The Red Fort of Delhi was the imperal palace of the Mughals. Shah Jahan entertained the Persian Ambassador the first year of his ascent to the throne and was muffed when the Persian slyly hinted he thought it was tattty of the Mughals to loot a Rajput Fort why back at the beginning of the conquest of India by Islam and never upgrade it. The Rajput Fort still had Hindu symbols and Rajput bric-a-brac decor including a Ganash Elephant Gate and crossed swords that Shah Jahan desperately claimed to the Persian was an Islamic crescent when it was obviously Rajput tulwars. So Shah Jahan spent millions installing solid silver ceilings and gem studded paster walls and vulgar riches of every sort while engraving his name all over it and claiming he created it despite the fact Mughal histories clearly said the Red Fort existed when the first Muslim invaders captured it from the Rajputs. Today Indian history still repeats the lies of Shah Jahan despite the clear illogic. Ditto Agra. Ditto other obviously Rajput created masterpieces…..
Emperor Zafar was obsolete before he was senile. The Maratha and the Rajputs never commenced a coup when they had a chance. The British likewise chose to let him dangle. It seemed easier to let Zafar fade away rather than remove him in order to placate the Muslims of the Punjab who saw him as their last remaining symbol of Mughal Greatness. Zafar was a heretic according to the Wahhabists. He alternated between Shia and Sufi which was deemed heretic. His servants did his bowing and praying for him. Wahhabism scared him. And the Wahhabists were scary.They openly sneered Zafar as both a heretic (death) and a muddy blood mongrel Mughal. They openly said their caliph would have to be a pure blood Arabic Ashraf Wahhabist. Zafar was 3/4th Rajput, mostly Jaipur. Wahhabists were notorious racists. Zafar’s fateful decision that May day in 1857 would damn him and damn Delhi but he probably had no choice. Douglas knew that the princes, all scheming to be crowned emperor by the Wahhabists, knew two weeks ahead of time that something was going to happen. Meerut was premature but plans were already set for a civil war. India’s King Lear would rave all but naked as the hail of shells instead of stormy rain pelted him as his kindred fought among themselves for control of his non existent kingdom.
Emperor Zafar in 1857 was a faded man drifting into senility. Aurangzeb’s scion inherited a ruined country made bankrupt by the Mughals. A century of wars in the 8th century ravished India while reducing the Red Fort to a cipher. The sacking of Delhi by the Shah of Persia left the Red Fort bankrupt. Zafar as a small boy watched the Shah laugh as his grandfather was blinded and his father was made to dance like a monkey. Zafar never recovered. The British paid Zafar a million pound stipend to front for the EIC and he mismanaged the money so badly the Royal Poor begged on the streets of Delhi. Captain Douglas staged pomp to allow the fading ghost of the Red Fort to pretend he was emperor. Sir Metcalfe paid many of his bills. But destiny forced living ghost into the spotlight to star as King Lear of India.
Mirza Abu Bakr was the badmash grandson of Emperor Zafar. Most of the Mughal Royal Family knew two weeks before the premature mutiny at Meerut that something big was going down and they meant to cash in on it. The Wahhabists promised each royal prince they would be crowned if the rebellion won while saying internally that they meant to create a pure blood Arabic Ashraf Wahahbist caliph to rule their new Dar ul Islam Hindustan. This prince spent most of the siege of Delhi looting alongside sowar cavalrymen when he was not running away from battles.
Mirza Iiahe Bakhsh was the very bitter father in law to the Royal Family. His beloved daughter and son in law (the elder son of Zafar) perished under mysterious circumstances. It was widely known the Red Queen of the Red Fort openly plotted to poison every older son of Zafar to put her son on the Peacock Throne (which was now a tatty divan) and she was a famous poisoner. Zafar made no attempt to stop her diverse plots and poisons. The bitter man , a bony Indian version of Cassius, vowed to bring down the Royal Family of the Red Fort in revenge. Tragically, if the beautiful young royals had lived and been appointed regents they might have led the Red Fort into a new era as shining progressives. Also tragically, the surviving oldest son of Zafar was now Mirza Mughal and he knew he was next to be murdered.
Mirza Jawan Bakht was the youngest son of Zafar and the Red Queen of the Red Fort. He wa spoiled badmash who spent the siege of Delhi looting as his mommy plotted with any and all (Rebel and British at the same time)l to put him on the throne (presumably after dispatching Zafar). It never occurred to the prince he would never be emperor of India. Zafar hocked the few remaining royal jewels to pay for an expensive pomp and circumstance parade/marriage/ pre-crowning of the prince as the heir apparent with Sir Metcalfe further picking up the tab despite his opposition. Metcalfe and five other key Britishers were poisoned by the Red Queen over the badmash’s promotion to heir apparent which brought about the crisis of 1857.
Mirza Khizr Sultan was another spoiled royal badmash who spent the siege of Delhi writing bad poetry, looting with sowar cavalrymen, and running away from battles. His attitude was I got mine f—- you. He saw Delhi as an opportunity to get rich which he felt was his entitlement being royal (but alas poor). Since the Shah of Persia sacked Delhi and the Red Fort and hauled away billions in royal loot plus the biggest diamond in the world, the Koh I Koor Diamond, plus the Peacock Throne, the Mughal Royal Family was bankrupt, living off a million pound a year British stipend which back then was a huge amount of money. But the Mughals were used to squandering between 1/3 and 1/2 of the Indian GNP so a mere million pound stipend was shockingly little to live on. The Royal Poor used to threaten to go out into Delhi and beg if Sir Metcalfe did not pay the Royals more money. This royal badmash assumed he would be the next emperor but he was played by the Wahhabists who considered the Mughal Royal Family badmash racially if not morally —- 3/4 Rajput and therefore muddy blood and no longer pure Arabic Ashraf. The next caliph was actually going to be a brand new pure blood Wahhabist and the entire Mughal Royal Family was going to be dumped into the rubbish. It was not known how. Did the Wahhabists plan a Russian Revolution style mass execution? No one knows because Delhi fell to the Loyalists. The Red Queen negotiated with the British to save herself and her darling son. Zafar tagged along unwanted with the Red Queen. The other royal badmash was expendable……
Mirza Mughal was the oldest surviving son of Zafar but employed a food taster knowing the Red Queen of the Red Fort was plotting his demise. Surviving pictures reveal remarkably ‘uneasy’ eyes of an insecure royal who never enjoyed the support or love of his father while the Red Queen openly plotted against him. The British supported his claim to the throne as the oldest son (if he survived) yet he felt obligated to hate the British for reducing the Mughals to a dangling farce. He could not emotionally or religiously hate the Shah of Persia for bankrupting them or Aurangzeb The Terrible for wreaking India and leaving his scion scorned and hated or his great grandfather and grandfather for being humiliated by the Shah during the sacking of the Red Fort or the resulting bankruptcy that reduced the Royal Family to nonentity status before the British even arrived in Delhi. He could not hate his father for emotionally abandoning him or giving the Red Queen of the Red Fort carte blanche to poison and plot. So he hated the British kafirs and the devious Jews and the uppity Bengalis and the warlike Sikhs and the disrespectful Maratha or the threatening Jats instead. He was seduced by the Wahhabists and was in the plan for the takeover of Delhi even before the premature mutiny in Meerut. He rationalized the shockingly bloody polgrom of Delhi as means to an end. What end? He perhaps naively hoped for an Indian version of the American Revolution or an Delhi Spring but quickly realized the Wahhabists planned another scenario entirely. He spent the siege of Delhi desperately fighitng off Bakht Khan reducing a quasi constitutional (but all Muslim) council turn into a military junta ruled by Bakht Khan which pushed out any real feedback by civilians or even royals. He know militarily speaking that Bakht Khan could not win Delhi once John Nicholson arrived but was powerless to negotiate a surrender that might have saved Delhi. The other royals openly negotiated their lives without hesitation while Delhi faced destruction. Mirza Mughal to his credit knew the royals deserved to die if their carelessness doomed Delhi.
Mirza Mughal realized he had been played by the Wahhabists who needed royal figleaves to cover their highjacking of the so-called revolution for freedom. If Zafar was the Indian King Lear drifting in and out of senility and opium dreams of delusions then he was the ‘King’s Fool’ ‘When we are born we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools’ and he knew no less than his father that ”Thou should not have been old til thou hadst been wise’.
Mirza Mughal cast aside his royal folly and mad delusions as his father raved and strutted delusional to greet his doom with tragic heroism which no other royal could or would display as Delhi fell into fire and destruction. He know the British would need Zafar and the loathed and hated Red Queen and her noxious son but he and the other royal princes were expendable. It is reputed that Hobson whispered ‘Goodbye Bonnie Prince Charlie’ to Mirza Mughal just before he executed him in a set up of a Sikh prophecy at the Red Gate where a famous Sikh guru was savagely tortured and murdered by Mughals.
Mirza Mughal compared himself to Faustus who sold his soul to the devil as well as Lear’s Fool. A Tragic hero both causes his ruin and yet at the same time endures the horror of the ruin he has wrought with such dignity he is nevertheless to be admired. Mirza Mughal could be seen as a tragic hero. He craved ‘respect’ having come from a tragic history that made India into a ‘wounded civilization’ and unleashed the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in his tragic pursuit of ‘respect’. Yet greeted his destruction with tragedy which is a Western obsession as ‘Respect’ is an Eastern obsession.