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Varas Fadhu Piru Khalikdina

Period: (1885-1936)

Nur Muhammad was a devout Ismaili, who lived in Jimpir, Sind. His son Khalikdina however took up his abode at Jerruk. Khalikdina had three sons, Piru, Yonus and Juma. The elder son Piru, also called Pir Muhammad, was the Mukhi in Jerruk. Mukhi Piru had four sons, Fadhu, Aziz Ali, Amir Ali and Ghulam Hyder. The most prominent among them was Fadhu.

The real name of Fadhu was Fida Hussain, but he became better known as Fadhu. He was also called Fazal Ali. Fadhu was born in Jerruk on May 9, 1885. He was admitted in Alumal Trikamdas School for primary education in Karachi. He joined N.G. High School for higher education. After his father died in 1913, he had to take over charge of his father's business. He also became a Commission Agent of a British firm, Ralli Bros. Ltd. in Karachi, exporting bones.

In 1915, he was appointed the President of the Recreation Club Institute's office in Karachi. He also became the President of the Khoja Ismailia Co-operative Credit Society in 1915 with Itmadi Hashim Lalu (1880-1961) as its Hon. Secretary. In the same year, he was appointed as President of Anjuman-e-Ismailia in Hyderabad.

In 1916, while in Lahore on a business trip, he visited Delhi when he heard of the arrival of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah. The Imam granted him an audience, advising him to apply his expertise in the advancement of the community's services. He then proceeded to Lahore, and thereafter returned to Karachi.

The Imam launched a historical trip of 27 days in Karachi from April 10, 1920 and visited the Kharadhar Jamatkhana, and said, "Fadhu Piru Khalikdina has candidated for Rs. 30,000/- to open the Khoja Ismaili Dispensary in memory of his late father. I give him much blessings." The Imam performed an opening ceremony of the Fadhu Piru Khalikdina Charitable Dispensary on May 5, 1920. Mr. T.K. Unam Singh was appointed its medical officer.

On the eve of his departure from Karachi, the Imam said on Thursday, May 6, 1920 in Kharadhar Jamatkhana, Karachi that, "I give you the high title of Itmadi. Itmadi Fadhu Piru, I also appoint you a member of the Council. I have conferred an honorable title of Itmadi in young age with the membership of the Council. This title is vested after the services of several years, but I bestowed upon you the title of Itmadi in youth without performance of any (significant) service; and also appointed as member of the Council. You must render an excellent service, so that every one may admit that you deserved the title and position. I enjoin upon you the responsible work, suiting the (office of) Itmadi. Whenever Itmadi Fadhu Piru may visit in any village, the respective jamat must assist him properly in every work. Itmadi Fadhu, I command you that you do not hamper in the works of the three Councils, i.e., the Councils of Tando Muhammad Khan, Shah Turel and Sakaro. You work as an Itmadi in Sind and perform your duty properly in the Karachi Council as a member. Khanavadan."

Fadhu Khalikdina was given the assignment to travel into interior Sind in 1920 to survey and collect information of the Ismailis and their economical conditions and submit its report to the Imam. During his survey, he found many destitute children deprived of education. He brought most of them in Karachi and gave them education at his own expense.

In the meantime, he was transferred from his firm in 1922 to David Sason Company in Hyderabad, which was a bone factory. In Hyderabad, he however continued his noble services and employed many needy Ismailis.

He was also appointed the President of the Provincial Committee of the Recreation Club Institute for Sind and Baluchistan in 1922. The Recreation Club Institute organized a Missionary Conference between September 28, 1923 and September 30, 1923. In its opening session, a Subject Committee was formed with 20 members, including Fadhu Piru Khalikdina.

On July 1, 1924, the Supreme Council for Karachi elected 14 members for the School Board, in which he was also included. On August 14, 1924, he opened the new Jamatkhana in Talar, Sind. He was also nominated as the President of the Khoja Ismailia Provident Funds Society in 1932.

The Khoja Ismailia Cooperative Credit Society came into existence in Karachi in 1931 to assist the down trodden small traders. In its formative stage, there were few promoters, viz. Pir Sabzali, Varas Ghulam Hyder Varas Bandali, Varas Captain Amir Ali, Varas Hussain T. Ramzan, Rai Ghulam Hussain Khalikdina, etc. The Sukkur Barrage, officially the Lloyd Bridge, on the Indus River, about three miles below Sukkur Gorge, was the pride of Sind's irrigation system. Lt. J.G. Fife first conceived the idea of the Sukkur Barrage in 1855, but a complete scheme was not made for another 60 years. Sir Arnold Musto, an engineer was appointed to further the project. He submitted his plan to Bombay Presidency, and in April, 1923, the Secretary of State of India sanctioned it at an estimated cost of Rs. 22.5 crores. Its construction commenced in January, 1925 and was completed by December 31, 1932. His Excellency the Viceroy of India, performed its opening ceremony on January 13, 1933. He turned on switch operating the regulator and declared the canal open. It became a backbone of the economy of Sind, providing through its network of canals, irrigation to an area of 7.63 million acres, which consisted of approximately 25 percent of the total canal-irrigated area of the province. Hence, the Sukkur Barrage was converted into valuable land for the people as their crops doubled within a short period of time. The uncultivated, infertile and coarse-textured soil, began to be tilled and new crops began to flourish. The entire barrage debt of Rs. 22.5 crores, which Sind owed to the Bombay Presidency, was to be liquidated within 15 years. In its size, the Sukkur Barrage was 4725 feet wide with nearly 2000 bridges and regulators and 66 sluice gates, capable of holding water upto R.L. 194.6 feet.

The British government in Sind put 1,725,124 acres of the Sukkur Barrage on sale at an affordable rate. There was a tremendous scope for pioneering and colonization in these regions, providing opportunities for poor farmers. Due to the success of the Sukkur Barrage, the Imam told Fadu Piru Khalikdina to acquire a piece of land and to convert it into a new colony specifically for the poor Ismailis. He purchased a large area of 644 acres in a barren and infertile region in Bulgai Jodhpur railway station, near the field of Sukkur Barrage. He offered 444 acres of land to each Ismaili family, and successfully settled them with his own funds. This new settlement was named an Agricultural Colony, and subsequently the Sultanabad Agricultural Colony. On April 1, 1933, the Khoja Ismailia Cooperative Agricultural Association Ltd. came into existence to lend money to the peasants without interest. At this time, the colony was populated by 350 Ismailis and included three grocery shops and a mutton shop in the locality. In 1933, the Imam graciously sanctioned its name as the Sultanabad Colony. Fadhu Khalikdina was also made the President of Sultanabad Khoja Council in 1936. Mr. Jenkins the then Agricultural Officer in Sind, remarked that it was the second best colony of its kind.

Upon hearing of this settlement, the Hindu landowners opposed this scheme and competed to build their own colony called Pritamabad. When the objectives of the Hindus failed, they requested to open a shop in the Sultanabad colony, which was refused.

The Sultanabad Colony took Fadhu Piru Khalikdina six years to establish. He also purchased the surrounding lands as ordered by the Imam. He laboured to solve the water problem and rid the surrounding territory of dangerous animals.

Varas Khalikdina also donated 200 acres of the land to the Diamond Jubilee Trust. This land was used for welfare. The Ismailis who had come here to settle down mostly belonged to Mirpur Sakaro in the district of Thatta. Some families from Kapur, Tando Bagho and Talhar also migrated to the Sultanabad colony.

In December, 1933, the Hyderabad Council sent a delegation to Bombay to submit a humble request for the gracious didar of the Imam in Hyderabad, Sind. The delegation included Varas Karim Kassim, Fadhu Piru Khalikdina and Ghulam Ali Itmadi Ghulam Hussain, the President of the Council.

In a mehmani in Hasanabad Bombay on January 3, 1934, the Imam said to Fadhu Piru that, "You have built the Sultanabad and also serve in other places. How many people are in Sultanabad?" To which he answered, "350 Ismailis and 150 non-Ismailis." The Imam asked, "How much land do you have in possession?" He said, "700 acres have been acquired at different rates for 43 families. They are working cooperatively on 600 acres of land." The Imam said, "You have worked hard. Partnership is an ideal situation. It is beneficial and all will become land-owners gradually." The Imam also asked, "What is the rate of the land?" He said, "Rs. 125/- per acre. The region was a barren jungle. It has been transformed into good condition with your best blessings." The Imam continued to say that, "The time is very critical. Progress will be made not promptly but slowly. It will take 5 to 10 years. Keep applying the Persian language. There will be prosperity when Sind will be separated and many people will come there." The Imam also said, "I have tried hard for the separation of Sind. Everything occurred in Sind. Aga Hasan Ali Shah also arrived in Sind at first. I was also born in Sind." Fadhu said, "The Muslims are still in the rear of education in Sind" The Imam said, "When the Muslims will be educated, they will defend their religion and none will waver in their faith." The Imam said to Varas Khalikdina's son Ashiq Ali, "Have courage like your father and keep serving."

During the above mehmani, the Imam declared new appointments of the Council for Tando Mohammed Khan, in which six new members were added. Three of these belonged to the Sultanabad Colony, namely Fadhu Piru Khalikdina, Juma Nandu and Allana Arab. The Imam also appointed five new members for the Sind School Board, including Fadhu Piru Khalikdina.

On January 3, 1934, a banquet was hosted at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay for Fadhu Piru in honour of his meritorious services by Rai Alidina Ali Mohammed, Kamadia Merali Alarakhia, Mukhi Hoodbhai Mukhi Saluani, Major Ghulam Hussain Khalfan, Varas Mohammed Remu and other dignitaries of Bombay.

During his visit to Bombay, Fadhu Piru initiated a fundraising drive to collect donations for the school in Sultanabad. He presented a list of donors to Prince Aly S. Khan on January 13, 1934 at Hasanabad. Prince Aly S. Khan was delighted and blessed the donors.