The story of middle-aged Sultana Begum brings tears to one’s eyes. She runs a tea-stall in Howrah to earn a living for her family. Twenty-five years ago her husband Mirza Bedar Bakht, the great grandson of last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, died in penury.
Bedar Bakht sharpened knives to eke out living. After his death, the West Bengal government was approached by several organisations to provide an accommodation for the family. Sultana Begum ultimately got an accommodation but it was near the Red Light District. The goons occupied the house.
She continued to live in the slum. The anti-social elements preyed upon her daughters and she ran hither and thither to get protection for her daughters. Eminent writer Firoz Bakht Ahmad recounts that when he visited the house he stunned at the condition the family was living in. “There was absolutely nothing in the room in the name of household goods”.
The pension ended with her husband’s death long ago. The poignant story of the descendants of the last Mughal who had to see the sight of his own sons’ eyes gouged out and brought to him by the British and was exiled to Burma, proves the failure of the state and more so, the people to acknowledge the contribution of the heroes of our freedom struggle.
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