Mar 31, 2007

Where are you going, Bhopal?

Many consecutive cases of criminal connections with the calm and scenic city of Bhopal, makes one wonder, like the advertisement of Tata Sky, where Bhopal is headed. The police here may not be fully convinced that the state has become a favorite haunt of ISI-underworld combine, the intelligence officials are worried over tell-tale signs of their presence showing in various parts of the state every now and then.

Yesterday three accused of murder escaped from high court at Jabalpur. The three accused named Mukhtar Mallick, Muzaffar Hussain alias Munna Painter and Asif Mamu were declared guilty by the high court in a gang war, which took place in Bhopal district court on 10th July 1996. Mukhtar Mallick near Kamla Park of Bhopal shot at Munna Painter. During the hearing of this case, a fight broke out between the supporters of Munna Painter and Mukhtar Mallick. Salim Baba, Salim Bucha and Umar Ijhar were killed in the fight that ensued in presence of the judge in the district court of Bhopal. The Bhopal police arrested seventeen people in this case, but none of the parties brought any charges against each other. All the private witnesses also turned hostile. Moreover the Bhopal court declared all the accused "not guilty" in August 1999, in spite of the witnesses of police officials in-charge of the case. Munna Painter is resident of the Kamla Park area of Bhopal, and is known to be the gambling king of Bhopal. He is also involved in property broking activities. Mukhtar Mallick is basically from Goharganj of Raisen district. His main activities are Property broking, illegal mining and cutting of forest products. Both are supposed to be backed by highly placed politician.

Abu Salem, the notorious criminal had the passport of his friend Monica Bedi made from Bhopal using fake documents and name of Fauzia Usman. Now Monica Bedi facing criminal charges in a Bhopal court says that a man by the name of Shiraj, who she claimed was a former aide to Salem and well connected in the underworld, was responsible for the passport forgeries. Till date he "collects money for anti-national activities and terrorists", she said. This Shiraj, who has turned into the main witness from the government, has claimed that many attempts were made on his life by sharp shooters of Abu Salem.

Police in India wants Mohammad Iqbal Memon alias Iqbal Mirchi, in several cases, particularly the 1993 Mumbai blasts. The United Nations considers Iqbal Mirchi among the top 50 drug barons in the world and believes that he is a senior figure in the 'D' (Dawood Ibrahim) Company. Mirchi’s wife Hawa Bibi is from Bhopal. Mirchi got in touch with an English lady of Bhopal, who had inherited a bunglow in the Shyamla Hills area of Bhopal, which spread over 8,343 square feet, from her railway contractor husband. Iqbal took the old and ailing lady with him to Mumbai for treatment. He got this bunglow, known as “Angrezon Ki Haweli” in local parlance, transferred to the name of his wife. The bunglow came into focus in 1999 after the body of Anil Sharma, a sharpshooter working for another underworld don, Abu Salem, was found there. This Anil Sharma himself was a main accused of the Gulshan Kumar murder case. The Central Excise and Customs Department attached this property in 2001 under the Narcotics Drugs & Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act 1985 and The Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators (Forfeiture of Property) Act, 1976. Earlier this month, this property was put to an open auction in the presence of a special team from Mumbai customs and excise department, at a declared reserve price of Rs 9.4 million. However, a Mumbai-based company bought for Rs 48.5 million, about five times the reserved price. It is being speculated that Iqbal Mirchi bought back his property, under a fake name.

Mar 29, 2007

Reigns Of Bhopal Rulers

Dost Mohammad Khan b.c. 1672 - d. 1728 aged 56 Founder and 1st Nawab 1709 - 28
Yar Mohammad Khan b.c. 1709 - d. 1742 aged 33 2nd Nawab 1728 - 43
Faiz Mohammad Khan b.c. 1731- d. 1777 aged 46 3rd Nawab 1744 - 77 Mamola Bai exercised executive authority during the rule of her stepsons Faiz and Hayat
Hayat Mohammad Khan b.c. 1735 - d. 1807 aged 72 4th Nawab 1777 - 1807
Ghous Mohammad Khan b.c. 1767 - d. 1827 aged 60 5th Nawab and titular ruler 1807Wazir never claimed the title of Nawab, but was the de'facto ruler during the reigns of Hayat and Ghous
Wazir Mohammad Khan b.c. 1766 - d. 1816 aged 50 6th Ruler 1807 - 16
Nazar Mohammad Khan b. 1791 - d. 1819 aged 28 7th Nawab 1816 - 19
Qudsia Begum b. 1801 - d. 1881 aged 80 Regent and 8th Ruler 1819 - 37
Jahangir Mohammad Khan b. 1816 - d. 1844 aged 28 9th Nawab 1837 - 44
Sikandar Begum b. 1816 - d. 1868 aged 50 Regent and 10th Ruler 1844 - 68
Shahjehan Begum b. 1816 - d. 1868 aged 50 11th Ruler 1868 - 1901
Sultan Jahan Begum b. 1858 - d. 1930 aged 72 12th Ruler 1901 - 26
Hamidullah Khan b. 1895 - d. 1960 aged 65 13th Ruler 1926 - 60 The state of Bhopal was merged into the Indian Union in 1949. Hamidullah remained titular Nawab till his death in 1960

The Golden Reign Of Bhopal - Sikandar Begum 1847 – 68

The British thus had put in place a system of dual control over the Bhopal throne of power. However within one year the British could sense the ills of having dual control over the state. Sikandar wrote to the Governor General stating that the public came to her seeking justice, but that she had no power to decide. The British recognized the strength of Sikandar’s argument, and accordingly Fauzdar Mohammad Khan resigned his regency, thus making Sikandar the sole regent and guardian of her daughter, Shahjehan.

In terms of progressive reform and advancement, Sikandar’s 21-year reign was unquestionably the golden period of Bhopal’s history. By force of her personality, by sheer diligent good governance and by her wise statecraft, Sikandar saw Bhopal emerge as one of the best governed, enlightened and stable princely states. In the administrative sector, Sikandar presided over a dynamic, reform-oriented regime. In the field of foreign affairs, Sikandar had the wisdom, against enormous internal pressures, to back the winning horse in the 1857 mutiny and reaped rich rewards afterwards. Probably the most important act performed by Sikandar Begum was to have Delhi’s famous Juma Masjid reopened after the British had closed it during the Mutiny. British closed the Juma Masjid, built by Emperor Shahjehan, during the Mutiny because they felt it provided a sanctuary for Muslim resistance. Not content to simply shut the gates, the British heaped insult on to injury by using the famous mosque as a stable. Sikandar Begum persuaded the British to reopen the Juma Masjid, washed the courtyard with her own hands and was the first person to pray in it since mutiny. Sikandar is described by most historians as possessing Amazonian power, and had a very masculine physique. Her steely gaze is said to have been enough for most of opponents to start trembling in their shoes.

However her daughter Shahjehan, turned out to be a petite, attractive and entirely feminine. Shahjehan was 16 years old and marriageable by 1854, much to the trouble of Sikandar. Sikandar was troubled by the memories of her own troubled marriage with Jahangir. The pledge made by Sikandar to the British was exactly the same as the one Qudsia made after Nazar’s death – that Shahjehan’s husband would become the Nawab of Bhopal. Dramatically, in 1854, the 36-year-old Sikandar, obviously after consulting her mother, summoned the loyal, grizzly 32-year-old Commander-in-chief of the Bhopal Army, Sardar Baqi Mohammad Khan, son of the legendary Bakshi Bahadur Mohammad Khan, and ordered him to marry her 16-year-old daughter Shahjehan! Baqi begged Sikandar not to insist because he was already twice married and had children Shahjehan’s age. Fixing General Baqi with her famous piercing glare, Sikandar told Baqi that the wedding would take place as soon as the British General approved of the same. The British approval came on 4th July 1855, and the marriage between an unenthusiastic 17-year-old Shahjehan and 33-year-old Baqi Mohammad Khan was solemnized on 18th July 1855.

Sardar Baqi Mohammad Khan, the younger son of the legendary Bakshi Bahdur Mohammad Khan was given the title of Umrao Doulah, a gun salute within the state and allotted a vast jagir, a palanquin and an elephant. Umrao Doulah was a man of phenomenal physical strength. He exercised for three hours before breakfast with dumb-bells weighing 20 kilos each. He then consumed an enormous breakfast consisting of six seers (a seer is two kilograms) of condensed milk. He could single handedly turn a water wheel which required two bullocks and was reported to be able to hold his breath under water for an hour. On 9th July 1858, almost three years after her marriage to Baqi, the 20-year-old Shahjehan gave birth to a daughter whom she named Sultan Jahan.

At this point of time, Sikandar Begum proceeded to Hajj. After returning almost after one year of pilgrimage, she found the marriage of her daughter on rocks. Shajehan was not only much younger than her husband but was also headstrong. No amount of pressure could make Shahjehan assume the role of a dutiful eastern wife. Ultimately Umrao Doulah could not take it any longer and proceeded on Hajj. Stopping on his way back in Egypt, he fell gravely ill, and died on June 1867 soon after his return, leaving Shahjehan at the age of 29, a distinctly happy widow. The following year, on 30th November 1868, Sikandar Begum died of a kidney ailment at the age of 50.

Mar 25, 2007

Between Devil and The Deep Sea

The Indian cricket team has lost to Sri Lanka thereby practically shutting themselves out of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007. The thin thread that keeps it from being final is the hope that Bermuda might defeat Bangladesh (indeed, cows could fly). If somebody takes the trouble of thinking the issue through following logic evolves

1) What is the use sending this type of players/team for World Cup?From May 2005, when Greg Chappell took over as Indian captain, there have been many attempts to bring in new players into the Indian cricket team. They tried out players like Gautam Gambhir, Dinesh Karthik, Romesh Powar and many more in between. However India had to settle to more-or-less the same team that lost in the finals of 2004 World Cup to Australia. Does it not point to the fact that this is the best team that India could have at this point of time? That being so, why can’t we take this to be the best that we could do, and accept the fact that we require to improve the quality of our players for future?

2) The players are more interested in advertisement then in Cricket.Does anybody remember Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, India’s Murali? He had to be helped out by Transworld International to meet his medical expenses. Thirty years later, this might (god forbid) happen to an Anil Kumble. If they can make the hay while the sun shines, by all means they should. Also note that the players are the worse victims if they are dropped from team – remember the Saurav “Hu Ha India” advertisement, asking “Mujhe Bhul To Nahi Gaye?” Lately in how many advertisements have you seen Mohammad Kaif?

3) Hypothetically, let us assume that the BCCI cracks the whip as promised. They sack the entire Indian team and replaces it by a fresh junior members, with experience tending towards nil. They also announce upfront that the team is not expected to win any matches in the next three years. Will we be able accept that?

4) Corporations in India have found out that only two things have universal appeal in India – Cinema and Cricket. Now on television there are many cinemas being shown at a time, but only the Indian cricket team captures the viewers. Irrespective of the quality of tour, the teams playing it or the level of competition, advertisers will back any given series involving Indian cricket team.

The bench strength of India is the most worrying factor. New crop of younger players are very hard to come by in India. The sources have dried out some where, and unless somebody takes care of this malaise quickly, India cricket could very well go the Indian hockey way.

Mar 21, 2007

Nawab Jahangir Of Bhopal

Nawab Jahangir Mohammad Khan 1837 - 44

On 29 November 1837, at a special durbar held by the resident and in the presence of Lancelot Wilkinson, Jahangir Mohammad Khan was crowned the Nawab of Bhopal. Amir savored this moment of triumph, and Wilkinson too felt vindicated ( check here for previous details) . On Jahangir’s formal installation to the throne, his first act was to nominate his uncle Asad as Dewan in place of Raja Khuswakt Rai. He next offered Bakshi Bahadur Mohammad Khan the command of Bhopal forces and vast jagirs, provided he forsook loyalty to Qudsia. Bakshi replied to Jahangir thus “I prefer to share half a loaf of dry bread with my benefactors in adversity rather than prosper in the services of a coward”. Bakshi Bahadur along with his two sons, Baqi and Sadar, with swords unsheathed, escorted the palanquin, which took the Begums from Bhopal to their jagir in Islamnagar.

On becoming Nawab, Jehangir the poet-philanderer, immediately changed the atmosphere of the palace. The stern, Spartan, ascetic regime of Qudsia Begum gave way to descendent high-life with courtesans, dancing girls and merriment. Jehangir occupied himself with Tiger hunts, womanizing, and abundant drinking. He built a new suburb, called Jahangirabad, a cantonment for the Bhopal army, and also a palace for himself. Sikandar was a regular visitor to her mother, but willingly returned to her marital bed at night. On 2 May 1838, presumably working on a plot hatched by Amir, Jehangir attempted to kill Jehangir. He did not succeed, and Sikandar Begum was saved by luck. Jehangir had the impression that the mission had been accomplished, and he rode away to his favourite hunting palace at Samardha. By the following morning, the news of the assassination attempt brought a wave of sympathy for the begums, and all pretence at cordiality between the two families was now at an end.

On July 20th 1838, Sikandar Begum gave birth to a bonny daughter that she named Shahjehan. Qudsia Begum meanwhile repeatedly appealed to the British government, asking for a restoration of the throne. The British had also started realizing that they had backed the wrong horse by appointing Jehangir as the ruler, as signs of his misrule were apparent. The Political agent began issuing frequent warnings to Jehangir about his misrule, urging him to mend his ways. By 1844, Jehangir was on his deathbed, probably due to cirrhosis of liver, caused by excessive drinking. He died at the young age of 27, having reigned for seven years. The Britsh then decided on 15 April 1845, that the seven-year-old Shahjehan, would be the next titular ruler and that her uncle Faujdar (who “accidentally” killed Nazar) act as regent. Sikandar Begum would be her guardian and ‘would be consulted on all important issues’.

Infuriated, Amir and Asad made one last attempt to wrest power by force but were easily overpowered by British army led by Major Cunningham. Amir was put to prison where he died in 1854 and Asad was banished to Benaras for life. Qudsia, Sikandar and Shajehan returned to Bhopal on 11 April 1845.

Mar 20, 2007

Enjoy the game

When did India last enjoy the game anyone remembers? The Bermuda team was thrashed by India in the Cricket World Cup game, but if the game is to be enjoyed - Bermuda won hands down, with their carefree ways. Was Indian cricket ever this carefree? Perhaps in 1895 during Maharaja Ranjit Singh's phase? Or was that generation too careful that the English masters are not pissed off?
Who knows? Perhaps Ramchandra Guha?

Mar 18, 2007

No one died

Take a deep breath, and think without any “Hoo Ha India”, did India have the quality required to give a fair go at the World Cup? The hype created around the down right mediocre team created mostly by corporate India for the opportunity of advertising, has shown it's true colors. No body can cover the Saturday night disaster better then Greatbong though.

What is very disheartening to note is, India (like Pakistan) has an uncanny knack of having very short-lived selective memory. At Ranchi people damaged the house that was being built on 4,000 square feet of land gifted to the player by former Jharkhand chief minister Arjun Munda. This come after the player was out scoring zero in a match. However he is has an average of 46.61, giving him the ninth highest average in the history of ODI cricket. Among contemporaries, only Mike Hussey and Kevin Pietersen average more. Star News has reported cricket fans immersing cricket star posters in Upper Lake of Bhopal. Let me tell you a story from the World Cup at England. After a ridiculous run-out with Allan Donald spelt finish to South Africa’s World Cup campaign in the second semi-final in Edgbaston against Australia, everybody - media, players, fans - went for Klusener with a relish that has now become familiar. “What did you do, ‘Zulu’? Didn’t you talk to Alan? We needed only one run to win. There were still three balls to go. Where was the hurry? How does it feel to drown an entire nation’s hopes and dreams like this? Et cetera.”. Klusener, later adjudged the tournament’s Most Valued Player (MVP), was a farmer from Natal. His deadpan reply is something which only a farmer could have uttered: “So what? No one died.”

In contrast, take the case of Rajbahadur Soni, a Sepoy at Chhatisgarh Task Force, who was killed during the Naxalite attack at Bijapur, Chhatisgarh. His body was brought to Bhopal by road, as his family is a resident of Bhopal. What is interesting is his cremation had to wait for more than two hours at the cremation ground, for the Guard Of Honor to be conducted. After repeated telephone calls, the Sepoys who arrived about two hours late reportedly “did not even know how to hold the guns properly”. They had to be trained by a senior police official present, and only then a Guard Of Honor was accorded. The bungling that actually led to the killings, I am confident, would continue with the family.

Another interesting thought, courtesy Gaurav, is will Saurav take back the captainship, which is sure to be offered to him, once Rahul loses the post of captain due to miserable failure at World Cup. I hope Gaurav is right, and vote for Saurav denying the offer.
Update: Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer, did die. Is the game really worth it?

Mar 15, 2007

Qudsia’s Regency

Qudsia agreed to betroth her daughter Sikandar to Amir’s (Nazar Mohammad Khan’s elder brother) elder son, Munir, so that on marriage he would take over as the Nawab of Bhopal. As Sikandar was only 15 months old, Qudsia could count on at least 16 years of regency before Sikandar reached marriageable age. Even the British political agent on advice of Colonel Maddocks – the resident of Indore – agreed to declare Munir as the Nawab. Qudsia decided to take her future son-in-law Munir under her wing. Learned men taught Munir the basics of administration. However, soon egged on by Amir and his brother-in-law Asad, Munir gathered some Rohilla fighters and planned to overthrow Qudsia. Shahzad Masih counter attacked quickly and after a four-day standoff, a whining and contrite Munir fell at Qudsia’s feet, begging for forgiveness. Munir was forgiven, and immediately the British started pressurizing Qudsia for an early marriage. Qudsia, in 1827, declared that Munir was impotent!

This charge was eventually proved false, after Munir produced many children from another marriage. Amir then gained his younger son Jehangir’s betrothal to Sikandar. Twelve years after Qudsia became regent, Lancelot Wilkinson was made the Political agent of Bhopal. He sided with Amir, and started pressurizing Qudsia for an early marriage of Jehangir and Sikandar, which was celebrated with great pomp and show on 18 April 1835. However, Qudsia steadfastly refused to relinquish power, which eventually led to an armed conflict between Jehangir’s forces and the Royal forces of Bhopal. The Royal forces of Bhopal were victorious in a battle fought near Ashta, led by Raja Khushwakt Rai (Shazad Masih – the Bourbon died on 1 July 1829 – rumored to be poisoned by Afgan soldiers). However Lancelot Wilkinson arrived at Bhopal with a strong British contingent. Qudsia was forced to hand over power to Jahangir and she retired to Islamnagar. Qudsia was given a jagir of 816 villages with an income of 5 lakh of rupees, and honored with an 11-gun salute for life.

Mar 12, 2007

World Cup brings Google to Bhopal

The ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 matches will commence from Tuesday. The cricket tournament is bigger than ever, with a total of 16 teams contesting 51 matches, over a period of 47 days. Millions of cricket fans worldwide will be getting hooked to YouTube Videos, Cricket Blogs and Websites for live cricket scores, match video recordings, ball by ball commentary and more. As the Cricket fever is soaring, Google is also ready for all the Cricket World Cup action. A road show is scheduled at Bhopal. Google launched an official Cricket Blog authored by veteran cricket star Kris Srikkanth. [Sunil Gavaskar is already doing Cricket podcasts for Yahoo!]. Cricket bloggers can consider joining the Google Cricket Blog Contest, the winner will be on TV with Kris Srikkanth. Google has released cricket gadgets for Google Desktop users that allows them to get the latest news / cricket scores / match video recordings right in their desktop sidebars.

  • Cricket Scores - This displays the live scores of current cricket matches on your desktop. You can also view the full detailed scorecards for a match and also check the world cup 2007 cricket schedule.
  • Cricket Videos - The widget fetches the latest World Cup Cricket videos from and plays them on your desktop.
  • Cricket Images and News - Displays the latest cricket news headlines and pictures related to cricket as a slideshow on your desktop.
Some extra Cricket World Cup 2007 resources:
  • Download the time table for World Cup 2007 matches at MatchSchedulePrinter.pdf. [print version]
  • The Official Website of Cricket World Cup 2007 is located at
  • Download the official song of Cricket World Cup 2007 ("The Game of Love and Unity") at
  • The Cricket World Cup 2007 Logo displays a Caribbean setting with a palm tree, a red human figure, and a bat and ball forming the trunk and fruit. The logo of 2007 Cricket World Cup depicts the passion for the game of cricket in Caribbean.
  • The Official Mascot of ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 is Mello, a teenager. Because Mello is conscious of the growing HIV problem around the world he wears a red ribbon to show his support for the ICC and United Nations AIDS initiative.
  • The tickets of World Cup 2007 Cricket Matches can be purchased online here

Mar 7, 2007

Another Bhopali Princess

Far away from the glamour of showbiz or cricket, a princess is preparing herself for a religious responsibility. 

The 30-year-old Saba Ali Khan, sibling of two actors and daughter of one, is reportedly set to become mutawalli (chief trustee) of dozens of shrines and royal properties in Bhopal, including the Jama Masjid. That would make her the first woman head of the Auqaf-e-Shahi — the Bhopal royal family’s Rs 250-crore wakf properties — since the end of princely rule, giving her enormous religious authority over their functioning. For instance, before next year’s Haj, thousands of Bhopalis may need to approach the Nawab of Pataudi’s elder daughter with a request for free lodging in Mecca and Medina.

Bhopal’s begums had built these palatial accommodations for pilgrims from the then princely state. The two rubats (lodges) are now managed by the Indian consulate and put up about 300 hajis free of charge. The head of Auqaf-e-Shahi has discretionary powers to provide the free accommodation. Till now, the post was held by Saba’s father and former Test captain Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, whose mother was heir to the Bhopal royal family. Saba, younger than Saif Ali Khan but older than Soha, is a jewellery designer. Reports of her impending appointment have stirred excitement. As a proud Pataudi took her to the tomb of Dost Muhammad Khan, Bhopal’s first nawab, and visited mosques affiliated to the Auqaf-e-Shahi, supporters and opponents of the move began to close ranks. State minorities commission chief Anwar Mohammad Khan, appointed by the BJP government, said he would “wait and watch”. “I respect nawab saheb and am aware of his desire to appoint the nawabzadi as mutawalli. I have no objection but we will have to see if it fulfils Shariat norms,” he said. Shafqat Mohammad Khan, educator and cricket administrator, said he would welcome Saba’s appointment. “This is in keeping with Islam and Bhopal’s great tradition when women rulers headed Auqaf-e-Shahi and built mosques and madarsas. The nawabzadi’s appointment will show the changing face of Muslims in India,” he said.

But Khurram Ausaf Shamiri, an opponent of Pataudi, was against the move. “Now that the age of nawabs and rajas are over, Auqaf-e-Shahi should merge with the state-run wakf board. I urge both the state government and the Muslim clergy to make a new appointment,” he said. Palace insiders say Saba is excited about her new role and is keen to discharge her religious obligations. She was to appear at a cricket ground yesterday with mother Sharmila and Pataudi to give away the prizes, but skipped the engagement. A source said that according to Bhopali tradition, women holding religious office avoided huge and largely male gatherings. Saba today said she was trying to understand the working of the Auqaf-e-Shahi. Standing by her, Pataudi said he was worried at the encroachment of wakf properties and the falling revenues. A source said the nawab chose Saba for the job instead of Saif because of Chhote Nawab’s profession. “Tiger was conscious that a film actor’s appointment as head of Islamic religious bodies may not go down well with the conservative sections. With Soha following in the footsteps of Saif, Saba was the most acceptable choice.” Pataudi has reason to be cautious. A few weeks ago, Shamiri, who heads the Muslim Toyohar (festival) Committee, had approached Bhopal’s chief qazi questioning the nawab’s standing as a “good Muslim”. Qazi Abdul Latif summarily rejected Shamiri’s contention, saying he had no religious standing and no authority to excommunicate any Muslim.

Mar 5, 2007

Qudsia Begum, 1819 – 37

Stunned by the news from Islamnagar, Bhopal was plunged into a state of despair and uncertainty. The main contenders to mount the throne through this turmoil prepared for a protracted battle of succession. Amir Mohammad Khan, Nazar’s elder brother, was the leading contender. He had been passed over in favor of his younger brother, but as Wazir’s elder son, was the first claimant. His wife, Munawwar Jahan, and her elder brother, Asad Ali Khan of Basoda supported him. The second aspirant was Moiz Mohammad Khan, Ghous’ eldest son and Qudsia’s real brother. Though Ghous was still alive (he died in 1826), he was too feeble and discredited to reclaim the throne for himself. Moiz thus considered himself heir apparent to the title of Nawab. In the third group of aspirants were other direct descendants of Dost Mohammad Khan and also the remainder of Ghous’ brood of 60 children who fancied their chances. Major Henley, the British Political agent, was expected to have the determining influence on the issue of succession.

In this atmosphere of gloom and foreboding, the family gathered for the Soyem (mourning ceremony) at Nazar’s palace on 13 November 1819, with all the contending rivals for the succession present in the durbar hall. Nazar’s supporters, Mian Karam Mohammad Khan (a loyal, Mirazi-khel cousin), Hakim Shahzad Masih, Bakshi Bahadur Mohammad Khan and Raja Khushwakt Rai (a wise, Hindu administrator) – the Loyal Quartet – were also present, as were senior state officials including the state’s religious functionaries, the Qazi and the Mufti.

In this room stood Qudsia, veiled in a burqa, the tall, willowy, 19-year-old widow of Nazar Mohammad Khan with her 15-month-old daughter, Sikandar, clutching her tightly by the hand. Qudsia was several months pregnant with her second child. As soon as the eldest member had completed his funeral oration, tension bristling among the various family heads, the congregation was shocked to see Qudsia take off her veil and moving to the center of the room. In a calm and dignified address to the gathering, she produced Nazar’s will in which he had ordained that, in the event of his premature death, Sikandar should be declared the ruler and Qudsia act as regent until Sikandar’s marriage to a “close family member” who would then become the Nawab. She then challenged anyone who objected to her proposal to speak out. Everyone kept silent, partly because by raising an objection, they would have attracted the accusing finger of suspension over Nazar’s death. The Loyal quartet rallied to her side and thus in 1819, began the first period of womens rule in Bhopal, which lasted almost uninterrupted for the next 107 years.

Mar 4, 2007

The Bourbons - from Bhopal to France!

As you might have heard by now, the Bourbons of Bhopal stand in a huge chance of getting back their lost glory. I for one would have expected the royal family of Bhopal setting right the wrong caused by history, however this one is happening from the French connection.

All well that ends well, as they say.

Mar 1, 2007

Nazar Mohammad Khan, 1816 –19

Wazir married two Hindu wives. The first, Rani-jee, was the daughter of a pandit. The second was a Rajput lady who bore him two sons, Amir Mohammad Khan and Nazar Mohammad Khan. Amir was spoilt and pleasure loving, while Nazar Mohammad Khan was a young man who had inherited his father’s qualities of leadership. He had fought alongside his father in many of the battles with the Marhattas. He had also taken part in the heroic resistance during the Siege of Bhopal. Ghous, who languished contentedly in a palace, officially wore the crown. He knew that Wazir, through his innate decency, would not allow any harm to come to him.

On Wazir’s death in 1816, the nobles and people of Bhopal who had suffered grievously under two weak rulers, quickly closed ranks behind Nazar Mohammad Khan as the chosen (elected) de facto ruler, conveniently bypassing the older Amir Mohammad Khan on the grounds that the nawab Ghous was still alive. This was a very unusual decision, mainly by two stalwart power brokers of Bhopal, Bakshi Bahadur Mohammad Khan and Shahzad Masih. A legalistic solution was found, in the betrothal of Nazar Mohammad Khan to one of Ghous’ 65 children, Qudsia Begum. Wazir announced Nazar’s engagement to Qudsia a few months before his death, and the marriage was carried out in 1817, a year after Nazar became the de facto ruler.

In 1818 Nazar Mohammad Khan signed Bhopal’s first treaty with the British East India Company. The treaty was negotiated at Fort Raisen between Captain Stewart representing the East India Company and Sardar Bashi Bahadur Mohammad Khan, assisted by Shahzad Masih, acting on behalf of Nawab Nazar Mohammad Khan. In essence the treaty guaranteed Bhopal’s security and territorial integrity in return for acceptance of the East India Company’s overall sovereignty. Nazar, who was accepted as the Nawab in this treaty, and hos successors would remain “absolute rulers of their country and British jurisdiction ould not be introduced in any manner into the principality”. The British were given agarrison to which Bhopal agreed to provide 400 troops and 600 horses. Immediately after the signature of the treaty, a British garrison was located in the cantonment at Sehore, which also became the residence of the Political agent who reported to the Agent to the Governer General at Indore.

On 10th November 1819, Nazar had taken his infant daughter Sikanadar, to relax at the Islamnagar fort. Nazar had married only one, to Qudsia (referred to as Gohar Ara in The siege of Bhopal) and did not keep a harem. Qudsia’s younger brother Fauzdar Mohammad Khan, the eight-year-old son of Ghaus Mahammad Khan, while playing with a laoded pistol, shot Nazar Mohammad Khan fatally in the temple, killing him immediately.
It might not be incidental that the young pathan boy, Faujdar knew how to handle firearms at a very young age. By eliminating Nazar, Ghaus and his family had major motifs of bringing back the throne of Bhopal to the family folds, and hence the incident might not have been an “accident”.

Bhopal : A Prayer for Rain

Bhopal : A Prayer for Rain, a film on the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984, was declared tax-free in Madhya Pradesh by chief minister Shivraj ...