Shah Nawaz Khan (general)

Shah Nawaz Khan (general)

Shahnawaz Khan (24 January 1914 – 9 December 1983) was an Indian soldier who is remembered as an officer who served in the Second Indian National Army during World War II and later came to be one of the three defendants in the first of the INA trials in 1946.

Born in the village of Matore, Kahuta, Rawalpindi District, British India, (now Pakistan) Khan initially volunteered to join the British Indian Army in 1940, in the opening stages of the war in Asia. He saw action in the Battle of Singapore before being taken prisoner after the surrender of the city. Although initially reluctant to join the INA under Mohan Singh, Shah Nawaz Khan joined the second INA after the arrival of Subhash Chandra Bose in South-East Asia. He later led the INA forces that participated in the Japanese offensive at Imphal and Kohima, and subsequently rose to be the commander of the second division. Khan also saw action against allied forces in the latter's second Burma Campaign, and surrendered to British troops in Burma. In November 1946, Khan, along with G.B.S. Dhillon and P.K. Sehgal faced trial and was convicted for charges of treason at the Red Fort in Delhi, but intense public support and overwhelming nationalist sympathies forced General Auchinleck to discharge Khan and his co-defendants with forfeiture of pay.

In Independent India, Khan joined the Indian National Congress and came to be a minister for state in Nehru's First Cabinet. Hailing from the Janjua Rajput clan of Matore. His adopted daughter Lateef Fatima was Shah Rukh Khan's mother. [1]


Indian National Army

Lt. Colonel Shahnawaz Khan, son of Captain Sardar Tikka Khan of Matore, studied at the Prince of Wales Royal Indian Military College, Dehradun and was commissioned as an officer in the British Indian Army. He was captured during the Second World War by the Japanese and interned in Singapore. Subhash Chandra Bose encouraged him to join the Indian National Army, to fight the British Empire.

I.N.A. Trial

At the conclusion of the war, the government of British India brought some of the captured INA soldiers to trial on treason charges. The prisoners would potentially face the death penalty, life imprisonment or a fine as punishment if found guilty. After the war, Lt. Col. Shahnawaz Khan, Colonel Habib ur Rahman,Colonel Prem Sehgal and Colonel Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon were put to trial at the Red Fort in Delhi for "waging war against the King Emperor", i.e. the British sovereign. The three defendants were defended by Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Bhulabhai Desai and others based on the defence that they should be treated as prisoners of war as they were not paid mercenaries but bona fide soldiers of a legal government, the Provisional Government of Free India, or the Arzi Hukumate Azad Hind, "however misinformed or otherwise they had been in their notion of patriotic duty towards their country" and as such they recognized the free Indian state as their sovereign and not the British sovereign.[2]

Political career

Shahnawaz Khan joined the Congress party after dissolution of the I.N.A. and was invited by Jawaharlal Nehru to join his cabinet for minister Railways and transport (1952–1956) (1957–1964), minister of food and agriculture (1965), minister of labour and employment and rehabilitation (1966), minister of steel and mines and minister of petroleum and chemical (1971–1973), minister of petroleum and chemical and minister of agriculture and irrigation (1974–1975), minister of Agriculture and irrigation (1975–1977), chairman of National Seeds Corporation Ltd, concurrently was the Chairman, Food Corporation of India . He was elected four times to the Lok Sabha from Meerut constituency in 1951, 1957, 1962 and 1971. he lost 1967 and 1977 lok sabha election from meerut

Shahnawaz Committee

In 1956, the government constituted a committee to look into the circumstances around Subhash Chandra Bose's death. Major General, Shah Nawaz Khan, headed the committee, whose members included Suresh Chandra Bose. The Committee began its work in April 1956 and concluded four months later when all three members of the Committee signed a paper that stated that Netaji indeed died in the aeroplane crash at Taihoku (Japanese for Taipei) in Formosa (now Taiwan), on August 18, 1945.

They stated that his ashes were kept in Japan's Renkoji Temple and should be reinstated to India.


General Shahnawaz Khan left behind three sons and three daughters including adopted one. Mehmood Nawaz, Akbar Nawaz, Ajmal Nawaz, Mumtaz, Fehmida and Lateef Fatima (adopted). Mehmood Nawaz has three sons (Mehboob, Asad and Ali), Akbar Nawaz has two (Adil Shah Nawaz Khan and Azam Nawaz Khan) and Ajmal Nawaz has three (Aayan, Aafan and Adnan). Mehboob is married and has two sons (Saad and Ibrahim), Asad has a son Ahmed, while Ali Nawaz is also married and has a son named after his grandfather (Shah Nawaz Khan).


In the 2005 movie Bose: The Forgotten Hero, Khan was portrayed by actor Sonu Sood.


  1. ^ The I. N. A. Heroes: Autobiographies of Maj. Gen. Shahnawaz, Col. Prem K. Sahgal by Prem Kumar Sahgal, Shah Nawaz Khan, Gurbakhsh Singh Dhillon, Hero Publ.1946, p15, p60
  2. ^ A Hundred Horizons, Sugata Bose, 2006 USA, p136

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