Kolkata: State-run Coal India Ltd (CIL) has decided to offer employment to Madhu, the poverty-stricken fifth generation descendant of India's last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar.
Madhu, 33, is the daughter of Sultana Begum and the late Muhammad Bedar Bakht, the great grandson of Bahadur Shah Zafar.
"On behalf of Coal India Ltd, I feel pleasure in offering employment to Madhu. It will be a great tribute to the last Mughal emperor who played a key role during the first war of independence in 1857," Coal India Chairman Partha Bhattacharyya said.
"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, especially in view of the recently concluded celebration of the 150th anniversary of the 1857 uprising," he said.
The employment letter will be handed over to Madhu by Union Minister for Coal Sriprakash Jaiswal at a function to be held in the city next month.
The move by Coal India came in response to a plea by a Delhi-based scribe couple Neena and Shivnath Jha who had launched a nationwide movement "Andolan Ek Pustak Se" under the aegis of Bismillah: The Beginning Foundation.
The initiative was launched to rehabilitate the descendants of forgotten heroes who fought for the honour of India.
"Muhammad Bedar Bakht died in 1980 leaving his widow at the mercy of God to maintain herself and their children on the bank of river Hooghly in West Bengal's Howrah district. At that time she was in her 30s. Nobody came to her rescue for the past three decades," said Shivnath Jha.
"I don't have words to express my feelings. The job will not only give an inner strength to a woman like me, but also protect me and my family," Madhu said.
It was a sudden turn of fortune for the family languishing in extreme poverty and squalor in the Cowies Ghat slum of Howrah district. Madhu's mother Sultana Begum runs a tea shop in the locality. It is her family's sole source of sustenance.
Bahadur Shah Zafar was placed on the throne in 1837. He was the last of the Mughal emperors who ruled over the Indian subcontinent for some 300 years. The first War of Independence in 1857 started during his reign.
The sepoys declared Zafar the symbol of freedom and nominated him as their commander-in-chief. He was exiled to Rangoon (now Yangon) in 1858 where he lived for five years and died in 1862 at the age of 87.