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16 July 2012

Gujarati Muslim gave Rs 1 crore to Netaji

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By Saeed Khan

A businessman from Dhoraji town of Saurashtra, Memon Abdul Habeeb Yusuf Marfani, donated almost his entire fortune of Rs 1 crore to the Indian National Army.
Ahmedabad: While Gujarati businessmen donated generously for Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent freedom struggle, there were some who helped Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's Indian National Army.

A businessman from Dhoraji town of Saurashtra, Memon Abdul Habeeb Yusuf Marfani, donated almost his entire fortune of Rs 1 crore to the Indian National Army, a princely sum in those days.

The Memon family was settled in Rangoon. On July 9, 1944, when Netaji founded INA in Rangoon, Marfani was the first to come forward to contribute financially to the Azad Hind Bank. Soon, the coffer swelled with contributions from Indian expats in Rangoon and Singapore.

Historian Yunus Chitalwala says Marfani was among the first donors and Netaji expressed his gratitude by awarding him a Sevak-e-Hind medal. He was the first recipient of this award.
Marfani's gesture has been documented in various history books. Historian Raj Mal Kasliwal in his book 'Netaji, Azad Hind Fauz and After' says, "One Muslim Burmese business magnate of Rangoon donated a crore worth of cash and jewellery and offered his services to the Independence movement." After he emptied a plate full of jewellery and placed a bundle of title deeds before Bose, the leader praised the gesture saying, "Brothers! I am very happy today that people have started realizing their duties... People are ready to sacrifice everything. What Habeeb sheth has done is commendable and those who emulate him in serving the homeland are really praiseworthy."

Marfani is not the only Gujarati Muslim to have contributed to INA. Surat's Ghulam Husein Mushtaq Randeri was the recruiting officer for the army. During the recent celebration of Bose's birth centenary, Marfani's grandson Yacoob Habeeb was felicitated in New Delhi for his ancestor's action. However, these references were missing from chief minister Narendra Modi's speech on the occasion last week, when he donned the INA cap and tried hard to establish the Gujarat connection with Bose.

(Courtesy: The Times of India)

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