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85. Pir Muhammad V. Madhani, Lt. Col. - page 338

Pir Muhammad V. Madhani, Lt. Col.

He was born most probably in 1896. Nothing is known about his early life, except that he was known as Pir Muhammad Virji Hajiani in the prime of life. His appearance in the arena of the community services began in 1910, when he dwelt in Kandi Mola, Bombay, and found there not a single religious school. Master Ghulam Hussain Muhammad came forward and prepared a scheme for imparting religious education to the wandering children. But his scheme could not be materialized. It was Pir Muhammad V. Madhani to shake hand with this noble cause and started the school. He served it as a Head Master for a period of 18 months.
This was the humble commencement and his feelings roused him to achieve further success. In 1915, an ideal association of enthusiastic young persons, known as The Young Ismaili Vidhiya Vinod Club came into existence, which offered him its membership, which he accepted in 1916. During the three subsequent years from 1916 to 1919, he was elected the President of V.V. Club with Abdullah Jaffer Lakhpati as an Honorary Secretary. He arranged lecture programme on every Saturday on different topics, and encouraged the promising scholars.

With the co-operation of the members of the V.V.Club, he succeeded to erect the first Ismaili Volunteer Corps in Bombay, a well organized disciplined institution of heroic social workers. Attired in uniforms for the first time on November 19, 1919, they made their first appearance on duty. They however performed their first official duty when the Imam graciously arrived in Bombay from Europe on March 2, 1920. Pir Muhammad V. Madhani acted as its Vice-Captain, and became a Captain in 1920. In their mehmani, the Imam blessed them and accepted the coveted post of colonelship for himself. The volunteers also prepared a costly military dress of a colonel and humbly presented to the Imam. The Imam and Prince Aly Khan became the patrons of the newly formed corps. The Imam also gave them in Yervada Palace the Coat-of-Arms (the royal monogram) to be worn in the caps.

In a general meeting held on July 8, 1920, the rules and regulations of the Volunteer Corps were ordained for the first time. On that juncture, about 81 youths enrolled themselves as the volunteers.

In 1920, the Imam landed on the shore of Kutchh. Unfortunately, a steamboat carrying the ornaments and important documents began to sink. It was a cool weather at about 3.00 a.m. Lt. Col. Pir Muhammad Madhani risked his life and brought the steamboat ashore safely. When it was reported to the Imam, he said, 'It was a trial for him.'
In 1922, he became one of the members of the Supreme Council for Kathiawar. In 1926, the Imam awarded him 'Good Service Gold Medal' for his efficient services. In 1927, heavy floods with the worst inundation devastated Kathiawar and Gujrat. He girded up his loins and visited the affected areas with his officers. He studied the situation first hand on the spot and collected funds for the relief of the Ismailis. The Imam granted him Gold Medal for his meritorious services.

He was also one of the eight promoters in whose name the Ismailia Cooperative Bank Ltd was registered. In its preliminary general meeting, Pir Muhammad was elected one of the members of the Managing Board. For 15 long years he was elected a director of the Board. During his period, twice he was elected its Hon. Secretary and for 5 years he was the Chairman of the Loan Committee. Besides, he represented the bank at the Girgaum Cooperative Bank, the mother of all cooperative banking movements. He retired from the Co-operative Bank in 1944 because of the strain of works in other walks of life.

Lord Irwin, the then Viceroy and governor-general of India arrived at Bombay in 1930. The Police Commissioner of Bombay sought the good offices of the volunteer Corps through him for a dozen selfless volunteers to act as C.I.D. officers. He fulfilled the call of duty unhesitatingly and willingly.

In 1931, Prince Aly Khan visited India. Lt. Col. Pir Muhammad supervised the management of crowd control, keeping order and discipline. He visited other parts of India with Prince Aly Khan. Pleased with his dedicated services, Prince Aly Khan awarded him the Prince Aly Shah God Medal. In the same year, he became the Chief Captain. On the occasion of a special visit of Prince Aly Khan with Lt. Col. Pir Muhammad with his family at Darkhana, Prince Aly Khan announced, 'Captain is nearer and dearer to us than our bosom.' On another occasion, Prince Aly Khan presented him a lovely tiny box of gold with an autograph engraved thereon the words: 'For faithful and good service'. In this year, Prince Aly Khan promoted him to the Chief Captainship and announced that, 'We shall promote you to the designation of Commander-in-Chief in future.'

The Imam appointed him the Major of Bombay Volunteer Corps, Bombay Momana Volunteer Corps and Thana Volunteer Corps on February 29, 1936. The Ismaili Council also enjoined upon all the scout troops of Bombay and Suburbs to perform duty under the control of Lt. Col. Pir Muhammad. The Ladies and Gents volunteers, Divisions and Sections, Scout troops and Girls Guides were also brought to his control. He was awarded Golden Jubilee Gold Medal by the Imam for his efficient services during the Golden Jubilee in 1936.

He was also a member of H.H. The Aga Khan's Bombay Gymkhana and Industrial Home for three years. In 1939, the latter gave him 'At Home' - an honor in appreciation of his services.

In 1939, the Ladies Volunteer Corps of the Darkhana, Kandi Mola and Hasanabad jamats performed separate services of keeping crowd control at their local jamats only and so, at times, it would be difficult to manage the functions efficiently. He chalked out a scheme for the amalgamation of these separate organizations into one compact body and forwarded it for the kind approval of the Imam. His scheme was sanctioned and the three separate corps' were united under one unit. He formed an Advisory Board of three members including himself to guide and manage the affairs of the Ladies Volunteer Corps.

In 1939, the world war broke out, and it engulfed the whole world into a vortex of death and destruction, therefore, the Air Raid Precautions were necessary in India. Lt.Col. Pir Muhammad Madhani also raised an Ismaili A.R.P. from among the volunteers and scouts in Bombay and arranged its training by himself.

In 1940, the Bombay Police Department appointed him as the Deputy Divisional Warden of Chinch Bunder North Area and Mandavi North Area. He held the post till the end of the world war in 1945.

In 1940, a terrible famine hit the country. The scepter of famine raised its devilish head in many parts of India. In this catastrophe many Ismailis also suffered. The Ismaili Famine Relief Fund was erected at Bombay, where he also took an active role as its member.

In 1941, the communal riots broke out, he was appointed Street Warden by the Police Department to assist in restoring peace.

Two years before the Diamond Jubilee of the Imam in Bombay, Lt. Col. Itmadi Pir Muhammad Madhani worked out a scheme of having a Reserve Force, which met an approval of Prince Aly Khan. It was raised in 1944, and in the same year, he became the Lt. Col. of the Bombay Volunteers Corps.

The Aga Khan Legion Executive Committee formed the Khadak Provincial Committee in 1940 and appointed him its member. Later on, he became its President. On March 28, 1944, he was elected its executive member.

In 1944, he obtained permission of Prince Aly Khan for establishing the Volunteer Welfare Grant Fund to give relief to the needy volunteers. It proved a veritable boon to the poor volunteers to great extent.

During the Diamond Jubilee in 1946, the Aga Khan Legion Executive Committee had a gigantic task to receive and accommodate the Ismailis with efficiency and coordination. He was made the President of the General Arrangement Committee. He worked out the outlines of the arrangement about eight months before the celebration of the Diamond Jubilee. He organized a conference of representatives of the volunteer corps and scouts of all over India to discuss the major issues of the administration. He got the momentous results of this conference. He also published a booklet, 'The All India Gents and Ladies' Volunteer Corps, Scout Troops and Girl Guides General Orders' and sent its copies to the members of the representative organizations all over India. The Diamond Jubilee was celebrated at the Brabourne Stadium with wonderful arrangement of the Volunteers, Scouts and Guides. Few days later, Prince Aly Khan wished him and Major A.J. Lakhpati to be present at the Land's End Bungalow to decorate them with the Diamond Jubilee Gold Medals. Prince Aly Khan awarded them the Medals and said, 'You are the pillars of the volunteer corps.'

In 1946, Prince Aly Khan created a Rover Scout Crew under his leadership, which was soon named the Vigilant Rover Scout Crew. In 1947, he re-organized the Volunteer Corps and all its divisions into a club, named The Vigilant Sports Club. In 1952, he enforced further reforms and re-organized the Volunteer Corps, known as The Vigilant Sports Club Volunteer Corps.

Soon after the partition of India in 1947, the Ismailis fell a prey to the fury of wrath and communal prejudices at Kathiawar. The Ismailis needed assistance and the news of their trouble reached the ears of Lt. Col. Pir Muhammad Madhani. The call of duty beckoned him for action. He urgently called a meeting of the officers of various associations and established the Refugee Aid Society, which was accommodated in the office of the volunteer corps. He became its Vice-President and rendered assistance to the Ismailis in Kathiawar. The affected Ismailis, who assembled mostly in Bombay were rehabilitated and settled down in Deccan Hyderabad, Birar and Central Provinces.

In 1949, he turned his attention to bring the volunteers and scouts to one platform, since the field work of both organizations were equally same. He started the Ismaili Volunteers' and Scouts' Brotherhood and brought them close to each other. He became its President and procured excellent results.

In 1950, the Imam conferred upon him the title of Rai and Itmadi in 1951, as well as Honorary Chief Colonel.

In appreciation of his valuable services, he was awarded gold coat-of-arms studded with diamonds by Mata Salamat on behalf of the Gents and Ladies Volunteer Corps, Scouts and Guides of Bombay in 1951.

He started his work as an insurance agent in Bombay. He was recommended as Insurance Agent of Prince Aly Khan on March, 1952, to which Prince Aly Khan issued a letter, stating that, 'Mr. Pirmahomed Madhani is known to me for many years as a sincere, faithful and hard-working Ismaili. He has been in the insurance business for many years and since the new Indian Insurance Act, he is appointed as an Insurance Agent. I recommend him as Insurance Advisor. I wish him every success in his business.'

In the annual general meeting of East Bombay Bharat Scouts' and Girl Guides Local Association, held on June 28, 1954, he was elected its member. In its next meeting, the Executive Committee elected him as a member of the Badge Committee.

On the occasion of Platinum Jubilee, he was made a member of the Jubilee Mohotsav Committee in Bombay. In 1954, he published 'Ismaili Volunteers, Scouts and Guides Souvenir' in Bombay in commemoration of the Platinum Jubilee of the Imam and the completion of 35 years of H.H. The Aga Khan's Bombay Volunteer Corps. In a message of June 4, 1954, the Imam said, 'Lt. Col. Pirmahomed has served brilliantly for a lifetime for the volunteer corps and I do hope that all will have their names inscribed as volunteers and will take him as an example and give same devoted services as he always did.' In another message from Cannes on September 30, 1954, the Imam also said, '.....And I send you and all those who helped in the publication of the souvenir my best loving blessings.' This souvenir sought to bring within the compass of its pages the inspiring story of the honorary services rendered to the Imam and the jamats by various volunteer organizations and brief sketches of the lives of many important personalities behind those organizations.

In sum, he was a born soldier and through out his long selfless services, he has endangered his life on several times, and cast his thoughts, reflections and precious times for these services. Being a seasoned soldier, he weathered many storms, which shall be ever remembered.

He was once again elected as a member of the Executive Committee of East Bombay Indian Scouts and Guides Local Association on July 9, 1956 as well as the Convenor of General Arrangement Committee of Platinum Celebration Committee on March 24, 1957.

The Vigilant Sports Club Volunteer Corps, Bombay, formerly known as H.H. The Aga Khan Volunteer Corps was honoured by the Imam and graciously acceded to become its Colonel in September 24, 1957. The three units (Headquarters, Hasanabad and Andheri) of the corps came under the worthy leadership of Lt. Col. Itmadi Pir Muhammad Madhani. He sent a cable message to the Hazar Imam on the occasion of the Takhat Nashini ceremony, and the Imam sent following message to them:-

Masaka : 28th October, 1957

My dear Colonel,

I send your three units my best blessings for your cable of congratulation and service.

In appreciation of his life long services, his portrait of oil paint photograph was unveiled at the headquarters by Itmadi Suleman J. Rahimtullah on November 10, 1957. The function was attended by Wazir Muhammad Ali G. Fazalbhoy, the President of the Ismailia Association for India, Itmadi Ismail Tar Muhammad Madhani, the President of the Supreme Council for India, Itmadi Ghulam Hussain Haji Ahmad Devaji, the President of the Sidhpur Council, Wazir Akbar H. Merchant, the President of the Bombay Council, etc.

How difficult was the task at the commencement of the Volunteer Corps! How many hurdles and obstacles it had to surmount! With dogged perseverance and enthusiasm, he kept on marching towards the goal undaunted. In sum, Lt. Col. Itmadi Pir Muhammad Madhani was the Vice-Captain of the Volunteer Corps in its inauguration in 1919, Captain in 1920, Chief Captain in 1931 and Major in 1936 and reached his position of Lt. Colonelship in 1944.

Lt. Col. Itmadi Pir Muhammad Madhani died on July 1, 1959. The Imam sent following telegraphic message:-

Geneva: 10/7/1959
Agafederal Bombay:

Best paternal maternal blessings late Lt. Colonel Pirmahomed Madhani. I pray for eternal peace rest his soul.

Prince Aly Khan also sent the following message:-

New York : 27/8/1959


Children Bombay

Please convey to the family of Colonel Pirmahomed Madhani and all officers and members of our Corps all my most affectionate and loving thoughts and my sense of deep sorrow for the loss which we have all sustained. Colonel Pirmahomed was a tower of strength and vigilance in our midst.

Prince Aly Khan also sent following message to Major Ibrahim Patel:-

New York : 27/8/1959


Surething Bombay

As your Colonel-in-Chief, I wish to convey to you and through you to all officers and members of the Corps my sympathy and constant and affectionate thoughts. We have suffered an irreplaceable loss in the death of Colonel Pirmahomed. His memory will always be with us.

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