Kolkata: A poor Indian woman who claims to be the heir to the dynasty who built the Taj Mahal demanded ownership of the majestic palace, once the home of Emperor Mughal. Sultana Begum lives in a cramped two-room hut in a slum outside Kolkata and survives with a small pension.
Among her modest possessions is a record of her marriage to Mirza Mohammad Beder Bakto, who is said to be the great-grandson of India’s last Mugar ruler. With his death in 1980, she had a hard time surviving. For the past decade, she has petitioned authorities to recognize her royal status and compensate accordingly.
“Can you imagine the descendants of the emperor who built the Taj Mahal now living in desperate poverty?” The 68-year-old asked AFP. Begum has filed a proceeding seeking recognition as the legitimate owner of the impressive 17th-century Red Fort, a vast and mocking castle in New Delhi that was once under the control of the Mughal Empire.
“I hope the government will definitely give me justice,” she said. “When something belongs to someone, it should be returned.” Her case is endorsed by sympathetic activists, and her deceased husband’s pedigree is Bahadur, the last reigning emperor. It is based on her claim that it can be traced back to Shah Zafar.
By the time of the coronation of Zafar in 1837, the Mughal Empire had shrunk to the border of the capital after the conquest of India by a commercial venture of British merchants known as the East India Company. The Battle of Badghis 20 years later (now welcomed as India’s first war of independence) saw rebel soldiers proclaiming the now frail 82-year-old as the leader of their rebellion. .. The emperor, who preferred to write poetry rather than wage war, was a reluctant leader, knowing that a chaotic uprising was destined.
British troops surrounded Delhi within a month and ruthlessly crushed all 10 surviving sons of Zafar despite the surrender of the royal family. Zafar himself was banished to neighboring Myanmar, traveled under guard in an ox cart, and died five years later in captivity.
Symbol of independence
Many of the Red Fort buildings were demolished in the years following the uprising, and the complex was devastated before colonial authorities ordered renovations at the turn of the 20th century. Since then, it has become a powerful symbol of freedom from British rule.
India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, raised the national flag from the main gate of the fort to commemorate the Independence Day of August 1947. This is a solemn ritual repeated annually by its successors. Begum’s proceedings are based on the allegation that the Indian government is an illegal resident of property, and she states that she should have taken over it.
The Delhi High Court dismissed her petition as a “waste of time” last week, but did not rule on whether her claim to the Empire’s ancestors was justified. Instead, the court stated that her legal team could not justify why a similar proceeding was not filed by Zafar’s descendants 150 years after Zafar’s asylum. Her lawyer, Vivek More, said the case would continue. “She has decided to file a plea with the High Court of the court that disagrees with the order,” he told AFP over the phone.
“Justice will happen”
Begum has endured an unstable life even before he became a widow and was forced to move to what is now called his hometown, the slums. Her husband, who married in 1965 at the age of 14, was 32 years old, a senior, and made some money as a fortune teller, but was unable to support his family.
“Poverty, fear, and lack of resources put him at stake,” she added. Begum lives in a small hut with one of his grandchildren, shares a kitchen with his neighbors, and does the laundry at the communal faucet on the street. For several years she ran a small coffee shop near her home, but was demolished to widen the road and now survives with a monthly pension of 6,000 rupees ($ 80).
However, she has not given up hope that authorities will recognize her as a legitimate beneficiary of the Indian Empire’s heritage and the Red Fort. “I hope I get what I’m entitled to today, tomorrow, or within 10 years,” she said. “God is pleased and I will regain it … I am convinced that justice will occur.” – AFP
https://news.kuwaittimes.net/website/destitute-heir-of-indias-emperors-demands-residence/ The poor “heirs” of the Indian emperor demand residence