Mumtaz Begum of the famous Malabar Hill Murder Case the murder trial that rocked india a century ago
THE MURDER TRIAL THAT ROCKED INDIA A CENTURY AGO
January 1925 - A motor car left Malabar Hill, a wealthy colony in South Mumbai, to visit the nearby Hanging Gardens. In addition to the driver, there were three other people in the car - one, a wealthy and generous businessman named Abdul Qadir Bawla (who built the Sabu Siddique Mosque, known as the Bawla Mosque in Parel, Mumbai, which is still counted as the second largest mosque in Mumbai), the other, Mr. Matthew was Bawla's manager and the third person was Ms. Mumtaz Begum !!!
Mumtaz Begum, who had come to Mumbai a few days ago, had a good time with the rich fellow Bawla and she was staying with him. On his way to the Hanging Gardens, his car was hit by another vehicle around Kemps Corner. Immediately, 5-6 people got out of the other vehicle with weapons and started trying to pick up Mumtaz Begum. Bawla resisted, but he was shot down. The assailants were trying to drag Bawla's girlfriend into their car.
Meanwhile, a group of British military officers returning from a golf club confronted the kidnappers and took Mumtaz Begum to safety. They also caught all the attackers. But the bullet-riddled Bawla could not be saved!
However, Mr Bawla had already set aside a hefty sum of ₹.40 lakhs for pregnant Mumtaz !!! (Imagine ₹.40 lakhs a century ago!)
Mumtaz Begum's abduction attempt caused a stir and the news was published in all the newspapers. The incident reverberated in London as well.
An investigation was launched into all the arrested assailants and it was revealed was that a prominent dynasty in the country had lost its prestige. All the threads of the kidnappers were directly linked to Maharaj Tukojirao Holkar (III) of Indore.
The real heroine of this story was Mumtaz Begum, who was a dancer in the harem of Maharaj Tukojirao Holkar (III) of Indore. Maharaj Tukojirao Holkar had a special interest in Mumtaz who danced in the court for almost ten years. Mumtaz; fed up with repeated abortions; finally managed to escape and reached Mumbai via Amritsar, Delhi and Nagpur. Here she met Abdul Qadir Bawla and stayed with him as his mistress.
Tukojirao's men were behind her. They finally found her and a new game started, which would appear like a movie! Her whereabouts, time, her accomplices, all the details were collected and the time of abduction was decided. But in the meanwhile, their misfortune got in the way and the vehicle of the British army arrived there at about the same time.
All the attackers were associated with the state of Indore. One, Shafi Ahmed, was Risaldar (commander of the cavalry unit), the other one was the driver. The third, Captain Shamrao Dighe, the fourth cadre in the Indore Air Force, was a man of honor at the court of the Maharaja, and since October 1924, these men had been on the lookout for Bawla and Mumtaz upon the orders of the Adjutant General of the Indore Army.
Malabar Hill murder case started in Mumbai High Court. The whole country turned its attention to this case. The trial lasted twenty-four days, and the killers were finally convicted. A total of nine people were charged. Two of them were acquitted, three were sentenced to life imprisonment and three were sentenced to death (one of them, Pushpashil Pandey, went insane during the trial and escaped execution). The ninth accused, Sardar Anandrao Phanse, was convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to life imprisonment. Holkar's name was tarnished. Tukojirao was forcefully evicted from the throne. His successor Yashwantrao Holkar (II) became the Maharaj of Indore at an early age !!!
Tukojirao left the country after that incident and settled in Paris. There he met American Nancy Miller (Sharmishthadevi Holkar). Eventually they got married. They had four daughters. One of the girls got married in the Kagal Sardar family near Kolhapur, whose son later became a film actor (Bollywood actor - Vijayendra Ghadge) and whose daughter is Sagarika Ghadge, also a Bollywood actress (Chak De fame), married to cricketer Zaheer Khan.
In the Malabar Hill murder case, the Holkar Army Adjutant General was being represented by a well-known lawyer from Mumbai. He was a renowned barrister who had obtained his degree from London.
And look at the irony !!!
Who would have ever dreamed that this lawyer, who was defending the honor of the Hindu dynasty, accused of abducting a Muslim woman, will later become the father of the nation of an Islamic nation?
The lawyer, who used his knowledge to suppress the injustice done to a Muslim woman was, Qaid e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah !!!