When the nation was fighting the English rule and our heroes were giving up their lives, there was one such unsung hero in Ludhiana who had raised his voice against the concept of having different waters for people from different religions.
In 1929, Maulana Habib-ur-Rahman Ludhianvi had dared to raise his voice against one of the many 'divide and rule' policies of British officials. Standing at the Ghaas Mandi Chowk, he had opposed the move to install two separate water pitchers for Hindus and Muslims at the Ludhiana railway station. His cry brought all the city residents together and their protest forced the authorities to replace the two pitchers with one single pitcher that was marked 'Sabka paani ek hai'.
Maulana, who spent 14 years in jails at Shimla, Multan, Ludhiana and Ambala, was a close friend of Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru and was strongly opposed to the two-nation theory. "Till the last moment, when Pt Nehru and Vallabhai Patel went for meeting to decide India's future, dadajaan took a promise from Nehru that he will not sign the Partition papers. But, Nehruji was not able to withstand the pressure. He told dadajaan after returning that he had no other option there," says Rahman.
His residence, situated on Habib road is today a preserved legacy as it was here that national freedom leaders Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhash Chander Bose spent days to conduct meetings. "In 1936, Pt Nehru came to our home and then went to Bhaini Sahib with my grandfather. Nehru was the prison mate of dadajaan," says Atiq-ur-Rahman, grandson of the unsung hero, who also spent his days in prison with Lala Lajpat Rai.
Subhash Chander Bose, who was a good friend of Habib-ur-Rahman's elder son Maulana Khalil-ur-Rahman, stayed at their home in Ludhiana for three days and was escorted to Peshawar by him. "The British government came to know that my tayajaan had escorted Bose to Peshawar and was sentenced for seven years," Atiq-ur-Rahman says.
Narrating one of the conversations of Maulana with Lala Lajpat Rai, Rahman recalls: "My father told me that once Lalaji told my grandfather that he should learn English. To this, my grandfather said mujhe angrezi bhaasha se ghulami ki badboo aati hai, Lalaji."
So powerful was the trust of Nehru on Maulana that after Independence, he was made the goodwill ambassador from India to Muslim nations. On his visit to Saudi Arabia in 1952, due to his close friendship with Saudi king Shah Sahood Awal, he was able to build a strong bond of trust and understanding between Saudi Arabia and India.
"Sahir Ludhianvi too was a follower of my grandfather. He used to spend good time with him," adds Atiq-ur-Rahman, who now runs a garment shop and a small hotel in Field Ganj. With Nehru and Maulana enjoying close ties, he always proved to be his one-man army for lobbying with the Muslims in favour of Congress. A complete Congress loyalist, Maulana always garnered Muslim support for Congress. "Mohammad Ali Jinnah told dadajaan many times to support Pakistan, but he never did," says Rahman.
When Maulana died of an illness in 1956, Pt Nehru ordered that he be buried in the graveyard near New Delhi's Jama Masjid, where only freedom fighters were laid to rest. "We visit his grave often. We also have an ancestral home in Kucha Rehmani, Chandni Chowk, where all Congress leaders used to meet and discuss strategies," tells Atiq-ur-Rahman.
On being asked if the family is planning to move from the ancestral home in Ludhiana, located in now one of the most congested and under developed areas of the city, Rahman emotionally says, "We cannot even think of leaving this home. It is our legacy, the memories of greatness of my grandfather lies here intact forever. How can we leave it?"
He added that his maternal family, which moved from Ludhiana during Partition, now lives in Tobateksingh in Pakistan. "My maternal uncle M. Hamza, who was a student of SCD Government College for Boys here, is now a member of Pakistan assembly," he says.