Tribhuwan Nath Katju is my great grandfather (father of my grandfather Dr K.N.
Katju, former Union home and law minister, Governor of West Bengal and Odisha,
and Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh). The story of the relation between him
and the then Nawab of the Indian princely state of Jaora, Nawab Iftikhar Ali
Khan, which I am recounting here, reveals the real state of relations between
Hindus and Muslims in India, and belies the false propaganda that both these
communities were intrinsically hostile to each other.
relating this, I may give the background. I am a Kashmiri Pandit. My ancestor
Pt Mansa Ram Katju migrated from Kashmir about 200 years ago and took up
service under the Nawab of Jaora.
Here I may
mention that Kashmiri Pandits are of two kinds—those who speak the Kashmiri
language (which is totally different from Hindi/Urdu), and those who don't.
Those who speak Kashmiri (their population would be about 4 Lakhs today), like
my wife, are those whose ancestors remained behind in the Kashmir Valley (until
they fled in terror in the 1990s due to the attacks and persecution by Islamic
fundamentalists). Those who don't speak Kashmiri like myself (we know only
Hindi/Urdu and English), are about 2 Lakhs today, and our ancestors had all
migrated about 150-200 years ago in exactly the same way. Since we were very
proficient in Urdu and Persian, which were the court languages in the Indian
princely states, we got jobs there. The ancestors of Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, Sir
Tej Bahadur Sapru, Dr Katju etc. all migrated that way (and not because of
1947, about two third of India was under direct British rule, and one third
under the princely states. Jaora was one of the princely states, ruled by a
As I said,
my ancestor Pt Mansa Ram Katju (great grandfather of my grandfather Dr K.N.
Katju) migrated from Kashmir about 200 years ago and took up service in the
court of the Nawab of Jaora. Today, Jaora is only a Tehsil in Ratlam district
in western MP (on the border with Rajasthan), but during British rule it was
the 4th biggest riyasat in the Central Provinces (as MP was then called), next
after Gwalior, Bhopal and Indore.
generations, my ancestors served under the Nawabs of Jaora. Pt Tribhuwan Nath
was Diwan under the then Nawab, Iftikhar Ali Khan. The two were very fond of
each other. Pt Tribhuwan Nath was about 15-20 years older than the Nawab, and
as a child the Nawab played in his lap. For several decades, Pt Tribhuwan Nath
served the Nawab loyally, and the Nawab trusted him in everything.
Tribhuwan Nath was on an evening walk, and the Nawab came near him on horseback
(he was fond of horse riding), the latter would get off his horse to wish Pt
Tribhuwan Nath, something he would not do for anyone else.
Tribhuwan Nath died in 1945 (the year before I was born). He had retired in
around 1920, but the Nawab fixed his pension at the same figure as his last
drawn salary, Rs 300 per month, which was then a huge sum. Even after retirement,
Pt Tribhuwan Nath went daily to the palace, and if he did not go due to illness
or otherwise, a messenger from the Nawab would arrive at his residence to
enquire about his welfare.
come every summer to Allahabad to spend a few months with his son Dr K.N. Katju
(who had become a top lawyer in Allahabad High Court) and his family. The last
time he came to Allahabad was in 1935 or so. At that time he received a letter
from the Nawab stating, 'Panditji, Aapke Baghair Mujhe Kuch Achcha Nahi
Lagta Hai' (Panditji, I don't feel good without you).
receiving this letter, Pt Tribhuwan Nath caught the first train and left for
Jaora, and on reaching there he went straight to the Nawab and said, "Nawab
Saheb, Aapne Yeh Baat Mujhe Pehle Kyon Nahi Batai?” (Nawab Saheb, why did
you not tell me this before?). Thereafter, for the next ten years he never left
Jaora till his death in 1945 ( at the age of 81), thinking that if he did, the
Nawab would be unhappy.
Tribhuwan Nath died in 1945, entire Jaora was in sorrow. The Nawab (who was
elder to my grandfather Dr K.N. Katju) made a public announcement that he was
the eldest son of Pt Tribhuwan Nath, so people should first come to him to pay
condolence, and only thereafter go to pay condolence to Dr K.N. Katju (who had
arrived from Allahabad).
shows how intimate and amicable were relations between Hindus and Muslims, and
the propaganda by some vested interests that they were enemies is wholly false.
Markandey Katju retired from the Supreme Court in 2011.
Headline: Original: Bonhomie between A Nawab and Diwan—An Epitome Of
Source: The Week