US national offers to marry Mughals' descendants, thanks to BBC
A US national’s sympathetic action came in wake of a report appeared on BBC website followed by an interview of Shivnath Jha by BBC's Mr. Dand Damon from London for World Updates last week.
Mr. Jha and his wife Neena Jha, a teacher, have launched a nation wide movement to rehabilitate the descendants of forgotten heroes of India who had fought for the honour of India against the British Government during its freedom struggle.
“I was impressed by your efforts to support the Indian heroes. You make India and Indians pride. I am an Indian Born USA Citizen Electrical engineer,” Mr. Karamvir (Kevin) Singh in an Email to Mr. Jha said.
He said: “I have a personal question. Please let me know if it will be OK to talk about it. I was reading your article about Bahadur Shah Zafar and his descendents Madhu. I belong to IAS/ IPS family of Punjab. My Father and younger brother-in-law is an IAS officer in Punjab. My other brother-in-law is Inspector General of Police in Amritsar. I am an engineer my self.”
“I will like to marry Madhu if she is still unmarried. I will be honored to marry in Bahadur Shah Zafar’s family. I know it sounds just not normal. But please let me know if it is a possibility,” Mr Singh, a senior engineer transmission (P&C and Telecom) from Manchester said.
Sultana Begum, 56, mother of Madhu, who is living in a slum in at Cowies Ghat’s slum located near Foreshao Road in Howrah district of West Bengal said: “I have received the email forwarded by Mr. Jha, who, along with his wife, are doing their best to provide me bread and shelter through the proceeds of a book “Prime Ministers of India:Bharat Bhagya Vidhata (1947-2009) compiled and edited by the duo.
With tears in her eyes, Sultana Begum, who runs a tea-stall in the same locality for their survival said: “I don’t know the fate of my daughter, but I will certainly look into the proposal.”
Madhu's cause was one of several highlighted by Mr Jha and his wife Neena during the past five years. The duo first hit upon this idea when they tried to raise funds for one of India's greatest classical musicians, Bismillah Khan, earlier in the decade from the proceeds of a book on the life and art of the maestro, a recipient of India’s highest civilian award “Bharat Ratna.”
"We published a pictorial biography of Bismillah Khan and raised some funds. After his death, we institutionalised this movement," the Mr and Mrs Jha said. Last year, they persuaded India's former Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav to help the descendants of Tantia Tope, one of the leaders of the 1857 mutiny which many Indians say was in fact the country's first war of independence.
“Besides financial support for more than Rs. 500,000/- two of his great granddaughters – Pragati and Tripti - were given employment by the Container Corporation of India on Mr Yadav's intervention," Mr Jha said.
In 2009 Mr Jha began promoting the cause of Sultana Begum, the poverty-stricken widow of Muhammad Bedar Bakht - a direct descendant of Bahadur Shah Zafar - who died in 1980. Sultana Begum has five daughters - all are married except for Madhu, her youngest daughter.
"My other daughters and their husbands are poor people, they barely survive, so they cannot help us," she said. "We have been living, but God knows how." The tea shop run by Sultana and her daughter earns the pair a subsistence income.
Mr Jha said that he hoped to provide the pair with more funds by donating money raised from the sale of a book about Indian prime ministers.
Bahadur Shah Zafar was placed on the throne in 1837. He was the last of a line of Mughal emperors who ruled India for three centuries.
In 1857, when Indian soldiers mutinied against their British masters, Bahadur Shah Zafar was declared their commander-in-chief. Mr Zafar was exiled to Rangoon after the British crushed the mutiny in 1858, where he lived for five years until his death at the age of 87.