Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan: Biography, Life, Death

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Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan is also known as Bacha Khan. He was one of the renowned Pashtun independence activists. He, along with thousands of others, fought consistently to end the rule of Britishers in the Indian subcontinent. Moreover, he was a political leader known for his nonviolent opposition to the partition and a strict advocate for Hindu-Muslim unity. The success of his peaceful methods and initiations earned him massive support from the common people. 

What was the Early Life of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan?

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan was born on the 6th of February 1890. He belonged to a Pashtun family from Utmanzai in the Peshawar Valley of British India. 

  • Khan opened a mosque school in his hometown at the age of 20. However, this school was later closed down by British authorities on suspicion of anti-British activities. 
  • He was renowned as the Frontier of Gandhi due to his stand in favour of Gandhi and his policies. 
  • From a very young age, Ghaffar Khan was engaged in improving education and literacy among the citizens.

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Khudai Khidmatgar

Abdul Ghaffar Khan worked towards the social upliftment of the Pashtun community his entire life. 

  • Khan soon realized that the lack of education could hinder the community’s growth and thus, wanted to eradicate all such barriers. 
  • The Khudai Khidmatgar was founded during the 1920s by Abdul Gaffar Khan.
  • It was also commonly referred to as Red Shirts and Servants of God.
  • The aim of Khudai Khidmatgar was to develop a secular, independent and united India.
  • Interestingly, Ghaffar Khan was a firm believer in Gandhi’s theories and ideologies. Accordingly, his Khudai Khidmatgar was based on the notions of Satyagraha and non-violence.
  • Additionally, Ghaffar Khan was arrested on April 23, 1930, during the Salt Satyagraha protest. 

Also Read: Salt Satyagraha

Ghaffar Khan and The Partition

Ghaffar Khan strongly opposed the partition of India on the basis of the Hindu Muslim community.

  • Due to his firm stance against the partition, Abdul Ghaffar Khan was accused by many politicians and assaulted, leading to being hospitalized for severe injuries.
  • He was also involved in rebellions led against the Rowlatt Act.
  • Upon joining the famous Khilafat Movement, he was subsequently elected as the president of a district Khilafat Committee in the North Western Frontier Province. 

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Later Life of Abdul Ghaffar Khan

Upon India’s partition into India and Pakistan, Khan chose to remain in Pakistan and spread the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi.

  • Khan continued to spread the theories of non-violence while parallelly advocating for an autonomous region for the Pashtun community.
  • Accordingly, his leading role in rebellions and activism resulted in imprisonment of up to seventeen years.
  • Later on, he managed to cross the border and entered Afghanistan where he lived in exile until 1972. 
  • Interestingly, he is the first non-Indian to be awarded the Bharat Ratna which is one of the highest civilian honours.  

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Death of Abdul Ghaffar Khan

During the first session of the Pakistan Constituent Assembly, Abdul Ghaffar Khan took his oath of allegiance to Pakistan. 

  • Khan promised to make attempts to support the new government and reconcile issues with Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
  • Despite the fruitful results of the first few meetings, Khan was accused of making attempts to assassinate Jinnah. These accusations were majorly made by Abdul Qayyum Khan Kashmiri, the Chief Minister of Khyber Phaktunwa.
  • To retaliate against his opposition, Bacha Khan formed the Pakistan Azad Party. 
  • It is believed that Abdul Ghaffar Khan died in the year 1988 due to a stroke during house arrest in Peshawar.
  • He was buried in Jalalabad, Afghanistan in his house. 
  • Numerous influential people including the Afghan President, Mohammad Najibullah attended his funeral to pay tributes.
  • Additionally, Rajiv Gandhi, the then-Indian President, also attended the funeral ceremony. 
  • It is also worth remembering that the government further declared a 5 day mourning period in his honour. 


Why is Abdul Ghaffar Khan famous?

Ghaffar Khan was a famous independence activist who fought to end British rule in India. He was known by many names such as Bacha Khan and Frontier Gandhi.

Why Abdul Ghaffar Khan is known as Frontier Gandhi?

Although Ghaffar Khan was a renowned fighter, he always adhered to the concept of non-violence. Throughout his life, he was closely identified with Gandhi for his peaceful way of rebelling and thus, came to be known as Frontier Gandhi.

When was Bharat Ratna given to Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan?

Ghaffar Khan was awarded with Bharat Ratna in 1987.

This was all about Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. If you want to read more articles like this, you can get Study notes on the Modern History of India here. Also, you can visit our general knowledge page on Indian History!

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