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What did happen to the Mughals after Bahadur Shah Zafar?

The photograph shows Mirza Ilahi Bakhsh, or Shahzada Muhammad Hideyat Afza, in 1862. This man was from the Royal house of Mughals who had helped the British in 1857 and played an instrumental role in the surrender of Bahadur Shah Zafar at Humayun’s Tomb. For his ‘services’, the British recognized him as the Chief Representative of the Royal Mughal Family in 1858. Mirza was also granted jagirs at Meerut and Delhi with a pension of Rupees 22,830 P.A.

Amrit Lal Nagar in his authoritative book on the revolt of 1857 in Awadh noted that the Muslims led by Achchan Khan and Amir Ali threw Mirza Ilahi Bakhsh out of the mosque at Ayodhya when he was asking people to help the British. One day when, during a Friday prayer, he was asking people to support the British, Achchan Khan stood up and said, “Dear compatriots, Mirza Sahab has become a traitor. He wants to sell this country to the British.” People in the mosque attacked and threw Mirza out.

The British later hanged Amir Ali in Ayodhya while Achchan Khan was publicly executed by beheading his head in front of the people of Ayodhya.

In this photograph, clicked by Charles Shepherd, Mirza Ilahi Bakhsh is seated on the chair while his eldest son Mirza Sulaiman Jah is seated in another chair his other son Mirza Surayya Jah is standing, right hand on the shoulder of his father and the third son Mirza Iqbal Shah is seated on the ground on the right side of his father. The other two boys are Mirza Mohammed Sultan Bahadur Jah and Mirza Sultan Ahmad Bahadur Jah.

Mirza Ilahi Bakhsh is said to have died by suicide in 1878 as he could not stand the humiliation of being a traitor.

Charles Francis Massy in his book written in 1890 noted, “Mirza Ilahi Bakhsh, whose devotion to the British cause in 1857 was of the highest value; and they are connected with the Royal House of Delhi through Begum Umdat-ul-Zamani, daughter of Alamgir the Second. Mirza Ilahi Bakhsh had considerable influence in the Palace through the friendship borne to him by the Begum Zinat Mahal, the favorite wife of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last King of Delhi.

A daughter of the Mirza had been married to the King’s eldest son Fateh-ul-Mulk Mirza Fakharu, who died shortly before the outbreak of the Mutiny. Mirza Ilahi Bakhsh remained inside the City during the Siege and was able to furnish important intelligence on the movements of the rebels and to assist and protect our agents.

He did his utmost to save the lives of a party of fifty Christians who were cruelly massacred, ostensibly with the King’s knowledge, within the Palace precincts, and materially assisted our military operations by cutting the bridge-of-boats over the Jamna, opposite the City, thus stopping the entry of supplies and rebel reinforcements from the eastern side. Later on, he brought about the peaceful surrender of the King, and helped Hodson in effecting the capture of the Princes Khizar Sultan and Abul Bakar, thus dealing the Rebellion a death blow by depriving the disaffected of their hereditary leaders. The Mirza’s conduct was fully enquired into at the close of the Rebellion and suitably rewarded.

What did happen to the Mughals after Bahadur Shah Zafar?
The Order by the British Government to grant Pension to Mirza Ilahi Bakhsh and his family

Hereditary pensions, aggregating Rs. 22,830 per annum, with effect from 1st May 1857, were granted to Mirza and his family.

Further, in 1861, in lieu of an assignment enjoyed by him jointly with others before the Mutiny from the villages of Sampla and Asaoda in the Rohtak district, the Government of India granted to the Mirza solely a perpetual jagir, of the value of Rs. 5,000 per annum, and in 1866 released to him and his family the revenues of certain villages in the Delhi and Meerut districts, yielding Rs. 2,226 annually.

He was awarded Rs. 35,000 as compensation for loss of property incurred during the Siege. In 1872 he was allowed to borrow Rs. 35,000 from the Government. More than one-half of this sum was subsequently wiped out of the accounts as a matter of favour to Mirza. An addition of Rs. 2,250 was made to his pension in 1877, on the occasion of the assumption by Her Majesty of the title of Empress. Mirza Ilahi Bakhsh died in 1878. His three sons now enjoy the hereditary pension and jagir. Mirza Suliman Shikoh, the eldest, is an Honorary Magistrate, and M. Ikbal Shah is a member of the Municipal Committee of Delhi.”


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Md Umar Ashraf

Md. Umar Ashraf is a Delhi based Researcher, who after pursuing a B.Tech (Civil Engineering) started heritagetimes.in to explore, and bring to the world, the less known historical accounts. Mr. Ashraf has been associated with the museums at Red Fort & National Library as a researcher. With a keen interest in Bihar and Muslim politics, Mr. Ashraf has brought out legacies of people like Hakim Kabeeruddin (in whose honour the government recently issued a stamp). Presently, he is pursuing a Masters from AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, JMI & manages heritagetimes.in.