Architect of Modern Malabar
C.H. Mohammed Koya was the son of Ahmed Musliyar and Mariyumma. He was born on July 15 1927 at Attoli of Calicut district. His father was a countryside doctor and a specialist in Yunani Medicine. The family had to face many hardships in their life.
At high School was his primary experience of politics. His chief mentor, both in personal life and political career, was Syed Abdur Rahman Bafaqi Thangal, to whom he was indebted for all his achievements. He took oath in the name of Allah at the legislative assembly.
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The founder of Calicut University
C.H was the main architect of Calicut University. Northern Kerala was very backward in the educational field. The university was established to uplift its people and make them capable of facing the challenges of the modern life.
The sincere statesman
Unlike the hypocritical attitude of other political parties, Indian Union Muslim League never hesitated in declaring that it stood for the interest of its community. C.H was bold enough to declare this even in his short-lived Chief Ministry.
He spoke thus while being the Chief Minister of Kerala in the assembly, “I am a sincere Muslim. I will not compromise on the privileges of my community. Nor will I snatch the rights of other communities.’
C.H. maintained good ties with the Arab leaders as well. It was following C.H.’s efforts that Arabic teachers in Kerala began to enjoy equal opportunities as their colleagues in government run schools and colleges.
‘C.H. : The Befitting Critic’ – E. Ahmed MP
“The history of Indian Muslims is incomplete without the name of Muhammad Koya” Former chief of Sharia Court, Sharjah
It is impossible to speak of CH without a personal touch because it was he who led me to active politics. I had never cherished a dream to enter politics. The only ambition in life was to become a lawyer. I would not say that he disliked me becoming lawyer, but he disallowed me. Whenever I would enter court, he would send for me.
Once during a conversation, he asked me to enter the ‘Court of people’ than the ‘Court of law’.
Some elders disliked the youthful fervor put forward by people like CH and me. We were trying to infuse new ideas and tactics. When criticism would take serious turn, I used to say to CH “why to enter these quarrels. Why not pursue a career in academics or profession?” CH replied, “My friend, tomorrow we are the ones to lead. How will that happen if we fear these old ones?” He was a true leader of today and yesterday.
In those days, there were no facilities like today. We would just follow CH. When MSF (Muslim Students Federation, the student wing of Muslim League) was formed, there were just three of us. CH was the treasurer. A co-worker and I contributed 5 rupees each to the fund. CH, the treasurer, returned them to us saying ‘In case there is no cash to buy tea after attending meetings, we will use this’. Such was our humble beginnings.
If you ask me who guided CH to this path, it was Seethi Sahib. He would do nothing without consulting him. Of course there is no doubt that it was Syed Abdur Rahman Bafaqi who raised CH giving him all the necessary essential of life. But who influenced CH intellectually was Seethi Sahib, besides Ismail Sahib (one of the founding members of Indian Union Muslim League).
It was CH who familiarized us with Ismail Sahib as unforgettable personality for the Muslims in India. After the partition, many leading Muslim personalities left for Pakistan. It was his iron-willed choice to stay back on his motherland that later paved a path for a political leadership for Muslims in India. Later when Jawaharlal Nehru asked him to dismiss the League, he replied in a convincing tone “I have no authority to do so” referring to the trust that the community had put in him.
“Let us have a mainstream of our community and let us also have to merge that mainstream with the national mainstream, keeping the identity of our community as enshrined in the constitution” wrote CH to me when he was at Delhi. ‘What a quotable quote has Ch written’ exclaimed the colleague who read the letter.
Many had accused him of being a communalist. But the same accusers addressed him as the greatest nationalist when he died. Those who called him a radical later called praised him as a broad -minded politician.
CH was persistent in fighting for the rights of his community. But at the same time he would not snatch what was due to other community. This is what CH taught us. He had to face great criticism even from his own circles.
But at the same time he had a sense humor even while facing hardships. Once a colleague asked him to correct the written speech putting commas and full stops wherever necessary. CH handed over the written paper saying “Why don’t you put the punctuations, while I write the speech!”
He would not leave anyone from criticism. Once there were rumors in the press about differences between him and then chief minister, K. Karunakaran. While talking to the press reporters, he said, “It is true that there are differences between me and chief minister. When having tea, he drinks it with sugar while I have without it.”
Once when he was the chief minister, the opposition leader said in protest, “Chief Minister, you should understand that we are sitting here as opposition”. CH replied, “Honorable opposition leader, I understand what you mean by ‘opposition’. But it not right to say ‘sitting’ opposition because you are always ‘standing opposition’. The assembly burst in laughter.
CH gave instant replies that sealed the lips of his opponents.
Although many had differences political differences with him, everyone around him enjoyed his sense of humor. Satire was the domain special to CH. His literary reviews were also full of humor. He brought to life the characters in the found novels of Vaikom Mohammed Basheer (the legendary novelist of Kerala whose works have been translated to several European languages)
Whenever his community’s prestige was questioned, CH fought back with this pen and tongue.
Once when he was the Minster of Public works, the opposition raised questions about the lack of construction of roads and bridges. CH gave a ‘befitting excuse’ to them saying, “I like to build them as soon as possible. But the honorable Chief Minister seated here does not require roads and bridges to travel. His car can go over any marshy paddy fields. But my fellow MLAs cannot do so” joked CH while hinting to the chief minister to speed up the concerned files. Even his won colleagues could not escape his criticism.
The other day we went to Delhi accepting the invitation of Ms Indira Gandhi, the then Indian prime Minister. As we reached her home, we had to wait for some time. When we saw the children playing in the compound, CH intended to play with them. When I refused, he convinced me saying “My dear friend! They are the future prime Ministers of India”. How can we forget that simplicity of CH?
The political sincerity that CH held was the path that Syed PMSA Pookoya followed, what Syed Bafaqi led and what Seethi Sahib preached.
When the Communists government came to power in Kerala, the Vasudevan Nayar, the then Chief Minister, tried to lure to CH saying “CH! How long will you sit there in opposition?” He responded immediately saying “As long as you sit there, I will be seated here”!
That was Ch. The befitting critic.
May Allah enlighten his gave. May Allah bless him with paradise. Ameen
Note: E. Ahmed’s speech at CH Memorial function organized by Sharjah KMCC at Indian Association Sharjah auditorium. E. Ahmed, the National Secretary of Indian Union Muslim League, is member of Lok Sabha and the chairman of joint Parliamentary committee on food management, member of Parliament standing committee on external affairs and member of parliament consultative committee on civil aviation.