After abdication of Sultan Jahan, Hamidullah Khan became the ruler, a perceptible change was apparent in Bhopal. Sultan Jahan remained the revered head of the family and a ‘mother’ figure for the people of Bhopal, often referred to as “Sarkar Amma”. The centre of power had moved to her son who introduced his own brand of governance and lifestyle. He appointed a cabinet of distinguished Indian personalities, drawn from outside of Bhopal and comprising mainly associates from his Aligarh period.
From the Punjab came Sir Liaquat Hayat, Justice Salamuddin (member cricket team of India whichplayed its first ever representative match against England in 1911), Col Mumtaz, Col. Habib and Ustad Wazir. From Bengal arrived the financial wizard Khundkar Fuzle Haider. From UP Sir Ross Masood, Sohaib Qureshi and Ali Haider Abbassi. Allama Iqbal and Abdur Rehman Siddiqui were also frequent visitors in an advisory capacity. A number of eminent English men, like Freddy Young IG Police, the famous detective abd General Toogod were employed by Hamiduulah Khan. These appointments were not popular with Bhopalis who saw outsiders gain influence with young ruler to be the detriment of their own prestige and influence.
There was also a change in style. Gone was the austerity of Sultan Jahan and the earlier Begums. Instead Bhopal became a centre of sport, notably polo and shikar. Hockey flourished under erstwhile Obeidullah Khan‘s family. Hamidullah ordered a fleet of eighteen Nash vehicles, all specially fitted out for shikar as well as Rolls Royce and Bentleys. He also enjoyed the company of a circle of women friends who would join him at Chicklode or at shikar parties. In January 1947, Hamidullah contracted a clandestine nikah with Aftab Jahan, one from this circle of women. Aftab Jahan was a school freind of Abida Sultan, the eldest daughter of Hamidullah Khan and the heir apparent of Bhopal throne recognised by the British. By May 1947 the marriage was publicly announced and the new Begum started insisting on her rights and protocols. This led to unfloding of ugly confrontations between Nawab Hamidullah and his first wife. Hamidullah and his second wife Aftab Jahan started confronting the first wife Shahbzadi Maimoona Sultan and her three daughters Abida sultan (married and separated from Nawab Sarwar Ali Khan of Kurwai, had a son, Shahryar Mohammad Khan, 14 years old by that time), Sajida Sultan (married to the famous cricketer Iftikar Ali Khan of Pataudi) and Rabia sultan (married to Agha Nadir Mirza after a brief marriage to Rasheed-uz-zafar Khan). In many ways, a repetition of Shahjehan Begum’s long stand-off with Sultan Jahan was unfolding again at Bhopal