Vol. 5 Num 56 Wed. July 21, 2004  

Lest we forget
Nawab Ali Sarwar Khan
A man of qualities

Time never stops, it ticks away. People are born, play their part and pass away to the next world. Soon memories too fade away. This is the way of the world. But, some people leave their indelible imprints behind and are remembered for their work and contributions. On the 9th death anniversary of my father Nawab Ali Sarwar Khan these thoughts crisscross my mind. Going through his life remembering the words he spoke and the things he did, the values and principles he espoused and strove for, the visions and ideas that he held, I am more than convinced he was no ordinary man and was special in many ways to the people and region he belonged to and his family.

My father Nawab Ali Sarwar Khan was the third and the youngest child of Nawab Ali Haider Khan of Prithimpassa, Langla (Kulaura). He was born on 15 May 1924 in Kolkata, went to school in Shillong, and later went to Aligarh Muslim University. After completing his education he settled down in his father's estate at Prithimpassa and assisted his father in the development and progress of the estate. He had especial interest in tea, so he focused on the tea estate of the family and there he developed his skills and expertise and contributed greatly to the development of the tea estates. Historically too, the family had special affiliation with tea as an industry. My great grand father Nawab Ali Amjad Khan was one of the pioneers of tea plantation in the country and in the late 19th century set up Rungicherra Tea Estate in Moulvibazar district, one of the earliest tea estates of the country.

Since coming to Prithimpassa my father showed interest in other areas too, like politics. This too was basically ingrained in him through the family's long involvement with politics. In the 30s and 40s, my grandfather as a leader of United Muslim Party played a pivotal role in the cabinets of Sir Syed Muhammad Sadullah, Premier and G. Bardalai, Premier, of Assam. In the referendum which led to the separation of Sylhet to become a part of East Pakistan my grandfather's role was momentous having far-reaching impacts. So, naturally this environment rubbed off on my father and soon he was a political leader in his own rights. He had the innate qualities that a politician needs to make his mark and those were the charisma and communication skills. Quickly through his sincerity, honesty and sense of empathy with concomitant hard work he touched people, won their hearts. As days went by he immersed himself more and more into politics and eventually joined Awami League. From Awami League he contested the elections in 1970 and 1973 and won hands down. They were testimony to his endearing personality and popularity. He developed his political instincts in the course of his life with his father and political elite he came across. Hussain Shaheed Shuhar-wardy also had enduring influence on his mind and thoughts and added to the culmination of the political direction he embarked upon.

He had many other qualities and one was his mastery over musical instruments while he was gifted with a melodious voice. Fashion was another area he had mastered and was envy of all. His collection proved without doubts the sartorial elegance he had attained. He was a voracious reader and collector of books. All kinds of books were on his shelves. He was a connoisseur of antiques and our ancestral home was filled with rare pieces collected from different places and sources. His knowledge of fire-arms, hunting was astonishing. He excelled in marksmanship.

During his tenure as Member of Parliament he contributed to total development of his area and it was due to his farsightedness and single minded efforts that electricity was introduced and the villages were lit up in 1974. This and abundant other consequential matters he undertook and positive efforts prove that he was a visionary leader with a mind focused on balanced development in all essential areas. He never relented till he accomplished his mission. He faced challenges with fortitude and conviction. During the liberation war of 1971 he was Member of Parliament from Kulaura constituency and later member of the Constituent Assembly after the liberation of Bangladesh. During the war of liberation he played a very important role giving leadership and direction in his sector. Today the people remember him for his leadership, honesty and selflessness. On his 9th death anniversary (he passed away on July 21, 1995) I express my profound gratitude and love.