The amount may not appear princely but the descendents of the Nawabs of the former Tonk State can once again claim their monthly allowance of Rs.100 from the Government.
A recent Supreme Court order, dismissing an appeal from the Rajasthan Government, has facilitated the resumption of the payment to some 570 claimants. The amount, a pittance by any standards, may prove a relief to at least some families as the payment is to be resumed after 20 long years and arrears since 1989 would be paid.
The chronology of the dispute, tenaciously fought in the court for the past two decades by the Anjuman Society Khandan-e-Ameria, starts from 1979 when the then Janata Party government increased the monthly allowance of each recipient from Rs.2 to Rs.40. However, after eight years, the then State government reverted to the earlier amount of Rs.2 per person. In 1989, the Anjuman Society of Tonk challenged the decision in the High Court. In October 2006, the claimants received a favourable verdict as the court not only upheld their plea but also hiked the amount to Rs.100.
The State government’s appeal to the Supreme Court in January this year was rejected by the court in July. In between, in June this year, the Rajasthan High Court issued contempt notices to the State Chief Secretary, District Collector and District Treasury Officer for non-compliance of its order. This resulted in an S.O.S from the Tonk Collector to the Government for immediate release of an amount of Rs.1, 16, 90000 towards payment of arrears this month.
The small community of around 5,000 members of the former Nawab families is not celebrating, but they are happy about establishing their right. “Nothing to celebrate. What difference is Rs.100 a month going to make in our lives?” asks Abdul Moid Khan, Director of the Arabic and Persian Institute, Tonk, when contacted.
Mr. Khan is one of the recipients of the allowance. “We are happy about the restoration of the allowance as it was stopped without any valid reason. Most of the direct descendants of the Tonk Nawabs are poor and they live in extreme penury,” he observes.
At the time of Independence, the children of the royal family of Tonk were studying in good schools such as the Mayo College, Ajmer. However, slowly without any income and unaware of the survival tactics of the outside world, the families got into financial distress. Most of the families of the former Nawabs of Tonk live in and around Tonk, now a district town on way to Kota-Jabalpur, though there are a few living abroad.
Tonk, the only Muslim State in the erstwhile Rajputana, founded by Amir Khan (1768-1834), a military leader of Afghan origin, accepted British suzerainty in 1817. The title of Nawab also was granted by the British. In 1947, the Nawab of Tonk accepted the State’s accession to Union of India. The area under Tonk State was spread over 2,553 sq miles and its borders stretched up to Madhya Pradesh in south from Rajasthan.
“This is a pittance and the fight will continue,” asserts Aktar Jung, another recipient, who is district Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). The allowances were Rs.300 a month to the daughters and Rs.450 to the sons of the Nawab when it commenced long ago. “It would have made some sense if the amount is Rs.400 a month,” Mr. Jung notes.