Unrewarded saviour and unsung hero


Senior Member
Mar 28, 2009
Unrewarded saviour and unsung hero

A Briton attempted to poison Mahatma Gandhi way back in 1917 but Batak Miyan saved his life.

Owing to the lackadaisical approach of the Bihar government in the allocation of land following a directive from the country’s first President Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the grandchildren of Batak Miyan, who saved the Father of the Nation from being poisoned by British almost 30 years before India gained Independence, are condemned to a life of destitution.

In 1917 Mahatma Gandhi arrived in Motihari (the then headquarters of Champaran district) to address the pathetic condition of Indigo planters there. Around that time the British manager of a Motihari-based Indigo plantation Mr Erwin had an evil design.

As part of a conspiracy, Gandhi was invited for dinner by Erwin who directed his cook Batak Miyan to serve the guest a glassful of poisoned milk. Apparently under orders from his master Batak Miyan took the glass to Bapu but could not help revealing the ruse in a hushed tone and thus countered Erwin’s design to kill him. And so Mahtma Gandhi’s life was saved . Dr. Rajendra Prasad himself witnessed the entire incident.

Batak Miyan’s surviving grandchildren voice their frustrations about the governent’s inertia to get their fair share land that could transform their lives.

Says Kalam Ansari, a grandson of Batak Miyan with a melancholic look, “Come second October, rich and glowing tributes are paid to the Father of the Nation Gandhiji. Leaders reel off long speeches on the virtues of Gandhian ideology but none of them actually refer to the late Batak Miyan, forget about caring for his grandchildren. Today he is a non entity unknown and unheard of name among the new generation despite his sublime sacrifice and devotion to the cause of nation. ”

Lackadaisical approach

If their father and grandfather waited for years in anticipation and trepidation before death embraced them, they believe they are only hoping against hopes now. For, the woes of the grandchildren of Batak Miyan Ansari, a freedom fighter who once saved father of nation from being poisoned by British and subsequently faced the worst consequences of his life, appear unending owing to the lackadaisical approach of the Bihar government in the allocation of land in the light of direction passed by country’s first President Dr. Rajendra Prasad.

The first President of India Dr Rajendra Prasad visited Motihari in 1950 and felicitated Batak Miyan at a public meeting. He ordered the then District Magistrate to allot 36 bigaahs of land to Miyan. But his woes were not to end here.

He ran pell-mell for several years in the hope of that land while government slept over the matter. Days rolled into years and the file containing the presidential order gathered dust before Batak Miyan died in 1957.

A book on the freedom fighter of Champaran and documents, a copy of which are available with Deccan Herald, gathering dust at the State Secretariat in Bihar stand testimony to Batak Miyan’s efforts which foiled a British manager’s well planned design to poison Mahatma Gandhi when he arrived in Motihari.

“My grandfather (Batak Miyan) and father (Md. Jan Ansari),” point out Allauddin Ansaris, “ran from pillar to post for several years in the hope of those plots of land. But the exercise virtually proved futile as assurance after assurance only came thick and fast, while the file containing the presidential letter gathered dust in government offices.
However, it was only in 1961 we could get a meager two bigaahs, 16 katta and 18 dhur land in Akwa Parswani (West Champaran) and about two acres in Sishwa Ajgari (East Champaran).”

Batak Miyan’s grandson Allauddin Ansari told Deccan Herald:

“The matter was even raised in the Bihar assembly in 2004 for the allocation of the remaining tract of land and the West Champaran Collector even conceded that the first President of India had ordered the allocation of 35 bigaahs of land. But the matter has been lying in limbo for years for reasons best known to the authorities concerned. But then all the while, we have been getting assurances only.”

Lending credence to Allauddin Ansari’s claim is a letter issued by the President of India’s Secretariat on December 3, 1957, signed by the then Additional Private Secretary Vishwanath Verma, informing Md. Jan Ansari, the only son of Batak Miyan that the order has been passed to the Bihar chief minister for allocation of 35 bigaahs of land.

“It’s like hoping against hopes for us now,” said visibly defeated and dejected Zahid Ansari, Allauddin Ansari’s brother and one of the five grandchildren of Batak Miyan.
With the years rolling by, while Batak Miyan’s only son Md. Jan Ansari died in penury in 2002, all is not well with grandchildren of Batak Miyan and their dependents today. Beset with numerous hardships and let down by the government, the grandchildren of Batak Miyan are condemned to a life of destitution.

They have a hard time to live with dignity and provide comfort for their children. Batak Miyan’s grandchildren are today dependent on daily wages . Will their lot improve? Will the fate ever smile on them?

Sandeep Bhaskar recently at Akwa Parsawni in West Champaran district of Bihar

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