On January 20th, the Nizam VIII His Exalted Highness (HEH) Mir Barkat Ali Siddiqui Khan Bahadur Mukarram Jah Bahadur’s eldest son Mir Mohammad Azmat Ali Khan Azmet Jah was anointed as the new head of the Asaf Jahi royal family. According to a press note issued by the Chowmahalla Palace, that the successor of Mukarram Jah was declared in the presence of “immediate family members, trustees, close friends, well-wishers, and staff members.”
I sought information on social media about the reason for the notable absence of Prince Muffakham Jah Bahadur, the younger brother of the deceased Nizam. Sensing this, a journalist from a vernacular daily dished out a story on this account and questioned the absence of Prince Muffakham Jah Bahadur and other close relatives. However, as per the palace sources Prince Muffakham Jah was not informed, or to put in other words, he was not invited for the all-important symbolic succession ceremony at the Chowmahalla Palace.
Interestingly, among the invitees were the Telangana State Home Minister M Mahmood Ali and his young grandson Furqan Ali. Their presence was perhaps out of law and order compulsions. The organizers of the ceremony thought it prudent to invite Mahmood Ali to ensure that there was no opposition and drama to thwart the succession. The ceremony ended peacefully and smoothly though it has ruffled quite a few feathers.
The declaration from the Chowmahalla Palace was undated. It also presented different spellings. The name in full was spelt as Mir Mohammed Azmat Ali Khan but the title was spelt as Azmet Jah. Perhaps, this Azmet with an ‘e’ had to do more with his Turkish maternal origins and the way it is spelt in Erdogan’s land. Leaving out people who matter is not a new development. Royalty, aristocracy, politicians, and politics are known for what is described as ‘palace intrigues.’ Was there any intrigue or conspiracy? It will be known in the days to come.
There are mixed reactions to the succession of Azmet Jah. Some have welcomed it as continuity for the purpose of day-to-day handling of affairs pertaining to the Asaf Jahi properties. Some have preferred to chicken out not to voice any opinion lest they incur the royal wrath. There are some others like Nawab Najaf Ali Khan, son of Prince Hashim Jah Bahadur and a cousin of HEH the Nizam VIII Mukarram Jah Bahadur, who is known for speaking his mind fearlessly. Nawab Najaf Ali Khan has been at the forefront of legal battles for about three decades to claim the rights of the members of the Asaf Jahi Royal family.
Speaking to BeyondHeadlines, Nawab Najaf Ali Khan challenged the succession of Azmet Jeh without mincing any words. He also shared a press release. He had to say the following: Azmet Jah, a man whose father did not live in Hyderabad, has never learned about the Asaf Jahi Tehzeeb or rituals. How can such a man be referred to be the “head of the Asif Jah dynasty” when all he knows is the exclusion of the family and leaving no stone unturned to sit on the throne on his father’s Ziyarat day, flanked by his servants? All his life, Mukarram Jah did not have any interest in the title awarded to him by my grandfather. This in turn complicated his life and he became a silent witness to his downfall as well as the downfall of the entire family, claimed Najaf Ali Khan. Even though he had the enormous wealth and resources to better the condition of the family, he didn’t wish to stay in Hyderabad and look after family issues. If he had taken action when the family’s condition became dilapidated, this situation would not be faced by a once majestic family, he added.
According to Nawab Najaf Ali Khan, the pretentious declaration raises several objections and rejections:
a. Firstly, a “Decree” can only be pronounced by a Court, government authority, or the head of a state. A decree that self-proclaims a common citizen as the head of a dynasty is not legally valid, especially so after the abolishment of Titles and Privy Purses in 1971.
b. “Successor in the title”
‘‘My grandfather H.E.H Nizam VII passed away on 24th February 1967. Not even three days had passed since his death, when on 27th February 1967, Mukarram Jah obtained and presented a certificate that allowed him to take control of and seize all the private properties, movable and immovable wealth held by H.E.H Nizam VII. This led to the onset of ultimate destruction to the family as it allowed him to smuggle uncountable national and familial artifacts out of India, sell and profit from them. However, just within a year, on 29th January 1968, this certificate was quashed by the Andhra Pradesh High Court in W.P. No 863 of 1967 Ahmedunnisa Begum Alias Shahzadi Begum vs Union of India rep by Secretary Ministry of Home Affairs Government of India New Delhi and Mukarram Jah Bahadur. Some excerpts from the judgement are as follows:
“In the result, we hold that the Government of India has no power or jurisdiction whether under Article 362 or otherwise to issue the certificate recognizing the 2nd Respondent as the sole successor to all the private properties moveable and immoveable held by the late Nizam or to authorize the transfer of the private properties to the 2nd Respondent. Accordingly, we allow the writ Petition with costs and quash the certificate dated 27.2.1967 issued to the Nizam the 2nd Respondent relating to the successor to private property of the late Nizam”.
When Mukarram Jah challenged the 1968 Judgement of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in the Supreme Court, he requested the Union of India to become a party towards his support of the Succession Certificate. The Union of India refused to help him and they were more interested to help the heirs of Nizam VII to recover possession which they lost only on account of the certificate as said in ref Ministry of Law (Shri R.S. Gao Secretary) MHA/U.O. No1/3/-Poll. III dated 28-3-68 Page no 13 para 5).
“And if the order quashing the certificate is not reversed, certainly it is the duty of the Government to help the heirs of the late Nizam to recover possession which they lost only on account of the certificate”.
Further in 1971, in the Twenty-Sixth Amendment of the Constitution of India, the Government abolished all Titles, and Privy Purses held by the princely states. The Constitution explicitly states the follows:
“363A.Recognition granted to Rulers of Indian States to cease and privy purses to be abolished. – Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution or in any law for the time being in force.”
(a) The Prince, Chief, or other person who, at any time before the commencement of THE CONSTITUTION (Twenty-sixth Amendment) Act, 1971, was recognized by the President as the Ruler of an Indian State or any person who, at any time before such commencement, was recognized by the President
Nawab Najaf Ali Khan argued that it is imperative to note that TWICE, in 1968 and 1971, the title held by Mukarram Jah was quashed and abolished by competent government authorities thus rendering his title as Nizam VIII null and void. How can Azmet Jah hold, succeed and use this title on the basis of his father when in reality even the title of his father is questionable and cannot legally be passed down to him?
c. “Issued as per the instructions of Walashan Azmet Jah Bahadur”
Azmet Jah has self-proclaimed himself as IXth Nizam of the Asaf Jahi Dynasty by issuing the self-declaration dated Friday 20th January 2023 issued by his office signed by 2 persons, both who are not a part of the Nizam Family but only to misguide the common people and the government.’’
Nawab Najaf Ali Khan claimed that the said Succession Certificate dated 27.02.1967 was misused several times by his GPAs to sell Waqf and ancestral properties worth crores of rupees and cause irreparable financial damage to the family. It has also been misused by them to claim compensation by claiming that Mukarram Jah is the sole successor to his grandfather and to the Properties left behind by him. ‘‘For over half a decade, these illegal and atrocious acts have pushed the family into a state of desolate financial ruin and caused damage that cannot be undone. This certificate was falsely presented in the honorable London High Court which caused the family financial damage of over 25 million pounds, leading to a loss in reputation and infringement of rights, lamented Nawab Najaf Ali Khan. He also observed that to provide the final clarity, Prince Mukarram Jah’s status in 1971, has been reduced to a common citizen and he was no more a sovereign ruler!
Nawab Najaf Ali Khan pointed out that in the past few years, ‘we have alerted both the Central and State government on the misuse of this certificate.’ In the future too, the belligerent Nawab Najaf Ali Khan warned that ‘‘strict legal action will be pursued by my lawyers, Adnan Shaheed Associates and Nilofar Khan (Delhi) to prevent misuse of this null and void title and curb any misinformation that stems from it.’’ He appealed to the common people to not be misguided by such false self-declarations that do not mandate Azmet Jah to hold the title of Nizam IX.
Nawab Najaf Ali Khan expects respect and equitable distribution of inheritance among all the members of the royal family. Is he asking too much? He is not asking everything for himself but for thousands of his family members. It does not mean that Prince Mukarram Jah Bahadur and Prince Muffakham Jah’s families should give away everything. But, it is important to give each one his or her share.
Another member of the Asaf Jahi Royal Family, Sahebzada Moiz Jung was peeved that all the family members were not invited to the succession ceremony of Azmet Jah. Moiz Jung fumed that ‘it is an insult to the court order as well that even without discussing or taking suggestions from the legal heirs of 1st Nizam of Hyderabad to 6th Nizam of Hyderabad, neither the Trustees (of the Nizam Trust) nor the workers informed about the coronation ceremony of 9th Nizam of Hyderabad.’
‘Unfortunately, in the year 1967, where there was no social platform like today’s but the whole family was present to grace the occasion of the 8th Nizam coronation ceremony including my late father. Unfortunately, in spite of having all means in today’s era, none were invited. I suppose the old Telegram invitations were far better than today’s WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook accounts, bemoaned Moiz Jung.’
Having spent a large part of his life abroad, Azmet Jah Bahadur is alien to Hyderabad and Asaf Jahi culture and traditions. The good intentions of Azmet Jah Bahadur should not be doubted to solve the decades-old issues within the royal family with respect, compassion, and love. As in my last Op-Ed page analysis of the Nizam VIII Mir Barkat Ali Siddiqui Khan Bahadur Mukarram Jah’s life, I reiterate that all conflicts must be resolved amicably in the light of the directives in the Holy Quran. During the Bosnia war, hundreds of thousands of civilians were displaced. Relief was being distributed to mitigate the suffering of the people. When the relief team went to give some relief material to an 18-year-old Bosniak girl, she declined to take the relief material and told the relief team much to their amazement: When I have this, I do not need anything else! The girl was reading Surah Fatah from the Holy Quran at that time and ‘this’ in her statement refers to the Holy Quran. The girl had lost her family and everything in the war. If Quran and Allah are sufficient for that girl with no possessions, they are surely enough for us to show light to us in acting with sense and gratitude accordingly. The greed to acquire more and more even by usurping the rightful claimants will never end as long as this futile world lasts! The Asaf Jahi royal family and all others must go back to the Holy Quran — the complete code of life! There are better things to do in life than indulge in conflicts! Hope and pray that common sense prevails!