Mohammad Iqbal Shedai

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Dr. Muhammad Iqbal Shedai
Iqbal Shedai.JPG
Born 1888
PuraHairanwala, Sialkot
Died 13 January 1974
Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
Spouse(s) Bilquis

Mohammad Iqbal Shedai (in Punjabi محمد اقبال شیدائ ਮੁਂਹਮਦ.ਇਕਬਾਲ ਸ਼ੇਦਾਈ) was a revolutionary who spent his entire life fighting against British imperialism. The best part of his life was spent in self-exile in Asian and European countries – away from his homeland .

Political struggle[edit]

From 1914 he participated in politics[1] under guidance of Maulana Muhammad Ali Jouhar and Maulana Shaukat Ali. He joined "Anjuman Khadami Kaaba", organized by the Ali brothers. Soon he became Shedai – e –Kaaba. Throughout India there were only nine Shedais and Muhammad Iqbal Shedai was one of them. In 1915, he went to Hoti Mardan, where he taught for sometime in the local government school. Soon he was externed from N.W.F.P. for his Anti-British stance because the British considered him dangerous for their Imperialism. In August, 1915 his movements were restricted to Pura Hairanwala, Sialkot and he was not allowed to move. In 1915 (October) the Deputy Commissioner Sialkot removed those restrictions. Next year he tried to get admission in Law College, Lahore but the Principal refused him admission, considering him dangerous for British Rule in India.

Ghadr Party[edit]

In 1918, he joined the Hindustan Ghadr Party, which stood for overthrow of British imperialism. Soon he became one of the top-most leaders of Ghadr Party

Hijrat Movement[edit]

In early 1920, Hijrat Movement started when Maulana Muhammad Ali Jouhar and Maulana Shaikh Abdul Majeed Sindhi declared India as "Darul Harab" and exhorted Muslims to migrate to Afghanistan. Shedai took an introductory letter from Maulana Jouhar in name of Mujahid Fazl Elahie Wazirabadi then living in Chamarkand (Mohamad) to help Shedai to cross over to Afghanistan. He travelled to Haripur where he was joined by Akbar Qureshi and both reached Kabul. Thousands of Indian Muslims were already there as refugees. King Amanullah appointed Shedai as his Minister for Indian refugees. Shedai’s heart was pained to see the miserable plight of Indian Muslims because they lived as destitute, without work and food.

Visit to Moscow[edit]

So he decided to leave Kabul and reach Moscow, where Red Revolution had already come in 1917. Both Shedai and Akbar Qureshi had a chance to study socialism in Moscow. They were assigned the task of working for socialism and they came back to Kabul. Qureshi went back to Haripur, while Shedai went to Ankara, Turkey.

Interview with Mustafa Kemal Pasha[edit]

He sought an interview with Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first President of Turkish Republic and İsmet İnönü, the first Prime Minister. Both of them were full of praise for the excellent work done by Dr. Ansari and his medical mission. But they were bitter against the Indian Muslims of Indian Army, whom they considered as hirelings responsible for Turkish defeat in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria during the First World War. They expressed their disgust for the role of Arab Guerillas of Riyadh, who stabbed the Turks in the back. Mustafa Kemal Pasha had earlier defeated and routed ANZAC army and inflicted 100,000 casualties upon the enemy in the Gallipoli campaign. But he was helpless against the Indian Muslim Army of British and the Guerilla war tactics of Arabs, who were led by Lawrence of Arabia.

His struggle In Europe (Italy)[edit]

Italy had supported Indian independence movements in the 1920s and 1930s, and during World War II created the Battaglione Azad Hindoustan from Indian POWs. On March 1942 about 15 Indian volunteers were placed in Villa Marina (near Rome), and at the foundation of the "Centro I" ("I" for "Indians"), on 15 July 1942, they were 44. Their instructors were Italian officers and NCOs speaking English and sometimes that had lived in India. There was an Indian political commissar and consulent: Mohamed Iqbal Sheday. On 3 Aug. were formed a command squad and three fusilers platoon (but with the manpower of a squad), but in Sept., with the arrival of about 200 new volunteers, were formed: 4 fusiliers platoons 3 machineguns platoons 1 parachters platoon (55 men, sent to Tarquinia for training) On 1 Oct. the platoons (except the para) were united into a fusiliers company and a machineguns company. On 22 Oct. the "Centro I" (except the para) was sent to Tivoli for intensive training, and the following day was renamed "Battaglione Hazad Hindostan". Its strength (without the 55 para) was the following: Italians: 21 officers, 12 NCOs, 34 soldiers Indians: 5 NCOs, 185 soldiers.

Realising the potentiality of Indian revolutionaries abroad as propaganda material for the purpose of weakening Western Colonialism in the East, Mussolini’s government gave facilities just before the war to two Indians to carry on anti-British propaganda. They were Iqbal Shedai and Sardar Ajit Singh. Both of them had, of course, different political and ideological outlooks. Shedai had kept his links with the pan-Islamic movements and was in favour of independence for Muslim countries. On the other hand, Sardar Ajit Singh had been deported from India in 1908 and since then he had been fighting for the liberation of India along with other members of the Ghadr Party. He had come from Brazil and at first took up a teaching assignment at Naples. After sometime, he began propaganda work which was mainly directed towards the soldiers of the British Indian army in North Africa. They were instigated to desert and not to fight for the British. It is not easy to determine the basis for Shedai’s position in Italy, but it is known that from 1933 onwards, the Italian Foreign Ministry accepted his advice as regards Muslims in India and the Middle East. At the beginning of war, his advice became indispensable for the Italians and he along with Ajit Singh carried on the propaganda from Radio Himalaya. Shedai became a dangerous rival for Bose, when Bose tried to seek cooperation of the Italians. His position is best summarized by Trott who met him in 1941. He wrote: "The driving force in the entire Indian and partly in the oriental activities of the Italian External Ministry is the Indian Iqbal Shedai, who is known in Berlin. He enjoys the fullest confidence of all Italian authorities concerned".[2]

Shedai and Bose meetings in Italy[edit]

Martello’s book dwells at length on the rivalry that developed in Italy and Germany between the endeavours of Chandra Bose and Mohammed Iqbal Shedai to further attention and support towards the Indian cause. In fact, partly because of Netaji’s choice to give priority to seeking German support (in consideration of its stronger position within the Axis) Iqbal’s position in Italy became gradually more important, so as to become the principal point of reference to Italy’'s Eastern policy. Of course Chandra Bose kept good contacts and support of friends in the Italian Foreign Office, but Foreign Minister Ciano gradually showed mistrust towards Netaji and Italy’'s policy in general grew more and more supportive (because of its interest in courting Arab support in the Middle East) of the Muslim element in the struggle for Indian independence. Martelli records the Bose-Shedai misunderstandings and growing rivalry in detailed reports of their meetings in Italy in May–June 1941. A common, persuasive support by both on the need of a clear statement of support to India’'s independence by the Axis emerged from a German-Italian policy meeting in December 1941 to which Chandra Bose, Shedai and Gulam Siddiq Khan were invited to represent India’s interests. I can make the full report on this meeting, as drafted by the responsible officer in the Italian Foreign Ministry, available for the records. As it emerges from the conclusion the result of the common proddings was only a German commitment to try to have Hitler-Ribbentrop reconsider their cautious attitude of not acting prematurely. It might be interesting to note that, at this meeting, a new element had emerged, Japan’s entry into war. Both Bose and Shedai expressed their apprehensions about Japan’s real war aims of dominating Asia and used this as a further necessity to gain Germany’'s and Italy’'s clear support for Indian national aims. External Reference 7. Bose had to cooperate (and compete) with Shedai, take his help in setting up his own radio infrastructure, even staff, and retained even the name of Shedai’s organization "Azad Hindustan" with a minor abridgement as "Azad Hind".8.

Family life[edit]

Shedai decided to leave for France where he landed in Marseilles, a part of France. For a decade from 1930 to 1939, he lived in Paris.

Iqbal Shedai with his wife and other family members in Paris, France
Muhammad Iqbal Shedai is at the sixth from left,in white turben, with Lt Col. Inverea at eight, Ajit Singh at fourteenth and other officers of Battalion Azad Hindustan


Some details of the three organizations[3] follow.

Azad Hind Government[edit]

The Azad Hind Government (in Exile) was established by Shedai in 1941 in Rome by approval of Benito Mussolini. Shedai was appointed as the President of this Government, which worked till 1944, when the Allies captured Sicily and then Rome. With the downfall of Mussolini, Shedai left Rome and took refuge in Milan with his Italian friends. Sardar Ajit Singh, a Sikh Revolutionary was Shedai’s Minister of Information and Broadcasting. In spite of the best efforts of British, they could not capture Shedai.

Radio Himalaya 1941 Rome, (Radio of Free Indian movement)[edit]

Radio Himalaya started its programs on daily basis from Rome, Italy 1941. Muhammad Iqbal Shedai, a Revolutionary, who spent his entire life fighting against British occupation of his Homeland India-Pakistan. Shedai broadcast almost daily over the Italian Radio Himalaya to India calling on the people to rebel against foreign rule. The British rulers of India were perturbed very much because all freedom lovers listened to those programs. The British rulers in India banned those programs but to no avail. Shedai's listeners believe that the radio station was in India because, whether they were Moslems or Hindus, they were opposed to the occupation of their country by the British and yearned for independence. In those days only the rich could afford having a radio. Every evening the drawing rooms of the rich owners of radio were filled with people to listen to those programs. Shedai and Ajit Singh used to conduct those programs. According to an old BBC publication, a RSI shortwave service known as Radio Himalayas used to "broadcast to India in Indian languages and English and claimed to speak for an Indian liberation movement". The program had been previously broadcast from Rome and was run by an Indian Moslem revolutionary known as Iqbal Shedai. (Roger Tidy, UK): Books reviews about Radio Himalaya. India in Axis strategy: Germany, Japan, and Indian nationalists in Milan. Hauner 1981, The chief consultant on the Indian question in the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs was Muhammad Iqbal Shedai, on Free India, Shedai was broadcasting almost daily over the Italian Radio Himalaya to Afghanistan and India.The sign of the Tiger:. Rudolf Hartog The nationalist leader there who presented a dangerous challenge to Bose was the Punjabi Mohammed Iqbal Shedai, Shedai not only broadcasts daily to India over the Himalaya Radio ; he is also consulted regularly. Subhas Chandra Bose and Nazi Germany, Tilak Raj Sareen – 1996. they were Iqbal Shedai and Sardar Ajit Singh. Both of them had of course different political and ideological outlooks. became indispensable for the Italians and he along with Ajit Singh carried on the propaganda from Radio Himalaya .East and west: Volume 56 Istituto italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente - 2006 – Shedai was also one of the editors of the Italian clandestine Radio Himalaya, which caused so many problems for Allied intelligence owing to its repercussions on the tribes along the Durand Line ( Martelli 2002). Passage through a turbulent era: historical.. Mukund R.1982 – In the French capital, Subhas Bose also met another interesting person by the name of Iqbal Shedai. He single handedly took over the task of organising what was known as a secret "Himalaya Radio Station", and broadcast daily. Buried alive: Joginder Singh1984 – He ( Sardar Ajit Singh) became a prominent member of the Free India Movement in Rome and assisted Iqbal Shedai in directing that movement. ... By this time the Germans permitted Himalaya Radio to resume its broadcasting. Raj, secrets, revolution: Mihir Bose Shedai,s Azad Hindustan organisation consisted entirely of Muslims, including a relative of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and a former Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, close to ex- King Amanullah . Himalaya Radio, which now began broadcasting . India in the Second World War. H. Voigt - 1987 Shedai does not only broadcast daily from the so-called Himalaya radio to India, but is also consulted continuously in other oriental problems by the section for overseas matters. Iqbal Shedai became a dangerous rival for Bose. In silenzio gioite e soffrite : Andrea Vento - 2010 Always in t he Afghan capital is finally to record the activity from 1941 to retransmission of radio programmes in the Himalayas, the phoney clandestine radio station that has the main speaker the Indian nationalist Muslim Iqbal Shedai .Im Zeichen des Tigers:. Rudolf Hartog - 1991 This was all the more important for Boss as a competitor in Italy by a Muslim named Iqbal Shedai was founded, Shedai also made radio broadcasts himalaya radio and was in centro militare India.

Manifesto of Azad Hind Government[edit]

The manifesto of Azad Hind Government was frequently put on the Radio Himalaya, which inspired love of freedom among all and sundry. Salient features of the Manifesto were:

  • (a) The free and independent India will be a welfare state, providing equal opportunities of progress and development to all its citizens without any distinction of caste, creed or Religion.
  • (b) Every Indian child will get free and compulsory education up to Matric level. The state will endeavour to get 100% literacy in shortest possible time. The syllabi will be uniform for school as well as higher levels of education. Primary Education will be provided in mother-tongue only, while secondary education will be provided in Urdu, Hindi, Bengali etc. depending upon the local and provincial requirements.
  • (c) Every citizen of free Indian will be entitled to free medical cover in government dispensaries and hospitals.
  • (d) Land Reforms will be introduced. Maximum land ceiling per peasant family will be 30 Acres (240 Kanals) of irrigated land and 60 Acres (480 Kanals) of Barani land. The excess land will be confiscated and re-distributed free to the landless peasants. (After 63 years of independence, the fruits of freedom have not reached the poor of either India, Bangladesh or Pakistan). Shedai was a Romantic Revolutionary and the vested interest of every society is always against such Revolutionary ideas.


  • Shedai Papers, preserved by Dr. Muhammad Jamal Bhutta, the younger brother of Muhammad Iqbal Shedai.
  • M. Phil: Thesis on Iqbal Shedai, the Revolutionary by M. Gulzar Awan of history department, University of the Punjab.
  • Daily Imroaz newspaper from Lahore
  • History of Sialkot by Isfaq Niaz page 560.

External sources[edit]

  • [1] A forum discussion on Radio Himala and Iqbal Shedai.
  • [2] The Battaglione Azad Hindostan and Iqbal Shedai.
  • [3] Media at the time of Mussolini and Tucci, a fascist radio in Kabul.
  • [4] Shedai, Mussolini and the mission in Afghanistan.
  • [5] Raggruppamento "Frecce Rosse"
  • [6] The free Indian legion Chapter 3
  • [7] Page 15,16 Speech of Italian AMBASSADOR ALESSANDRO QUARONI
  • [8] Subhas Chandra Bose – Another Look Part 5
  • Battaglione Azad Hindoustan Battalion Azad Hindustan
  • [9] Radio Himalaya Discussion forum on Axis History


  1. ^ M. Phil: Thesis on Iqbal Shedai, the Revolutionary by M. Gulzar Awan of history Department, University of the Punjab.
  2. ^ Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose-Relevance to Contemporary World.
  3. ^ Shedai Papers , preserved by Late Dr. Muhammad Jamal Bhutta, The younger brother of Muhammad Iqbal Shedai.