“My grandfather, Mushir –ul-Mulk Mir Humza Hussain was appointed Chairman of the Reception Committee when Gandhiji visited Bengaluru in 1927” says Mir Sajjad Hussain with quiet pride. “However, when Gandhiji alighted on the station platform, he found my grandfather missing. He enquired about his absence. He was told that my grandfather was advised bed rest due to a serious heart condition. He insisted on visiting him and made his way to Binfield, our family home. He sat by the sick bed for a while and before his departure, my grandmother, Sajida Begum donated her gold bangles to Gandhiji’s Harijan Fund. Then my father, late Alhaj Justice Mir Iqbal Hussain escorted him to the door.” This unscheduled visit took the family by surprise, but perhaps it wasn’t completely unexpected. They had met during Gandhiji’s previous visits to the city when Mir Humza Hussain had been entrusted with supervising law and order for the national leader.
The Roll of Honour in the 1930 Mysore Gazetteer (Vol II, Chapter XII, Page 3151) records Mir Humza Hussain’s birth as 15th March 1869. He lost his father at an early age, but went on to be educated at the Maharaja’s College (1889) in Mysuru and completed his BA from Central College, Bengaluru. The family recalls him staying on Jumma Masjid Road off Avenue Road at this time and studying through the night by streetlight. He then got married and completed studying law in Madras. Recognising the young man’s potential, his father-in-law, a Risaldar in the Mysore Government, presented him to Diwan Seshadri Iyer, whereupon he joined service as a Judicial Probationer in 1893.
The family says that their origins can be traced back to the Persian province of Khorasan from where they migrated to central India and then to the courts of the Deccan Sultanate. They eventually spread across the Mysuru region and one branch then settled Periyapatna. Mir Mir Humza Hussain’s ancestors chose Mysuru, where they have firm roots even today.
During the course of his distinguished career, he occupied the positions of Assistant Superintendent of Police (1898), Senior Assistant Commissioner (1909), District and Sessions Judge (1911) and Inspector General of Police (1920). By 1923, he was appointed First Member in the Mysore Legislative Council and was conferred the title `Mushir-ul-Mulk’ by the Maharaja of Mysore at the Dasara Durbar in the same year. He then stepped in as Officiating Diwan of Mysore for Diwan Sir Albion Banerjee from February-March 1925, before his retirement. Portraits of Mir Humza Hussain show him as a bearded, impeccably dressed gentleman wearing the royal Mysorean`Ghanda Berunda’ a mark of distinction received directly from the Maharaja.
Before moving to Binfield, the family stayed at their home`Umda Bagh’, opposite MN Krishnarao Park in Basavanagudi, next to Dr. Armugam Circle. Other Diwans of Mysore too had been allotted plots here and built residences nearby. Not many know that the road from Sajjan Rao Circle to South End Circle was once named after him for services rendered to the state. Part of it was changed to Vasavi Dharamshala Road in 1977. A name board can still be found (in Kannada) on the last house at South End Circle. But the family hopes that the section from the junction of Vani Vilas Road to South End Circle will atleast revert to its previous name in his memory.
Residents of Rustomjee Reidency on Richmond Road too have no idea that their apartment building is where the large colonial bungalow called Binfield that Gandhiji visited was once located. Most of Bengaluru’s history is now buried in our memories and the foundations of new constructions. Photographs of Binfield past show an Araucaria columnaris tree towering above its roof. It continues to thrive in the compound today and is the only living link to the building’s past.