NRI for acquiring Bahadur Shah's book

A UK-based NRI has proposed that the Indian Govt should acquire the prayer book of the Mughal emperor.

india Updated: Aug 10, 2006 13:42 IST

A London-based NRI has proposed that the Indian government should acquire the personal prayer book of Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, now with his family so that it is returned to the country for the 150th commemoration of its first war of independence.

The book, according to Nazrul Islam Bose, was reportedly seized by a British General Delmahoy when his troops ransacked the Red Fort in Delhi to dethrone the Indian ruler in September 1857.

With customised writings for India's last emperor, the book, which is not a Quran, was sold to Bose's father by the grandson of the General, Peter Delmahoy in the early 1950s, Bose said.

A national committee has been formed under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the commemoration.

Martin Lings, an Islamic scholar at the British Library, who specialises in Arabic calligraphy has certified the authenticity of the book written by the court calligrapher Haydar Husayn.

Significantly, it has hand-written notes on the borders of pages by the Emperor himself in Persian. Bahadur Shah Zafar was captured, tortured and exiled to Burma, where he died and lies buried.

Nazrul Islam Bose first met the then Indian Deputy High Commissioner in the UK, Satyabrata Pal in 2004 to convey his proposal.

At Pal's initiative, Bose then met RK Sharma, Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India in Delhi, who said he felt it would be fitting for the book to be on permanent display at the National Museum in Delhi.

Bose said, "I appeal to the commemoration committee headed by the Prime Minister to take the matter seriously, so that the precious object returns to its rightful place."

He cited instances where the Indian government had acquired items in the UK associated with Indian historical figures, ranging from letters of Mahatma Gandhi to Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh's belongings, which were with Lord Dalhousie's family.

Last year, Vijay Mallya, Chairman of UB Group reportedly paid over one million pounds to buy 30 artefacts, including a sword of Tipu Sultan, the erstwhile ruler of Mysore.

First Published: Aug 10, 2006 13:42 IST