Dada Amir Haider Khan
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Dada Amir Haider Khan was born in 1900 in a remote village called, Sihali Umar Khan, in Rawalpindi district and orphaned at an early age. He was then put in a madrassah. In 1914 he joined British merchant navy in Bombay transferring to the United States Merchant Marine in 1918. At this time he met Joseph Mulkane, an Irish nationalist who introduced him to anti-British political ideas.
He was dismissed from ship after the great post war strike and worked and traveled inside the USA. He then became a political activist, worked with Anti-Imperialist League and the Workers (Communist) Party of the USA who sent him to the Soviet Union to study at the University of the Toilers of the East. In 1928 he completed the University course in Moscow and arrived in Bombay. He established contact with G.V. Ghate, S.A. Dange, P.C. Joshi, B.T. Randive Bradley, senior communists in Bombay.
Dada attended the International Trade Union (Profintern) Congress as member of the presidium and also attended the 16th Congress of the CPSU in 1930. After his return to Bombay he was sent to Madras to avoid arrest as still he was wanted in the Meerut Conspiracy case. He carried on the political work all over South India under the pseudonym of Shankar. He also set up the Young Workers League.
In 1932, he was arrested by the British for bringing out a pamphlet praising the Bhagat Singh Trio and sent to Muzzafargarh jail, then transferred to Ambala jail. When he was released in 1938 he started open public political activity in Bombay. The left wing of Congress elected him to the Indian National Congress (INC)'s Bombay Provincial Committee. He also attended the INC Annual General meeting in Ramgarh, Bihar.
He was rearrested in 1939 as Second World War broke out. Later interned in Nashik jail where Dada wrote the first part of his memoirs. In 1942 he was the last of the Communists to be released after People’s War thesis. He worked for the Trade Union in Mumbai. He also attended the Natrakona (Mymansingh) All India Kissan Sabah in 1944.
Dada arrived in Rawalpindi on the eve of Pakistan to look after local party work. He organized a network all over Pakistan to hide, when wanted by the Government. Lahore was the nucleus of his activities. In Lahore, he used to take refuge in the house of a Sufi saint named Hussain Baksh Malang. He safely repatriated Hindu families during the independence riots.
In 1949, Dada was arrested from the Party office Rawalpindi under the Communal Act and released after 15 months. He got re-arrested after a few months from Rawalpindi Kutchery for organizing the defense of Hassan Nasir and Ali Imam. When the Pakistani government launched operation as a result of the Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case, Dada was moved to Lahore Fort and imprisoned with Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Fazal Din Qurban, Dada Feroz ud Din Mansur, Syed Kaswar Gardezi, Hyder Bux Jatoi, Sobo Gayan Chandani, Chaudhry Muhammad Afzal, Zaheer Kashmiri, Hameed Akhtar etc. He was released after campaign in The Pakistan Times and Imroze, but restricted to his village. He shifted to Rawalpindi when seen influencing the military soldiers from his area.
Dada spent his twilight years in the 1970s and 1980s in Rawalpindi but, whenever founds time, used to visit Lahore to meet his intimate friend Hussain Baksh Malang. He donated his land and with his own labour built a boys' high school in his village, then built a girls school together with a science laboratory. These schools were later approved by the government and placed under it.
Dada died on 26 December 1989 in Rawalpindi.
- Chains to Lose: Life and Struggles of a Revolutionary : Memoirs of Dada Amir Haider Khan, Hassan Gardezi, Patriot Publishers, 1989. ISBN 81-7050-097-4.
- Chains to Lose: Dada Amir Haider. Edited by Hasan.N.Gardezi. Pakistan Study Centre, Karachi University, 2007. (Two Volumes).