Shaukat Usmani

Shaukat Usmani (Maulla Bux Usta) (1901–1978) was an early Indian communist, who was born to artistic USTA family of Bikaner and a member of the émigré Communist Party of India, established in Tashkent in 1920, and a founding member of the Communist Party of India (CPI) when it was formed in Kanpur in 1925. He was also the only candidate to the British Parliament contesting elections, while he was residing in India—that too in a prison. He was sentenced to a total of 16 years in jail after being tried in the Kanpur (Cawnpore) Case of 1923 and later the Meerut Conspiracy Case of 1929.

M.N. Roy, an ex-member of the Anushilan Samiti, a powerful secret revolutionary organization operating in East Bengal in the opening years of the 20th century, went to Moscow by the end of April 1920, and soon after founded the émigré Communist Party of India at Tashkent on 17 October 1920. The fledgling party became a part of Communist International (Comintern) in 1921. Usmani had been a very early leading activist of the émigré Communist Party of India.

M.N. Roy was sent by Lenin to Tashkent as head of Central Asiatic Bureau of Comintern as well as the Indian Military School to train an Indian army of revolutionaries. The Indian Military School was closed in April 1921, as a quid pro quo for industrial assistance that Britain promised to Soviet Russia, under Anglo-Russian Trade Pact in March 1921. But before its closure, the School indoctrinated many Muslim volunteers(muhajireens) who were on their way to Turkey to fight for the restoration of Caliphate. After the closing down of the School, the Comintern started Communist University of the Toilers of the East in Moscow. Usmani was one of the muhajireens who was tutored both at Moscow as well as at Tashkent.

Early in 1922 thirteen Indians belonging to the émigré Indian Communist Party crossed the Pamirs and reached India. They were all arrested and put in jail in Moscow-Peshawar conspiracy case. Usmani was not in this group, but a later batch, upon many of whom the British government clamped the Kanpur conspiracy case. The Tashkent-Moscow alumni who had dispersed all over the country did not have a smooth working relationship with the local leadership in India under S.A. Dange, Muzaffar Ahmed S.S. Mirajkar, S.V. Ghate etc.

At the same time a different kind of tension was building up between the Communist Party of Great Britain and the émigré communists. As a result, four members of the émigré CPI, including Usmani, went to attend the sixth congress of Comintern without seeking émigré Communist Party of India's nomination. All these tensions did not come into open because of the strict police surveillance. By this stage, Usmani was operating underground under the nom de guerre of Sikander Sur; his Comintern code name was D A Naoroji (sometimes wrongly rendered as Naoradji).

After Peshawar in 1922, two more conspiracy cases were instituted by the British government, one in Kanpur (1924) and Meerut (1929). The accused in the cases included, among others, important Communist organisers who worked in India, such as S.A. Dange, Muzaffar Ahmad, Nalini Gupta and S.V. Ghate, and members of the émigré party, such as Rafiq Ahmad and Shaukat Usmani.

This page was last edited on 14 May 2018, at 08:41 (UTC).
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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