NEWS: Statehood demand for Kutch gains momentum - The Indian Express

Cutchi Memon Jamat, Mumbai (BOMBAY)

Cutchi Memons came to Bombay (now known as Mumbai) sometime between 1813 and 1816 as they were attracted by its business opportunities.  After settling down, Cutchi Memons organized themselves.

In 1898, Cutchi Memons of Bombay got together under the leadership of prominent members known as Patels.  These persons had unquestionable authority over matters relating to the affairs of their brethren.

Gradually, democratic concepts crept into the members' thinking, and in 1922, for the first time in its history, the community elected a Managing committee. Later, rules and regulations were established; these were modified and amended from time to time to suit changing conditions.

In 1931, the trustees of the Sait Karim Mohammed Sulaiman Trust built a Jamatkhana for the Jamat members.  This ensured immense importance for the Jamat as it now had a central place for its activities.

In 1938, the British government enacted the Cutchi Memon Act of 1938, which placed Cutchi Memons under the Muslim Personal Law.  This Act displaced the Act of 1920, which permitted Cutchi Memons to choose between the Hindu Law and the Muslim Personal Law.

In 1939, the trustees of the Cummoo Jaffer Trust established a Girls school, which was inaugurated by the Sheriff of Bombay, Janab Haji Sulaiman Wahid.  The same year, the trustees of Haji Ismail Haji Yusuf Ahmedabadi Trust introduced scholarships for higher education.

In 1943, a Cutchi Memon Co-operative Store was established under the Presidentship of Janab Osman Sobani.  However, due to unavoidable circumstances was closed down, only to be reopened for a short spell; currently, it does not exist.

In 1952, the Jamat saw controversial changes.  Since the Jamat was divided on the question of Sudh (the “pure”) and Asudh (the “impure”), the Jamat decided to undertake a census to assess the situation.  Purity was maintained when ascendants were all Cutchi Memons with no mixture of non-Cutchi Memon blood. Impurity crept in when there non-Cutchi Memon blood in the lineage.  Janab Ibrahim Mohammed Wadiwala, Janab Hasham Ismail and Janab Sulaiman Usman Sait gave a workable formula for uniting the Jamat by doing away with the divisions of Sudh and Asudh. 

That time saw a crop of Memon journals; one such was the “Memon Mitra” in the Gujarati language edited and published by Janab Usman Japanwala.  A free library and reading room was found. 

The same year, Janab Ibrahim Mohammed Wadiwala, the president of the Jamat, encouraged youngsters to unite under their own banner; under his guidance, several young students came together to establish the Cutchi Memon Students' Circle. This organization has made tremendous progress over the past half a century in the field of education, fraternity and industry.

In 1958, a Nursery Class named as Phulwari was started under the helm of Janab A.A.Oomer and under the supervision of Miss Fathima Abdul Sattar (now Mrs. Fatima Rafiq Zakaria).  The Jamat has efficiently managed this Phulwari to this day.

In 1962, President Janab Ibrahim Lakhani felt that housing was always a perennial problem for the Jamat members in a growing city which was Bombay, and got eminent personalities
involved.  They were able to thwart the designs of Bombay Municipal Corporation for obtaining a plot of land at Malad for its own use by securing it from the Zakaria Patel Trust in Malad.  Janab Abdul Qayoom Karachiwala and Janab Jaan Mohammed Gadhwala were leaders in this effort to secure this land.  Janab Abdul Razak "Saeed" and Janab Shafi Nakhuda took on the project for Building No. 1 and completed its construction for the Cutchi Memon Tenement Board, a trust under the Jamat.  In 1972, President Janab Haroon S. Kably saw the completion of Building No. 2 of the Board on the same plot of land.  At this time the trustees of the Zakaria Patel Trust declared that residents of the four blocks of the sanatorium blocks would be considered as permanent residents.

From 1963 to 1965, Janab Gulam Mahmood Banatwala held the office of President of the Jamat. The Jamat's constitution was redrafted under Mr. Banatwala's Presidentship.

In 19654, the Jamat started distributing free stationery and textbooks to the Jamat's students under the recommendation and supervision of Janab Abdullah Patka.

In 1967, under the chairmanship of Janab Haroon S. Kably, a Scholarship Centralization Board was initiated.  Prior to this formation, a needy student had to apply to several trusts for obtaining a scholarship to pursue high school and college education. The Board ensured less paperwork and effort by individual students, proper supervision of allotted amounts so as to decrease duplication, and receipt of needed amount. 

In 1971, the year of the Jamat Constitution’s Golden Jubilee celebration, an All India Cutchi Memon Federation was arranged under the Presidentship of Janab Haroon S. Kably. Delegates from several Jamats all over India attended the conference.  Several useful resolutions were passed; one of them was the formation of the All India Cutchi Memon Federation.

In 1973, the All India Cutchi Memon Federation came into existence.  The founder-president was Janab Haroon S. Kably.  The Vice-presidents were Janab Ibrahim Sulaiman Sait, MP, and Janab Azeez Sait, MLA - Karnataka.  The first Secretary was Janab Abdul Qadeer Moosa Dadani.

During the Presidentship of Janab Haroon S. Kably, the trustees of the Kadwani Masjid Trust handed over the trust to the Jamat.  The Jamat immediately renovated the masjid.  At the same time, the Jamat acquired a thoroughfare in one of the Jamat's kabrastans (cemeteries) which restricted its use by non-kabrastan visitors.

During the time of Janab Rashid Oomer, "Bazme-e-Khawateen" was started for the Jamat's females.  This organization started an Industrial Home, which ensured employment to the needy Jamat females when they made pickles, papads and other edibles.

In 1990, Dr. Abdul Rauf Soomar was elected President. He remained the Jamat's President for 18 years.  He was instrumental in starting a bi-monthly magazine, "Rabitah" in English, Urdu and Gujarati.  He also initiated the renovation of the Jamatkhana as well as several repairs at the kabrastans. 

In August 2007, Dr. Gulam Hussain Siddick Vanjara was elected President, and has a Managing Committee to assist him.

Information courtesy: Arif G. Kadwani, Cutchi Memon Jamat of North America


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