Remembering Khizar Hayat Tiwana : The Tribune India

Remembering Khizar Hayat Tiwana

It was on March 2, 1947, exactly 70 years ago that Malik Sir Khizar Hayat Tiwana, the Premier of pre-Partition Punjab demitted office by suddenly resigning.

Remembering Khizar Hayat Tiwana

R.K. Kaushik

It was on March 2, 1947, exactly 70 years ago that Malik Sir Khizar Hayat Tiwana, the Premier of pre-Partition Punjab demitted office by suddenly resigning. Tiwana had taken over as the Premier of Punjab on December 31, 1942, after the untimely death of Sir Sikandar Hayat, the Premier from March 23, 1937 to December 29, 1942. 

Sir Khizar Hayat belonged to the present-day district Sargodha (earlier named Shahpur). The family owned one lakh acres of land and such was their pomp and opulence that they also owned 1,200-strong cavalry named Tiwana Lancers. So dapper and glamorous  was the dress of the Tiwana Lancers that at the Delhi Darbar in December, 1911, the British King George V too wore that dress. 

Tiwana inherited the paternalistic outlook and trappings of power associated with a feudal chief. His army service strengthened his devotion to the crown. He lived on 22, Queen's Road, Lahore. After March 1946, Tiwana headed a coalition government in the Punjab Assembly. His party, the Unionist Party, had 18 seats in the 175-member Assembly. He was so popular that he was supported by both the Congress and the Akali Dal in the pre-Partition Punjab Assembly.

Obstacle in creation of Pakistan

It was in 1947 that the Punjab Muslim League, led by the Nawab of Mamdot, declared him as biggest obstacle in the creation of Pakistan. Tiwana was secular, honest, humble and courteous. He was also magnanimous, kind-hearted and polished in his interaction with others. Nobody had ever seen him losing his temper.

Some instances showcase his personality and character traits in an apt manner. K.H. Handerson, a 1930 batch ICS officer, was the additional secretary to the Premier and Kewal Singh Chaudhary, a 1938 batch ICS officer, was the Deputy Commissioner, Shimla. Tiwana, the Premier, was staying in his bungalow in Shimla. Handerson rang up the DC Shimla Kewal Singh Chaudhary to seek permission  to take  the Premier's newly imported Rolls Royce car to the Mall Road and Ridge areas of Shimla. The British Government had permitted only the Governor-General and Viceroy, Commander- in-Chief India and the Governor, Punjab, to take their vehicles to the Mall and the Ridge. No other person was allowed to do so. The Deputy Commissioner refused permission and told Handerson that violaters are arrested by his orders. Handerson tried to persuade Chaudhary but failed. However, when Handerson  informed  Premier Tiwana, he smiled and agreed to obey the Deputy Commissioner's orders. 

Setting a precedent

A few day passed by and while in Lahore he asked Akhtar Hussain, the Chief Secretary, Punjab,  to issue a letter of appreciation to Chaudhary for  setting a good precedent for his successors. Tiwana never used government vehicles and never drew his salary. He had a fleet of more than 100 foreign cars and many officers (around 28) up to the rank of Assistant Secretary in Lahore were provided cars by him.  He had ordered that wheat, rice and pure desi ghee was to be given on a monthly basis to all his staff members upto his khidmatgars (peons) free of cost. 

Nazar Tiwana, his only son, was going from Lahore to Amritsar with his driver when their car hit a temple priest at Jallo village (now in Pakistan). The priest was injured. Though the injury was a minor one, a case was registered at the  police station in Jallo. Nazar Tiwana and his driver were duly arrested for rash driving by orders of the Premier. Nazar was a student of Atichison College and had to remain in jail for 10 days before he was bailed out by Justice Mehar Chand Mahajan of the Lahore High Court. 

The Revenue Minister of Punjab in 1946, Nawab Muzzafer Ali Khan, approached Tiwana for the nomination of his son into the provincial civil services. Tiwana interviewed all the candidates personally and did not select his dear friend's son. When Nawab Muzaffer Ali met him and threatened to resign, Tiwana said that other candidates were also his sons and all were equal for him. 

He dismissed the civil surgeon and senior medical officer of Ambala in 1945, when he received a complaint from a labourer that his wife was not properly attended to during her delivery. She had suffered medical complications  and was paralysed while delivering a child. 

A turning point

Tiwana resigned on March 2, 1947, when at the residence of  the Education Minister, Punjab, Ibrahim Khan Barq he was introduced to the latter's eight-year-old son, a student of St. Anthony's Convent School, Lahore. The boy said to him, "Are you the same Khizar Tiwana uncle who is an obstacle in the creation of the Muslim State of Pakistan? I will not shake hands with you". The Education Minister got embarrassed but Khizar Hayat Tiwana had an attack of tachycardia. He told Sardar Swaran Singh the then Development Minister that: "I could go on fighting with the Muslim League, but if our children feel that we are the villains of the piece, then let us disappear and let whatever happens, happen". He resigned as the Premier. Jinnah boisterously announced the next day that Pakistan stands created and there is no obstacle now.  Tiwana lived in Shimla and Delhi after Independence, before shifting to Kalra Estate in Sargodha district (Pakistan) and died on January 19, 1975 at Chico in Glean County in California.    

The author is an IAS officer of the Punjab cadre

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