Yousuf Jafar Mehar Ali – Muslim freedom fighter, ‘Simon Go Back’ movement’s activist

‘Yousuf Jafar Mehar Ali strongly believed that that youth require ideological awareness, study of history and knowledge of the practical strategies’

Yousuf Jafar Mehar Ali was born on 3 September, 1903 in Bombay in a rich industrialist’s family. He played an active role in ‘Simon Go Back’ movement which ranked as one among the prominent fight in the history of Indian National Movement.

Criticizing the inhuman acts of the British rulers was his custom since his student days. One of his comments on the British rulers follows:

‘The British rulers are like dogs. If you kick them, they will lick you. But if you lick them, they will kick you’Yousuf Jafar Mehar Ali

He started ‘Young India Society’ in 1925 and initiated the youth movement. He held a meeting of the society on 21 January, 1928 and made resolutions in favour of ‘Total Independence’ and on ‘Boycott of Simon Commission’.

But, some of the prominent leaders of the day described the resolutions as childish activities. He retorted by saying

‘Child is a father of man’.

When Simon Commission reached Bombay and stepped down  from the ship at  Mole Station, he escaped through  the police cordon and shouted ‘Simon Go Back’. As a result, the British Government debarred him from his legal practice.

Yousuf Jafar Mehar Ali was of the view that youth require ideological awareness, study of history and knowledge of the practical strategies. Thus, he started ‘Vanguard’ weekly magazine. He also conducted training classes for youth and published several books. Because of these activities, he had to face the atrocities from the police and imprisonment several times. During one of his imprisonment periods, he fought for the rights of the under trial prisoners.

Yousuf Jafar Mehar Ali also played a vital role in getting the enactment of the Shops and Establishments Act, which benefited the shop employees. He played an active role in the Satyagraha Movement in 1940 and became famous for his slogan ‘Quit India’ in 1942, which sent shivers down  the spines of  British rulers.

Yousuf won the elections for the Bombay Legislative Assembly in March, 1948, in which he contested as a candidate of the Socialist Party. He became role model to all the peoples representatives due to his sacrifices and simple living, respecting every one of his staff on par with his colleagues.

Yousuf Jafar Mehar Ali, who played a leading role in the freedom movement, fell ill while he was in Yerawada Jail because of police torture.  He could not recover since then and breathed his last on 2 July, 1950.