Taimur Ali Khan has a remarkable gene pool. He is related to the Tagore family through his paternal grandmother Sharmila Tagore. His maternal great-grandfather is Raj Kapoor, one of India’s greatest superstars. His paternal grandfather is Tiger Ali Pataudi, one of the greatest Test captains to lead India. His maternal grandmother Babita was also a trailblazer in her own right, the first of the Kapoor ‘bahus’ to work.
But what’s particularly interesting is Taimur’s connection to the Gandhis. Taimur’s father Saif Ali Khan's first wife Amrita Singh (Sara and Ibrahim’s mother) is Ruksana Sultana’s daughter who became notorious during the Emergency as its glam face.
She was extremely close to Indira Gandhi’s son Sanjay and led the ill-fated forced sterilisation campaigns in Muslim areas of Old Delhi.
An old India Today report noted: “At the forefront of these was a glamorous young socialite and boutique-owner from Delhi, Rukhsana Sultana. Sanjay encouraged her to work in the sensitive "walled city" area of the capital and introduce his family planning programme. Rukhsana took the area by storm and in less than a year had motivated 13,000 vasectomies. How she induced them was another matter. As a direct result of her performance and the resettlement scheme, the people of the area rebelled and ferociously clashed with the police in which scores of residents were killed. A dawn-to-dusk curfew was imposed and it remained in force for several weeks.”
She is so fondly remembered by residents Jama Masjid area in Old Delhi including Rukaya Begum who wanted to ‘let the dogs loose on her’ and blamed her for having their house pulled down. She claimed they demanded Rs 1 lakh or 25 cases or sterilisation failing which the house was bulldoze.
Another claimed that a man who had tuberculosis wasn’t taken to the hospital until he got himself sterilised.
Even after the dust settled after the Emergency, she waxed lyrical about Sanjay Gandhi calling him ‘the most human of human beings’.
However, the forced sterilisations had far-reaching effects and Subhadra Joshi lost the Congress seat in Chandni Chowk by over 1 lakh votes in the first post-Emergency election.
Also, just as Bofors made defence acquisition a pain, the forced sterilisation drive meant that population control became an untouchable debate. It wasn’t just Old Delhi.
A Quartz India piece states: “In 1976 alone, the Indian government sterilised 6.2 million men.”
Men were randomly picked up and sterilised, some even twice just to fill up the books. Even a 70-year-old.
In Muzaffarnagar, UP, police picked up 17 people including Hindus and Muslims, two over 75 and two under 18, leading to clashes with the cops which resulted in 35 deaths.
Forced sterilisations were carried out throughout the country and is one of the most stark reminders of the destruction of all civil liberties.