Bahadur Shah II and his 2 sons with a British Officer in Rangoon, Burma
October 31, 1857
Mirza Firuz Shah
Bahadur Shah II 1837–1857
In this picture you can see the British Officer haven't been allowed to be seated besides the emperor Bahadur Shah II who at the time was captured by the British Government. This shows us the status of the Mughal Emperors and how the were respected even after they were captured.
Bahadur Shah Zafar was not his father’s preferred choice as his successor. One of Akbar Shah's queens, Mumtaz Begum, had been pressuring him to declare her son Mirza Jahangir as his successor. The East India Company exiled Jahangir after he attacked their resident, Archibald Seton, in the Red Fort.
Bahadur Shah Zafar presided over a Mughal empire that barely extended beyond Delhi's Red Fort. The East India Company was the dominant political and military power in mid-nineteenth century India. Outside Company controlled India, hundreds of kingdoms and principalities, from the large to the small, fragmented the land. The emperor in Delhi was paid some respect by the Company and allowed a pension, the authority to collect some taxes, and to maintain a small military force in Delhi, but he posed no threat to any power in India. Bahadur Shah himself did not take an interest in statecraft or possess any imperial ambitions. After the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the British exiled him from Delhi.
Bahadur Shah Zafar was a noted Urdu poet, and wrote a large number of Urdu ghazals. He used Zafar, a part of his name, meaning “victory”, for his nom de plume (takhallus) as an Urdu poet, and he wrote many Urdu ghazals under it. While some part of his opus was lost or destroyed during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, a large collection did survive, and was later compiled into the Kulliyyat-i-Zafar. The court that he maintained was home to several Urdu writers of high standing, including Mirza Ghalib, Dagh, Mumin, and Zauq.
Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar is seen by some in India as a freedom fighter (the mutiny soldiers made him their Commander-In-Chief), fighting for India's independence from the Company.
As the Indian rebellion of 1857 spread, Sepoy regiments seized Delhi. Seeking a figure that could unite all Indians, Hindu and Muslim alike, most rebelling Indian kings and the Indian regiments accepted Bahadur Shah Zafar as the Emperor of India., under whom the smaller Indian kingdoms would unite until the British were defeated. Bahadur Shah Zafar was the least threatening and least ambitious of monarchs, and the legacy of the Mughal Empire was more acceptable a uniting force to most allied kings than the domination of any other Indian kingdom.
When the victory of the British became certain, Bahadur Shah Zafar took refuge at Humayun's Tomb, in an area that was then at the outskirts of Delhi, and hid there. Company forces led by Major William Hodson surrounded the tomb and compelled his surrender on 20 September 1857. The next day Hodson shot his sons Mirza Mughal, Mirza Khizr Sultan, and grandson Mirza Abu Bakr under his own authority at the Khooni Darwaza (the bloody gate) near Delhi Gate.
Many male members of his family were killed by Company forces, who imprisoned or exiled the surviving members of the Mughal dynasty. Bahadur Shah Zafar was tried on four counts, two of aiding rebels, one of treason, and being party to the murder of 49 people, and after a forty day trial found guilty on all charges. Respecting Hodson's guarantee on his surrender Bahadur Shah Zafar was not sentenced but exiled to Rangoon, Burma in 1858. He was accompanied into exile by his wife Zeenat Mahal and some of the remaining members of the family. His departure as Emperor marked the end of more than three centuries of Mughal rule in India.
Bahadur Shah Zafar died in exile on 7 November 1862 in Rangoon, (now Yangon). He was buried in Yangon's Dagon Township near the Shwedagon Pagoda, at the site that later became known as Bahadur Shah Zafar Dargah.
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