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Sharmila Tagore likely to settle family dispute in Bhopal

If sources are to be believed, Sharmila Tagore reached Bhopal on Sunday in order to settle the family property dispute and she is likely to stay there till tomorrow.

Sharmila Tagore
Sharmila Tagore

It seems that the entire family has gathered at the Flag Staff House in Bhopal in order to discuss and amicably settle its property issues. Sharmila and the extended Pataudi family are expected to sign a mutual agreement about their property.

A source from Bhopal says on condition of anonymity, “A deal to sell Flag Staff House (it is part of Ahmedabad Palace, the residence of erstwhile ruler of Bhopal) could also be formalised.”

Among those who are currently in Bhopal to settle the issue are Sahibzadi Samia Sultan, daughter of Tiger Pataudi’s sister Sabiha Sultan; and Faiz Bin Jung, son of Pataudi’s other sister, Saleha Sultan. “Sharmila’s daughter, Saba Sultan, is also expected to join the family discussions.,” says a source close to the family.

After the death of Begum Sajida Sultan, the last Begum of Bhopal, cricketer Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi (Tiger Pataudi) was recognised as the head of the royal house. Since then, his sisters, Saleha and Sabiha, have been fighting for a share in their ancestral property.

In December 2011, Sharmila Tagore had attempted to resolve the issue after the death of Nawab Pataudi. At that time, she told the media, “I have come here with a sense of purpose. There is little point in continuing these never-ending court cases and paying hefty fees to lawyers.”

So this is the first visit by Begum Ayesha Sultana — as Sharmila is known in Pataudi’s family — to Flag Staff House after Tiger Pataudi’s death in September 2011. Interestingly, Flag Staff House, a mansion built on seven acres and located in the present-day upmarket Koh-e-Fiza area of Bhopal, is one of the estates under dispute. It was built as a guesthouse to entertain visiting Englishmen during the British rule. The mansion was Pataudi’s home whenever he visited Bhopal.

When contacted, Sharmila Tagore denied the news.

Legal case history

>> In 2005, Tiger Pataudi moved Jabalpur High Court against a fast-track court’s verdict granting his sisters the right to stay in Flag Staff House.
>> Pataudi moved court after Sabiha sent a fax from Hyderabad seeking the keys to the mansion. The caretaker declined, asking her to wait till Pataudi returned from Britain. Pataudi, in his appeal, claimed that he was merely a tenant of Flag Staff House, paying a rent of R2,000, and thus could not allow his sisters to stay in the mansion. He said his mother had appointed him the tenant a few months before she died in 1995.
>> The Bhopal court rejected his plea, saying the lease document was not valid. It said the sisters had the right to use the house as Pataudi’s lease as tenant had expired. However, no settlement was reached within the family on the joint ownership of Flag Staff House.
>> Pataudis are fighting cases against the Madhya Pradesh government for encroaching on their estates.
>> Sharmila’s daughter, Saba, is looking into other disputes as the custodian of a Rs 1,000 crore worth estate that includes princely endowments and properties having religious and charitable significance.

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