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The Royal Insignia - Wajid Ali Shah period

Reproduced from the Family Souvenir
                  
In Memory of MEHER QUDER
Prince of Oudh
(1893 - 1961)


MEHER QUDER - A Biographical Sketch
By T.A. MENON, M.A., Dip.Econ., LL.B. I.C.S.(R).
Advocate, High Court and Supreme Court,

 

       Birjis Qadr, the last of the illustrious kings of Oudh, where Rulers have always carved a niche in the hearts of the Ruled, had his life snuffed out by a well planned assassination intended to wipe out the very dynasty. Although six lives paid the penalty, Providence saved Prince Meher Quder to continue the historic line of the kings of Oudh.

        Birjis Qadr was deemed to be an "arch-rebel" and treated as such by the British rulers of India. His wife a grand daughter of Emperor Bahadur Shah, and son were meted out the same hostile treatment. Though innocent and harmless, Akhtar Bahu Nawab Mehtab Ara Begum and her infant son Prince Quder became the target of bitter jealousy of her husband's distant and step-relations in Calcutta, whose number was legion. Often the harassed widow would seek police protection to save the very life of the boy prince. The British Governor General, though committed to liberal provision for the family of Wajid Ali Shah, King, sanctioned to the widow of His Majesty's Eldest Son only the trivial sum of Rs.100 per month and Rs. 75 each to the son and daughter. The historical document granting this paltry sum to one who would have himself been the next king had the kingdom remained, is a silent testimony of the extent of victimization of Indian patriots in the Victorian era.

        Time, the eternal healer, soothed the rancour of Government and envy of relatives. In 1921 Prince Meher Quder's pension was raised to Rs.3,600 per annum, and in 1929 to Rs6,000. But the vigilance of the Government continued, and till 1935 the arch-rebel's son and the rightful heir to the Throne of Oudh was not eligible to leave Calcutta without permission rarely granted by the Government. Only once in 1908 was Prince Meher Quder allowed a pilgrimage to Mecca and Kerbala.

        Prince Meher Quder had inherited the patriotic traditions of his famous father and grand-mother. In August 1947 when the British quitted India, by a juridical theory, the territories of Oudh returned to the survivor of the dynasty. While some pretenders played the Marceline clown, Meher Quder gave a document to the Authorities abdicating by the law of primogeniture. The Prince of Oudh had no desire to see the process of democracy reversed in the mother-land. Meher Quder, in so doing, earned an endearing place in the history of his illustrious house.

        In 1957, therefore, when the country celebrated the Centenary of 1857. Government of India recognized the claims and sacrifices of Prince Meher Quder and his ancestors. For the first time in the family of Wajid Ali Shah only the sons of Prince Meher Quder were given special educational grants. Similar petitions by others were rejected. On May 9,1958, the Government of India announced in Lok Sabha a decision to extend further munificence to the Prince. Similar entreaties by other members of the Oudh family were again rejected. The youngest son, Prince Nayyer Quder was given financial assistance in 1960 for training in England, where he is now studying.

        Prince Meher Quder had his early education in the Calcutta Madrassa. In his time, Prince Quder was famous in sports. He won gold Medal in the All-Bengal Meet for winning the Obstacles Race. In hockey, Meher Quder was considered to be one of the best players in the country. He had also distinguished himself in soccer, rugger and sprint events in sporting circles of Bengal. In the evening of his life, the Prince remained very quiet and secluded and seldom went out of his house. By his dignified and amiable demeanour. Prince Meher Quder had created quite a large circle of friends throughout the sub-continent. But the century-old jealousy in the Oudh family branches in Calcutta had unfortunately descended down generations and Birjis Qadr's survivors were continued to be persecuted. With the advent of Independence, however, the climate much changed and the jealous at times found himself in the clutches of law.

        After a prolonged illness, the survivor of the famous Rulers of Oudh peacefully breathed his last on March 12, 1961 at 9-20 p.m.. And thus ended after 240 memorable years the historical line of an ancient dynasty of Rulers in India founded in 1720 by Mir Mohammed Amin Sa'adat Khan, a Persian prince and adventurer. The House of Oudh produced in all twelve Rulers, first six of whom were Nawab-Viziers under the Mughal Emperors and the later six independent Kings of realm. Prince Meher Quder, being the only surviving son of the last King Birjis Qadr, had an unassailable right to the kingdom.

        The late Prince was temporarily interred on 14th March at 2.a.m. in Matiaburj, Calcutta, in the grave-yard of Nawab Intizamud Dowla, a Minister of Oudh. As per arrangement to be made by the Government of Uttar Pradesh, the late Prince of Oudh will be ceremonially buried later in Lucknow, the seat of his father's old kingdom. The deceased leaves behind his widow, three sons, a widowed daughter, besides a host of sincere friends and admirers throught-out India, Pakistan, and Nepal.


        N.B. In 1961 out of sheer jealousy and hatred the then Board of Trustees ( comprising of descendants of the harem children of Wajid Ali Shah ) of Sibtainabad Imambara, Calcutta ( Mausoleum of the last two kings of Oudh ) had refused the request of the sons of the Prince to bury him in the Imambara hall. Thirteen years later in 1974 the entire Board of Trustees was summarily removed by the Collector & Superintendent of Political Pensions for management against the objects of the Trust. The sons of Prince Meher Quder were appointed as Trustees. In 1975 the Prince was at last re-buried with full religious rites in the West Chamber of the Hall of Sibtainabad Imambara.


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