Mohammed Umar Subhani, who was praised by Mahatma Gandhi as ‘great patriot’, was born in Bombay in 1890. His father, Yusuf Subhani was a famous businessman. He learnt the basics of business from his father at a very young age and achieved a good measure of business acumen.
He was known as ‘cotton king’ in those days. While running his business, he evinced keen interest in Indian Independence Movement. He took the membership of Indian National Congress and actively organised the activities from behind the scene for which Gandhiji praised him as ‘stage manager’.
He played an important role in the ‘Home rule Movement’ under the stewardship of Anne Biesant. Whenever Indian National Congress gave a call for any agitation as part of Indian National Movement, he actively participated in each of them bearing all the expenses from his own sources. This became an eye sore for the British authorities.
He played an active role in Khilafat and Non-cooperation movement in 1921. On this occasion, he consigned all his expensive cloths to flames during the burning of the foreign goods and thus stood exemplary to his country men.
He offered blank cheques to Gandhiji for ‘Tilak Swarajya Fund’. He collected huge donations from his fellow businessmen during the fund raising programme. He gifted his bungalow ‘Subhani Villa’ to Khilafat committee along with a generous donation of one lakh rupees. Since he was financing the activities of the Indian National Congress, the British government imposed sanctions on his business.
Undaunted by these measures, he went ahead taking part in all its activities and meetings. Even when his business ran into rough weather because of the sanctions imposed by British, he continued to be with Indian National Congress and Khilafat committee activities. Eventually, he faced severe troubles when he was collecting donations for ‘Angora Fund’. He suffered a loss of three crore and forty lakh rupees during February 1922.
This loss crippled him financially and depressed him mentally. The man who felt it a great honour to provide financial strength to Indian Independence Movement could not bear to say ‘No’. Unable to come out of his financial and mental depression, he committed suicide on 6 July 1926.