Gorkhatimes

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Jaswant traces Jinnah hill days

Posted by Ramesh Khati on September 17, 2009

Jaswant Singh autographs his book in Darjeeling on Wednesday.

Jaswant Singh autographs his book in Darjeeling on Wednesday.

Darjeeling, Sept. 16(The Telegraph): Jaswant Singh had wanted a different title for his best-seller, Jinnah: India-Partition Independence.

The Darjeeling MP today visited Oxford Bookstore here and autographed the books for the buyers. He was also eager to know about the Pakistan founder’s days in the hill town.

“The title, India: Fractured Freedom Movement: Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s Journey from being an Ambassador of Hindu Muslim Unity to Quaid-i-Azam of Pakistan, had been suggested but the publishers felt it was too long,” Singh said while answering a query at the bookstore.

With the BJP objecting to his book within hours of its release, the “long title” would perhaps have smothered ruffled feathers since it made a reference to Hindu Muslim unity. After all, Singh has complained that people had jumped to conclusions without even reading the book.

Despite the controversy, Singh has started writing another book on C. Rajagopalachari. “The book (on Jinnah) was an outcome of five-year research. I have started work on another book which will be on Rajagopalachari,” the MP said.

Clutching a walking stick, Singh was interested in knowing about Jinnah’s connection with Darjeeling. “Jinnah met Rutti in Darjeeling in 1916…Darjeeling, then, was most fashionable for holidays,” he said and extensively inquired about the house named Petit House, which had belonged to Ratanbai or Rutti Petit, who was his second wife.

Historians have noted that Jinnah had visited Darjeeling in April 1916 with his friend Sir Dinshaw Manochjee Petit — a Parsi, who was among the first to start cotton mills in India and from a wealthy family in Mumbai.

Petit had a house in Darjeeling and it was here during the vacation that Jinnah fell in love with the 16-year-old Rutti who had also come to the hill station and ultimately got married to him despite opposition from the Petit family.

Ali Akthar, secretary, Anjuman Islamia, one of the first to get the book autographed, said the nikkha of Jinnah and Rutti had been at the Darjeeling mosque. “We have records to prove that the nikkha was held at the Anjuman Islamia.”

Even though old timers could not recollect where the Petit House was, there is a general agreement among the people that it had been situated where the present Hotel Windamere is. Incidentally, Singh is currently putting up at this hotel.

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