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Sir Rahim Bakhsh, KCIE, Khan Bahadar,
Khan Sahib (1857-1935)

Maulvi Haji Sir Rahim Bakhsh, Knight Commander of the Order of Indian Empire (KCIE), Knighted 1913, President, Council of Regency and Council of Ministers, Bahawalpur State (1907-1924), Khan Bahadar 1909, CIE 1909, Khan Sahib 1909. Son of Chaudhry Shah Nawaz Khan (1825-1895); Grandfather of Saeeda Namdar Khan.

Sir Rahim Bakhsh was born in 1857, in the city of Karnal in Eastern Punjab, and belonged to a respected Chauhan Rajput family. He was educated in Lahore and completed his Masters of Arts at the University of Punjab, and started his career in 1886 as was one of the pioneer teachers (hence called Maulvi) at Chiefs (Atchison) College, Lahore. During this time he was to become the teacher of the young Bahawal Khan Abbasi V, son of Nawab Sadeq Mohammed Abassi IV of Bahawalpur State. In 1888, Nawab Sadeq convinced Rahim Bakhsh to accompany him to Bahawalpur State to become its Manager and Political Liaison to the British Government in Lahore . He was to become one of the most respected and honest nobles of this large but mostly under-developed state.

In 1899 Nawab Sadeq died, and his son Bahawal Khan Abassi V became Nawab. The Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, visited the State to install the new Nawab. This was the occasion when Rahim Bakhsh met both Lord Curzon and Sir James Robert (JR) Dunlopsmith. Rahim Bakhsh and Dunlopsmith were to become friends and political partners, and in 1903 Bahawalpur State was brought under the Political Agent residing in Patiala, namely Dunlopsmith himself. Rahim Bakhsh was given special invitation by Dunlopsmith to attend the Delhi Durbar, January 1903. In 1907 Nawab Bahawal Khan Abassi V died and a new Council of Regency was formed, with Rahim Bakhsh as its President (at the age of 50).


Sir Rahim Bakhsh, 1910 Bahawalpur State


Choga worn by Sir Rahim Bakhsh at the 1911 Coronation Darbar, Delhi

 

 

Rahim Bakhsh remained the Regent (President) of the State during the minority of the young Nawab, from 1907 to 1924. He was to become a prominent political leader representing the princely states of greater India, and did significant work for the development of Bahawalpur State. He also signed several treaties with the British Government and neighboring Rajputana States for the development of railroads, canals, and irrigation projects. While working with Dunlopsmith, Rahim Bakhsh became known to Sir John Perronet (JP) Thompson, ADC to Lord Minto,Viceroy of India from 1905 to 1910. Rahim Bakhsh was considered one of the most honest and honorable leaders from the princely states, and was chosen by the Viceroy to be part of the Reform Committee in 1919. He received the honor of Khan Bahadur in 1909, and was knighted (KCIE) in 1913.

During the Indian Constitutional Reforms of 1919, Sir Rahim Bakhsh worked with several prominent social and political leaders, including Tej Bahadar Sapru, Sir Babu Surrendranath Banerjea of the Bengal, Sir JP Thompson, the Hon. Srinivasa Sastri, and other notable personalities. He established political relations with other princely states of Punjab and Rajputana, including Nabha, Patiala, Jind, Kapurthala, Faridkotla, Bikaner, and Malwar. He attended both the 1903 and 1911 Durbars, which were held for the Coronations of Edward VII and George V.

After his retirement from Bahawalpur State, Sir Rahim Bakhsh was invited in the All India Muslim Conference of 1928 to 1935, as member of the Punjab Legislative Committee. He worked with several prominent Muslim leaders, including His Highness Sir Aga Khan (President of the Conference in 1928), Dr. Sir Mohammed Iqbal (Poet, Allama, President, 1932), Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan, Malik Phiroze Khan Noon, Sir Abdul Qadir, Ahmed Yar Khan Daultana, Sir Mohammed Shafi, and Nawab Sir Ahmad Said Khan of Chattari (President, 1934), among others.

See Chronology of Sir Rahim Bakhsh