Syed Hasan Imam

Syed Hasan Imam


Bombay, 1918 (Special Session)

Hasan Imam, son of lmdad Imam, and younger brother of Sir Ali Imam, was born at Neora in Patna on 31 August 1871. A Shia Muslim by faith, he belonged to a distinguished and educated middle class family.

After a course of schooling, interrupted frequently by ill-health, he left for England in July 1889 and joined the Middle Temple. While there he campaigned actively for Dadabhai Naoroji during the General Election of England in 1891. He was called to the Bar in 1892; he returned home the same year and started practice in the Calcutta High Court. From 1908 onwards he took part in political affairs. In October 1909, he was elected President of the Bihar Congress Committee and in the next month he presided over the fourth session of the Bihar Students' Conference.

Hasan Imam became a Judge of the Calcutta High Court. On the establishment of the Patna High Court in March 1916, Imam resigned from Calcutta High Court and started practice at Patna. He resumed political activity on a larger scale after resigning in 1916.

Hasan Imam was one of the prominent Indian leaders who called upon Montagu, the Secretary of State for India, in November 1917 and was listed by him among "the real giants of the Indian Political World". He presided over the special session of the Indian National Congress held at Bombay, 1918 to consider the Montagu - Chelmsford Reforms Scheme. It was an important, but difficult session to handle because opinion was sharply divided on the merits of the scheme. Hasan Imam played a moderating role.

In 1921, he was nominated a Member of the Bihar and Orissa Legislative Council.

A staunch constitutionalist he was opposed to the ideology of the Non-Cooperation Movement. Hasan Imam took a leading part in the Khilafat Movement. He joined the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930 and was elected Secretary of the Swadeshi League, formed in Patna.

He actively campaigned for the boycott of foreign goods and use of Khaddar. Earlier in 1927, he "materially conduced to the success" of the boycott of the Simon Commission in Bihar. Hasan Imam was a strong advocate of social reforms, particularly the amelioration of the position of women and the depressed classes.

As a member of the Tikari Board of Trustees, he promoted schemes for girls' education. He exposed the economic exploitation of the country, both under the Company and the Imperial rule. He was President of the Board of Trustees of the Beharee, the leading English daily of Bihar; he was also one of the founders of the succeeding Searchlight.

He died on 19 April 1933 and lies buried at Japala, District Shahabad.

“The traditions that we of the present generation have inherited from those that founded and established this great national organisation are of perseverance in the face of even tremendous opposition, and today it stands acknowledged as the champion of the rights of the Indian people. Those traditions are dear to us and we cherish them.

We know no extremists and we know no moderates, names that have been devised by ‘our enemies’ to divide us. We know only one cause and we have only one purpose in view. Our demand is the demand of a United India, and so long as our rights are denied to us we shall continue the struggle! Unchained in soul - though manacled in limb. Unwarped by prejudice - unawed by wrong. Friends to the weak and fearless of the strong”.

From the Presidential Address - Syed Hasan Imam I.N.C. Session, 1918, Bombay (Special Session)

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