Documents indicate that the Indian Army and Hyderabad – Dn government took note of Razavi’s heavy smoking
S M Qasim Razavi, the infamous leader of the Razakars, who was imprisoned in Trimulgherry Jail, a British prison in Secunderabad constructed in the 1850s, was initially confined for 20 hours a day in his cell.
It was a time he was facing two important trials, the Shoebullah Khan murder and Bibi Nagar cases. Wielding immense influence only a couple of years before, Razavi during imprisonment in 1950 had requested the authorities that he be allowed to draw money from his frozen bank accounts for cigarettes.
In a letter handwritten in 1950, Razavi informs the jail superintendent, “I have some money deposited in the Hyderabad State Bank. The exact amount I do not remember, nor have I any papers or cheque with me. This much I remember that there is money enough to meet my petty expenses in jail, such as cigarettes and other needs.”
He proceeds to register an appeal, “Will you be kind enough to inform me whether I will be able to withdraw some money and have it deposited in jail books. If so please do the needful for the same and oblige.”
For about a couple of months, Razavi’s request finds its way on to the desks of the Home Department, Finance Department and the Hyderabad State Bank officials. Documents reflect officers deliberating whether his frozen bank accounts should be made operational, and how much money he should be permitted to withdraw each month. At one point, it was decided that Razavi should receive per month ‘no more than Rs. 15’.
In a confidential communication to the Managing Director of the Hyderabad State Bank, Assistant Secretary of the Finance Department A L Kantha Rao sought to know the balance in Razavi’s account. In another confidential letter dated April 10, 1950, Mr. Rao informs the Government of Hyderabad – Dn that Razavi’s money has been credited twice, once on the 31st of Ardibehisht and then on the 10th of Thir in 1357 Fasli, with a balance of Rs. 848.
It was later that the President of Special Tribunal IV, Trimulgherry, J A Pinto stepped in and stated that Razavi should be permitted to withdraw Rs. 40 per month, instead of Rs. 15, as suggested earlier. The same letter records that Razavi, and two others, were confined to cells for a large part of the day, the exceptions being two hours each in the morning and evening. He lifted this confinement.
Documents indicate that the Indian Army and the Hyderabad – Dn government took note of Razavi’s heavy smoking, and acknowledged it as a habit that he could not do away with. It thus described his smoking as ‘essential’.
“Accused 1 wants a recurring allowance of Rs. 40/- from his funds. He is a heavy smoker. Capt. Dr. Choudhuri when he was attending on him certified that smoking was essential to him. This is also the opinion of Col. Damle, his former medical Superintendent. I think cigarettes will cost him nearly Rs. 25/- a month,” an excerpt reads.
An apparent intercepted letter in Urdu from Razavi, later translated into English, to his wife who was then living at Robson Road in Karachi, Pakistan, reveals that he was initially given Rs. 200. In fact, cigarettes seem to be a subject of importance, as Razavi mentions it in the very first sentence.
“My dear, I received Rs. 200/- and a cigarette tin through the solicitor,” he writes.
He then proceeds to inform her that it was the second hearing of the Shoebullah Khan murder case. Khan was the editor of the Urdu publication Imroze.
Chronicler of Hyderabad and former member of the Heritage Conservation Committee Sajjad Shahid described that Qasim Razavi was a powerful orator who had scant regard for consequences. “His speeches used to whip up passions. But he lacked the foresight of a true leader, and was someone who did not consider the repercussions of his utterances,” he said.
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