Sultana Begum, The Great Grand Daughter in law of Bahadur Shah Zafar is confined to life in a slum on the outskirts of Kolkatta, struggles to make ends meet on a basic pension, despite her royal heritage.Ever since the death of her husband Prince Mirza Bedar Bukht in 1980, Sultana has descended into a life of poverty.

She undertook a pilgrimage to The Golden Temple, Amritsar and sought divine forgiveness for atrocities committed by her husband’s forefathers. Recalling the atrocities of the Mughal emperors, she said Sikh rage against their lineage was justified. “We’ve suffered too. Islam doesn’t permit cruelty against anyone,” she said, adding that they had been cursed to a fate of penury.

The Mughal carnage included many brutalities like Sri Guru Arjan Dev was tortured was put on a burning frying pan in the 16th century. Ninth Sikh Guru, Tegh Bahadur, was beheaded on orders from Mughal emperor Aurangzeb inDelhi in 1675 A.D. He was killed for siding with Kashmiri Hindus and opposing conversions to Islam. The Sis Ganj Gurdwara stands in old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk area as a reminder of that incident. Four sons of 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh were also done to death by Aurangzeb on opening denying to his brutal orders.

Sins committed by her ancestors haunted her and the memories of the cold-blooded massacre pushed her for this righteous initiative of praying for forgiveness at Takht ushering an era of goodwill, peace and harmony among communities living in this part of the world.

~ Tapasleen Kaur
~ New Delhi, 27th Nov ’14