Prince Kaukab Qadr
Prince Kaukab Qadr

NEW DELHI: The great grandson of Awadh’s last king Nawab Wajid Ali Shah and grandson of Nawab Birjis Qadr, Prince Kaukab Qadr Sajjad Ali Meerza, died in Kolkata on Sunday evening of Covid-19-related complications, family friends said. He was 87.

They said the last surviving great grandson of Wajid Ali Shah and Begum Hazrat Mahal, had tested positive for Covid-19 a week ago.

He is survived by his wife, Badr-un-Nissa Badr who belongs to Lucknow’s renowned Khandan-i-Ijtihad and is the daughter of poet Fazl Naqvi. The couple has two sons and four daughters.

Prince Kaukab was a contemporary of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen at Kolkata’s St. Xavier College and was research consultant to Satyajit Ray for the 1977 film Shatranj Ke Khilari.

The prince spent his entire life researching and publishing information on Wajid Ali Shah and Begum Hazrat Mahal.

He last visited Lucknow in May 2017 at the screening of a film on Begum Hazrat Mahal. The 26-minute documentary was commissioned by the Films Division and premiered in Lucknow for the first time on the 137th death anniversary of the queen.

Prince Kaukab was also a senior trustee of the Sibtainabad Imambara Trust in Matiaburj, Kolkata, where his great grandfather, King Wajid Ali Shah lies buried.

After doing his doctorate in Urdu from Aligarh Muslim University on the `Literary & Cultural Contributions of Wajid Ali Shah’, he joined the same university as a teacher and retired as professor of Urdu in 1993.

“Also known as Dr M. Kaukab, he was a popular figure in the billiards and snooker fraternity of the country. He was the founder-secretary of The Billiards & Snooker Federation of India, The West Bengal Billiards Association and also The Uttar Pradesh Billiards & Snooker Association,” The Times of India quoted his son Irfan Ali Mirza as saying.

He was the chief referee of the first World Snooker Championship held at the iconic Great Eastern Hotel in Calcutta in 1963-64. He remained the chief referee of the National Billiards & Snooker Championship till it left the Palm Court of the Great Eastern Hotel in the 70s.

The rolling trophy of the IBSF World Snooker Championship, the M.M. Baig Trophy, was designed by him, and to this day remains the prestigious rolling trophy of the World Championship.

He had made his daughter Manzilat Fatima play the Junior National Snooker Championship in 1980 in Ahmedabad, thus making her the first female ever to participate in the National Snooker Championship, the son said.

He had also taken out a pioneering Billiards magazine, The Baulkline, in the 1970s.

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2020