Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also known as Bacha Khan, was a prominent Pashtun independence activist who played a crucial role in the Indian freedom movement.

Born on February 6, 1890, Abdul Ghaffar Khan belonged to a well-to-do Pashtun family from Utmanzai, Peshawar Valley, British India. After completing his education at Aligarh Muslim University, he opened his first school in Utmanzai at the age of 20. His school was an instant success, and he soon became part of a larger group of reformers who sought to bring progressive change to society.

He was close friend of Mahatma Gandhi and was nicknamed Sarhadi Gandhi (“Frontier Gandhi”) in British India by his close associate Amir Chand Bombwal. ⁣

Bacha Khan was a secular Muslim who believed in the unity of all religions. His vision was to create an independent, united, and secular India, and to this end, he founded the Khudai Khidmatgar movement during the 1920s. The Khudai Khidmatgars, also known as the “Red Shirts,” were a nonviolent army of volunteers who worked towards social reform and the freedom of India.

Bacha Khan and Mahatma Gandhi shared a close and spiritual friendship that was uninhibited by social or religious barriers. Gandhi often referred to Bacha Khan as his “dear friend” and “Frontier Gandhi.” Bacha Khan was deeply influenced by Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence and civil disobedience, and he played an instrumental role in the Salt Satyagraha and other mass movements against British rule.

In 1931 the Congress offered him the presidency of the party, but he refused saying, “I am a simple soldier and Khudai Khidmatgar, and I only want to serve.”⁣ He strongly opposed the proposal for the partition of India, siding with the Indian National Congress and All India Azad Muslim Conference.⁣

When the Indian National Congress reluctantly declared its acceptance of the partition plan without consulting the Khudai Khidmatgar leaders, he felt deeply betrayed and hurt by this, telling the Congress, “you have thrown us to the wolves.”⁣

In June 1947, Khan and other Khudai Khidmatgars declared the Bannu Resolution, demanding that the Pashtuns be given a choice to have an independent state of Pashtunistan. However, the British Raj refused to comply with the demand of this resolution.⁣

After the partition of colonial India, Bacha Khan pledged allegiance to Pakistan, but was frequently arrested by the Pakistani government between 1948 and 1954. ⁣

He died in Peshawar under house arrest in 1988 and was buried in his house at Jalalabad, Afghanistan. ⁣