Dada Amir Haider Khan


Communist activist in the Indian subcontinent The autobiography of Dada Amir Haider Khan, published by Pakistan Study Centre University of Karachi in two volumes, reminiscences his panoramic view of the world of his times right from the age of 14, when he left the shores of Bombay as a coal-boy on a ship, to his return to his homeland. Having had experiences of numerous countries, Dada became a naturalised American. His association with the American Communist Party enabled him to go to Moscow soon after 1917 revolution. Dada also attended the Communist International moot in 1919, finding time to join the University of the Peoples of the East for a two-year course. Dada went to China, Europe, North America and South America and in particular Brazil and Argentina and looked at the working conditions of working classes of these places. In March 1929, Dada escaped arrest in the Meerut Conspiracy Case and made his way to Moscow. After his return he carried on the political work all over South India under the pseudonym of Shankar. He set up the Young Workers League. The British arrested Dada in 1932 and sent him to jail. After his release in 1938 he started open public political activities in Bombay. The left wing of the Congress elected him to the Indian National Congress's Bombay Provincial Committee. Re-arrested in 1939, Dada was interned in Nasik jail where he wrote first part of his memoirs. In 1942, he was the last of the Communists to be released. He worked for the Trade Union in Bombay. On the eve of Pakistan Dada arrived to look after local party work. Lahore was the nucleus of his activities. He safely repatriated Hindu families during the partition riots. In 1949, Dada was arrested from the Party office Rawalpindi under the Communal Act and released after 15 months. When Pakistani government launched operation as a result of the Rawalpindi Conspiracy case, Dada moved to Lahore fort and was imprisoned along with several left-wingers including Faiz Ahmad Faiz. Dada was released after the Pakistan Times and the Imroze launched a campaigned to help set him free. In 1958 when Ayub Khan imposed martial law, Dada was arrested and interned in Rawalpindi jail where he spent a long time. The first part of Dada's autobiography appeared in India during his visit there after serving a long jail term in Pakistan. He records his meetings with his old friends in India and about the working class movement and Indian Communist Party. His political consciousness records all significant moves and events in his time from progressive viewpoint. Dada donated his land and built a Boys High School in his village. He also established a Girls School with a science laboratory. Born in a remote village in Rawalpindi Dada Amir Haider Khan became an orphan at an early age. In 1914, he joined British merchant navy in Bombay transferring to the US Merchant Marine in 1918. He met an Irish nationalist who introduced him to anti-British political ideas. Dada Amir Haider Khan passed away in Rawalpindi. Chains to Lose: Life and Struggles of a Revolutionary: Memoirs of Dada Amir Haider Khan, by Hassan Gardezi, published by Patriot Publishers, 1989. ISBN 8170500974 Chains to Lose: Dada Amir Haider, edited by Hassan N Gardezi, Pakistan Study Centre, Karachi University, 2007 (2 Volumes)

Compiler: M. Nauman Khan

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