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Freedom Movement

Bahadur Shah Zafar – Convicted on 9th of March 1858.


The court martial sat for the last time on 9 March, 1858 and at 11 AM in front of a croweded courtroom, Harriott made his closing speech. For two and a half hours, he again elaborated his theory of the uprising being an international Islamic conspiracy. ‘I have endeavoured to point out’, he declaimed, ‘how intimately the prisoner, as the head of the Mahommedan faith in India, has been connected with the organization of that conspiracy, either as its leader or its unscrupulous accomplice….’

Bahadur Shah Zafar, a Sufi King convicted as a Wahabi rebel.

Just before 3 pm, the judges retired to consider their verdict. A few minutes later, they returned to unanimously declare Zafar guilty ‘of all and every part of the charges preferred against him’.

(From the book ‘The Last Mughal’ by William Dalrymple pp 442-443)

Helpless Sufi King was punished on false cases of being a ‘leader of the international conspiracy to topple the British Empire’. In following few couplets Iqbal beautifully captured the state of an ‘old age’ in his poem ‘Abul Al Alama’ari’ – Bal-e-Jibril 163; reflects the grim last days of the last Mughal King.

‎افسوس صد افسوس کہ شاہیں نہ بنا تو
‎دیکھے نہ تری آنکھ نے فطرت کے اشارات
‎تقدیر کے قاضی کا یہ فتویٰ ہے ازل سے
‎ہے جرمِ ضعیفی کی سزا مرگ مفاجات

Why did Subhas Chandra Bose feel the need to acknowledge Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar?

Alas, you did not become a falcon;
Your eye did not perceive the directives of Nature.
It is the eternal decree of the Judge sitting in Judgement on destinies.
That weakness is a crime punishable by death.
(Abul Al Alama’ari was a famous Arab poet.)


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M S Siddiqui

Dr. Mohammad Siddiqui is a UK based Medical doctor. Apart from Medicine he is interested in history, culture, art and architecture. He is an avid collector of rare photographs, postcards, maps, artefacts, rare books and magazines on different themes like ‘Hajj pilgrimage’, ‘Delhi’, ‘Islam in Britain’ and ‘The role of Indian soldiers in WWI.’

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