Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, famously referred to as the ‘Frontier Gandhi’, was born in the year 1890 in Utmanzai in present-day Pakistan. From a young age, Khan was involved in efforts to improve education and literacy among Indians. At the age of twenty, he founded the first of several schools.
Role in India’s Independence Movement:
Khan was a prominent Pashtun leader who was an active member of the independence movement, beginning with his role in the agitations against the Rowlatt Act where he met Mahatma Gandhi. As a result of his activism, he was imprisoned and tortured several times between 1920 and 1947.
In 1929, he began the non-violent Khudai Khitmatgar or Red Shirt Movement. The movement aided the Congress party until partition in 1947.
Contribution to Constitution Making:
Khan was elected to the Constituent Assembly from the North West Frontier Province on a Congress party ticket. He was not an active member in the debates, although he was a member of the Advisory Committee.
Khan vehemently opposed partition and chose to remain in Pakistan. Deeply influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, he continued to espouse the ideal of non-violence while advocating for an autonomous region for the Pashtun community. His activism in Pakistan resulted in repeated imprisonment over the course of seventeen years. He later crossed the border into Afghanistan, where he lived in exile until 1972.
In 1987, he became the first non-Indian to be awarded India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna.
Khan died on 20th January 1988 in Peshawar and was laid to rest in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
His notable works include his autobiography My Life and Struggle : Autobiography of Badshah Khan and Ideas of a Nation.
Member, Advisory Committee.
In one of his only speeches in the Assembly, Khan expressed his deep regret that the Muslim league was not a part of the Constituent Assembly debates and declared his support for the principle of non-violence.