Saturday, 21 July 2012

The tale of three iron boxes: Even as the Royal Bank of Scotland sits over a huge fortune of the Nizam pending tripartite settlement between India, Pakistan and the Nizam’s heirs, three stout iron safes, lying in government treasury in Hyderabad, continue to raise curiosity of historians and old timers.

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 21: Even as the Royal Bank of Scotland sits over a
huge fortune of the Nizam pending tripartite settlement between India,
Pakistan and the Nizam’s heirs, three stout iron safes, lying in
government treasury in Hyderabad, continue to raise curiosity of
historians and old timers.

The three iron safes built in England reportedly contain the personal
belongings of the Paigah nobles, who were second only in royalty and
rank to the Nizam of Hyderabad. They have been under the safe custody
of the State treasury following a court decree pronounced back in 1958.

Two of these iron safes are at the State treasury office at Khilwat
near Charminar. They contain the jewellery and other valuables of
Paigah noble Kurshid Jah Bahadur. The third, at the court of wards at
Nampally, has all the valuable belongings of his brother, Sir
Vicar-ul-Umra, who built the famed Falaknuma Palace. The exact quantum
of and the intrinsic or the antique value of the jewellery, precious
gems and personal belongings is not known.

These safes will be opened and the property inside them will be
distributed among the legal heirs of the Paigah nobles, only after the
court pronounces its final verdict. Half a century has already passed
since the dispute went to court and some of the claimants have passed
away in the meantime. Two separate cases – one related to Kurshid
Jah’s property and the other of Sir Vicar-ul-Umra – are pending before
the AP High Court.

Meanwhile, curiosity writ large on the faces of hundreds of people on
Saturday as officials of different departments under police escort
shifted the two thick iron safes from
the treasury office at Khilwat to Nampally treasury office. The safes
have been lying at the Khilwat office for the last 54 years.

The State government plans to construct a multi-level parking lot
after demolishing the old building built during the times of Nizam VI,
Mir Mahboob Ali Khan. To facilitate the demolition the safes were
shifted after a thorough check of the court seal.

Referring to the two safes now being shifted, MA Bari, who has been
appointed advocate-commissioner by court, told this correspondent that
the property belonged to the Paigahs. “After the abolition of the
Jagir, the valuables were put in the iron safes and deposited in safe
custody following court orders. The jewellery is subject to case No.
CS 14 of 1958. They contain pearls, emeralds and other jewellery,”
Bari added. He however felt that “they are not of much value”.

Paigah sources said the iron safe at the court of wards in Nampally
contains a large portion of the personal wealth of Sir Vicar-ul-Umra,
who was the brother-in-law of Mir Mahboob Ali Khan.

“It is a land standing dispute which dates back to early 1940s. It
took momentum after the abolition of Jagir system in 1956. I feel the
two safes at Khilwat are only of scrap value. But we will know the
truth only after they are opened,” said city historian Dr Muhammad
Safiullah.

He said the State government should have repaired the old building of
Khazana-e-Aamira (State treasury) and conserved it for posterity
instead of pulling it down to make way for a parking lot.

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