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Lifeline for Mughal 'heirs' - Trust set up to trace and rehabilitate needy descendants

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By CITHARA PAUL in Delhi
  • Published 21.03.09
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New Delhi, March 21: Their forefathers once ruled the Indian subcontinent, now a trust has been formed to help the descendants of Mughals break out of a life of penury.

The Mughal India Trust was formed last week with the objective of identifying the descendants and rehabilitating those in need.

“Our primary initiative would be trace out these descendants as they are spread all over the world. Only then we can think about rehabilitate those who face hardships,” said Gulzar Dehlavi, a champion of Urdu and one of the members of the trust.

Sultana Begum, who claims to be the widow of the great-grandson of the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, welcomed the trust and hoped it would help her family. Sultana used to run a tea stall in Howrah’s Foreshore Road after her husband died in 1980, but that was pulled down when the road was being widened two years ago.

“I get a pension of Rs 400 from the government of India due to the family lineage,” she said. “I sometimes do odd jobs like wedging stones in bangles for Rs 20 or 25 a day.” Her husband, Mirza Mohammad Bedad Baqht used to deal in semi-precious stones.

Mughal descendants are spread over several countries, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. In India, they are living mostly in Delhi, Aurangabad and Calcutta — the trust has already “identified” 200 families in Aurangabad and nearly 70 in Calcutta.

However, there are disputes about who the real descendants of the Mughal dynasty are, with many staking claim to the lineage. The trust, which plans to send a team to other countries as well, will locate the descendants by tracing the “shijras” or the family tree. “Once the list of descendants of the Mughal dynasty is prepared, then the trust will put the demand in front of the government for their rehabilitation,” its chairman Shahid Ali Khan said.

The trust is the brainchild of Khan, a businessman, and already has Rs 30 lakh collected from “like-minded souls who are concerned about the plight of Mughal descendants”.