Moghul descendant saved from slums by coal board

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The Independent Online

A descendant of India's last Moghul emperor has been saved from a life of utter destitution after she was discovered working at her mother's tea stand in the slums of West Bengal.

Madhu, the 33-year-old great great granddaughter of Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, pictured, has been given a job in the offices of India's state-run coal industry after media highlighted her plight. The illiterate young woman will initially be employed to run errands.

"I feel pleasure in offering employment to Madhu. It will be a great tribute to the last Moghul emperor who played a key role during the first war of independence in 1857," said Coal India's chairman, Partha Bhattacharyya. "It is the duty of the country to repay its debt to the family of those who sacrificed their lives for the country's freedom."

Madhu's father, Muhammad Bedar Bakht, the great grandson of the emperor, died in 1980, leaving the family with no means of income other than a humble tea stand, run by her mother Sultana Begum, in the Cowies Ghat slum in Howrah, the twin city of Kolkata. Madhu is one of five daughters but all the others are married.

A journalist couple from Delhi discovered her plight. Neena and Shivnath Jha run a campaign to rehabilitate the descendants of Indians who fought for the country's independence and have been forgotten.

"We are trying to help the relatives of forgotten heroes," said Mr Jha.

"Muhammad Bedar Bakht died in 1980 leaving his widow at the mercy of God to maintain herself and their children on the bank of the Hooghly river. Nobody came to her rescue for three decades."