Khudai Khidmatgar Movement


Khudai Khidmatgar Movement was organized by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan popularly known as Bacha khan, on a non-violence approach to the socio-political problems of the people of N.W.F.P. The province due to its unique geographical location was treated by the British administration different from the rest of India. This brought social, political and economic backwardness in the Pushtoon society. Participation in the Khilafat Movement by Indian Muslims and their migration (Hijrat) towards Afghanistan brought N.W.F.P and its people in close collaboration with their brethren from rest of India. Ghaffar Khan had realized that migration is not the solution of the multifarious problems they faced.

To eradicate social evils like illiteracy, blood feud, crimes, the use of intoxicants and factionalism from the Pushtoon society, he decided to launch an Educational Program and achieve the goal purely on non-violence and non-political base. He wanted to inculcate unity among the Pushtoon society, eradicate the social evils, prevent lavish spending on the social events, promote Pushto language and literature and real love for the Islam among the Pushtoons.

To achieve his objectives, Anjumen-i-Islah-ul-Afghana, (the society for the reformation of the Afghans) was formed by Ghaffar Khan in April1, 1921. He opened the first Azad Islamia Madrassa at Utmanzai District Charsadda. On Dec 1, 1923 the Madrassa got affiliated with Jamia Millia Islamia Delhi. Later the Anjumen started publishing their own monthly journal “Pukhtoon” covering the socio-political problems of the Pushtoons.

Some members of the Anjumen suggested launching another organization on the model of the Young Turks, Young Afghans, Young Khivas and similar organization outside India, on the plea to attract the Young Pushtoon blood. On September 1, 1929 at Utmanzai another organization by the name of “Zulmo Jirga” was announced and Abdul Ghaffar Khan became its President. The two organizations served the Pushtoon society but in order to accommodate the majority of the Pushtoon another organization “Khudai Khidmatgar” was formed in November 1929. It was socio-reformist movement, struggling for peace and harmony within the society by eliminating all the mess prevailing at that time in the Pushtoon society.

This movement attracted the people from all the walks of life as every section of the society interpreted their program in their own way. For Pushtoon intelligentsia it was based upon promotion of the Pushtoon culture and elimination of the influences of big landlords; for Ulema its anti- British stand became a cause of attraction and for the poor peasants, it meant to check economic oppression of the big landlords. So, every section of the Pushtoon society saw a ray of hope in the manifesto of Khudai- Khidmatgar movement. The volunteers had to wear proper uniform of dark red color and join the routine parade.

This particular dress gave them distinction. Khudai Khidmatgars were later on were called Red Shirts and their movement as the Red Shirts Movement. Two years after its creation, the membership rose to the 200,000, which shows its fame and popularity. Later on the organization joined hands with all India Congress in N.W.F.P for their political motives and got majority in every election till through referendum the people of N.W.F.P. cast their vote in favor of Pakistan. The spirit of the movement took its last breath when it was proclaimed as a political party after the creation of Pakistan. The aims and objectives were changed and gradually people lost their interest in the movement.

This article was last updated on Monday, Jan 01, 2007