I have been reading about this for quite a while but just now I again came across this BBC feature that talks about the great-great-granddaughter of Bahadur Shah Zafar selling tea in Calcutta to earn a living. According to the report Coal India has taken an initiative and given her a C-level job.
But the article wrongly refers to the last Mughal as the “hero of the first war of Independence”. He was as clueless as anybody could get, and equally reluctant to get on the wrong side of the British. He was forced into an oblique leadership by mutineers desperately looking for a focus, and that time, restoring the glory of the Mughal empire became their focus. He totally went nuts when the British eventually captured him and dispatched him to Burma along with her queens, princes and concubines and kept him there on a meager monthly allowance.
I read William Dalrymple’s book on him a long time ago so I don’t remember whether his sons were sent to London or not. But if they were, after his death, it seems strange that his great-great-granddaughter ended up in the slums of Calcutta.
Illustrious or not, Bahadur Shah Zafar was the last emperor and it’s a pity that his descendants are living in penury. It tells a lot about our society. I don’t mean to say that just by the dint of belonging to a “royal” lineage we should confer titles and bounties on them but they should at least be rehabilitated and helped in order to provide them decent living conditions.