Kunal is credited with single-handedly turning
around the Mahavir Mandir Trust into a profit making body. The trust runs three hospitals, including the state's first private cancer hospital here, from the monetary offering of devotees and profits from the sale of special sweets prepared by it.
A Hindu temple trust in Bihar has offered a job and free education to the impoverished family members of India's last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar's great granddaughter-in-law Sultana Begum.This humane gesture of communal harmony comes in a year that India celebrates the 150th year of the first war of independence in 1857 - a war fought under the leadership of Zafar.
The Patna-based Mahavir Mandir Trust has offered a job to a member of Kolkata-based Sultana Begum's family and free education to her grandson to mark their respect for Zafar, whose contribution to sectarian harmony and national integration is legendary.
'The temple trust has offered a job to any member of her family in any secular institution and free education to her grandson to pay our respects to Bahadur Shah Zafar ' said trust secretary Kishore Kunal here.Sultana Begum, who is in her early 50s, is in Bihar along with a minor grandson on a mission to spread the message of peace and create awareness about Zafar's contributions to society.
'I was honoured when the trust offered a job for a family member and free education to my grandson. It is a great thing to happen, I will not forget this in my lifetime,' said an emotionally charged Sultana Begum, who is the wife of the late Mirza Mohammad Bedar Bakht, the great grandson of Bahadur Shah Zafar.Bakht was born in Rangoon where the British government had imprisoned his great grandfather.
After India's independence, Bakht return to India and married Sultana Begum in 1965.Sultana Begum, who lives off a small scrap shop in a Kolkata slum along with half a dozen family members, also visited a Sikh shrine - the Patna Saheb Gurdwara - and a tomb of a Muslim saint at Phulwarisharif near here.
'We have been struggling for survival. There was virtually no help from the West Bengal government or the central government,' she added.With a meagre pension of Rs.400 since 1980, she has seen near penury after her husband died. ´
'There was no change in my pension but prices of rice and wheat increased manifold. The pension provided by the government hardly allows us to get foods for four days. But who cares for us despite our historical background?' she lamented.
Sultana Begum has set up the Bahadur Shah Zafar Memorial Trust in West Bengal, with the aim of making people aware of the contributions made by the last Mughal emperor.
I want to spread the message of communal harmony of the last Mughal emperor among the youth,' she said. The trust will hold a poetry meet in Kolkata on April 22. She also plans to revive Zafar's famous 'Phul Walon ki Sair' -.Earlier here, Kunal presented her with a shawl, a memento and some traditional sweets prepared by the temple trust. '
We honoured her when she visited a Mahavir Jain temple and offered prayers for communal harmony,' said Kunal, a former IPS officer who was appointed administrator of the Bihar Religious Trusts Board by the Nitish Kumar government.
Kunal is credited with single-handedly turning around the Mahavir Mandir Trust into a profit making body.
The trust runs three hospitals, including the state's first private cancer hospital here, from the monetary offering of devotees and profits from the sale of special sweets prepared by it.The trust, which has also appointed a Dalit priest at the temple, is associated with the Ramanand sect.