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Rediscovering the role of forgotten freedom fighter and diplomat Syud Hossain

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Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

A freedom fighter, a passionate journalist, an editor and later a diplomat, Syud Hossain was a man who remained devoted to his motherland and dedicated himself to the cause of freedom struggle but was quickly forgotten after his death. 

Hossain, who was born in Kolkata, was a contemporary of Maulana Azad, and led an extraordinary life. However, there was lack of adequate information about him in public space. Asad Faisal Farooqui, who is based in Aligarh, has finally come up with a voluminous and much-needed book on the freedom fighter.

The book sheds light on Syud Hossain's life and struggle. Though born iand brought up in an aristocratic household, the nationalistic fervour propelled Syud Hossain towards the freedom movement. He quit his job. He later went to study law. Also, he wrote for major newspapers and was invited by Motilal Nehru to edit 'The Independent'.

Due to his passion and fiery journalism, it soon became the most important paper in North India. But these are just a few aspects of his life. From his association with the Home Rule movement, Khilafat Movement and going to USA on Gandhi's insistence to turn public opinion in favour of India's independence in America, Syud Hossain's life has many phases. 

The book titled 'Syud Hossain: Hindustan Ka Ek Daanishwar Mujahid-e-Azadi' [Syud Hossain: India's intellectual freedom fighter] focuses on the different phases of his life, as well as his personality and his achievements. Farooqui delves deep into documents, brings out his correspondence and also contacts his kin in Bangladesh and brings to fore the aspects of his life that have not got due attention. 

It's indeed a tragedy that he is often remembered mostly for his relationship with Vijay Lakshmi Pandit and their companionship. The couple was forced to separate at the instance of leading national leaders. Hossain deserves to be remembered and known for his writings as well as his role in independence movement.

In this book, Farooqui has tried to bring almost all the information about Syud Hossain's eventful life. There is information and there are anecdotes along with photographs and citations. Hossain had also published Urdu and English newspapers from USA. The fact is that Hossain was a man of exceptional qualities. Even early in his life as a journalist, his articles were widely read and had impact on the leading personalities of the country.

Gandhi and Motilal Nehru regarded him and he was close to Sarojini Naidu as well as other prominent leaders of the era. He was sent back from Gibraltar, when he was on way to Britain. In America, he went from state to state, and gave speeches in support of India's cause for freedom. 

After independence too, Syud Hossain was appointed as India's evoy to Egypt. His stint was remarkable as he endeared himself to people in the region and played an important role in furthering India's interests in the emerging Middle East that was also coming out of colonial rule. After his death, he was buried in Cairo. The book that runs into nearly 700 pages, is in Urdu and it is available at Amazon