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Journalists Remember Martyred Scribe Mohammad Baqar who Covered 1857 Revolt

Due to his journalistic activities, Maulvi Baqar was tied to the mouth of a large gun and blown to bits at Delhi Gate, said one of the speakers.

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Delhi: There is a need today to popularise the sacrifice of Maulvi Mohammad Baqar, the first journalist to have been martyred by the then British government for his role in the 1857 rebellion through his newspaper Delhi Urdu Akhbar, said noted writer and academic Syed Asghar Wajahat on Friday.

Delivering the first Maulvi Mohammad Baqar Memorial Lecture, organised by the Press Club of India, Wajahatformer professor of Hindi, Jamia Millia University, said that Maulvi Baqar’s contributions in the field of journalism must be propagated through various languages to make the nation aware of his works.

September 16 was the 165th martyrdom day of Maulvi Baqar and he made Delhi Urdu Akhbars office in Delhi the nerve-centre of the 1857 struggle for Independence, said Shafi Kidwai a retired official from the Indian Council of Historical Research(ICHR).

According to a press release by the Press Club of India, Kidwai, speaking at the event, said that Maulvi Baqar had no modern technology like the internet and mobile phones, and even the telegraph, which was available to English media in those times. Nevertheless, he managed to publish news on anti-British activities that were taking place in Assam, Bihar, and Tamil Nadu.

The speakers pointed out the crucial role played by the Urdu press in India’s freedom struggleThe Delhi Urdu Akhbar was the leading among the few Urdu newspapers published back then; it published stories of revolt against the British from the field. Due to his journalistic activities, Maulvi Baqar was tied to the mouth of a large gun and blown to bits at Delhi Gate, said Senior Urdu journalist and writer Masoom Murabadi.

Press Club of India President Umakant Lakhera said that the way Maulvi Baqar was killed for using his pen for the country's freedom, in the present day, Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan is suffering in prison. Lakhera said Kappan was on his way to Hathras in Uttar Pradesh to cover a story of the rape and death of a young Dalit girl, but he was arrested. He was granted bail by the Supreme Court, but he has not been released even after over 10 days have passed.

Noting that several things about the 1957 revolt would not have reached people if Maulvi Baqar had not reported them, senior journalist AU Asif said, “The present government has made news coverage difficult for journalists, but we need to follow in the footsteps of Maulvi Baqar to perform our journalist duties and cover the developments despite adverse circumstances.”

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