Amba Prasad, also known as Sufi Amba Prasad, was an Indian nationalist and pan-Islamist leader best known for his participation in the agrarian unrest in Punjab in 1907 and later in the Revolutionary movement for Indian independence.
Early Life of Sufi Amba Prasad
Prasad was born in the northern Indian city of Moradabad, then in the United Provinces, in 1858. Prasad was born without his right hand. He later became involved in the emerging nationalist movement while working as a journalist in Moradabad. He was the Peshwa’s editor at the time. His editorials were known for their sarcastic and unrelenting criticism of Punjab government policies. In 1897, he was imprisoned twice.
The Beginning of Nationalist Activities
Prasad became involved in the emerging agrarian movement in Punjab in 1900. Sardar Ajit Singh (Bhagat Singh’s uncle), Mahasha Ghaseeta Ram, Kartar Singh, and Lala Lajpat Rai were among his associates at the time.
Prasad was a key founding member of the Bharat Mata Society in 1906. In 1907, a crackdown forced him to flee India for Nepal, where he was granted asylum by Deva Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana. Prasad later fled to Persia from India.
Amba Prasad in Persia
Around 1910, Indian nationalist groups, particularly pan-Islamic ones, were gaining traction in the Ottoman Empire and Persia, led by Sardar Ajit Singh and Sufi Amba Prasad, who had begun their work there in 1909. Young radicals like Rishikesh Letha, Zia-ul-Haq, and Thakur Das were among those who joined these groups. By 1910, British intelligence had become aware of these groups’ activities and their publication, the Hayat.
However, Ajit Singh’s departure in 1911 effectively ended Indian revolutionary activities, while British representations in Persia successfully quelled any remaining activity in the country.
Beginning of World War I
However, as World War I began, Prasad re-entered the Hindu–German Conspiracy. At the time, he was associated with Indian revolutionaries such as Har Dayal and Mahendra Pratap. Sufi collaborated with Berlin Committee revolutionaries in Mesopotamia and the Middle East, spreading propaganda among Indian expeditionary force troops.
His efforts were aimed at organizing Indian troops into a nationalist force for incursions from Persia, through Baluchistan, to Punjab.
During the war, Amba Prasad was joined by Kedar Nath Sondhi, Rishikesh Letha, and Amin Chaudhry. These Indian troops were involved in the capture of the frontier city of Karman and the detention of the British consul there, as well as successfully harassing Percy Sykes’ Persian campaign against the German-aided Baluchi and Persian tribal chiefs. While fighting the rebels, the Aga Khan’s brother was killed.
The insurgents also successfully harassed British forces in Afghanistan, confining them to Karamshir in Baluchistan before moving on to Karachi. According to some reports, they took control of the coastal towns of Gawador and Dawar.
Death of Sufi Amba Prasad
After declaring independence from British rule, the Baluchi chief of Bampur joined the Ghadarites. It wasn’t until the Ottoman Empire’s position in Europe deteriorated and Baghdad was captured by British forces that the Ghadarite forces were finally driven out, their supply lines cut off.
They retreated to Shiraz to regroup, where they were eventually defeated after a bloody siege during the siege of Shiraz. Although Amba Prasad Sufi was killed in this battle, the Ghadarites continued to fight guerrilla warfare alongside Iranian partisans until 1919. Amba Prasad’s works had a significant influence on Bhagat Singh.