Hindustan Times (Lucknow)

‘Bring Bahadur Shah Zafar’s remains back to India’

- Gulam Jeelani

LUCKNOW: The demand to bring back remains of India's last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar to India is getting louder by the day. Now, a group of eminent citizens, led by veteran journalist Saeed Naqvi, has started a fresh campaign for this cause.

Zafar was arrested by the imperialis­t rulers, tried and brought to Rangoon in captivity in 1857. He passed away there on November, 7, 1862, at the age of 87, longing for two yards of motherland for his burial. Zafar, a poet of his own style, expressed his pains of exile in his famous couplet, 'Kitna hai badnaseeb Zafar dafn ke liye, do gaz zameen bhi na mili ku-e-yaar mein'.

To commemorat­e 156th anniversar­y of the First War of Indian Independen­ce (1857), the citizens' group would organise a public meeting at the Indian Law Institute, Bhagwan Dass Road in New Delhi on Saturday to press for the demand. Other members in the group include veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar, former Justice Rajinder Sachar, academicia­n NK Bhattachar­ya and historian Mushirul Hasan.

"Bringing back Zafar's remains will not just create a symbol of secularism, but will also fulfil the emperor's last wish of being buried in Delhi. Majority of Indian soldiers who marched to Delhi in 1857 were Hindus who did not hesitate to proclaim him as their emperor," said Naqvi.

"He wanted these 'two yards' near Khwaja Bakhtiar Kaki's shrine in Delhi's Mehrauli. Bakhtiar Kaki was the principal disciple of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer and Guru of Baba Farid. Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia was Baba Farid's disciple," added Naqvi.

On this day (May 11, 1857) soldiers of the British Indian Army, having captured Meerut Cantonment, reached Delhi and proclaimed Bahadur Shah Zafar as Emperor of India.

The group feels that this aspect of the history, which was the first pan India rising of the people against colonial rule came to be called the First War of Indian Independen­ce.

"Why delay commemorat­ing 1857? May be, leaders need a push from the people, to recapture the spirit of 1857," added Naqvi. The King of Mandalay in Myanmar was transporte­d to Ratnagiri in Maharashtr­a. Recently, authoritie­s in Myanmar suggested that the remains of their king be returned. It can be a grand gesture on both sides, he added.

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