Sahebzadi Basheer Unnissa Begum, the last surviving child of Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur, the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad, breathed her last Tuesday. She was 93.
The last Nizam had 18 sons and 16 daughters. In 2018, Nawab Fazal Jah, his last surviving son had passed away.
Born in September 1927, Unnissa Begum was the daughter of Khadera Begum Saheba, one of the wives of the last Nizam of the princely state of Hyderabad.
She was married to Kasim Nawaz Jung ‘Ali Pasha’, who passed away in 1998, and is survived by their only daughter, Sahebzadi Rasheed Unnissa Begum, with whom they lived at the Osman Cottage in Purani Haveli. The campus also houses the Nizam museum.
Unnissa Begum’s death is a big loss to the family as she was the epitome of Hyderabadi culture, tradition, and values, Nawab Najaf Ali Khan, one of the grandsons of the Last Nizam, and president of the Nizam Family Welfare Association said. “She was concerned about the wellbeing of everyone else in the family and always enquired about them. She was respected by everyone.”
Unnissa witnessed the transition from a royal life to life thereafter and mingled with the older and younger generation alike. “She was always pleasant, well-spoken, and well-mannered,” Khan said, recalling his aunt.
Co-convenor of the Hyderabad chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage(INTACH) P Anuradha Reddy, whose grandfather was the last Nizam’s revenue secretary, recalls Basheer Unnissa Begum as an elegant lady.
“We used to see her quite frequently when she visited her half-sister Shehzadi Pasha, the eldest daughter of the last Nizam, who was our neighbor. I was very impressed by her demeanor. She was humble, simple, and unassuming in spite of the family she belonged to. In recent years, however, she was not seen much in public,” she said.
City-based historian Mohammed Safiullah, who has also interviewed her in the 1990s for a documentary, said Unnissa Begum was Hyderabadi nobility personified. “My interactions with her during the late 1980s and 1990s was when she was the chief guest at Nizam’s jewelry exhibition. She was always jovial and courteous. Her hospitality was legendary because of the huge spread of dishes. She was a great philanthropist too,” he said.
Stating that hers was an eventful life well spent, Safiullah said the royal had witnessed her father, the last Nizam, at the peak of his life when he was the richest man in the world.
“During our interview, she had recalled how the Nizam reassured that he would take care of everyone during Hyderabad’s accession into the Indian Union in 1948. Also, her husband, Kazim Nawaz Jung Ali Pasha, was the closest confidante of the last Nizam in the 1950s and 1960s till the latter’s death,” Safiullah said, adding that she was the favourite daughter and her husband, the favourite son-in-law of the last Nizam.
Unnissa Begum was laid to rest at Dargah Hazrat Yahiya Pasha in Misrigunj in the city following noon prayers and in presence of other family members.
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