Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, who has found mention in the ongoing Assam NRC list debate, was the fifth President of India. On Tuesday, his nephew – Ziauddin Ali Ahmed- said that his and some of his family members’ name did not feature in the final draft of Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC). The absence of names of Ahmed’s family members in the NRC was picked up as a point of contention by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee while slamming the BJP-led central government. “I am surprised to see that the names of our former President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed’s family members are not on the NRC Assam list. What else can I say? There are so many people whose names are not there,” she is reported to have said.
Ahmed was born on May 13, 1905 at the Hauz Qazi area of Old Delhi to Col. Zalnur Ali Ahmed who is believed to have been the first Assamese person to have an M.D. degree. Ahmed completed his education from St. Stephen’s College in Delhi and Catharine’s College in Cambridge. He was called to the Bar from the Inner Temple of London and began legal practice in the Lahore High Court in 1928. Ahmed met Jahawarlal Nehru in England in 1925. He later joined the Indian National Congress and also participated in the Indian Freedom Movement and was in fact one of those arrested during the Quit India movement of 1942.
After Independence, he was elected to the Rajya Sabha (1952–1953) and thereafter became Advocate-General of the Government of Assam. He was chosen for the presidency by the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, 1974. On August 20, 1974, he became the second Muslim to be elected president of India.
It is believed that Ahmed issued the proclamation of emergency by signing the papers at midnight after a meeting with Indira Gandhi the same day. On 11 February 1977, he died after collapsing in his office while preparing to attend his daily Namaz prayer.