Tag Archives: Bahadur Shah Zafar

Sify columnist releases book on Indian Muslim freedom fighters




In a glittering ceremony, two books on the Muslim community’s contribution to the Indian freedom movement were launched in Patna last week. The function was presided over by Harsh Mander, former IAS officer and human rights activist.

The books ‘Muslim Freedom Fighters: Contribution of Indian Muslims in the Independence Movement’ and its Urdu version ‘Muslim Mujahideen-e-Azadi aur Tehrik-e-Azadi Mein Unki Khidmat’ have been authored by well-known Delhi based author and journalist Syed Ubaidur Rahman.

The two books try to fight the oft-repeated allegations that Muslims are anti-national and have not contributed for the freedom of the nation. The books nail the lie and prove that Muslims not just participated in the freedom movement, they went on to lead the freedom struggle for a long time. The first war of Independence or Mutiny of 1857 was led by Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar in Delhi and Begum Hazrat Mahal in Lucknow.

The Independence Movement in the first two decades of the twentieth century was led by Mahmud Hasan and ulama of Deoband and they had respect and support of everyone including Hindus and Muslims.

If anyone has any doubt about the Muslim contribution in the freedom movement, the fact that the Indian National Congress had as many as nine Muslims as its president till the year 1947 will remove such doubts.

While speaking on the occasion, Harsh Mander said that the divisive forces in the country are trying to divide the nation on the basis of religion and faith. He said that the danger from such forces for the national fabric and its unity has become grave.

Mander added that the threat to the communal amity in the country was never so high as is today as divisive forces are doing every thing to pit one community against the other and create a fear psychosis among the majority community prompting it to turn it against minorities.

Khursheed Mallick, a Chicago based urologist, philanthropist and director of IMEFNA said that the book is a timely reminder to the nation that Muslims and Hindus both sacrificed for the nation and this fact must be clearly told to our young generation. He said Muslims sacrificed heavily for the cause of the freedom of the nation and efforts must be made to tell the history.

Syed Ubaidur Rahman, the author of the two books, while speaking on the occasion said Muslims have been rather loath to write about the sacrifices they have made for the cause of the Independence and freedom. He said Muslims suffered badly throughout the freedom movement. They were the worst suffers in the wake of the mutiny of 1857 and its aftermath when Muslims were hounded across North India and beyond. Tens of thousands of Muslims lost their lives for the freedom.

Syed added that ulama of Deoband played a stellar role in the freedom movement. Unlike the common perception, they were secular to the core and when they established a government in exile in Kabul in 1915, they appointed Raja Mahendra Pratap as its President and Maulana Barkatullah Bhopali as its Prime Minister.

The book documents the lives of forty renowned Muslim freedom fighters including, Shaikhul Hind Maulana Mahmud al-Hasan, Maulana Barkatullah Bhopali, Hakim Ajmal Khan, Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar, Dr Maghfoor Ahmad Ajazi, Dr Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari, Ashfaqulla Khan, Maulana Hasrat Mohani, Maulana Muhammad Mian Mansoor Ansari, Asaf Ali, Husain Ahmad Madani, Aruna Asaf Ali (Kulsum Zamani), Peer Ali Khan, Saifuddin Kitchlew, Mohammed Abdur Rahiman, Captain Abbas Ali, Abdul Qaiyum Ansari, Prof. Abdul Bari, Moulvi Abdul Rasul, Nawab Syed Mohammed Bahadur, Rahimtulla Mahomed Sayani, Syed Hasan Imam, Sir Syed Ali Imam, M.C. Chagla, Yusuf Meherally, Justice Fazal Ali, General Shah Nawaz Khan, Allama Fazle Haq Khairabadi, Maulana Shaukat Ali, Syed Mahmud, Maulana Mazharul Haque, Badruddin Tyabji, Col Mehboob Ahmed, Begum Hazrat Mahal, Maulana Shafi Daudi, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, Syed Mohammad Sharfuddin Quadri, Batak Mian .

The book launch function was organized at Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu and was presided over by Abdul Qaiyum Ansari, chairman of Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu Bihar.

Syed Ubaidur Rahman is a New Delhi based writer and commentator. He has written several books on Muslims and Islam in India including Understanding Muslim Leadership in India.

source: http://www.sify.com / Sify.com / Home> SifyNews> National / by SIFY.com / Friday – December 22nd, 2017

Battle of Patparganj to Bahadur Shah Zafar’s trial: Delhi’s journey since 1803, at the click of a mouse


A 100-member team of archivists is digitising over 10 crore documents to prevent further loss. The first phase of the project is expected to be completed in two years.

A letter from General Lake Sahib to Zaibun Nisa Baigum dated 8 October 1802 at Delhi archives.(Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)
A letter from General Lake Sahib to Zaibun Nisa Baigum dated 8 October 1802 at Delhi archives.(Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)

On March 9, 1858, a British court declared Delhi’s last king, Bahadur Shah Zafar, guilty of rebellion, treason and murder before exiling him to Rangoon in the then British-controlled Burma. The trial was approved and confirmed a month later by N Penny, major general commanding, Meerut division.

One hundred and fifty nine years later, the 42-day trial conducted at Diwan-e-Khaas of the Red Fort by British prosecutor Major F Harriott lies preserved word for word at the Delhi archives in the form of a hardbound book comprising 262-pages.

Apart from the handwritten trial papers, the Delhi archives is a repository of over 10 crore rare documents comprising Mughal firmans (imperial orders), maps, land acquisition award statements, jail records, manuscripts and government orders narrating the historical and political journey of Delhi since 1803.

So far accessible to only researchers, the treasure trove will soon be just a click away for those interested in the history of the national capital. An ambitious ‘digitisation and microfilming of archival records’ project started by Delhi government is underway with the target of converting 4 crore documents in the first phase by 2020.

An official with a copy of the trial of Bahadur Shah Zafar. (Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)
An official with a copy of the trial of Bahadur Shah Zafar. (Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)

“Some of the records are so old that they might get damaged. So, it is required to preserve them in digital and microfilm formats for posterity,” said Sanjay Garg, the chief archivist of the archives. The Delhi Archives is city’s second repository of records from early 19th century after the National Archives of India.

Mughal firmans to land acquisition for Lutyens Delhi

In September 1803 East India Company’s forces under general Gerard Lake fought the Marathas in what is popular as Battle of Delhi, or Battle of Patparganj — named after the area now in east Delhi.The earliest documents at the Delhi Archives relate to this battle. Thought the British emerged victorious, they allowed Shah Alam II — the blind emperor of Delhi — to issue firmans in Persian language, many of which are also preserved at the archives.

“There are different sizes of royal seals in Persian language depending on the hierarchy in the Mughal courts on the firman with gold marks,” said Ashutosh Kumar Jha, assistant archivist pointing at ‘A letter from General Lake Sahib to Zaib-un-Nisa Baigum’ dating October 8, 1802.

The transfer of power to the British crown in 1958 followed setting up of a new administration and eventually the construction of the new capital, Delhi, in 1912. The Archives also have records of land acquisition during this historic shift of the national capital from Kolkata to Delhi.

“From photographs to award statements of land acquired from the owners, we have rare documents that bear testimony to how the present day Delhi came up,” said Sandeep Singh, assistant archivist. In one of the records dating March 1913, an individual named Ram Das was awarded a compensation of Rs 172, two paisa and nine annas for his 285.38 acre of land acquired by the government in Khanpur. The deal was signed by Kamruddin, revenue assistant, Delhi province.

Documents being scanned for digitisation at Delhi archives. (Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)
Documents being scanned for digitisation at Delhi archives. (Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)

Photographs, titles awarded jail documents, student activism

The repository at the archives includes pictures of construction of historical buildings housing Parliament and Rashtrapati House in early 20th century. Originally called House of Parliament, the Sansad Bhawan was designed by the British architect Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker in 1912-1913 and was constructed between 1921 and 1927.

A poster of a debate being organised by Delhi Students’ Federation on May 29, 1937 at Arabic College Hall (Ajmeri Gate) is in the section of rare documents showing how teachers would support students’ concerns. The debate on why “the proposed scheme of educational reconstruction of Delhi University will be detrimental to the best interest of the students’ community and the cause of education in the country”, had C Eyre Walker, principal Arabic college, S Dutt, principal Ramjas College, and BB Gupta, principal Ramjas inter college among speakers.

A rare document dated April 7, 1912 is testimony to how ‘Khan Bahadur’ title was awarded to one Chaudhari Nabi Ahmed on the occasion of ‘His Majesty, the King- Emperor’s Birthday’.

The Delhi archives is a repository of over 10 crore rare documents comprising Mughal firmans, maps land acquisition statements, jail records, manuscripts and government orders. (Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)
The Delhi archives is a repository of over 10 crore rare documents comprising Mughal firmans, maps land acquisition statements, jail records, manuscripts and government orders. (Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)

Digitising 10 crore rare documents

The project, billed as the largest in Asia, envisages digitisation of 10 crore records stored in the four specially constructed floors of the Delhi Archives building in Qutub Institutional Area. In the first phase, four crore records are expected to be ready and uploaded on the website of the Delhi archives over a span of 30 months at a cost of Rs 25.4 crore.

The project was fist conceived in 2011 but was taken up by the incumbent government on August 31 this year. Led by Garg, a 100-member team of archivists, scholars and employers are busy with the digitisation task using computers and high-end German-made scanners.

“We have got eight scanners for now. We digitise about 50,000 pages each day,” Garg said

A collection of old newspapers at the archives includes a copy of Hindustan Times, Evening News, published on September 25, 1948. (Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)
A collection of old newspapers at the archives includes a copy of Hindustan Times, Evening News, published on September 25, 1948. (Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)

Once digitised, the records would be transformed into microfilms.

“The thumbnails of the records with some information would be available on the website. For higher resolutions, one has to pay,” Garg said

A welcome move

“It’s a welcome move to preserve and digitise records particularly Bahadur Shah Zafar’s trial. The public will know who sided with British and who was with revolutionaries in the first war if Independence,” said historian Rana Safvi, who has translated Zahir Dehlvi’s Dastan-e-Ghadar which comprises eyewitness account of the 1857 uprising against the British

An old invite of Delhi Student Federation, now DUSU (Delhi University Student Union), at Delhi archives. (Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)
An old invite of Delhi Student Federation, now DUSU (Delhi University Student Union), at Delhi archives. (Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)

Established in 1972, the Delhi archives is a repository of non-current records of Delhi government under the department of art and culture. It is responsible for preservation of the archives and making them available research and references.

“We are committed to make knowledge more accessible to the common people. This is an important step towards preserving our precious heritage. While digitisation will ensure preservation of documents, making them available to a larger audience through a website and outreach events will play a key role in dissemination,” said Manish Sisodia, the minister of Art, Culture and Languages.

source: http://www.hindustantimes.com / Hindustan Times / Home> Cities / by Gulam Jeelani, Hindustan Times / December 14th, 2017

Familiar echoes



Hay House, Rs 599

This has happened before. When Mahmood Farooqui’s Besieged: Voices from Delhi 1857 was published in 2010, the “voices” of the desperate Dilliwallahs, caught in the throes of a revolt that was not really theirs, sounded strangely familiar. They had been heard in William Dalrymple’s tour de force, The Last Mughal, published four years before Farooqui’s tome came out.

Ather Farouqui’s translation of Aslam Parvez’s seminal work on Bahadur Shah Zafar evokes the same feeling. This is a Zafar we know — a tragic figure undoubtedly, but also one heroic in the midst of adversity, stoic in the face of incomparable loss and grief; a fine poet, humanist and an upholder of the best of the traditions and values that the Mughal court had engendered. Only that Dalrymple’s evocative prose and writing style had done more to popularize the last of the great Mughals than any other piece of work has done for him.

The reason voices and pictures recur is because the works mentioned above conscientiously tapped into long-neglected primary and secondary Persian and Urdu sources that give a very different perspective on Zafar and the Revolt than the conventional viewpoint. Mahmood Farooqui’s research into the Mutiny Papers, written in Shikastah Urdu, threw light on the harrowing experience of the people of Delhi and the personal tragedies that severely dented the picture of the Revolt as a ‘war of independence’. Parvez’s research recovered Zafar’s image and reinstated him as an aesthete, a poet and an iconic figure of the cultural efflorescence that marked the late Mughal era. These independent researches that broke new ground went on to inform, shape and colour Dalrymple’s presentation, which took the story to the large English readership. More than three decades after Parvez had published Zafar’s biography in Urdu, Ather Farouqui’s translation tries to reach the same readership, which, incidentally, heard it all from Dalrymple first.

But Parvez’s treatment of Zafar has a unique flavour. He draws a distinction between Bahadur Shah Zafar the emperor and Zafar the poet. He is unsparing when it comes to the former. Although Parvez acknowledges that the emperor was a victim of his circumstances, reduced to the indignity of having to repeatedly petition the British for his upkeep, the author puts the blame for the last Mughal’s penury on his greed. The ways devised by Zafar’s court to tide over the cash crunch — selling of titles, access to the emperor made easy on payment, his indiscriminate borrowings from the laity — make for incredible reading. What Parvez makes obvious is that even without the Revolt, the British would have made sure that Zafar was the last Mughal to hold fort.

Parvez believes that although Zafar was unwillingly dragged into the war of 1857, once he had committed himself to it, he remained steadfast in his commitment. Dalrymple pictures it differently though. In his narrative, Zafar is withdrawn, confused and often vacillating. But the aspect Dalrymple powerfully highlights in The Last Mughal is one that Parvez repeatedly draws attention to as well — Zafar identifying himself with the suffering of the Dilliwallahs and his powerful determination to retain the secular fabric of Delhi under the severest of pressures, one that led him to ban cow slaughter even on the eve of Eid. In fact, it was to save his beloved city that Zafar took charge of the Mutiny in Delhi.

The other point that Parvez makes is that irrespective of their interests, the British were not completely unresponsive to Zafar’s needs. As proof, he points to his treatment post-Mutiny, particularly that on the way to and in Rangoon. Perhaps Parvez stretches his case a bit. Zafar is known to have been denied even pen and paper in exile. For a poet, this would have meant instant death.

Parvez’s treatment of Zafar as a poet is very different from his treatment of Zafar as an emperor. He makes a strong case for Zafar’s poetic credentials, demolishing Mohammad Husain Azad’s contention that Zafar’s poetry was ghost-written by Mohammad Ibrahim Zauq, who was appointed by Zafar himself to supervise his work. Parvez delves deep into contemporary evidence and compares literary styles to make his case. Whatever Zafar’s failings as a ruler, his calibre as a poet is something Parvez has no doubts about. Acknowledging Zafar’s limitations, Parvez says, “Zafar was like the sinking notes of music while Ghalib was the rising crescendo.”

Ather Farouqui rightly notes the significance of translating Parvez’s work. Given its importance in drawing attention to the “civilizational comingling” of the times that India is now so close to forgetting, he should have been more careful with the work. But he is not. Take his rendition of the poetry, be that of Shah Alam, Zauq or Zafar. Of the many that sound jarring is the following one by Zafar: Tori mariz-e gham ne tere is tarha se jaan/ Ghabra ke ghamgusar sarahne se uth gae (“The way the lovelorn breathed his last/ Startled sympathizers, they jumped their feet with a start”).

source: http://www.telegraphindia.com / The Telegraph,Calcutta,India / Front Page> Opinion> Story / by Chirosree Basu / Friday – June 30th, 2017

Prince Yakub Habeebuddin Tucy Meets Governor

Hyderabad, TELANGANA :

Srinagar (Jammu & Kashmir)  :

H.H. Prince Yakub Habeebuddin Tucy, a descendent of Babur, the Mughal Emperor, called on Governor N.N. Vohra at the Raj Bhavan here today.

Prince Tucy apprised the Governor about his views on the current situation in Kashmir and restoration of peace and normalcy by organizing planned public contact programmes. He sought Governor’s intervention for constitution of Madrassa Board in J&K and involvement of various NGOs for helping youth in finding better avenues for employment.

Governor appreciated Prince Tucy’s tours and lectures in various places in Rajouri and Poonch and his efforts towards the restoration of normalcy in the State. He urged the Prince to continue his honest endeavours towards country’s development and assured him all support.

source: http://www.crosstownnews.in / Cross Town News / Home> News> J & K / by Cross Town News / May 24th, 2017

A walk through the ruins of 1857


May 11, 1857. Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar was fishing in the Yamuna in the morning when he was told about some disturbance breaking out in the city. He rushed back into the fort.

Sowars of the 3rd Bengal Native Cavalry, after mutinying at Meerut the previous day, had reached Delhi after riding overnight. The Revolt of 1857 was at Delhi’s doorstep. And the octogenarian head of the house of Timur, given to poetry and not soldiering, was thrust into the command of an epic struggle that was not just political but also cultural: one that would change Delhi and India forever.

On May 5, TOI approached India’s foremost military historian, Squadron Leader Rana T S Chhina (Retd) of USI-CAFHR, to walk us through the landmarks of the Revolt in Delhi: the ruins, the battlefields, the memorials. The trigger for it was obvious: it’s the 160th anniversary of the Revolt, which people variously refer to as the Indian Mutiny, Sepoy Mutiny, and First War of Indian Independence, depending on which side of the ideological or cultural spectrum they are located.

We, along with a delegation from the British High Commission, assembled outside DU vice-chancellor’s residence, facing the road to Flagstaff Tower. It was a hot May morning, like the one that troubled Jim Corbett when he hunted down the Mohan man-eater. But we endured it as we were hunting for history.

In 1857, the rebel troops started killing Christians, both white and brown, once they were in the city. Europeans who managed to escape flocked towards Flagstaff Tower—our first stop.

One just has to peek inside to imagine how in this rat hole of sorts, scores of people— many of them women and children—huddled together in the searing heat, waiting for help to arrive from Meerut.

We turned left from the Flagstaff Tower into Bonta Park. A little ahead, we arrived at a 19th-century guard house, one of the two that still exist and which would have had an Indian picket when the Revolt began—Delhi was garrisoned by the 38th, 54th and 74th Bengal Native Infantry regiments.

By early June, however, the British reinforcements came and a counterattack began. Flagstaff Tower had a rebel battery by then, which rained down fire and hell on the approaching Anglo-Indian troops. “Despite the bitter animosity that existed then between the British and the rebels, the British officers were appreciative of the gunnery of the rebels. Indian guns were serviced very well, and the English noted that an Indian gunner would rather die defending his gun than give it up,” Chhina said.

Some English officers also heaped praise on the rebels for orderly retreat under fire and took pride in training the men well.

The Tower was taken and it became the left flank of the British position on the Ridge; the centre of the position became the Mosque Picket, our next halt. It’s actually the Chauburja Masjid or the four-domed mosque built by Sultan Ferozeshah Tughlaq in the 14th century. Chhina showed us how it appeared to European photographer Felice Beato in 1858 while we tried to capture the mosque from the same angle as Beato did. Only one dome exists now—a sorry testament to the conservation story of modern India.

Next we went to a palace of Ferozeshah Tughlaq, which is now called Pir Ghaib but may have been the Kushk-i-Jahanuma or Kushk-i-Shikar, a hunting lodge of the Delhi sultan. Even Tamerlane may have visited it. In 1857, this was the scene of bitter fighting between rebel troops and British-led troops. The baoli right next to it is a wonder in itself with flights of stairs on all sides. English troops back in 1857 reported seeing a step well with several leafy trees near Hindu Rao’s house. Only the stumps of some of those trees remain today.

Hindu Rao’s house was the next halt. In June 1857, it was held by the Sirmoor battalion of the Gurkhas (later 2nd Gurkha Rifles, Indian Army and now Royal Gurkha Rifles, British Army), supported by Queen Victoria’s Own Corps of Guides (now split as 2 Frontier Force and Guides Cavalry, Pakistan Army) and other British units.

On September 14, the British stormed Delhi with their full might. The Siege of Delhi ended amid mind-numbing carnage. “Passions were excited on both sides. And it was Delhi that suffered.” Chhina said.

As one contemporary observer noted, Delhi became a “ghost city” with abandoned homes and bloated corpses lying all over.

Our final stop was the Mutiny Memorial on the Ridge, now called Ajitgarh or Fatehgarh. Today, it’s a nationalised memorial to both Indians and the English killed during the Siege of Delhi.

“Something must be done to make these places more familiar to tourists. And these must be preserved,” said Lieutenant Colonel Simon de Labilliere, the military adviser at the high commission.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> News> City News> Delhi News / by Manimugdha S Sharma / TNN / May 12th, 2017

No Living Moghals, for now

Hyderabad, TELANGANA ( formerly ANDHRA PRADESH )

Hyderabad :

The City Civil Court has granted injunction order stopping the telecast of the documentary film, `Living Moghals,’ produced by the Public Service Broadcasting Trust.

The documentary, which has been screened on various TV channels, has attracted flak from the descendants of the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, for projecting Princess Laila Umahani and her two sons as the only surviving heirs. Taking objection to the `misleading’ documentary, Prince Yakub Habibuddin Tucy, great grandson of Bahadur Shah, and 34 other members of the family approached the court and obtained the injunction order, pending disposal of the suit.

Prince Habibuddin told presspersons here on Sunday that both print and electronic media were giving a wrong picture showing Princess Umahani and her sons — Ziauddin Tucy and Masihuddin Tucy — as the surviving heirs. The fact was that Umahani’s elder sister, 88-year-old Princess Hussan Jahan Ara Begum, her children and grandchildren were also present. There were at least 55 Mughal descendants living in the city alone.

“All this is being done with an ulterior motive,” Prince Habibuddin said. He said all the descendants of the Mughal family wherever they might be living should come under the banner of Mughal Emperors Family Society so as to preserve their identity.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Southern States> Andhra Pradesh – Hyderabad / by The Hindu Staff Reporter / Monday – December 09th, 2002