Personal info

  • Name: Begum ASHRAF-UN-NISA
  • D.O.A: 25th Sep, 1942
  • D.O.D: 1st Jan, 1947
  • Award: Empire Gallantry Medal translated to George Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Wife of retired Army Officer
  • Book: The Complete History - Volume 3
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Sources & Acknowledgements

Hyderabad City, India 14 June 1936

14 June 1936

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Hyderabad was the largest and richest of the Indian princely states. Its Muslim ruler, the Nizam, was descended from a Viceroy appointed by the Mogul Emperors in the early eighteenth century. In consequence it had one of the largest Muslim populations in southern India.


 The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the Award of the Medal of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire to the undermentioned:– For Gallantry. Ashraf-un-Nisa Begum, Hyderabad, Deccan On a night in June, 1936, a disastrous fire broke out in the Moti Mahal Cinema, Hyderabad City, and the building was practically razed to the ground, twelve women and two children being burnt to death. Ashraf-un-Nisa Begum, the wife of Lieutenant Muzaffaruddin, retired, was responsible for saving the lives of several purdah women. She was sitting with the fourteen victims and some thirty more women in the purdah balcony, from which both exits were cut off by the fire. These women were thus driven to the front of the balcony, and as their presence was forgotten they had no means of escape other than by jumping. Their plight was made the more terrifying by the smoke, darkness and leaping flames which within a few minutes turned the whole building into one huge blaze. Ashraf-un-Nisa Begum, though a purdah lady, stripped herself of her sari, tied it to the balcony railing and lowered five women to the lower floor, whence they escaped. Her own escape she left so late that she was unable to descend by the sari and had to jump, injuring herself in so doing and actually losing consciousness. Ashrafun- Nisa Begum’s act at such self-sacrifice and risk was of outstanding bravery. 

Supplement to The London Gazette of 29 January 1937. 1 February 1937, Numb. 34365, p. 702

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