Lutfunnisa Begum

Lutfunnisa Begum (?-1790) second wife of Nawab sirajuddaula. Originally a Hindu slave girl in the service of amina begum, Siraj's mother, she was called Rajkunwar. Her beauty and pleasing manners attracted the attention of the young prince. At his request Amina Begum gave away Rajkunwar to Siraj, who married and named her Lutfunnisa Begum. Lutfunnisa Begum gave birth to a daughter who was named Zohra Begum. Siraj was first married to Umdatunnisa (Bahu Begum), daughter of an aristocrat, Irij Khan, in August 1746. Siraj had no children by his first wife.

Lutfunnisa became the constant companion of Sirajuddaula in his fortune and in his adversity. In 1748 some Afghan rebels murdered zainuddin ahmad khan Haibat Jang, the naib nazim of Bihar and father of Sirajuddaula. alivardi khan then appointed Siraj to his father's place and desired that Siraj would continue to stay with him in murshidabad while Raja Janakiram would carry out the actual duties of the naib nazim.

Lutfunnisa Begum became Siraj's principal consort. His first wife Bahu Begum kept herself busy in pompous merry making. After the Palashi disaster Siraj decided to escape alone. Lutfunnisa begged him to let her accompany him.

In the night of 24 June 1757 Sirajuddaula escaped unnoticed from the city, accompanied by his devoted wife Lutfunnisa, their only daughter Zohra and a trusted eunuch. Sirajuddaula was captured and sent along with his family to Murshidabad. After the arrest of the nawab, mir qasim, the son-in-law of mir jafar, tortured Lutfunnisa and pressed her to disclose the location of the hidden jewels. The nawab was murdered under orders of Mir Jafar.

Lutfunnisa and her daughter were confined in Murshidabad before they were sent to Dhaka in 1758 and interned in the jinjira palace on the Buriganga for seven years. Mir Jafar and his son Miran proposed on several occasions to marry Lutfunnisa. The dignified lady refused both the proposals. In 1765 she was released and brought back to Murshidabad. The east india company sanctioned a pension for her and her daughter. Lutfunnisa then sent a petition to the company requesting a regular pension. Zohra Begum was married to Mir Asad Ali Khan. They had four daughters. For Lutfunnisa some more misfortunes were in store. First, her son-in-law died, and in 1774 her daughter, leaving behind four granddaughters in her guardianship.

In March 1787 Lutfunnisa sent another petition to Governor General lord cornwallis praying for a pension that would enable her to raise her orphaned granddaughters in a dignified manner. The company in its refusal to increase the pension mentioned that rupees five hundred would be spent for the four granddaughters of the late nawab and one hundred for Lutfunnisa. Nawab Alivardi had allotted a Jagir, the income of which would be spent for the maintenance of the grave of Lutfunnisa's father-in-law in Patna. The company did not disturb this arrangement and Lutfunnisa as the mutawalli of this property continued to spend the income for the maintenance of the grave.

The company sanctioned rupees three hundred and fifty per month for the maintenance of the graves of Nawabs Alivardi and Sirajuddaula. She died in November 1790 and was buried at Khushbagh by the side of her husband. [Shahryar ZR Iqbal]