The mortal remains of the last Nizam of the erstwhile princely state of Hyderabad, Mir Barkat Ali Khan Siddiqui Mukarram Jah, will be laid to rest in Hyderabad on Wednesday, 18 January, with state honours.
Ahead of the burial, there are several questions about his life, inherited riches and his life away from India that are being asked.
The titular eighth and last Nizam of Hyderabad died on the night of 12 January in Istanbul in Turkey.
Earlier, Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao directed officials to conduct Mukarram’s last rites with the highest state honours while recognising his social services in the fields of education and medicine for the poor.
Reacting to this, the right-wing outfit Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Monday demanded that the Telangana government not accord official honours.
Mukarram Jah funeral
Mukarram Jah will be buried in a ceremony known as Namaz e-Janaza in Islam on Wednesday after the evening prayers at the Asaf Jahi family tombs, as per Hyderabad-based Mukarram Jah Trust for Education & Learning (MJTEL).
His body arrived in Hyderabad at around 5 pm on Tuesday on a chartered flight from Istanbul.
The Nizam family, the trustees, and people connected to several institutions are paying their last respects to him from 7.45 pm to 9 pm at the Chowmahalla Palace.
KCR also visited and paid homage to the mortal remains of Mukarram Jah.
Meanwhile, the rest of the people will be allowed to pay their last respects between 8 am and 1 pm on Wednesday.
The final journey for the funeral of the last Nizam is expected to begin around 3.30 pm on Wednesday from the Chowmahalla Palace to Makkah Masjid.
Related: Nizam Mukarram Jah dies at 89 in Turkey; Congress demands holiday
Excerpts from his life
Described by some as the “story of the decline of the grandest hereditary princedom”, the recorded life story of Mukarram Jah is sketchy at best.
He was named the successor to the title of Nizam in 1954 by his grandfather and the seventh Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, who was apparently fed up with his son, who had turned into a chronically inebriated womaniser and gambling addict.
Since then, Mukarram has been identified as the eighth and the last Nizam of Hyderabad.
While describing Mukarram, John Zubrzycki, the author of The Last Nizam: The Rise and Fall of India’s Greatest Princely State, wrote, “For years I had read stories of the eccentric ruler of a Muslim state who counted his diamonds by the kilogram, his pearls by the acre, and his gold bars by the tonne, yet who was so frugal he would save on laundry bill by bathing in his clothes.”
He was officially called the Prince of Hyderabad until 1971. when the titles and privy purses were abolished by the government.
After initially moving to Australia, he married Helen Simmons of Australia — who converted to Islam and changed her name to Ayesha Mukarram — and stayed for a good part of his later life in Turkey.
“I had listened to improbable tales of a Darbar in the desert of Australia where an Indian prince preferred driving diesel-belching bulldozers than riding in the howdah of an elegantly caparisoned elephant. And I had heard rumours of a recluse living in Turkey who had arrived carrying two suitcases and a load of shattered dreams,” John Zubrzycki wrote.
According to him, when The Times ran a 1,000-word obituary portraying the seventh Nizam as a “miser” and touched on certain personal matters of his, “Jah shot back an equally long letter to the editor. It was unjust to conjure up the image of a shabby man shuffling through his dream world, asserted Jah.”
VHP demands cancelling state funeral
Meanwhile, the VHP objected to the last Nizam being accorded a state funeral.
The outfit claimed this amounted to insulting the sacrifices of those who took part in the struggle against the Nizams’ rule.
“Official recognition of the successor of the Nizam amounts to insulting the people of Telangana,” the VHP noted.
It added that the people would never forget the atrocities committed by the Razakars — armed supporters of the Nizam rule — against Hindus in the then princely state of Hyderabad.
The VHP took exception to the decision to conduct the funeral with official honours at a time when the Centre was organising a celebration to mark 75 years of “Hyderabad State Liberation”.