They are at it again.
Scores of journalists, social activists, professors, politicians, intellectuals, historians…everyone is shedding cusecs of tears, cursing and castigating the New Delhi Municipal Corporation, for renaming Central Delhi’s Aurangzeb Road, after the recently demised President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam!
Just recently they were against Indian Judiciary, Indian Government and Indian Legal System…for awarding Capital Punishment to an extremist, whose acts and plans caused the death of 350 people and more than 1200 were seriously injured , during 1993 Mumbai Blasts.
There were so many discussions and comments, all over the media: “Hanging 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon will send a wrong signal to Indian Muslims”./ “Hanging of Yakub Memon and Afzal Guru were politically motivated.”/ “India was wrong to hang Yakub Memon.” …etc., etc.
From Kuldip Nayar to retired Justice Sachar, Diggy Singh to Mayawati, CPI (M), to JD(U), everyone is going gaga, how a grave injustice has been done in renaming the coveted road!
Some also tried to show the Rule Book. South Delhi Congress politician Subhas Arya, came out with an argument that Lutyen’s Delhi falls under South Delhi Municipal Corporation, so NDMC has no right to rename it.
Some journalists were so much worried, how this change of name would bring so much inconvenience for the Hotels, Embassies, Offices etc. located on this road! …Some years ago, Kolkata’s busiest and iconic Park Street was named Mother Teresa Sarani, but no one was so much worried!
Some went to court to stop the decision.
A former Okhla MLA, in over enthusiasm renamed a part of an Okhla road as Aurangzeb Road, personally!
In Okhla, this is nothing new. There is a densely populated locality named after Taimoor (Timur) or Tamerlane, who after capturing Delhi, in an invasion in 1398, sacked, plundered and caused bloody massacre, only to left Delhi in utter destruction. He also executed 100,000 captives.
Taimoor Nagar/Taimoor Nagar Extension/ Taimoor Nagar Kapasia Mohalla …all to remind the medieval plunderer!
So, it’s not surprising, that so called progressive intellectuals, busy bodies cum journalists, left centric historians, many so called secular politicians of the Left, the Congress, the Samjwadis clan, have taken the cudgel to prove the decision utterly wrong!
The same crowd was surprisingly silent when Congress was naming almost every, road, airport, institutions and ports after the Nehru-Gandhis!
The so called Municipal Rulebook they are quoting now quite often, were never dusted so far in all these years, when Congress was ruling the roost!
An iconic busy road junction in central Delhi, the ITO, was renamed after the father of then Delhi Congress President, as Lala Ram Charan Agarwal Chowk!
Apart from the Agarwal Vaishya Samaj website, I have never seen the name of this Lalaji, in any history book or our independence movement chronicles as a great freedom fighter!
What I gathered that Lala Ram Charan was a Kapda trader of sorts, who led a few traders delegation from Old Delhi to various Ministries. Also joined Congress at the fag end of independence movement, and held some coveted political and administrative posts in Delhi!
Lala Ram Charan was obviously not a very outstanding Delhi Freedom fighter, whose name would prompt the Change of an iconic place, without consulting the historians and other prominent freedom fighters. Sheilaji was never so chummy with J.P. Agarwal. But, as sources said, Rahul Baba’s blessing rather made it smoother.
The only Lala, from Delhi whose name can always be a pride for renaming a road in Delhi is the legendary freedom fighter Lala Har Dayal. An enlighted soul and a great revolutionary. Lala here was not from trader community, but a Kayastha, Mathur by birth.
Hardayal Municipal Library at Chandni Chowk now bears his name.
Interestingly, the library was set up in 1862 as the Lawrence Institute Library. In 1912, after Viceroy Lord Hardinge escaped a bomb attack while passing through Chandni Chowk, the library was shifted to a larger building to commemorate his survival and, subsequently, renamed after him. After Independence, it was again renamed as Hardayal Library after Lala Hardayal, who led the bomb attack on Lord Hardinge!
Remember Connaught Place?
On August 20, 1995, The Union Home Ministry had announced that Connaught Place and Connaught Circus would be known as Indira (Gandhi) Chowk and Rajiv (Gandhi) Chowk, thus ending a century-old association with British legacy.
This downtown modelled after the Royal Crescent in Bath, had been named after the Duke of Connaught, who visited India from his Northern Ireland province of Connaught in the year 1903, to lay the foundation stone for Council House (now Parliament House) and the India War Memorial (India Gate).
Manishankar Aiyar, MP and an obsessive supporter of the Gandhi family, said that the Park in the centre of the circle was named after India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, the road encircling it after his daughter, Indira Gandhi, and the area itself after her son, Rajiv Gandhi.
Delhi’s then Chief Minister, Madan Lal Khurana, whose Bharatiya Janata Party was the largest opposition group in Parliament, said that his State Government or his Party was not consulted about the renaming. “Why don’t they rename the entire Delhi as Rajiv Colony?” he said.
However, now vocal historians, intellectuals, journalists and politicians were almost silent then or rather hailed the decision!
Likely and quite silently, the South End Road at Janpath-Aurangzeb Road junction was renamed as Rajesh Pilot Marg. Canning Road renamed as Shrimant Madhav Rao Scindia Marg. No Public Interest Litigation, Law Book Discussions or any intellectual hullaballoo occured!
Only Aurangzeb reminded them a highly pious and benevolent soul, whose name should be sticked to Delhi’s Road, in the ever loving memory an Emperor! Any change of the status is sacrilege!
Putting Halo Around Aurangzeb!
A British historian once told me that, while India has the chronicled 5,000 years of history…only 400 years of Mughal history has surprisingly become an obsession with post Independent India’s Historians! While it was naturally expected the other way.
And while there were every negative image been presented to stereotype the Britishers as colonialists and tormentors..these left leaning Historians, who have dominated the entire Congress ruled period, almost sang paean to Mughal colonialists!
Irfan Habib from Aligarh stable may be the Mukhia in this paean singing, but there were Harbans Mukhia, Bipan Chandra, K.N. Panikkar, S.Gopal or ilk.
The first Pan Indian historians like R.C. Majumdar or Jadunath Sarkar have been templated by this historian as “Communal”!
Incidentally it was Jadunath Sarkar, who had written a well documented and monumental treatise on Aurangzeb in nine volumes, painstakingly researching for years, from Persian and other important medieval sources.
‘The Centre for Historical Studies of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi, which harboured most of the leftist academics, have never done any, outstanding or path-breaking historical research do far. In this age of easy access to information sources and scientific analysis, they just tried to mollycoddle the tyranic medieval Turkish invaders as ‘Turkish nobility or ruling class’ and invader Mahmud Ghaznavi, who had plundered India brutally , was credited as a ‘ valiant warrior’ who was “ not religiously inclined at all”!
The Mongol or Mughal invaders and colonialists were referred as great Indian rulers, and accordingly the entire banal descriptions, unpleasant details, chronicles available in local histories, farmans and atrocious Mughal edicts were selectively and plan wise, blocked out of history writing and also rewritten with new interpretations to show the colonial Mughals in glorious lights!
Bishambhar Nath Pande, a Congress Politician and amateur historian, who always claimed closeness to Nehru-Gandhi family has created some amazing anecdotes and bizarre allegories to praise Aurangzrb, while delivering Khuda Bakhsh Annual Lecture (1985), in Patna. To show him a great saviour of Hindus and Sikhs, Aurangzeb’s order of demolition of Kashi Viswanath Temple was explained with a farcical detail that Aurangzeb had done it on the request of some Hindu Kings!
And Marxist historian Gargi Chakravarty, who has authored a book: “BJP-RSS and distortion of history”, took it as a gospel truth and narrated it with much élan, thereafter!
All these Golis have passed as History, by dominating Left leaning historians, all these years.
Romila Thapar (with Percival Spear) of the famous ‘Penguin History of India’ wrote in her expected fashion: Aurangzeb’s supposed intolerance is little more than a hostile legend based on isolated acts such as the erection of a mosque on a temple site in Benares.
But Aurangzeb’s official court chronicle, Maasir-i-Alamgiri, has described it all.
In the similar fashion, JNU stable’s historian K.N. Panikkar brings in another allegorical variation that the Kashi Vishwanath temple was destroyed by Aurangzeb to punish the temple priests for breaking purely secular laws!
Who Was Aurangzeb?
Aurangzeb, whose original name was Muhī al-Dīn Muhammad and the Royal title was’Alamgir’ , was the sixth Mughal Emperor and ruled for 49 years from 1658 until his death in 1707. He took over Agra fort and deposed his father Emperor Shah Jahan on 8 June 1658.
One of Aurangzeb’s main goals was to bring true Islamic governance to the Mughal Empire. Previous Emperors, while all Muslim, had not all ruled according to strict Islamic tenets. His predecessors like Akbar, he felt, often went against Islamic beliefs by adopting many non-Islamic beliefs and practices in his personal life as well as in his rule of the Empire.
Aurangzeb’s insistence on Islamic rule was mostly based on his Islamic education and his religious convictions.
In order to practice Islamic law in the Empire correctly, Aurangzeb insisted on compiling Islamic law into a codified book .”Al-Fatawa al-Hindiya” (الفتاوى الهندية)is a book of Islamic law compiled by Aurangzeb and a well accepted compendiym of Hanafi Law. This book is also known as, “Fatawa-e-Alamgiri”.
Using the Fatawa-e-Alamgiri as a Guidebook, Aurangzeb despatched officials throughout the Empire to enact Islamic law and practices.
Not Any Benign Figure!
In his volumnous book, “History of Aurangzib: Based on Original Sources”,Jadunath Sarkar, the eminent historian, who became the Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University and was the Sir W. Meyer Lecturer of History, in Madras University, narrated:
After becoming Emperor, Aurangzeb issued an order “early in his reign in which the local officers in every town and village of Orissa from Cuttack to Midnapore were called upon to pull down all temples, including even clay huts, built during the last 10 or 12 years, and to allow no old temple to be repaired”
In January 1670, “he sent forth commands to destroy the temple [of Keshav Rai at Mathura] altogether and to change the name of the city to Islamabad. The destruction of Hindu places of worship was one of the chief duties of theMuhtasibs as Censors of Morals who were appointed to all the sub-divisions and cities of the empire. In June 1680, the temples of Amber, the capital of the loyal State of Jaipur, were broken down.” In 1674, he confiscated all the lands held by Hindus as religious grants in Gujarat.
Orders for the demolition of Jagannath Temple, Orissa. Siyah Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i- Mu‘alla Julus 24, Jamadi I, 23 / 1st June 1681.
(Translation: “(The Emperor) ordered Asad Khan that in accordance with the (existing) orders, to write to Amir-ul-Umara, the Subedar of Bengal, to demolish the temple (butkhana) of Jagannath in Orissa.”)
Aurangzeb orders cart-loads of idols brought from Jodhpur to be cast under the steps of Jama Masjid. (May 1679)
(Translation: “On Sunday, the 24 Rabi II (i.e. 25th May 1679), Khan Jahan Bahadur came from Jodhpur, after demolishing the temples and bringing with himself some cart-loads of idols, and had audience of the Emperor, who highly praised him and ordered that the idols, which were mostly jewelled, golden, silvery, bronze, copper or stone, should be cast in the yard (jilaukhanah) of the Court and under the steps of Jama Masjid to be trodden on. They remained so for some time and at last their very names were lost”.)
Even some Left oriented historians was not able to hide the facts.
Satish Chandra, whose Medieval India has been taught to Class XI-XII students for years, wrote: “a number of temples such as the famous temples of Vishwanath at Banaras and the temple of Keshava Rai at Mathura built by Bir Singh Deo Bundela in the reign of Jahangire were destroyed and mosques erected in their places.”
According to Sarkar, Jizya was imposed by Aurangzeb “with the object of spreading Islam and overthrowing infidel practices”.
Another legendery historian R.C.Mazumdar wrote: “He felt gratified when many Hindus, unable to pay it, embraced Islam.”
Reimposition of Jizyah by Aurangzeb. (2nd April 1679)
(Translation: ‘As all the aims of the religious Emperor were directed to the spreading of the law of Islam and the overthrow of the practices of the infidels, he issued orders to the high Diwani officers that from Wednesday,( 1st Rabi I, (i.e., the 2nd April 1679) in obedience to the Quranic injunction, “till they pay commutation money (Jizyah) with the hand in humility”, and in agreement with the canonical tradition, Jizyah should be collected from the infidels (zimmis) of the capital and the provinces. Many of the honest scholars of the time were appointed to discharge the work (of collecting Jizyah). May god actuate him (Emperor Aurangzeb) to do that which He loves and is pleased with, and make his future life better than the present’.)
It is not surprising to find Tavernier, the renowned 17th-century French gem merchant and traveller, who came to India in 1638, and later made two voyages to India, said about Jizya : “Under the cover of the fact that the rulers are Muslims, they persecute these poor idolators to the utmost and if any of the latter become Muslim, it is in order not to work any more”.
Left Is Not Right
During the freedom movement, the Communists in India sided with the Muslim League, in their demand for Pakistan. In Kerala, “In mid forties E.M.S. Namboodaripad led processions of Muslims along with A.K.Gopalan (both of them were leaders of the CPI) were seen shouting ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ . No wonder, therefore, that Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, himself a leftist, had to say that India was killed by the CPI which provided the Muslim separatists with an ideological basis” (“Pakistan: From Jinnah to Jehad” /Page 18).
Even both the Communist parties, CPI and CPI(M) had entered intered into alliance with Muslim League in Kerala, to form governments. All the Muslim League sessions begin with recitation fron ‘Koran’ and the political outfit’s major aim is to go for Muslim interests in India.
So its not surprising that why the Left leaned historians’ views are too sympathetic to Aurangzeb!
After the Partition in 1947, Pakistani historians supporting State ideology of the two-nation theory, reconstructed the historical narratives by critically examining Akbar and Aurangzeb.
I.H. Qureshi condemned Akbar and his religious policy as being against the interest of the Muslims. To promote the image of Aurangzeb and to popularise his policies, ‘Alamgir Day’ was observed on May 3, 1965 under the patronage of the organisation Dairah-i-Muin-al-Marif.
In his lecture on Aurangzeb, Moinul Haq, Secretary Pakistan Historical Society, stated that: “the Indian and Western historians had tried to create a wrong impression by wrong interpretation of the benign policies of Aurangzeb Alamgir, which he had initiated for the welfare of the people and the progress of his empire … it was not true that Jizyah was a poll tax or that its incidence was heavy. This twist was given by the so-called impartial Indian and Western historians to taint the reputation of Aurangzeb who was also a worker for restoring the Islamic ideal of life.”
And we now know, while British was consulting about the names of various newly constructed Delhi roads, it was Percival Spear,who in 1943 became Deputy Secretary to the British Government in India, in the department of information and broadcasting, was consulted.
Spear authored , ” A History of India”, in which he wrote: “Aurangzeb’s supposed intolerance is little more than a hostile legend”.
Spear was known for his love of Kebab, Old Delhi gossips and so called the glory of the Muslim Rule in India! So apart from Aurangzeb Road, there is also a Tughlaq Road nearby.
Firuz Shah Tughluq was the third ruler of the Tughlaq dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate. According to historians, Tughlaq was a fervent Muslim, and had many Hindu temples destroyed, alongwith their holy books, idols and ceremonial vessels.
The “Tarikh-i-Firuz Shah” is a historical record written during his reign that attests to the systematic persecution of Hindus under his rule!
I still wonder, why there is not even a road named after Dara Shikoh (1615-1659), the eldest son and heir apparent of Emperor Shah Jahan. Whom Aurangzrb captured, persecuted and killed eventually. Dara Shikoh was in actual sense, the harbinger of Hindu-Muslim unity.
Dara Shikoh developed a close rapport with the seventh Sikh Guru, Guru Har Rai. Devoted much effort towards finding a common mystical affinity between Islam and Hinduism. Towards this ideal he compiled the translation of 50 Upanishads from original Sanskrit into Persian in 1657, so that they could be studied by the various Islamic scholars.
His most famous work is ,” Majma-ul-Bahrain” (“The Confluence of the Two Seas”). This work of Dara revealed the mystical and pluralistic affinities between Sufi and Vedantic ideals.
Its strange! Today there are so many supporters of Aurangzeb here, but none for Dara Shikoh !
By Deep Basu