From Shah Nawaz Khan to Aryan Khan: A story of two court cases

Aryan Khan's arrest is second time family has been in limelight due to a court case

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On October 3, Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan, 23, was arrested by India’s Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) along with seven others on charges of consumption, sale, and purchase of narcotic drugs after an alleged rave party was busted aboard a luxury cruise liner.

The case gripped India and became a hot topic in Pakistan as well, where people talked about it and media ran updates in headlines.

Many have claimed that Aryan’s detention by the NCB was a politically motivated move as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government wants to control unbridled Khans and Aryan somehow provided the opportunity to do so.

This was the second time that Shah Rukh Khan’s family caught the attention of millions due to a court case. Aryan could be a villain in the eyes of many for bringing embarrassment to his family, but his great grandfather would always be remembered as a hero.

Shah Nawaz Khan, a son of Kahuta, Pakistan, was Shahrukh Khan’s maternal grandfather. Born in Matore, a village near Kahuta, Shah Nawaz Khan first served as an officer in the British India army and later revolted against it and joined the revolutionary army of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose as a general. Bose was in Southeast Asian countries to raise forces to fight against the British army to free India from colonial rule.

When he was serving the British army, Shah Nawaz was caught by the Japanese after the fall of Singapore in 1942. A prisoner of war, he was influenced by Bose’s speeches and revolted against the British.

After the defeat of the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan) by the Allies (UK, France, and Poland) in WWII, Shah Nawaz became a prisoner of the British army and was brought to India along with other members of Bose’s forces.

He was tried, along with General Prem Sahgal and Colonel Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon, for “waging war against the King-Emperor”, in a public court-martial at the Red Fort in Delhi. He was given the death sentence by the court, but that sentence was reduced to cashiering by the commander-in-chief of the Indian army under the pressure of united India’s leaders.

Shah Nawaz later joined the Indian National Congress and started a political struggle to free India from British Raj. It was said that thousands greeted him at historic Minto Park (Now Greater Iqbal Park) during his visit to Lahore in December 1945, along with Sehgal and Dhillon after acquittal from the treason case.

A Lahore-born and raised historian, Reginald Massey mentioned in his book Azaadi that the famous park was echoing with the slogan ‘Chaalis crore-on ki awaaz- Sehgal, Dhillon and Shah Nawaz’ (Forty crore people – then united India’s population – shout in unison, Sehgal, Dhillon and Shah Nawaz).

Shah Nawaz adopted Shah Rukh Khan’s mother Lateef Fatima Khan. Fatima married Mir Taj Muhammad Khan, a leading activist of Bacha Khan’s Khudai Khidmatgar Movement, also known as the Red Shirt Movement, which was a Pashtun resistance collective against British rule.

Shah Nawaz opted to stay in India after partition along with his wife and two sons and left his son and two daughters in Matore. He served as vice minister of Indian Railways and a key leader of the Indian National Congress in later years.

Prolific author Muhammad Hassan Miraj stated that Shah Rukh Khan used to visit Matore in his childhood. Residents of Matore certainly wish good luck to Aryan and want to see him as a hero, not a villain in the future.

Iftikhar Alam is a correspondent writing on religion, politics, agriculture, and energy. He takes people on a rich journey through the culture of Punjab. He tweets @imiftikharalam and can be reached at