19 Mar

Shimla Deputation


The political scene of India was affected by the vigorous political activities of the Congress which had no rival in the political arena. The Muslims believed that only an organized endeavor would lead them to success.

Political Scene of India in that arena was as follow:

Ever since its establishment in 1885 as a political organization, All India Congress had been actively striving for the Hindu cause. It had ignored the aims and objectives which said that the Congress would work for the protection of interests of all communities of India irrespective of their religion and nationality. It, however, could not pursue this lofty principle of looking after the interests of all communities of India and very soon indulged in purely pro-Hindu activities. It became clear, by Congress designs, that it was a forum meant to project the Hindu demands only.

The Hindu opposition to Urdu and partition of Bengal revealed it to the Muslims that the Hindus and Congress would never allow them a respectable place in the Indian society. The Hindu and Congress agitation intensified these feelings and aroused Muslim suspicions about Hindu designs.

The rise of Hindu Nationalism awakened Muslim’s feelings of separate identity.

The movement launched by Swami Dayanand and B.G. Tilak raised Muslims eye-brows who seriously pondered over their future plans to safeguard their interests.

Shimla Deputation

The Shimla Deputation of 1906 was the first systematic attempt on the part of the Muslims to present their demands, to the British government and to seek their acceptance.
The Shimla deputation comprised 35 Muslims from all over India. It was a galaxy of Muslims leaders from all the provinces, from one end of India to the other and it had Muslims of all background. Therefore, when in 1906, this deputation called on the Viceroy, it was the most representative Muslim delegation. This delegation was led by Sir Agha Khan and Nawab Mohsin ul Malik served as a secretary and this delegation met the Viceroy in Shimla that was why it was called as Shimla Deputation.

The memorandum which they presented was a kind of demands which were the uppermost in the minds of the Muslims at that time. The delegation emphasized that the Muslims should not be viewed simply in numerical terms but they should take into account their historical importance and the kind of contribution the Muslims had made to British India and keeping in view that importance they should work towards accommodating their demands.

The delegation emphasized that democratic principle should be introduced keeping in view the peculiar conditions and circumstances of India. The diversity, the fact that there different kinds of people living in India and the fact that the Muslims consider themselves to be a separate entity, all these things had to be taken into account because the India was not a homogenous amalgamated or monolithic political identity. It was a political identity comprising diversity, divergence in view, divergence in outlook and when you introduce some kind of system then these realities had to be accommodated.

Demands of Shimla Deputation

Muslim leaders presented following demands:

  • Representation more than their population because of their importance.
  • Separate electorate.
  • Reservations of Muslims seats in government jobs.
  • Special share in Municipal or district boards University senates and syndicates.
  • Muslim representation in Viceroy Executive Council.
  • Muslim University at Aligarh.

The Viceroy was sympathetic towards the demands. It encouraged the Muslims to launch struggle for their rights parallel to the Indian National Congress but it required an organized platform.


It was a great achievement of the Shimla Deputation to have convinced the Viceroy about the genuineness of the Muslim’s demands. The Muslims were now convinced that organized efforts were essential to press for the acceptance of the demands. The most important demand of separate electorate was accepted by the Government and included in the Minto-Morley Reforms of 1909. At this time the Muslims had left the Congress and had no political platform to project their demands. They badly needed a forum for the projection and safeguard of their interests to counter the false propaganda of the Congress. This led to the formation of All India Muslim League.

Formation of All India Muslim League

Time had come to formally organize the Muslims after the success of the Shimla Deputation. The Muslim leaders desired to create a permanent political forum. The Congress’s anti-Muslim activities too emphasized the need of a political platform for the Muslims from where the interests of Muslims could be projected. The Muslim leaders of Shimla Deputation after their meeting with the Viceroy held consultations among themselves as to the possibility of forming a political association.

The annual session of All India Muslim Educational Conference was held in 1906 at Dacca. The prominent Muslim leaders from all over the country were attending this meeting. When the meeting ended, Nawab Saleem Ullah Khan of Dacca, convened a meeting of the Muslim leaders at his residence. The objective of this meeting was to discuss the possibilities of forming a political association for the Muslims. The meeting was presided by Nawab Waqar-ul-Mulk on 30th December 1906. Nawab Saleem Ullah of Dacca had already circulated an idea of the political organization known as All India Muslim Confederacy. Nawab Waqar-ul-Mulk in his presidential address stressed the need for a political platform for the Muslims. He said that Congress political activities were highly injurious for the Muslims for which Sir Syed Ahmed Khan had asked the Muslims to keep away from the Congress politics. He said the Muslims form only one-fourth of the total population of India. It is obvious that if the British leave the country at any time, the Muslims will come under the domination of that nation which is four times bigger than the Muslims. The other participants also expressed their views in favour of forming a political organization for the Muslims.

Nawab Saleem Ullah Khan of Dacca, therefore, proposed Muslim League which was supported by Hakim Ajmal Khan, Maulana Zafar Ali Khan and other participants.

Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk and Nawab Waqar-ul-Mulk were elected provisionally as Joint Secretaries of the Muslim League. A Committee consisting of sixty members was set up to draft the constitution of the Muslim League. The Constitution Committee included all the members of Shimla Deputation. Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar, a distinguished student of Aligarh and Oxford, was given the responsibility of drafting the rules and regulations of the League.

The first regular session of the Muslim League was held at Karachi on 29th and 30th December, 1907 exactly after one year of its formation. Sir Adamjee Pirbhai, a prominent leader of Bombay, presided over this session. The draft Constitution prepared by the committee was placed before the session for approval. The Constitution was adopted after a further scrutiny by the members of the Constitution Committee present at Karachi session.

The Karachi session of the League was adjourned after adopting the Constitution. The session resumed after a few months and met again on 18th March, 1908 at Aligarh. Agha Khan was formally elected as the President and Major Hassan Bilgrami as the Secretary.

London Branch: May 1908

Justice Amir Ali Syed organized a branch of Muslim League at London and responded effectively to the misunderstandings and conspiracies of the Hindus against the Muslims.

Objectives and Goals of Muslim League

The purposes and objectives of the Muslim League were as follow:

  1. Protection and promotion of political rights and interests of the Muslims.
  2. Cooperation with other communities without prejudice to the above goal.
  3. Fostering sense of loyalty, among the Muslims, towards the government.

Change in the Goals of the Muslim League 1913

The Muslim League with its establishment became active for the protection of the Muslim interests. It took over the Muslim struggle launched by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and was successful in securing a number of demands from the Government for the Muslims. The most important demand was the separate electorate, which the Government at last conceded in the Minto-Morley Reforms of 1909. The acceptance of separate electorate was the first step by the Government taken towards the establishment of self-rule in India.

In spite of some early successes the Muslim League could not assume that political importance and significance which All Indian Congress had achieved. The Government too, was not very considerate and sympathetic towards Muslim League as it was towards Congress.

Some important developments occurred during the first decades of the 20th century like annulment of the Partition of Bengal and Western aggression towards Muslim countries, Balkan wars, Libya-Italy war, Demolition of the mosque in Kanpur (1913), etc. weakened Muslim faith in the British. This led to a major drift in the Muslim League’s policy. In 1913, the League changed its goals:

  • Self government under the British Crown keeping in view the peculiar conditions in India.
  • Good relations with other communities’ cooperation with any party working for similar goals.

This change brought the Muslim League and Congress closer. In this way the era of cooperation between Hindus and Muslims set in. The role of the Quaid-i-Azam is highly noteworthy to bring the Congress and the Muslim League to the table. He joined the Muslim League in 1913.

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