His Requeim, Life Sketch & Highlights of Services based on...
Proceedings of the Condolence Meeting of
the Trustees of Sibtainabad Imambara and
its Units held on Monday, July 28 1997, at
6 P.M. in the office of the Chairman.
Dr. M. Kaukab,
Prince Nayyer Quder,
Mr. Irfan Ali Mirza,
Ms. Talat Fatima
The meeting commenced with a verse from the Holy Quran.
The Manager, Mr. Syed Ali Mohammad, placed before the Board his letter dated 23rd July, 1997, addressed to the Collector of 24-Parganas (South) & Superintendent of Political Pensions and narrated in a choking voice the minute-to-minute developments of the unfortunate calamity. He stated that when, at 11.25 A.M. on 23.7.1997, he learnt on phone from Delhi that Prince Anjum Quder had breathed his last at St. Stephen Hospital as a result of a massive heart attack, and that some thing had to be done immediately to bring back the
body to Calcutta, only Mr. Burhan Ali Meerza, the second son of the deceased Prince, was present in the Imambara and only one Trustee Mr. Irfan Ali Mirza was available in the city. The news spread like wild-fire and while shopkeepers in the vicinity downed their shutters in mourning and the deceased Prince's two sons Mr. Yusuf Ali Mirza and Mr. Burhan Ali Meerza personally carried the stunning news to the Collector, the family sent late Prince's personal assistant Mr. S. Hasan Naqvi by plane to do the needful in Delhi.
The Manager further reported that to pre-empt any trouble from any quarter he acted on the advice of Trustees Irfan Ali Mirza till the arrival around midnight of 24.7.1997 of trustees Dr. M. Kaukab and Ms Talat Fatima with the sealed Coffin which was brought by plane from Delhi to Calcutta. A multitude of mourners had assembled at Dum Dum Airport and, despite intermittent showers, an even greater multitude was present when the motorcade reached the Imambara Gate via late Prince's ancestral home in Marsden Street. Arrangements were made to
keep the Coffin overnight on a podium with due decorum and Qaries and other mourners recited from, the Holy Book for the whole night. There was a stream of visitors from all walks of life as the AIR, DD and the press had flashed the news and the Calcutta Doordarshan in its Urdu Bulletin had telecast the news with the deceased's photograph. The police guard also stayed throughout at the Gate to regulate traffic and visitors.
It was further reported that the Trustee Ms. Talat Fatima who had rushed to Delhi from Dholpur to make arrangement as per advice of Trustee Prince Nayyer Quder directing operations on phone from London and senior Trustee Dr. M. Kaukab who joined Ms. Talat a night later from Aligarh to take charge of the body, conferred with Trustee Irfan Ali Mirza and Mr. Yusuf and Mr. Burhan about late Prince's funeral, burial and last rites. The spot so ardently desired by the departed soul on the right of his late father Prince Meher Quder's grave was
directed to be dug up for his mortal remains. The ablutions and embalming completed in the afternoon in another chamber of the Imambara, the bier was, after Friday's Prayers, first placed in front of late Prince's grandparents' mausoleums in the central hall of the Imambara where ladies shed tears in the traditional way. It was then placed in the inner courtyard where Brethren of the Sunni sect recited their funeral prayers. Moulvi Muqim Saheb leading and members of the royal family joining it. It was then taken out via Bichali Ghat to
Moulana Mufti Saheb's mosque where family's late High Priest had led such funeral prayers over the past six decades. It was Moulana Ghulamus Saiyyadein Saheb who led the congregation this time. The bier then passed through Iron Gate Road, halting for a brief while in front of the Shahi Mosque facing the place where the late Prince was born. A bigger mass of humanity awaited it when the procession turned left on Garden Reach Road to reach Metiaburj's oldest Imambara Qasrul Buka, crossing another historical landmark Baitun Najat. With the last
rite Majlis addressed by Moulana Sher Mohammad Jaffri finished in about half an hour, the procession proceeded on its last journey on the same route taken by Their Late Majesties Wajid Ali Shah's and Birjis Qadr's funeral processions a hundred-and-ten and a hundred-and-four years back. Muslim of the localities at two places desired to have another Namaze Janaza but as people at the Imambara had waited for hours for the requiem, the pall-bearers regretfully did not
oblige. It entered the Imambara Gate in and emotionally surcharged atmosphere, halting once again before the arches of His Late Majesty Wajid Ali Shah's Burial Chamber before turning to the open arms of Mother Earth, people wailing loudly when the illustrious scion was laid to rest in his eternal abode at about 4-30 p.m. - some 54 hours after the last breath. The place being too small to accommodate all persons anxious to pay homage, they filed past, some with folded
hands and some with bowed heads, to have his 'Darshan'. Thanks to the Collector, the police and the administration, there was no untoward incident, the road remained closed to traffic at both ends for the entire duration the procession was on the roads; the shops, schools and establishments remained voluntarily closed for the day - mute testimony to the good the late lamented Prince had done to them.
Concluding his resume, submitted partly in writing, the Manager added that the 'Soyum' ceremony was held on 28.7.97 in the forenoon with Moulana Syed Mohsin Raza Saheb addressing the congregation eloquently on the topic of Shia-Sunni amity - a movement launched by the late Prince under the banner of Ittehad Bainul Muslimeen. Prince Nayyer Quder's absence was keenly felt as the flight from London was via Dacca and there was no way out to overcome the traffic jam or defer the Majlis. The Prince however arrived before the guests
had left and it was a sad re-union with one brother down below unable to guide and advise his two younger ones standing at his feet.
The Trustees thanked the Manager for his very descriptive report and Trustee Irfan Ali Mirza suggested that the same be made part of these proceedings as it contained vital information for any future reference. It was adopted accordingly.
Lamenting the irreparable loss Trustee Talat Fatima expressed her anguish by pointing out that not more than eight weeks back, trustees from London, Aligarh and Dholpur had rushed to late Prince's bedside at Calcutta Research Heart Centre (also at Birla Institute a couple of days later) on receiving a SOS that he was lodged in the ICCU in a very precarious condition. He survived the attack to indulge once again against stern expert advice to abstain from any strenuous
activity in his usual social and other pursuits. Attending a function at the Iraqi Consulate and hosting a luncheon at Hotel Meredien on his last flying visit to the Capital were his latest acts of indiscretion before he finally succumbed with no close friend around to inform concerned persons. In private life he was truly a patriarch pouring love and care on all and sundry and playing the role of a godfather to the destitute and the needy.
Eulogizing the late Prince's contributions to enhance the prestige of the family, Trustee Irfan Ali Mirza observed that his name had become the focal point of the family's struggle for recognition through a century of oppression. The Prince had the satisfaction of seeing some results of his efforts in the shape of a postage stamp commemorating Begum Hazrat Mahal's role in the First War of Independence and her progeny getting preference in appointment as
trustees of what is left of the erstwhile kingdom. There, however, remains the threat of this recognition being undone by those whose short sightedness has not yet recovered from the hangover of the British Rule. The greatest tribute to his memory would be to raise the administrative set-up to such glorious heights that the clamour of small men would not reach it.
Trustee Prince Nayyer Quder enlightened the members that he and the late Prince joined the Trust almost together and it was he who proposed Prince Anjum Quder's name as its Chairman as, with his legal acumen, vast and varied experience, humanitarian approach, generosity of heart and indomitable spirit he had proved his worthiness to shoulder the responsibility with great aplomb. If he had only remained in bed-rest a little longer when Prince Nayyer bid him adieu on 9.6.97 the tragedy could perhaps be averted. His premature demise has left behind a void hard to fill, as it again requires a mind with matching
qualities of head and heart to step in his shoes and face the populace at many fronts. Involved again and again in a maze of legal suits concerning the Trust and emerging victorious every time, the jugglers could not detract him from his avowed goal to carve a niche for himself in the literary, social and political spheres. Fiercely crusading for Hindu-Muslim unity and Shia-Sunny amity, he earned exalted positions in Muslim Personal Law Board, Aligarh Muslim University Court, Babri Masjid Action Committee, Minority Commission, Samajwadi Party, etc. etc. These and so many other big and small organizations did not welcome him for his money only but the leadership that he provided in their counseling and deliberations throughout the length and breadth of this subcontinent. Saudi Arabia had given him the right to take five pilgrims as State guests for Haj annually and he not only availed of this gracious offer for himself twice and his son Burhan but also enabled some devout Muslims to fulfill that religious obligation. He also visited Iraq, Iran and England to represent All India Shia Conference who's President he remained for a record 16 years. If the articles that he contributed to newspapers on burning topics and booklets he wrote and distributed freely to propagate his ideals are put together in the form of a book, the same would reveal his penchant for educating the ignorant, the biased and the prejudiced to reform them as better citizens of secular
Not knowing late Prince's source of income to do what he had been doing, libelous and slanderous propaganda finds the grapevine to undermine his prestige and social position. Even if it were so, it is very much justified in view of the judicial stamp given to it that the Sibtainabad belongs to the progeny of King Birjis Qadr. However, to dispel the mischief-mongers, if the Collectorate had sanctioned a sum of Rupees One Lakh for the Centenary Celebrations of His Late Wajid Ali Shah from the Trust Fund, Prince Nayyer Quder offered an equal
amount from his pocket for his brother's last rites. The generous gesture was gratefully acknowledged by the Trustees who wished it to go on records.
Appreciating the sentiments so passionately expressed by trustees, senior trustee Dr. M. Kaukab emphasized that a cautious and rational approach was imperative as hostile people opposing the Board and its Chairman right from the time of his appointment as trustee were waiting for this very hour to launch a fresh offensive. He thereafter summed up the feelings shared by all present and placed on record formally the undernoted:
Born in his maternal home in Matiaburj on 7.9.1921 and shifting to his
ancestral home in Calcutta in 1930, Prince Anjum Quder was educated at St. Xavier's School and Presidency College. He was the first science graduate in the family and quite happy in the pursuits of worldly pleasures in his youthful days till he realised in 1947 that he was born to a different destiny and that pretenders claiming the throne of Oudh on the cessation of British Rule as per treaty were villains whose fathers and grandfathers had in fact assassinated his grandfather with other family members in an attempt to exterminate his heirs in tail-male, usurped his rightful claims and persecuted his grandchildren as best as they could. He persuaded his father Prince Meher Quder to write to the newly formed government of Independent India that he was abdicating his territorial rights to the domain of Oudh to give vent to the aspirations of the people of Oudh. This endeared him to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and his colleagues immensely but united the pretenders to fight a battle royal in corridors of
power, courts, press and public. Prince Anjum Quder, with very limited
resources, was in the forefront of this long and bitter family feud, defending the rights of his ailing father and assisting his younger brothers to complete their education on whatever grant the government had chosen to give them as children of freedom fighters. The first phase of this seesaw struggle reached a climax when the opposition having full hold over Imambara refused permission to bury Prince Meher Quder in the Imambara in 1961. The family had no alternative but to temporarily inter his body elsewhere with Prince Anjum Quder vowing with a vengeance to capture the Board itself. Prince Kaukab was the first to enter the Board by virtue of him being a descendant of Freedom Fighters, followed by Prince Nayyer Quder and Prince Anjum Quder a decade later, while two trustees were removed for gross violation of Trust Rules and incompetence.
With none daring to breathe a sigh of protest, Prince Meher Quder's funeral (read victory) procession entered the Imambara Gate on 16.3.75 and the embalmed body at last found its rightful place at the head of the perpetrator of assassinations and progenitor of all enmities that ensued.
The Board of Trustees as it stands today with well educated, well-placed, broadminded persons as trustees owes its formation to the foresight, tact, perseverance and missionary zeal of one who with his mission completed and stand vindicated requested the trustees on 2.1.1997 and reiterated on 28.6.1997 to give him a resting place beside his father!
Added to this on the financial, social and cultural levels the real properties and assets that have been acquired and the refurbished image of the Imambara that has been projected so well and so far and wide that it has become a nerve centre of multifarious, religious, charitable, educational and social activities, one gets in a nutshell the services of one who in a brief span of 23 years from Aug. 1974 to July 1997 lifted it from the morass in which it had sunk after the demise of His Late Majesty and was sinking still deeper in nscrupulous hands. It was no mean achievement to accomplish all this in the face of bitter opposition from rival factions and vested interests out to
defame, demoralize and intimidate him, vehemently insisting by malicious propaganda that the Mamba was only a religious place for customary rituals. The public figures, leaders of all hues, ministers, governors, and men of letters who visited it during his tenure as its chairman were all praise for resurrecting from the ruins of a realm an institution having far-reaching dimensions all the more important as this corner of Calcutta has none to match it and rendering to it yeoman's service in a spirit of devotion and dedication.
Let us hope and pray the surviving members of the Board, their successors and his two sons Mr. Yusuf Ali Mirza and Mr. Burhan Ali Meerza would strive to carry on the good work conceived and executed by the visionary chairman. That alone would be the most appropriate memorial in addition to what we and others praying for his "Maghfirat" (salvation) and everlasting peace install to perpetuate his memory.
The other part of the agenda concerning administrative and financial matters was deferred till Chehlum and the Manager was directed to carry on routine work he was doing in the lifetime of the deceased chairman. In case of any extraordinary problem he was directed to act on the advice of Trustee Prince Nayyer Quder.
The Manager was directed to send appropriate excerpts of these proceedings to late Prince's children and the bereaved family, the Press, A.I.R., DD and other organizations besides friends and well-wishers in India and overseas and thank them all for messages for condolence and expressions of grief.
In particular the Manager was advised to convey Trustees' gratefulness to Mr. S. Shariful Hasan Naqvi, Mr. S. Asghar Rizvi, Mr. M.A.Rashid Shervani, Mr. S. Rashidul Hasan Naqvi, Mr. S. Aziz Zaidi and Mr. S. Mahmood Haider Naqvi for their daylong physical presence from hospital to airport to help fulfill formalities to dispatch the Coffin with utmost speed.
The meeting then terminated at 9.50 P.M. when the Trustees decided to visit the grave of the late Prince for