New Delhi, June 25 Well known Muslim leader Ghulam Mahmood Banatwala is no more. In his sudden death at Mumbai today, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) lost its patriarch, Muslim community its one of the top-most leaders and statesmen and nation one of its best Parliamentarians. A seven-time Lok Sabha member from Kerala, he was 74. His wife died a few years ago and he had no children.
Banatwala's death plunged IUML circles in Kerala into gloom as he was part and parcel of the politics in the state. He represented Ponnani parliamentary constituency in the IUML heartland of Malappuram from 1977 to 1989 and after a break from 1996 to 2004.
A gifted parliamentarian and orator, Banatwala espoused the cause of Muslims in Parliament on crucial issues like the Shah Bano case, demolition of the Babri Masjid and minority rights, including the personal law.
Ismail Banatwala, his nephew, said that the Muslim League leader lived with his brothers after the death of his wife. He had attended the platinum jubilee celebrations of IUML in Chennai on June 21. "When he returned home early this week, he felt uneasy, restless and feverish. This morning he had breakfast with all of us. At about 14.30 hours, he experienced uneasiness and breathed his last on way to hospital," Ismail said.
The mortal remains of Banatwala was brought to his Agripada home in South Mumbai. Several of his colleagues from Kerala and others from different parts of the country are expected to attend the burial.
Born in Mumbai, Banatwala was returned to Parliament with very high margins reflecting the trust the people in the North Kerala area, dominated by Mappila Muslims reposed on him.
Several Muslim leaders have mourned his sudden passing away. Terming him as an able Parliamentarian, former Member of Parliament Syed Shahabuddin said the Muslim community in particular and nation in general are poorer in his death. All India Milli Council General Secretary Dr M Manzoor Alam said he as General Secretary along with his President late Ebrahim Sulaiman Sait dominated the IUML for a long period. According to him, his role as a Parliamentarian, raising the Muslim issues, would always be remembered. Economist and “Mutalleat” Editor Dr Ausaf Ahmad said late G M Banatwala’s speeches in Parliament would keep him alive for a long period.