Prof. Iqbal Ansari: A tireless defender of human rights

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Prof. Iqbal Ansari: A tireless defender of human rights


By Mahtab Alam

On Sunday evening, October 11th, 2009, when Prof. Iqbal A Ansari was sitting next to me in a meeting here in Delhi, I had no clue that- I will be not able to meet him again. In fact, it’s still unbelievable for me that he is no more among us. His untimely death left most of us bewildered. It is an irreparable loss for human and civil rights’ movements in India. Prof. Iqbal Ansai, who was always at the forefront of the human and civil movements throughout the country over two decades left this world Tuesday early morning following a heart attack.

My association with Prof. Iqbal Ansari is not very long and dates back to 2007, when I assisted him to organize a consultation meeting on “Towards Riot & Terror Free India” organized by Inter Community Peace Initiative (ICPI) on February 11th, 2007 here in Delhi. After that, I interacted with him on various occasions and issues, mostly through phone and internet. He was very prompt in his reactions. Whatever, I know him through my short interactions and his works, one thing is very clear to me his commitment for protection of civil liberties and advancement of human rights in India is unmatched. He was passionately committed for the cause.

He was one of the most visible civil liberties’ activists in India, taking up a variety issues, from communalism, religious freedom and communal harmony to minority rights. A teacher of English literature turned in to a whole time human rights’ activist, Prof. Iqbal Ansari along with another well-known civil libertarian like V M Tarkunde, Justice Rajendra Sachchar championed the protection of civil rights in India.

Born in 1935, Mr. Iqbal A Ansari served as a teacher of English at the Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh (AMU) for 33 years and retired as professor of English in 1995. He has been visiting professor at Centre for Federal Studies, Jamia Hamdard (2001-2003) and Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi (2003-2004). Prof Iqbal Ansari was associated closely with several international and national human rights organizations in different capacities. He was member of Amnesty International, National Council member of Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Vice President of Citizens for Democracy (CFD) and General Secretary of Minorities’ Council. And most recently, he was active with us in Citizens’ Initiative for Peace, a newly formed group which comprised of people like Justice Rajendra Sachchar, Prof. Randhir Singh, Kuldip Naiyyar, Swami Agniwesh, Nanadani Sunder and Kavita Srivastava. He was also editor of the quarterly bulletin, Human Rights Today published from New Delhi.

He was a prolific writer and his writing used to appear in most of national English dallies. Prof. Ansari has written extensively on issues related to human rights, minorities & prevention and resolution of inter-community conflicts. His publications include Political Representation of Muslims in India (2006), Readings on Minorities: Perspectives and Documents, Vol. I & II (1196), Vol. III (2002); Communal Riots: The State and Law in India (1997); Human Rights in India: Some Issue (1998); Muslim Situation in India (1989) and Uses of English (1978). Now days, he was working on the issue of religious freedom and about compile a book on it.

He traveled almost every part of the country to advance the human rights and to expose the violation of human rights and the illegal activities of both the state and non-state perpetrators. It was Prof. Anasri, who took special interest and made constant efforts in the matters related victims of communal voidances especially Hashimpura and Maliana. His efforts resulted in the form transfer of cases from UP to Delhi. Moreover, he made a remarkable intervention in the form of critically analysis the proposed Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill, 2005. One of the last contributions for the protection and advancement of civil liberties in India was his intervention in Justice Markande Katju’s remarks on beard and niqab. He personally wrote to him and argued the matter.

He was a selfless intellectual, tireless human rights’ defender and a great human being. It is a harsh reality that- Prof. Iqbal Ansari is no more amongst us but his legacy in terms of his works and brave struggles will continue to inspire us to keep on our struggle for the establishment of a just and equitable world. Our real tribute and homage to him will to carry forward his work and legacies not mourn his demise and celebrate his greatness.

The article was published on
Mahtab Alam is a Delhi based Civil Rights Activist and Coordinator with Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR). He can be reached at

Remembering Prof. Iqbal Ansari

Sad demise of Prof. Iqbal Ansari

I was his student at Aligarh Muslim University. I am aggrieved to read about his demise. Would you please send me the residential address of Professor Ansari's Wife or the email address of his sons or daughters so that I can write them a letter. He has shifted from Muzammil Manzil to New Delhi but I don't know where they live.
I was a student at Sir Ziauddin Hall.
Please send me their address or email or phone no.
my email is

Amir Hamj Khan

Prof. Iqbal Ansari

Dear All,

As you are aware Prof. Iqbal A Ansari, a veteran civil rights’ activist and National Council member of PUCL passed away on 13th October 09.

Association for the Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) along with Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) is organizing a condolence meeting at Gandhi Peace Foundation, Delhi on 22nd October 09 (Thursday), 5:30 pm onwards.

Kindly circulate this mail to others and call upon them to join us in paying our tributes to the man, his life and work. In case, you are not able to join with us in person kindly send your representative or condolence massage and oblige.


Mahtab Alam

Coordinator, APCR

Mob: 09811209345


Syed Mohammad Raghib

Sudden demise of Mr. Iqbal Ansari sb. who worked hard during all his period of teaching & his work for human right was excellent. We lost our one of the very brilliant, active and intellegent leader. May Allah give him great Jannat (Firdaus) Aameen. and sabre jameel for his family and friends.....


Tameemuddin Humble

Prof. Iqbal Ansari has set the ground for civil rights'movement by the community.If we work on it,it would be real tribute to him


Good work Mahtab Alam sb.
Probably you already read my thoughts on Prof. Iqbal Ansari sb.
I am just reproducing for convenience of the readers of this posting.

This is news took me to a surprise and shock as prof. Iqbal Ansari sahab was one of my teacher in B.Sc.Engineering 1st year and taught us Scientific English.
Even though in the beginning we did not used to take the subject very seriously as it was a Non-Engineering subject but he left a non-lasting impression on most of us. He was very passionate and committed for his subject and tried his best to make us realize the importance of the subject and by mid of the session we started taking interest in the subject.

After First Year of Engineering, I never had any interaction with Prof. Ansari but was amazed when I saw his detail profile and contributions as a Human Right Activist in The Times of India in 1996-97. It gave me a lot of pleasure and pride to be one of his student. After joing the AMUNetwork and being Moderator, I had a lot of email interaction with him. It is really sad to loose such a member and a regular contributor of AMUNetwork.

Indians in general and Muslims in particular have a very few Human Rights Activist and loosing one of his strong and dedicated soldier is definitely a bad news for the community.

Probably Allama Iqbal had said it for people like him only;

"Khuda ke Aashiq to hain hazaro(n), bano(n) me phirtey hain jo maarey maarey
Main uska banda banoo(n)ga jisko Khuda ka bando(n) se pyaar hogaa "

On behalf of AMUNetwork and its team of Moderators and Well wishers and members, I would like extend the condolences to the family of deceased and make dua to Allah to grand him Jannah.

To commemorate prof. Iqbal Ansari and his legacy, it will be nice if Aligarh Muslim University/AMU Fraternity institute an award or fellowship to Human Right Activist in India in general and Muslims in particular. This will be a true recognition to his passion and commitment for Human Rights


Lets start work together to have "Iqbal Ansari Memorial Award/Fellowship for Human Rights".

Afzal Usmani
Austin TX

Sir Syed Bi-Centenary


Hamiduddin Farahi


ZH Chowdhury

Satish Chandra