Extracts from a Urdu Book on Bahadur Shah Zafar


The following are translated extracts from a very good Urdu book about Bahadur Shah Zafar. This book is called "Bahadur Shah Zafar Ka Afsanae Gam" (The Sad Story of Bahadur Shah Zafar) by

Mr Abdullah Farooqi, published by Farooqi Book Depot in January 1989. ( "Bahadur Shah Zafar Ka Afsanae Gam")

The most significant bit of the book is where it looks into what happened to Bahadur Shah Zafar during his captivity in Yangoon and what happened to his descendants after his death there.


Missing History

It is strange that once the last King from the line of the Mughal Emperors, who ruled India for 900 years, was taken to Yangoon by the British, Mughal history seems to end there. The 89 year old King spent another 5 years in Yangoon. However, there is no record of how he spent these years, what happened to him during this time, and how he died. Basically this part of his history is still incomplete. So many years have now passed since his death that the present generation in India does not even know that this poor King was a captive in Yangoon and that he died in a two storied wooden house in the vicinity of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda.

Reasons for this lack of information

There are various reasons for this lack of information amongst Muslims about their last King of India. Muslims in India had a lack of political will. Their political weakness existed not only during the times of Bahadur Shah Zafar but even today. At the time Bahadur Shah Zafar was taken to Yangoon, Myanmar was still not under full British Rule. The weak King Nabiyu was still ruling in the ancient capital of Mandalay. Yangoon was under the control of the British and Sir Arthur Fairchief was the Commissioner in charge. He was reporting to the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal. The Muslims who were in Yangoon at that time had come there mainly to do business or for employment. They were not interested in the fate of the last Mughal King of India.

Nobody was allowed access to the King. He was old and frail from the sufferings he had undergone. He was not inclined to meet people outside his residence and the British were not keen to encourage any contacts. Therefore, the sources of information about these days of his life are very limited. Mr Ahmed Yusuf Madani, the Managing Trustee of Dargah Badshah Trust had no materials about the life of the King but was, nevertheless, very knowledgeable about certain facts. The other person who was of help was Mr Ahmed Azam Muqadam. He came from Surat and had relations from Dehli. His grandfather was Mulla Musaji and his Great Uncle was Mulla Yusuf. Both of them were rich and famous in Yangoon. They were in Dehli at the time Bahadur Shah Zafar was crowned there.

When the king was brought from Dehli, Colonel Arthur Friar knew Mulla Musaji who was the grandfather of Mr Muqadam. When the King started suffering from rash, Mulla Musaji was called over by Colonel Friar. This was the first time the King was to meet somebody from outside his place of captivity. After this Mulla Musaji visited the King a few times. When Mr Muqadam was born, his mother took him to Queen Zeenat Mahal. At that time the Queen's own grandson, Prince Jamshed Bakht the son of Prince Jawan Bakht was 2-3 years old. The two boys became companions. Prince Jawan Bakht was called Uncle Prince by the family of Mr Muqadam.

Mr Muqadam had been given some papers relating to the King from his grandfather Mulla Musaji. Hakim Ajmal Khan took these papers and published a lot of material about the King in papers. Some of these papers were lost during the Second World War. The only people left with any knowledge about the King in Yangoon were Mr. Muqadam and the grandson of the King, Prince Sikander Bakht. The Dargah of the King apart from his grave contains the graves of Queen Zeenat Mahal, Princess Raunaq Zamani Begum, and Prince Jamshed Bakht.  Prince Jawan Bakht is not know, except that he died in Moulmein.

According to Mr Muqadam, the British on purpose did not want the King to meet the people in case this resulted in a revolt in Myanmar against the British. When singers in Yangoon started singing the songs written by the King they were stopped from doing so.

Arrival of Bahadur Shah Zafar in Yangoon

Bahadur Shah Zafar was crowned in Dehli on September 18 1838. At that time he was 60 years old. At the age of 85 he was brought to Yangoon as a Royal Captive of the British. He was brought o Yangoon on a Mackinon McKenzie ship from Calcutta. There was very strict security by the British Army. He was accompanied by 35 men and women who were part of his family and staff. The only people known out of these are Queen Zeenat Mahal, Prince Jawan Bakht , Kulsum Zamani Begum, Princess Raunaq Zamani Begum, Prince Jamshed Bakht, and the tutor of Prince Jawan Bakht who was Hafiz Mohammed Ibrahim. The ship stopped at Calcutta Road Jetty from where the King was brought to his place of captivity by carriage. The Queen and others were brought in closed carts.

Royal Jail

The King was held at the place where he is presently buried. At that time the road was known as Sadar Bazar Road Number 58.

                            The above pictures of the Dargah were taken in December 1998, by
                                    Mr Mohammed Garbawi who very kindly gave copies for this site.

In 1938 on Mr M A Dawoodji's suggestion the local Municipality changed the name of the road from Sadar Bazar Road to Zafar Shah Road. There used to be a house on this road, and the members of the Royal Family were made to stay there. The British maintained a 24 hour armed guard over the residence.

The house next to the place of captivity was occupied by Captain Nelson Davis. He was the Chief Secretary to Sir Arthur FairChief.

Captain Nelson was given the job of overseeing the affairs of the King. Captain Nelson was also responsible for the expenses and the Pension of the King.

Last Days of the King

Details about Bahadur Shah Zafar's life in captivity are very sketchy. However, it is known that he was very dejected due to his exile, the loss of his Crown, and the suffering of his people in Dehli. At the time of his captivity he was very old anyway. during his time in Yangoon his health was poor most of the time and after an attack of paralysis his health deteriorated even further. He died on Friday November 7 1866 at the age of 89. At the time of death he had next to him Queen Zeenat Mahal and Princess Raunaq Zamani Begum. The British acted with such caution and secrecy that arrangements for his burial were made at his residence. Prince Jawan Bakht and his teacher Hafiz Mohammed Ebrahim Dehlavi arranged for the King's Funeral Prayers and his burial. Mula MoosaJi and Hafiz Mohammed Ibrahim Dehlavi placed Bahadur Shah Zafar's body in the grave.

                         The above picture of the Dargah was taken in December 1998, by
                         Mr Mohammed Garbawi who very kindly gave copies for this site.

Prince Jawan Bakht

The house occupied by Bahadur Shah Zafar had about 7/8 other people staying in it. Amongst them was Queen Zeenat Mahal and Princess Raunaq Zamani Begum. Apparently the British did not like Prince Jawan Bakht to stay with Bahadur Shah Zafar. Prince Jawan Bakht, therefore, had to go to Moulmein. In front of the new graveyard of Moulmein, there was a small hill. There was a house on top of that hill and Prince Jawan Bakht stayed in this house. Even his grave is not clearly marked. After the re-conquest of Myanmar by the Allied Forces, it is know that an old men and an old lady came to the town of Moulmein to collect their pension of 12 1/2 Annas. After that nobody knows what happened to them or if there were any family members that remained there.

                                     The above picture of Prince Jawan Bakht is a pencil copy by Sara
                                      from an original drawing the copyright for which is reserved by the
                                                             Archaeological Survey of India

Rahim Baksh Kababi

According to Mr Ahmed Azim Muqaddam when Prince Jawan Bakht came to Yangoon he was seen a few times when he went to the kebab shop of Rahim Baksh. This restaurant was under Soorti Masjid in Moul Street. Whenever Prince Jawan Bakht visited this shop, people used to collect to get a glimpse of the Prince.

Queen Zeenat Mahal

Queen Zeenat Mahal was the mother of Prince Jawan Bakht. She was very close to Bahadur Shah Zafar. Queen Zeenat Mahal lived for 22 years after the death of Bahadur Shah Zafar. She died on July 17,1882 in Yangoon and was buried besides Bahadur Shah Zafar's grave. No details are available about her life during these 22 years.

Prince Jamshed Bakht

At the time Bahadur Shah Zafar was exiled to Yangoon, Prince Jamshed Bakht was very small. According to Mr Ahmed Azam Muqaddam, there was a difference of just 3 years between his and Prince Jamshed Bakht's age and that they were playmates. Prince Jamshed Bakht studied at Yangoon College. He spoke good English and was very fond of horse riding. He mostly went out on his horse

He lived in a wooden home opposite Yangoon Central Jail. Around 1905/1906, he married a women from Myanmar who was from a local Muslim family. He had a son from that marriage called Prince Sikander Bakht. Prince Jamshed Bakht also married a girl from his own family. There is not a lot known about this except that his wife was the daughter of Nawab Pyare Mirza who was the Nawab of Lucknow. This wife returned to India. There were two children from this marriage.

Prince Jamshed Bakht died in Yangoon in 1921.

Princess Raunaq Zamani Begum

Princess Raunaq Zamani Begum died on April 3, 1930.

Kulsum Zamani Begum

Not a lot is known about her except that she was married to an exiled Muslim Prince from the Burmese Chinese border region. Unfortunately, due to personality clash, they were separated.

Hafiz Mohammed Ibrahim Dehlavi

After the death of Bahadur Shah Zafar, Hafiz Mohammed Ibrahim Dehlavi who was the teacher of Prince Jawan Bakht, took up the position of Imam in the Kasa Puri Mosque in Yangoon. Initially he used to go to the mosque now and then, but later on he took up the position on a permanent basis and continued there for 19 years.

There is no further information available about the rest of the people who went with Bahadur Shah Zafar to Yangoon. "

The above is a true (as far as possible), translation of the book mentioned. However, during my research I have found that there are certain facts available elsewhere, which this books says are not available. Nevertheless this book is extremely informative and in my opinion the above bits of information are the most interesting, although the whole book in itself is both very readable and informative.

                                    The above picture of the plaque at the Dargah was taken in December
                                 1998, by Mr Mohammed Garbawi who very kindly gave copies for this site.

The pictures on this page were not in the book they have been added for interest.