulana Maathe Yaihyya “Sahsrami”.2

Attempts to organise the community as a socio-political movement began at Calcutta in 1914 with the formation of Falah-ul-Mominin, followed by another association called the Calcutta Jamait-ul-Mominin in December 1923. This organisation was the precursor to the All India Jamait-ul-Mominin or the All India Momin Conference established on 25-26 December 1926 under the leadership of Hajiram Mohammad Farkhund Ali of Sasaram. The initial objectives of this organisation were to revive the traditional crafts of the weavers, to promote selfr espect, devout religious conduct and economic independence. Reconsolidation and unity of the community had to be achieved for these objectives.3

This organisation worked as an effective body for the Julahas’ social upliftment and political expression and as a trade union, drawing support from provinces where the Julaha population was significant, namely, Punjab, UP, Bihar and Bengal. The first session of the All India Momin Conference took place at Halliday Park, Calcutta on 7-9 April 1928 and was presided over by Abdul Majid from Benaras. About 200 delegates, 300 “local Musalmaans” and 100 volunteers attended the session. Deliberations began with a focus on the history of the rise and fall of the Momin community. Mohammad Sulaiman, the chairman of the reception committee, blamed the Englisheducated class for their downfall and advised the audiences to stick to their own profession, weaving. The president advocated a system of national education by opening Madrasas. The conference passed the following resolutions:4

  • (1) It appealed to the community to use cloth manufactured by their own men, especially on festive occasions, marriage ceremonies, etc.
  • (2) It advised their sardars and ulemas to induce Momins to give up extravagant marriage and other social expenditures.
  • (3) A special area be selected to organise their community and to enforce improvements. To start with Allahabad was selected as such a place.
  • It is evident that at its inception, the All India Momin Conference scrupulously avoided an explicit political orientation and instead promoted introspection within the community. Traditional community bonds were emphasised and no d emands were made of the government as such.5

    In fact, immediately before the formation of this nationallevel body, several local Jamait resolutions indicate a recognition that a distinct identity, even one bearing a shell of “conservatism” had to be formed. The claim for an “assumed” higher social status had to be clearly established.

    Syed Mahmud and Abdul Bari of Azamgarh were both associated with the Muslim Nationalist Party formed in July 1929 to garner support for the Congress in general and the Nehru report in particular. Though this party served as a platform for nationalist groups like the Jamait-ul-Ulema, All India M omin Conference, Ahrars and Khudai Khidmadgars, it could not extend its base outside Congress circles.6

    By 1931, the Momin Conference started making claims for getting Julahas enumerated as Momin during the ongoing census. The mobilisation of the community by the All India Momin Conference or the Jamait-ul-Ansar points to the local and broader politics of the weavers’ community. In the rural areas as well as semi-urban qasbas like Mubarakpur and Maunath Bhanjan, the Momin Conference wielded less infl uence because here the community was already organised around traditional panchayats having their own hierarchies.7 But in urban centres where Julahas pursued other occupations and the caste identity overlapped with a strong occupational identity, the new organisation could become a rallying point.

    The provincial organisations also fought against discrimination on the basis of class and caste. Significantly, they asked for equal status along with other communities on the basis of their numerical strength. In 1933, the provincial Jamait-ul-Ansar of UP resented the non-inclusion of its representatives in the provincial Haj Committee, arguing that out of the 7.7 crore Muslim population in India, Momin Ansars were three to four crores, or nearly half. The districts of Gorakhpur, Basti, Azamgarh, M irzapur, Benaras, Bareilly, Muradabad, Meerut and Saharanpur

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    were predominantly inhabited by these craftsmen. Moreover, their representation specifically mentioned that, “in charitable endowments and devotion to the sacred religious ordain they are second to none of the other Muslim communities”.8

    Thus the social demands of the community were accompanied with claims to superior religious observance. Representation in the provincial Haj Committee was demanded on this basis. The government however did not give heed to this demand for representation in spite of claims that the community numerically, “outnumber[ed] any other Muslim community in these provinces also”.9 It seems that the government suspected the loyalty of the Momin Conference.

    At the same time, organisations with pro-government leanings were given representation. One such organisation, the Jamait-ul-Quraish which claimed to represent 60 lakh Qurashis nationally helped the government “at the time of the opposition against the Congress and that of the Khilafat”, and “repeatedly defeated the Unity Conferences”.10 It was given due representation in the Haj Committee in recognition of its services. Meanwhile the provincial Jamait-ul-Ansar in spite of repeated representations over the years claiming that the “Ansars command a greater bulk of the population and a representative on their behalf in the above Committee is deemed most essential”, was paid no attention. Rather the government opined that “it would not be advisable to encourage organisations like the Jamait-ul-Ansar to seek representation on the Haj Committee by government nomination.”11

    Weaver Identity

    Drawing on weavers’ industrial identity, in the 1920s and early 1930s, Maulana Azad Subhani, an alim of Kanpur, adopted the symbol of garha or handwoven coarse cloth produced mainly by Muslim artisans, in an attempt to form political organisations of Muslim working class groups throughout UP and to mobilise them for pan-Islamic and nationalist movements. Maulana Subhani spearheaded a campaign to boost the market for garha and to revive its production. He saw the garha movement as a means of regenerating the depressed economic conditions of Muslim weavers and contending with what he argued were their extreme poverty and the destruction of their independent artisanal status. Subhani also made British rule squarely responsible for the decline of Muslim weavers, and urged all weavers to fight against imperialism.12 The M omin Conference also picked up the cause of indigenously produced garha. This emphasis on importance of indigenous handwoven cloth brought the Momin Conference close to the Congress.13

    Nowhere was the perception of the handicrafts sector as clear and forthright as in the politics of Mohandas Gandhi. Gandhi demanded that Indians wear only handwoven cloth to affirm their commitment to Indian weavers. By wearing handspun cotton khadi, Indians could resist British imports of cheap machine-made cloth. Even then, the nationalists urging to use the swadeshi yarn itself did not have substantial infl uence over the work of weavers. Moreover, the Gandhian appeal was more in favour of spinning, affordable for everyone

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    instead of specialised hand-weaving. Even by the mid-1920s, G andhi argued that:14

    Even as I write, I have letters from coworkers saying that in their centres they have to send away weavers for want of yarn. It is little known that a vast number of weavers of mill yarn are in the hands of sowcars, and they must be, so long as they rely upon the mill product.…..The second great difficulty is the absence of a ready market for khaddar. I confess that it cannot for the time being compete with mill-cloth… Over twelve lacs worth of khaddar was sold only last year.

    Gandhi expected to use khadi to unite the various religious communities as well. He had no objection to khaddar being used in different style of dressing among different communities.15 During the Civil Disobedience Movement, Mahatma Gandhi visited Azamgarh on 3 October 1929 and spoke on the uplift of Harijans, prohibition and the use of swadeshi. Next day he inaugurated the Khadi Vidyalya in Azmatgarh.16 But some Hindus, far from using the khadi as a symbol of unity with Muslims actually refused to wear the cloth because the khadi available in the region was produced by Muslim weavers.17 Rather the Gandhian call of boycott of English yarn made the life of Julaha weavers more miserable as the khadi yarn was neither well-suited nor easily available for their looms. At this juncture, the Congress policy of promoting swadeshi was going against the weavers’ interest. Now instead of comparatively cheaper mill-spun yarn, they were under the nationalist pressure, been both moral and circumstantial, to opt for expensive hand-spun varieties. In Benaras, it was reported that some merchant dealers refused to buy cloth from weavers if it was spun from non-khadi yarn.18 The limited success of the programme of domestic manufacture of yarn by spinning wheels is evident from the fact that even in 1940, only 14% of yarn used by handloom weavers was hand-spun, compared to 7% imported, and 79% Indian mill yarn.19

    Politics of Communal Space

    In the post-war circumstances, nationalist politics claimed mass support, linking many a backward communities with nationalist issues. It has been argued on the other hand that communalism worked as an independent force, sharply conscious of its own interests, very keen on preserving itself and not allied to the Congress or the British. The promulgation of the Government of India Act of 1935 not only reinforced separate electorates on the basis of religion but also led to a dramatic change in the nature of communalism in the Indian subcontinent. This is the story of how the different political forces in UP – the Congress, the Muslim League, the landlords and the Hindu Mahasabha – responded to the new political context, and how they strove to establish control over the available political space.20

    In this context, the political allegiance of groups and communities should not be analysed in terms of monolithic Hindu and Muslim identities. The politics of the times had to negotiate the complex socio-economic realities of the Gangetic plains. The case of Muslim Julaha weavers represented by Jamait-ul-Ansar and All India Momin Conference clearly indicates the diverse forces at work alongside the consequent polarisation of the so-called monolithic blocks. The Muslim political space in UP was not solely occupied by the Muslim League. Certainly communal politics, ideologies and strategies played a vital role in political processes. But again the conflict between upper-caste landlord Muslims and the low-caste poor Muslims clearly shaped outcomes of the political process. Thus in spite of changes in the size of political space for different contestants, the victory was earned by already well-off socio-economic groups.

    At the end of 1936 in Allahabad, the All India Momin Conference declared its lack of confidence in the UP Muslim League.21 It is worth noting that Gandhi never emphasised the divisions within Indian Islam. Enrolling Muslims for the purpose of bringing them into Congress was never Gandhi’s goal though “the Congress has been serving thousands of Muslim sisters and brothers through All India Spinners Association organising carding, spinning and weaving among them”.22

    After the introduction of the Government of India Act of 1935, provincial elections took place in 1937. Communal politics reached its zenith. As a representative of the downtrodden Muslim communities, the role of the All India Momin Conference became very important to political discourse. The community’s marginalisation in the social hierarchy of Islam in India was one of the major factors deciding the course of its actions. The All India Muslim League was seen as the representative body for high-class Muslims. The All India Momin Conference had to maintain a distance from it to protect its own identity. Under these circumstances, the Congress was seen as a political alternative with which the Momin Conference could align.

    Jawaharlal Nehru observed that, “in UP and Bihar the Momins (chiefly the weaving class) and the Muslim peasantry were far more for Congress because they considered the League an upper class organisation of feudal landlords”.23 Jawaharlal Nehru had assured Bihar Jamait-ul-Mominin on the eve of the 1937 elections that “we are fully aware of the importance of the Momin community and we shall gladly do everything in our power to help it.” Thus immediately after the elections, the working committee of the Bihar Jamait-ul-Mominin demanded Momin representation in the Bihar Congress cabinet, particularly the portfolio of textile and other cottage industries. Meanwhile, the Muslim League also criticised the Congress for attempting to split the Muslim community through mass literacy and the Muslim mass contact campaign. The grant of Rs 10,000 for the upliftment of the Momins was also resented. The Muslim League asked the Momin members of the Bihar Legislative Assembly to resign if they were not prepared to join the Muslim League. The Momin organisations retaliated by disassociating themselves from the Muslim League and showing an inclination to form a separate party with Congress affi liation.

    The Muslim mass contact campaign started by the Congress Party after the 1937 elections saw the Ansari community mobilise in favour of the Congress in parts of UP and Bihar. In UP, the Ansaris of Ghazipur, Mirzapur and other adjoining areas were weaned away from the Muslim League in very large numbers under the vital and favourable influence of the M omin Conference.24

    By this time, the Indian political scenario was polarised into Congress and anti-Congress political forces (including the Muslim League). The Muslim League had started claiming the status of “sole spokesman” of Indian Muslims. The Congress refuted this assertion by claiming the neutrality or support of various Muslim groups and organisations. Replying to M uhammad Ali Jinnah’s assertion about “the Muslim League as the authoritative and representative organisation of the Mussalmans of India”, Jawaharlal Nehru talked about Muslim organisations like, “the Jamait-ul-Ulema, the All India Shia Conference, the Majlis-i-Ahrar, the All India Momin Conference, etc”, which shared the same political platform as the Congress. Another Congress leader, Rajendra Prasad argued that “the Momins who constitute a very large proportion, if not a majority of the Muslims, who are organised in a separate Jamait of their own and... have openly and repeatedly repudiated the Muslim League claims.”25

    As Paul Brass observed:26

    the Muslim League dominated by elite Muslim leaders, had no appeal

    to the momins whereas the Congress, with its Gandhian symbol of the

    spinning wheels with its pledges of support to the indigenous handi

    crafts appealed to the economic interest of the Muslim handloom


    But more than the Gandhian programmes, the Congress promise, at least at face value, of engaging all classes by eliminating elite dominance proved more attractive for the Momins as well. In fact, the internalisation of discrimination generation after generation and attribution of inferior status would have been more decisive than proximity to the Gandhian programme in deciding the community’s political affi liation.

    Provincial Politics

    After the formation of the provincial government in 1937, an era of mutual distrust and competition commenced between two major political parties, i e, the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League. During the two years of Congress raj after the election of 1937, Congress Muslims as well as the M omin Conference were closely monitored and stigmatised by the Muslim League for supporting the Hindu raj of the Congress and failing to give priority to the mazhab. Meanwhile, the Congress arranged for a Syed Nasim Gorganvi to control Momin affairs.

    Abul Qayum Ansari, the leader of the All India Momin Conference was charged with watching in silence when Momins were being killed, injured and beaten during the riots at Tanda, Bhagalpur, Amongaon, Jamui, Majhaul and Tiokri, because he feared his Congress masters.27 In these circumstances, the All India Momin Conference decided to remain a representative of downtrodden Ajlaf and maintained equal distance from both the parties. Addressing a meeting of about 400 members of Jamait-ul-Momin in Kanpur, Mohammad Said Momin advised them to remain aloof from politics, but “if they must join a party, they throw in their lot with Congress”.28 Another meeting of Jamait-ul-Ansar at Allahabad advised members not to

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    depend upon the British, Muslims or Hindus. “They should join neither the Congress nor the Muslim League but become member of the Momin Conference”.29

    In places like Kanpur, relations between the Muslim League and the Momin Conference were becoming worse. In a 4 September meeting of Jamait-ul-Mominin, the Muslim League was severely criticised. The very next day, a clash occurred between some Momins and “Muslims”, resulting in the death of one Momin, three days later. It was alleged that the Mohammedan gundas of the Muslim League were responsible for that.30

    Subsequently, a meeting of about 3,000 Momins was held in Kanpur. They were advised not to be excited by the recent clash between Momins and others but to remain calm; the death of the Momin volunteer as the result of the clash was to be taken as a signal of success “which is always followed by sacrifi ces”.31 Again an annual meeting of the All India Jamait-ul-Mominin on 22-23 October was held in Kanpur and attended by about 1,500 people. Here the Muslim League was criticised for its attempt to absorb Momins into the party.32

    In a way the caste and class bonds were antagonistically ranged against religious identity.

    By this time, the weavers and artisans hardly had the right to vote. Even so, the Muslim League did not neglect this community. At a meeting in village Kopaganj, Azamgarh, a reference was made to an article in the Aftab newspaper which a lleged that cow-slaughter should be stopped at the point of the sword. A committee of 12 Hindus and 18 Muslims has been formed in village Mubarakpur of the same district to enquire into the truth of the rumour that the Hindus were preparing to resist cow slaughter.33

    A Muslim League speaker in a meeting in Benaras in September 1938 informed the audience that due to the khadi and charkha movement, 45 million Muslim weavers had been thrown out of work.34 At Shahjahanpur, a meeting of 1,000 Muslims was organised by the Ansaris to protest against the handwritten posters which fondly abused them. In Gorakhpur, two meetings of the Julaha community were held. The sudden awakening of the Julahas caused some anxiety in the minds of Muslim leaders who realised that they could not afford to lose the help of this very strong community. In Gorakhpur, there were two meetings of the Julaha community.35

    Abdul Razzaq, president of the UP Ansar Jamait and other influential supporters were organising the provincial Jamait conference in Gorakhpur. Several enthusiastic meetings were held with capacities of 200-400.36 Pilibhit, Aligarh, Meerut and Bareilly also saw Jamait-ul-Ansar meetings. Daily parades were organised by Jamait-ul-Ansar volunteers in Aligarh city.37

    In Mau, Azamgarh, M Mirdad Shah and Abdul Latif lectured in a meeting of a thousand about a book named Hundred Lives. Their main objection was the inclusion of Prophet Muhammad along with other lives, including Mahatma G andhi. Proscription of the book was demanded.38 About 500 J ulahas attended a Momin meeting, the proceedings were entirely social.39 The month of September saw celebratory processions on the anniversary of Jamait-ul-Ansar in several districts. In Sitapur, 250

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    members of a procession were armed with spears. In Aligarh, Jamait-ul-Ansar strongly objected at the Aligarh district authorities’ insistence on applications for arms licence to carry out such processions.40 In Allahabad, about 100 Jamait-ul-Ansar volunteers performed squad drill and rifle exercises with lathis. Leaders of the Jamait-ul-Ansar, particularly Hakim Bashir Ahmad, Ali Hasam Azim and Abdul Qasim mobilised the Ansars at Muradabad.41 The political m obilisation expressed itself in local terms alone.

    The League versus the Momins

    The political preferences of the Momin Conference were very much a result of its caste and class sensibilities. In 1939, the All India Momin Conference in its representation to the Viceroy pointed out the community’s own assessment of its status within Muslim society. The petition claimed that the Momins or Ansars were a distinct and separate group or class by themselves. The petition lamented that the community had fallen into contempt of certain high-placed sections of the Muslims in India though Islam, the religion of equality, does not believe in the caste system and nobility of birth. It was further alleged that being influenced by the “Brahamanic idea of supremacy and domination”, upper-class Muslims, for all practical purposes, divided Indian Muslims into several castes and sections. Followers of Islam in India were divided into two groups, viz, the Shareef (superior or high) and Razeel (inferior or low). All the Muslim occupational classes were placed in the second group. In spite of being in the majority, Momins remained in a minority in the Census record because:42

    in order to escape the agonising humiliation and degradation of being counted and classified among the inferior and low castes, a vast number of the Momins and others got themselves recorded in the census paper as “Shaikh”, that is, the fourth or the last class of the Superior Group-Muslims, and, in a few cases, even as “Syed” or “Pathan”.

    In fact, this petition encapsulates the mass sentiment of suffering from caste/class polarisation. With their high position, education and wealth, upper-class Muslims placed the downtrodden groups in a disadvantageous position, monopolising all privilege and forcing the Muslim occupational classes towards landlessness and begar. Inferiority was further enforced through literature, fatwas and ban over marital relations with the lower groups.

    The representation to the Viceroy identified the All India Muslim League as a party of rich sections or superior groups, antagonistic to the interests of the inferior groups of Muslims in India. The Ansars had neither faith nor confidence in the Muslim League. As a separate political entity, the Momin Conference started a campaign and presented demands popularly known as nukat-e-Momin or “the six points of the Momin”, seeking representation in central, provincial and local government and assemblies, reservations in government jobs and e ducation and state protection to the handloom textile industry. But the Government of India did not consider these d emands. The case was closed without any reply as the government “did not want to recognise sub-sections of a community for the purposes of communal representation”.43

    The identification of the Momins as Congress sympathisers and their low-caste status certainly put them apart from the general discourse of Muslim League politics. At the same time, the intelligence categorisation of the Momin-Congress relationship as purely economic explains the official desire to impose a religious identity on the Momins as being part of the larger Muslim community favouring the demand for Pakistan. The Congress could never engage with the Momin Conference beyond a point to use it as a bargaining pawn against the Muslim League. It could not exploit the class and caste barriers between the Ashraf and Ajlaf Muslims. It followed its practice of avoiding highlighting divisions in Indian society at large, since this was essential for it to claim of uniting under an all-India umbrella for the Indian masses.

    The All India Momin Conference felt that Jawaharlal Nehru was afraid that if the low caste claims and reservation demands of the Momin Conference were accepted, several castes among the Hindus would start demanding the same status, and that would be impossible to fulfi l.44

    The Congress fight against communal representation and Gandhian politics in the Poona Pact vis-à-vis Hindu dalits in 1932 certainly strengthen this claim. In a way, to avoid the d ivisions within its larger constituency, the Congress could not challenge or exploit the elite-controlled constituency of the Muslim League as well. The nature of the Congress’s own hegemonic politics forced it to compromise with the Muslim League’s hegemonic claims over the Muslim constituency, without seeking to take advantage of the dissenting voices of the backward Muslims represented by the Momin Conference, etc. The failure of the All India Muslim Mass Contact Programme points to the lame-duck attitude of the Congress towards the Muslim constituency. This may also perhaps explain the failure of the Congress and Mahatma Gandhi to effectively take up the issue of weavers in a direct way. Most of the Indian weavers, particularly in the Gangetic plains, were Muslims and that may be why the Congress khadi or khaddar politics gave preference to the spinners over the weavers. One does not find any parallel to the All India Spinners Association of the Congress among weavers’ organisations.

    Mobilisation in Contrast

    The Momins recognised this dilemma and responded by mobilising themselves. During 26-29 December 1939, a joint session of the All India Momin Conference and the Provincial Ansar Conference was held in Gorakhpur. The All India session was presided over by Maulvi Sheikh Mohamed Zahiruddin of Ambala and the provincial session was chaired by Maulvi Mohammad Mustafa of Ghazipur. On 26 December, a procession of 20,000 people through Gorakhpur city concluded with an Ansar fl aghoisting ceremony. The necessity for solidarity among the ranks of the Momins was stressed, independent both of the Congress and the Muslim League. Among other resolutions, the need for the organisation and promotion of hand-weaving and spinning industry was emphasised. An Ansar swadeshi exhibition was also held. The conference was attended by delegates from UP, Punjab, Bihar, Central Provinces and Bengal.45

    The 25-26 February 1940 annual meeting of the All India Momin Conference was held in Kanpur in the presence of about 1,000 people. Throughout this period, the Momin Conference tried to contrast itself to the Muslim League. Immediately after the Lahore resolution of the Muslim League in March 1940, the All India Azad Muslim Conference (an organisation of nationalist Muslim parties under the leadership of Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind), in its session at Delhi in April 1940, unanimously carried the official resolution declaring “Independence – Goal of Indian Muslims”, in opposition to the Muslim League’s demand for a separate Muslim state. The All India Azad Muslim Conference repudiated the charge that Muslims were opposed to India’s freedom. Zahiruddin, president of the All India Momin Conference, attended this session and supported the resolution.46

    In the larger politics of the Congress-Muslim League, the All India Momin Conference always tried to intervene as a representative of downtrodden Momins. For the Momin Conference, the Muslim League remained the party of high-caste elite Muslims. In a telegram dated 9 October 1939 to Rajendra Prasad, Abdul Qayoom Ansari, Vice-President of the All india Momin Conference, stated:47

    Momin Conference warns against the news published in the newspapers about the League-Congress agreement. The Momins never recognised League and no pact would be acceptable (to the) Momins unless their advice is taken in this regard, ignoring four and half crore Momins in any type of communal or other agreements will be fruitless.

    In November 1939, the Viceroy invited Mahatma Gandhi and other Congress leaders for Constitutional talks. Abdul Qayoom Ansari again sent a telegram to Mahatma Gandhi and Rajendra Prasad:48

    Momin Conference formed from four and half crore of Momins do not recognise Muslim League as their representative. Any agreement b etween Congress and League ignoring benefits of Momins will not be acceptable to Momin Conference. Please keep this in mind when meeting Mr Jinnah.

    By the beginning of the 1940s, the All India Momin Conference was showing tendencies towards mobilising on the lines of other groups like Khaksars or Ahrars. It was reported that Zahiruddin, president of the All India Momin Conference, on his way from Delhi to Kanpur was welcomed at Aligarh railway station by about 60 Jamait-ul-Ansar volunteers armed with lathis. In the February annual meeting of the All India Momin Conference in Kanpur, the main concerns were the reform of the Momin community and the acceptance by the Government of India of the demands presented to the Viceroy by the Momin community in August 1939.49

    Mohammad Ansari of Bihar addressed three Jamait-ul-Ansar meetings in Bareilly. The average attendance was about 200 people. He urged unity among the Ansar community and complained that they were treated like untouchables by the wealthy Muslims. Interestingly, these meetings were packed with local Muslim League supporters who warned the speakers in advance that no criticism of the Muslim League would be tolerated.50

    Two Jamait-ul-Ansar meetings attended by 500-600 persons respectively were held in Fatehpur. Speakers including

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    Asim of Bihar, president of the All India Jamait-ul-Ansar and Bashir Ahmad Jehangirabadi, editor of the Momin Gazette, urged their audiences to unite and work for the upliftment of their community.51

    A Momin Conference meeting was held in Nazibabad from 27-30 September 1940, presided over by Nizamuddin of Allahabad. Attendance at the conference averaged between 500 and 700. Speeches stressed unity and organisation in the community and urged that they be granted greater representation in the council and assemblies throughout the country.52

    At a propaganda meeting of Jamait-ul-Ansar held in Bareilly, exception was taken to the use of the term “Julaha” for members of the community; they were advised to have themselves entered under the term Ansari in the coming census. A resolution was passed requesting early acceptance by the Government of India of the Jamait’s demands for representation in the Viceroy’s Council and Advisory Committee, the formation of an Ansar regiment and full representation of the community in the newly-formed military industrial centres.53

    In Allahabad, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad held meeting with Maulana Habib-ur-Rahman, president of the All India Majlis-i-Ahrar, and Maulana Husain Ahmad Madni, the All I ndia Jamait-ul-Ulema leader. Under strict secrecy, it was decided that both the Majlis-i-Ahrar and the Jamait-ul-Ulema would cooperate fully with the Congress in its ongoing Satyagraha campaign. For this purpose, lists of individual satyagrahis were to be prepared by the respective organisations in the various provinces.54

    In Agra, at the third annual All India Jamait-ul-Ansar conference held between 12 and 14 April, where the attendance averaged 400-500 persons, concerns about the upliftment of the community.55

    Intelligence reports about the political situation in neighbouring Bihar explained the Momins’ passive attitude towards the ideal of Pakistan and their support of the Congress as purely economic: “a Momin’s livelihood depends very largely on the khaddar he produces for the Congress and even so there are signs that religious consideration are beginning to effect his outlook.” But the same report also acknowledged that persistent Pakistan propaganda had c reated among the Muslims an attitude of defi ance against the state, in turn helping the Congress. This report had identified the Momins as carders, weavers and other low caste Muslims.56

    Politics of Numbers

    The numerical strength of the various communities remained a major concern of the colonial government in deciding its political approach. The numerical strength of Muslim Julaha Momins also remained a major issue in the last one decade of the colonial regime. In 1931, the Hindu Mahasabha had fervently campaigned for the harijans to be counted as Hindus and not as a separate caste in the census. Their argument was that the British were playing a divisive game and separate counting would divide and weaken the Hindu community and that. Ten years later, the Muslim League followed the Hindu

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    Mahasabha in both letter and spirit. On the eve of the 1941 Census, the provincial secretary of the Bihar Muslim League, Syed Badruddin Ahmad – an Ashraf as the name makes clear

    – issued an appeal to Muslims to mention their religion but not their caste. He saw inclusion of the caste category in the census as divisive and hence against the “community”. Taj Muhammad, a district leader of the low-caste Muslim movement called Jamait-ul Mominin, forcefully countered the Muslim League’s appeal. In open opposition to the Muslim League’s position, he appealed to the colonial, “ethnographic state” that Momins must necessarily be counted and registered as a separate caste. In a letter published in The Searchlight on 10 September 1941, Taj Muhammad pleaded his case:57

    Frightened with the numerical strength of the Momins, the veterans of the Muslim League, who have always looked down upon Momin as a class, have left no stone unturned to enlist them not as Momin but merely as Muslims…In this context, the exploited and the deprived Momins make a humble request to the government that to maintain their representative character, which others want to annihilate, it directs the census department to register the Momins as a separate caste.

    The All India Momin Conference also countered political manoeuvring about its status by challenging the statements of Secretary of State for India Leopold Amery who had dismissed the claims of the Momin community as unworthy and exaggerated on the basis of census report of 1931. In fact the British House of Commons saw major debates over the issue. Two members of the House R W Sorensen (of the Labour Party) and Silverman raised the All India Momin Conference claim in Delhi of representing 45 million Muslims. The issue was dealt in the following manner:58

    Outside the ranks of the enfranchised are large numbers of Momins and other poor Moslems who may stand aloof from the Moslem League. The Momins (weavers and the like) have proclaimed their dissent, as I well know by the many cables that have reached me. During the war one of these stated that on behalf of 45,000,000 Moslem Momins they repudiated Mr Jinnah. Mr Amery, then Secretary of State for India replied, when I drew his attention to this, that the cable must have meant “four to five million” and the House laughed at my apparent discomfiture. A week later I had a further cable stating it was “45,000,000”. Whereupon Mr Amery still insisted that was false but that they might number six or seven million…

    In his reply, Amery questioned the population strength and political influence of the Momins. The controversy which followed his replies to the parliamentary gathered momentum. The working committee of the All India Momin Conference passed a resolution indicating the inconsistencies and limitations of the census report of 1931, which had failed to cover Momins other than those engaged in weaving. Many Ansari Momins, it argued, had concealed their Momin identity to avoid the social stigma attached to this identity. The census had neglected Momins residing in Assam, Madras, Central Provinces, Berar, Hyderabad, Mysore and Travancore. The All India Momin Conference asserted that:59

    the population of the Momin community is under no circumstances less than forty-five millions and it comprises not only weavers and agricultural labourers, as stated by Mr Amery, but, like other communities of India, also of lawyers, legislators, Government servants, business men, cultivators, artisans and factory workers.

    Due to various causes, a large number of weavers had left their hereditary calling. The social stigma and economic degradation attached to the caste of Julaha and work of weaving had forced many to leave the occupation. When the handweaving industry in India came under severe competition from machine-made imports, the position and prospects of the industry were affected, and as a result, large numbers of weavers belonging to the weaving castes took up other professions generally connected with trade or agriculture.

    On the other hand, weavers who prospered by dealing in cloth gradually became businessmen and remained only nominal members of the weaving castes. They, along with a few others, got into the liberal professions by utilising educational facilities and had taken their place among the urban middle classes. Those who changed over to menial jobs still took pride in calling themselves by the old class names, but those who prospered in the business or the liberal professions soon gave up their caste contacts.

    These changes were noted in the periodical censuses. It was believed that considerable numbers of the chief weaving caste had given up weaving by 1921.60 This controversy about the category of the Momins in the census shows deliberate colonial confusion that whether the Momins should be identifi ed as a caste or occupational category. The constant requirement to demarcate the identities of the community by identifying “self and other” forced the Momin Conference and other similar organisations to reclaim new or lost boundaries.

    On 9 February 1943, a private meeting of the working committee of the All India Momin Conference was held in Allahabad. Zahuruddin of Lahore was re-elected as president for the coming year. It was also decided that an annual general meeting would be held at Delhi during Easter, “at the same time as the annual session of the Muslim League”.61

    The Idea of Swaraj

    The eighth session of the All India Momin Conference held in New Delhi in April 1943 continued to assert its separate identity by condemning the demand of Pakistan on “behalf” of four and a half crore Momins. Unlike the Congress, which could not forbid its members from holding simultaneous membership of other political organisations like the Hindu Mahasabha, the Momin Conference took a stand disallowing even its primary members from becoming members of any other political organisation. Anticipating the post-Independence struggle of the downtrodden, Momin Conference President Sheikh M ohamed Zahiruddin believed that the “amelioration of millions of Momins in India, who are in the same position in the Muslim community as the Depressed Classes are among H indus, is only possible under swaraj.”

    The main resolution of this session called for the complete independence of India; swaraj was seen as the only alternative. By this time, the Momin Conference had some 500 committees in the districts and villages of India, mostly in UP and Bihar, where the bulk of the community was concentrated. The president of the conference Zahiruddin expressed keen disappointment about the absence of a Momin representative on the Fact-finding Committee of 1942 with regard to the handloom industry, although as weavers their interest in the committee’s work was obviously intimate. At the same time, the central committee of the Momin Conference supported the war effort and resolved to wait in a deputation to the commerce member and the Viceroy, to discuss how best the r esources of the Momin Ansari community could be harnessed to the war effort. The committee deplored the indifference of the central government towards utilising the resources of the Momin Conference in manpower, skilled and unskilled labour.62

    Even by 1943, the Conference did not believe that the Muslim League either had mass appeal or that it cared very much for the common people or that it had sympathy for any programme for upliftment of the underdog. Zahiruddin, president of the All India Momin Conference, left the League on the basis of this belief. When he was urged to bring about a rapprochement between the Muslim League and the Momin Conference, he

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    april 14, 2012 vol xlviI no 15

    wrote to Jinnah to ask whether the League had any intention of changing its attitude towards the masses. He did not receive any reply. At the same time, the organisation tried to avoid being seen as a political bulwark against the Muslim League. It decided to sever all connections with the Congress as well as the Muslim League to refute the charge that Momins were working with the Congress to divide the Muslim com munity,63 though it shared the Congress ideal of complete independence for India.

    In fact, by this time, Muslim League had started countering the separate agenda and status of the Momin Conference by going to the extent of spreading rumours about cancellation of Momin Conference sessions. A meeting of the working committee of the All India Jamait-ul-Ansar was held in Kanpur on 20-21 June 1943 under the presidentship of Zahiruddin. The meeting deplored the response of Muhammad Ali Jinnah to the letter written to him by Gandhi and regarded his attitude as a challenge to the spirit and tradition of Islamic chivalry. It stated that he had prejudiced the country’s effort for early settlement of her problems. The meeting passed the following resolutions:

  • (1) With a view to accelerating the war effort and to ensuring complete and willing cooperation of the country, the government should release all the political prisoners and focus their attention on formation of a national government at the centre, representing all important elements in Indian national life.
  • (2) To request the Government of India to nominate the representative of the Jamait-ul-Ansar-i-Hind to the Textile Advisory Board, which was to be established shortly.
  • (3) To wait in deputation on the commerce member of the Government of India with a view to discussing the best way to harness the resources of the Momin community for the war effort.
  • It was decided to move the office of the All India organisation from Kanpur to Delhi. Every member of the community had to subscribe a rupee per head to start a factory for the benefit of the community. The members of the community “should not join any political organisation other than the Jamait-ul-Ansar”. A subcommittee consisting of Maulvi Zahiruddin, Sheikh Said Ahmed of Bombay, the president and the general secretary and Bashir Ahmad of Kanpur the editor of the Momin Gazette was appointed to tour Indian states and to study and report on the conditions and requirements of the Momins living there. The working committee meeting referred to the the district Jamait-ul-Ansar conference in Kanpur where the government was criticised for acting unjustly in arresting Congress leaders and harassing them in jail; the release of the Congress men was urged as necessary for the successful prosecution of the war. The trend of the All-India and district conferences was pro-Congress and anti-Muslim League.64

    The working committee of the All India Jamait-ul-Mominin met in Kanpur under the presidentship of Zahiruddin on 17-18 October 1943. A resolution was passed to persuade Momins to resign from the Muslim League.65

    On 7-8 October 1945, 50 nationalist Muslims representing the Majlis, the Ahrars, the Congress, the Jamait-ul-Ulema, the Khaksars, the Momins and the Sunni Board held a private meeting in Lucknow. They decided to field candidates against

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    april 14, 2012 vol xlviI no 15

    the Muslim League in all the constituencies and to collect Rs 2 lakh for election work.66

    The UP Momin Conference held in Muradabad on 4 October 1945 was attended by 15,000 people and adopted resolutions promising help to nationalist Muslims, expressing abhorrence for the rowdyism of League members, and showing sympathy for the Indonesian patriots, the Palestine Arabs and the Indian National Army (INA) soldiers.67

    The president of the All India Momin Conference asked the Ansars to vote for nationalist Muslims and the working committee of the All India Momin Conference on 27 December 1945 met in Aligarh to deliberate upon the nomination of the Momin candidates for the provincial assembly.68

    In the beginning of 1946, election propaganda was in full flow. Support for the nationalist Muslims was canvassed at the district Momin Conference meeting held at Ghazipur on 19 January. The Provincial Momin Ansar Conference also issued a circular exhorting Momins to vote for nationalist Muslim candidates.69


    At this juncture, the leadership of the Momin Conference suffered a major setback due to the League’s manoeuvres, when Zahiruddin also decided to join the Muslim League. Thus he had to be suspended and replaced by Abdul Qayum Ansari of Bihar as the president.70

    A meeting of 50 people in Mau criticised Zahiruddin for joining Muslim League. A resolution was sent to the Momin Conference in Allahabad stating that the Momins of Mau were not prepared to join Muslim League under any circumstance.71

    The failure of the Momin Conference to manoeuvre within the available political space led to the emergence of other alternatives. The year 1940 saw the emergence of two new o rganisations in the Azamgarh district. The first group was the Communist Party of India. The second, the Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind, was formed in Azamgarh district at the instance of Maulana Habib-ul Rehman of Mau, Nath Bhanjan and Hakim Ishaq of Azamgarh.

    Only immediately after Partition does one find references to its resurgence in the district. A meeting of 200 people was held in Mau on 5 March 1948 with Maulvi Abdul Latif as the chair. It was said that the Jamait-ul-Ulema would fight against the new government just as they fought against the British government. The speakers were President Ahmadullah and Ghulam Rasul. They gave fiery speeches saying that their organisation was to a large extent instrumental in bringing about independence. But now that the Congress was in power, it was not doing justice and proving even worse than the British government, in ignoring the welfare of kisans and mazdoors, it had further imposed a ban on the newspaper Al-Jamiat. The following resolutions were passed at the meeting:72

  • (1) Handloom cloth should be exported to Pakistan.
  • (2) No tax should be imposed on the sale of this cloth.
  • (3) 25% of the cloth to be sent outside the country should be handloom cloth.
  • (4) The ban imposed on newspaper Al-Jamiat should be withdrawn.
  • The antagonistic hierarchical class/caste relations were sit-a counter-hegemonic force in Indian Muslim politics, they had uating the Momin Ansars in such a position where even the to consistently critique the social and religious articulation of idea of a separate nationality for the Indian Muslim was not Ashraf dominance. This was a stance that could not be successlucrative enough to bring them together with the Muslim fully voiced by the All India Momin Conference due to the com-League. After the formation of two nations on the subconti-plexities of religious dichotomies and local exigencies. The relinent, fewer Momin Ansars migrated from UP compared to the gious categorisation of people created a polarisation on comelite and high-class Muslims as they had nothing to lose except munal lines. Different identities were adopted at various times their “handlooms”.73 by these groups, yet the main agenda of having a social status,

    So the political aspirations and religious activities of the occupational upliftment and sense of empowerment was central weavers clearly establish an attempt to carve out an independ-to every move. Their socio-economic deprivation ensured that ent space for socio-economic mobility. Lower status Julahas instead of taking up their cause, larger forces used them for tried to critique the Ashraf (upper caste) dominated Muslim their own agenda. But their pro-nationalist overtones carried an politics in northern India. For the Momin Ansaris to develop as earnest desire to overcome the odds of inherent inequalities.

    Notes 17 Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Volume 45 PAI, No 1, 6 January 1940. 24, Ahmedabad, 1967, p 426. 46 The Leader, 1 May 1940, Accession No 1484,

    1 The argument here is that multiculturalism

    18 PAI, No 24, 21 June 1930. Private Papers, UPSA.

    only operates at the level of the “great tradi19 Indian Cotton Textile Industry Annual, 1949, 47 Mushirul Hasan, “ ‘Congress Muslims’ and Indiantions”, to the detriment of “little traditions”,

    Bombay, p 152. Nationalism: The Dilemma and Decline, 1928-34”;

    which are inherently plural. In anthropological usage, “great tradition” refers to the culture of

    20 Salil Misra, A Narrative of Communal Politics: Hasan Nishat Ansari, The Momin Congress

    priests and theologians. Since the community Uttar Pradesh, 1937-39 (New Delhi: Sage Publi-Relation, p 19. of priests and theologians is also in a sense a cations), 2001. 48 Ibid. textual community, the concept may be used to 21 The Pioneer, 20 December 1936. 49 PAI, No 10, 9 March 1940. highlight the textual reading of religion. A tex-22 Gandhi on Hindu Muslim Unity, G-34/ 1939-42, 50 Ibid, No 16, 20 April 1940. tual reading of religion reifies identities to the All India Congress Committee Papers, Nehru 51 Ibid, No 29, 20 July 1940. exclusion of other practices. The little tradition Memorial Museum and Library (henceforth

    52 Criminal Investigation Department (CID), UP, is a repository of inherited customary practices NMML), New Delhi.

    “Weekly Appreciation of the Political Situation which may not necessarily be compatible with 23 Jawaharlal Nehru to Krishna Menon, not dated, for the Week Ending 4 October”, PAI, 1940. the textual religious tradition. Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru, Vol XIV,

    53 Ibid, 15 November 1940.

    2 Ashfaque Husain Ansari, Momin Conference ki Delhi, 1984, p 97.

    54 Ibid, 13 December 1940. Dastavezi Tareekh (Documentary History of 24 Basudev Chatterjee, ed. Towards Freedom: Doc

    55 Ibid, 18 April 1941.

    Momin Conference), Delhi, 2000, pp 17, 19. uments on the Movement for Independence in In

    56 Director of Intelligence Bureau’s Report of the 3 Hasan Nishat Ansari, The Momin Congress dia, 1938, Volume 2 (Delhi: Oxford University Political Situation in Bihar, Home Department Relation (A Socio-Historical Analysis), Patna, Press), 2002, pp 1409-1413; Hasan Nishat Ansari, Political (I) Branch, File No 31/1/1941-Police (I),

    1989, pp 2-3. The Momin-Congress Relation, p 8; Papiya Ghosh, NAI.

    4 Police Intelligence Department, Secret Police “Partition’s Biharis” in Comparative Studies of

    57 Ali, Anwar, Masawat ki Jang (Battle for Equality),Abstract of Intelligence, United Provinces South Asia, Africa and the Middle East , Volume 17,

    pp 24-30; Irfan Ahmad, “A Different Jihad: (henceforth PAI), Lucknow, No 3, 28 April 1928.No 2, 1997.

    Dalit Muslims’ Challenge to Ashraf Hegemony”,

    5 Ibid. 25 Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, ed. Quaid-e-Azam:

    Economic & Political Weekly, 15 November 2003,

    Jinnah’s Correspondence (New Delhi: Metro

    6 Mushirul Hasan, “ ‘Congress Muslims’ and Indian p 4889.

    Nationalism: The Dilemma and Decline, 1928-34”, politan Book Company), 1981, pp 271-74; Rajendra 58 R W Sorensen, My Impression of India (London: South Asia, 8(1-2), 1985, pp 11-12. Prasad, India Divided (Delhi: Anmol Publica-Meridian Books), London, 1946, p 117.

    tions), 1986, p 153.

    7 Sheikh Abdul Majid undated diary entry (190259 Nripendra Nath Mitra, ed. The Indian Annual

    26 Paul R Brass, Language, Religion and Politics in

    1934?), unpublished Urdu manuscript, Maulvi

    Register, January-June 1942, Volume I, Calcutta,

    Kamaruzzaman Mubarakpuri, Muhalla Sufi pura, North India (London: Cambridge University 1943, pp 329-30; Hindustan Times, Delhi,

    Mubarakpur, Azamgarh, UP. Press), 1974, p 246.

    7 April 1942; Statesman, Delhi, 7 April 1942.

    8 Letter from the Provincial Jamait-ul-Ansar, UP 27 Star of India, 22 December 1938; 17 July 1939;

    60 P J Thomas, chairman, Report of the Fact Finding

    26 September 1938.

    to the Home Member, Government of UP, File

    Committee (handloom and mills), 1942, Delhi,

    No 122/ 1930, Boxes 279-281, Political Depart-28 PAI, No 2, 15 January 1938.

    1942, pp 64-65.

    ment, UP State Archive (henceforth UPSA), 29 Ibid, No 29, 29 July 1938.

    61 CID, UP, Weekly Appreciation, ending 12 Feb

    Lucknow. 30 Ibid, No 37, 17 September 1938.

    ruary 1943. 9 Ibid. 31 Ibid, No 38, 24 September 1938.

    62 The Indian Annual Register, January-June 1943, 10 Report of the Proceedings of the Executive Com-32 Ibid, No 44, 5 November 1938.

    Volume I, Calcutta, 1944, p 292.

    mittee of the All India Jamiat-ul-Quraish, held

    33 Ibid, No 4, 29 January 1938.

    63 Ibid, pp 290-92.

    on 18-20 February 1933, Agra.

    34 Ibid, No 40, 8 October 1938.

    64 CID, UP, Weekly Appreciation, ending 25 June 11 Letter from the Provincial Jamait-ul-Ansar, UP

    35 Ibid, No 23, 10 June 1939. 1943.

    to the Home Member, Government of United

    36 Ibid, No 24, 17 June 1939. 65 Ibid, 22 October 1943.

    Provinces, File No 122/ 1930, Boxes 279-281,

    37 Ibid, No 25, 24 June 1939. 66 Ibid, 12 October 1945.

    Political Department, UPSA, Lucknow. 38 Ibid, No 27, 8 July 1939. 67 Ibid, 9 November 1945.

    12 PAI, No 40, 10 October 1931; No 25, 25 June 1932; No 33, 20 August 1932; No 45, 12 November 1932. 39 Ibid, No 31, 5 August 1939. 68 Ibid, 23 November, 21 and 28 December 1945.

    13 Nandini Gooptu, The Politics of the Urban Poor 40 Ibid, No 37, 16 September 1939. 69 Ibid, 25 January and 1 February 1946. in Early Twentieth Century India (Cambridge: 41 Ibid, No 38, 23 September; No 41, 14 October 70 Ayesha Jalal, Self and Sovereignty: Individual Cambridge University Press), 2001, pp 264-66. 1939. and Community in South Asian Islam since 1850

    14 “Handloom vs Spinning-Wheel”, Young India, 42 Representation from All India Momin Conference (London: Routledge), 2001, p 520. 11 November 1926, The Collected Works of Ma-to the Viceroy, 28 August 1939, Home Department 71 Intelligence Papers, Local Intelligence Unit, hatma Gandhi, Volume 37 (New Delhi: Publica-(Public Branch), File No 185/39, National Archive Police Office, Azamgarh, 2 April 1947. tions Division Government of India), 1999. of India (henceforth NAI), New Delhi. 72 Intelligence Papers, Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind, Local

    15 Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Volume 23, 43 Ibid. Intelligence Unit, Police Offi ce, Azamgarh, March 1922-May 1924, Ahmedabad, 1979, 44 Jawaharlal Nehru to Abdul Qayoom Ansari, 12 March 1948. p 59. Letter dated 14 November 1939, Cited from Ali 73 Interview with Qazi Zafar Masood, Mubarakpur,

    16 Swatantrata Sangram Ke Sainik, Zila Azam-Anwar, Masawat Ki Jung (Battle for Equality) Azamgarh, 01-02-1998; Report on the General garh, UP, Information Department, Lucknow, trans Mohammad Imran Ali and Zakia Jowher, Administration of the United Provinces, 1948, undated. Delhi, 2005, pp 201-03. Allahabad, 1951.

    70 april 14, 2012 vol xlviI no 15

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