Unlike the Rajput Maharajas of Rajasthan, whose descendents live in palaces, there is virtually no trace of the decedents of Moghul dynasty. One of the reasons for this is Moghul dynasty ended in 1858 at the hands of the British, in the aftermath of which, many of the Royal descendents were either killed or fled Delhi to other parts of India without any trace. On the other hand the Rajput Maharajas were allowed to rule as semi-independent princely states.
However, after a long search and overcoming host of false claims, one Moghul descendent was traced in a slum located in the outskirts of Kolkata.
Her name is Sultana Begum, who is the great grand daughter-in-law of the last emperor of India, Bahadur Shah Zafar. She survives in Rs.6, 000 a month that she receives from basic pension after her husband, Prince Mirza Bedar Bukht’s death.
Sultana, who lives with her only unmarried daughter, Madhu Begum, said: ‘We have been living, but God knows how.
‘My other daughters and their husbands are poor people, they barely survive themselves so cannot help us.’
The policy of our government is divisive, when Royal families of Rajasthan, Travancore and Kochi receives hefty pensions, the paltry sum received by Moghul descendents speaks of discriminatory government policies on Royal families.
Sultana has spent many years petitioning central and state governments for help so that she can live with dignity. All the government has done is to provide one of her grand daughters, Roshan Ara, with a job and salary of Rs. 15000 a month.
Sultana added: ‘I am grateful there are some who have come forward to help me.
‘My husband, the late Muhammad Bedar Bakht who was the son of Jamshid Bakht and grandson of Jawan Bakht, used to tell me that we come from respectable royal families who never begged for a living.
‘I have always asked governments to provide me what my family deserves.’
It is heartbreaking to find Sultana, whose family gave India Taj Mahal, to be living in such abject poverty. It is also true the descendents of Moghul dynasty did not get the recognition and media attention that Maharajas of Rajasthan or Travancore, Kochi, Mysore et al got. Moghuls ruled the entire subcontinent at the height of their power and gave India a prosperous and unified nation. To find their descendents struggling to meet their ends is something most disheartening. The government and the non-profit organizations should come forward and provide some basic semblance of dignity that people like Sultana thoroughly deserve.