Tributes pour in for Urdu poet Shuja Khawar

Eminent Urdu poet Shuja Khawar passed away in Delhi. Shujauddin Sajid alias Shuja Khawar was an important name in contemporary Urdu poetry.

A host of programmes were organised to pay tributes to the late poet. In Delhi, many events were held. Urdu Tehzib, Angla Arabic School Old Boys’ Association, Delhi Urdu Club and Maulana Azad Educational & Medical Society held condolence meets.

People recalled how Shuja was among the two Muslim IPS officers (Asad Farooqui was the other) who had been deployed along with other officials to arrest Indira Gandhi during Janata Party rule in 1977.
Shuja, a former IPS officer, had quit service in the midst of his career (in 1994).

Jatinder Parwaz said that Shuja had recited in mushairas along side legends like Firaq Gorakhpuri, who also considered him a gem among poets. “Firaq said that he cherished reciting along with him”, he recalled. Shuja Khawar’s death has left a void in Urdu literature.

Shuja had also flirted with politics briefly. After a paralytic stroke, he had been bedridden for years. However, he had lately regained health and was again attending literary functions. He died suddenly due to heart attack.

Read Shuja Khawar’s couplets and his literary achievements here.


Grand Old Man of Urdu Culture in Hyderabad passes away: Khuda Hafiz Dr Raj Bahadur Gour!

Dr Raj Bahadur Gour, who was perhaps the last pillar of the composite culture and Deccan’s tehzeeb of yore passed away in Hyderabad.

Gour, 93, was a close associate of legendary poet and revolutionary Makhdoom Mohinuddin. Dr Gour was not just a communist leader, a former MP and a champion for the rights of Urdu, but also a symbol of secularism & humanity.

His death was mourned across the world, particularly, in Urdu circles. Dr Gour who was born in 1918, had passed his MBBS examination from Osmania University in Urdu medium.

He along with Makdhoom, Alam Khundmiri and Javed Rizwi, formed the Comrade Association, which was banned. As a participant in the Telangana Armed Revolution in the era, he was arrested and jailed.

An intellectual, a writer and a great human being, Dr Gour remained associated with Anjuman Taraqqi-e-Urdu for 40 years, and was elects its president also.

In a programme organised at Urdu Ghar in Delhi to pay last respects to Dr Gour, Professor Akhtarul Wasey said that late Raj Bahadur Gour’s name will always be taken with great respect in Urdu circles, along with names like Tej Bahadur Sapru, Anand Narayan Mulla and Hriday Nath Kunzru.

Renowned poet Anand Mohan Zutshi Gulzar Dehlvi said that Dr Raj Bahadur Gaur was a fearless crusader for Urdu and a man who epitomised Urdu culture.

Khaliq Anjum, Ali Javed, Syed Shariful Hasan Naqvi, Aslam Parvez and Shauq Amrohvi were amongst others who paid rich tributes to Dr Gour.

Just a few days before his death he had donated Rs 3 lakh to Urdu Talimi Trust from his personal assets. Once when Urdu was under attack and termed a ‘Muslim language’, he made the famous statement:

“If Urdu is the language of Muslims alone then how come all the national slogans from Inquilab Zindabad to Gharibi Hatao are in Urdu alone”.

He would often say Urdu was his mother tongue while English was his stepmother tongue. He often recalled how in the pre-partition era and the days after police action, there was a feeling against Nizam but never against Muslims or Urdu in Hyderabad Deccan.

Now we have hardly any towering personality who could speak courageously for Urdu and even fewer among non-Muslims who can claim the zaban as their mother tongue.

Urdu India salutes this Mard-e-Mujahid of Urdu.

PS: Sad that Urdu papers in Deccan didn’t carry the news of his death as prominently as was expected of them. In Mumbai, special page-1 editorials were published and in Urdu papers in North also, the news that he passed away was splashed on front page and obituaries published for days.


Akram Allahabadi: Doyen of Urdu detective fiction

Akram Allahabadi was a writer who attained immense popularity in the genre of Urdu detective fiction in the sub-continent.

Almost a near contemporary of the legendary Ibn-e-Safi, Akram Allahabadi also had a huge fan following. His characters, particularly, Inspector Khan and sergeant Baley, also have a secured place in the history of Urdu literature.

Unfortunately, Akram Allahabadi is not remembered as much, as he ought to be. In my childhood, I remember, almost every AH Wheeler bookstall across India, had his novels on display along with Jasoosi Duniya.

I still recall how elders would talk about Ibn-e-Safi’s ‘Deo Paikar Darinda’ or ‘Zamin ke Badal’ in the same breath as Allahabadi’s ‘Junction Bilara’ and ‘Salazar series’ or Sputnik which were all immensely popular novels.

Syed Mohammad Akram, who was born in 1922, was born in a zamindar family in Allahabad. He was sent to Bhopal for studies but fell in love with a girl and was later sent to Kanpur. After his graduation, Akram Allahabadi took to journalism and joined an Urdu daily in Allahabad, in 1946.

Akram Allahabadi started several daily newspapers and magazines, edited journals and later shifted to Mumbai. A prolific writer, his novels were sell-outs. He married a woman who had African ancestry.

Unlike H Iqbal or others who wrote novels, copying the characters of Ibn-e-Safi, viz. Imran, Faridi-Hameed, Akram Allahabadi had his own style. Sometimes, I felt, that he wrote in a hurry and didn’t take a second glance, because in a couple of his novels the story line grew fantastically but the minute details were often ignored.

I remember another of his character, Inspector Madhulkar who along with his assistant Raazi, took on gangsters and mysterious criminals.

After Ibn-e-Safi’s demise, Akram Allahabadi also, apparently lost interest. His ‘competitor’ had gone. A trade unionist, he remained active in his later years. Today his novels are rare to find but the legend of Akram Allahabadi grows.

Akram Allahabadi [also spelt as Akram ILAHABADI] was a writer of scores of bestsellers in the era of 1950s to late 70s and thereafter. A Facebook group and the plan of his family members and fans to publish his novels has also generated interest among the lovers of Urdu detective fiction.


Munsif TV: Urdu News channel from Deccan

Almost a decade after ETV Urdu was launched, another TV channel in Urdu has been launched from Hyderabad, which is one of the most important centres of Urdu.

After ETV Urdu, which is a complete infotainment channel, other channels were also launched. Among them, DD Urdu has achieved some success despite cable operators’ lack of enthusiasm towards the channel.

Zee group’s Zee Salaam and Aalami Sahara have been launched recently. Salaam is more about religion and Islamic devotional programmes and poetry while Aalami Sahara focuses on news.

With the the launch of Munsif TV, the fifth Urdu channel in India, there will be healthy competition and the audience will also get to see better coverage as the Urdu market grows despite negative predictions in the past.

Siasat and Munsif are established newspapers in Hyderabad. Though belated, it has been a laudable step. The channel can be seen also at the website though the reception is not too good.

There is need to improve the standard of language used in the channel and so is the presentation that is not as professional initially. An example is ‘Aap zikr kiye’ rather than ‘Aapne zikr kiya‘.

Just a couple of brief training sessions can iron out the hitches. Of course, Dakhani has a distinct style and everything can’t be viewed from the perception of a North Indian Urdu speaker.

For the moment it’s good news for Urdu speaking populace that has come once again from South India. The owners claim it is available in 80 countries through satellite.


Wrong, misspelt Urdu on Delhi signboards

Delhi is the national capital and dozens of organisations working for the cause of Urdu are present in the City but erroneous spellings and wrongly written Urdu on signboards, hurt every Urdu-knowing person.

Daily Sahafat’s journalists Ali Raza Adeel and Mohammad Ahmad Khan’s report about the disinterest of Urdu Academy and individuals towards rectifying the mistakes, highlights the issue once again. The problem is at different levels.

Lack of interest of citizens and falling standards of Urdu-knowing painters are some of the reasons behind such blunders. Bazaar becomes Bajaar and Muhiuddin becomes Moinuddin. Even worse when the board is near the mazar of Maulana Abdul Kalam Muhiuddin Azad. It’s time that Urdu anjumans and activists join hands and ensure that qualified persons are consulted and after due approval, the signboards are painted.


Tributes pour in for late Dr Wazir Agha

One of the most widely respected Urdu critic and poet Dr Wazir Agha passed away at his native place Sargodha in Pakistan last week.

kahne ko chand gaam thaa ye arsa-e-hayaat
lekin tamaam umr hi chalnaa paRaa mujhe
[Wazir Agha]

Agha wrote over 60 books including texts on criticism, poetry, literary trends, humour and other genres.
He was 88 at the time of his death. He is remembered for his role in establishing Urdu ‘inshaiya’ while he is also credited as a leading poet of modernist verse [Nazm].

Dr Agha also wrote ghazals. Apart from his collection of poetry, he also penned an autobiography. In Delhi, Shrine Group of Action, organised a programme in memory of the late litterateur. Eminent poets paid tributes to Dr Agha.

In Lucknow, Bazm-e-Lauh-o-Qalam organised a condolence meeting. The speakers recalled Wazir Agha’s literary journey from Adabi Dunya to Auraaq. His Nazms, particularly, Aadhi Sadi ke Baad, and Ek Katha Anokhi were also mentioned.

Literary organisations throughout India are holding condolence meets in other cities also and obituaries are appearing in newspapers as the news. In fact, his demise has stunned the literary world in the sub-continent.

We are publishing his verse ‘din Dhal chukaa thaa aur parinda safar meN thaa’ by Wazir Agha in Urdu [nastaliq] script here:

It is quite a unique Nazm, which is written in ghazal format. He also wrote free verse or Azad Nazm apart from Nasri Nazms and Paaband Nazms.

jabeen-e-sang pe likha mera afsaana gaya
maiN rahguzar tha mujhe raund ke zamaana gaya [Wazir Agha]

However, Agha is not a figure who could be forgotten. As a leading nazm-go shaa’er and an immensely respected critic, Dr Wazir Agha’s contribution can’t be erased. His name and his works are now part of the literary history of Urdu.


Mulayam Singh takes up the cause of Urdu in Parliament

Once again, it was Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh who thundered in the parliament, and took the Centre to task for its failure to promote Urdu.

He castigated the centre for stopping advertisements to Urdu newspapers, a recent decision which has hit the Urdu media and has made it immensely difficult for the papers to survive.

Unfortunately, the Muslim MPs, particularly those who won on Congress ticket, didn’t raise the issue. It must be recalled that after successive Congress governments tried to bury the language, the Mulayam Singh-led SP government had given Urdu its rights in UP for the first time ever.

It was under Mulayam Singh Yadav’s rule that Urdu translators were appointed in UP and strict directions were given to display Urdu signboards and nameplates in government offices.

Once again, it was the Samajwadi Party supremo who forcefully raised his voice for the language. After Mulayam Singh, Railway minister Mamata Bannerjee also supported him.

She said that West Bengal had nearly 30% Urdu speakers and there was dire need for a Urdu university in the state, apart from reservation for Muslims in jobs.

A surprise was BJP leader Gopinath Munde whose speech in favour of Urdu and his stress on promoting the language that is respresentative of India’s ganga-jamuni culture, put the Union government on backfoot.

Filmstar-turn-actor Shatrughan Sinha also raised the issue of injustice with Urdu. Farooq Abdullah and other leaders including communist Gurudas Das Gupta joined the debate.

In fact, the rare solidarity for the cause of Urdu and the manner in which politicians spoke in unison for the language, forced the government to admit that it was rare unity in the house.

When Speaker Meira Kumar urged the government to take cognizance of the concern of members, Pranab Mukherjee gave an elaborate response and assured that the issue of cutting newspaper advertisements would be sorted out.

Urdu India hopes that Urdu-speaking MPs and leaders whose mother tongue is Urdu, would raise the issue of injustice with the language in Uttar Pradesh where Urdu medium schools are not allowed to function as per an old and discriminatory state law implemented during the earlier Congress regimes.

While Maharashtra, Bihar, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have thousands of Urdu medium schools, none exists in UP, which is the heart of Urdu language and culture.
Adnan [Indscribe]