Misplaced Priority by Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam (September 01, 2015)

Over the last few weeks, things have not been going well for the country. A rash of anti-Muslim riots in Bihar, higher incidence of communal violence in the country compared to last year as per Home Ministry statistics, soaring prices of food and other essentials, capped by an immensely avoidable stock market crash. Things have not been looking up and they have been demanding attention. However, attention is one thing that the administration cannot, or does not want to, give to any issue.

This is proven now that the finance sector in India was getting warnings of an impending crash and it chose to bury its head in the sand. The Union government, too, did not seem unduly perturbed either over the anti-Muslim hate and hysteria or over the financial disaster. However, instead of trying to build a national consensus on critical issues on a priority, BJP and Aam Admi Party have joined hands on a divisive agenda, even though the two parties do not see eye to eye on any other issue.

Thus, instead of building an all-party consensus on these significant issues BJP-Aam Admi have changed the priority and decided that by changing the name of Aurangzeb Road in Delhi to APJ Abdul Kalam Road they will solve all the problems plaguing the country. To say the least, it is an apt example of how divisive minds function to avoid real issues.

Now, let us think for a while on what could be the reason behind such an irrational, untimely and wasteful act (energy, time and money spent on such things are a waste). It could have been the result of both BJP’s and Aap’s desire to divert people’s attention from their day-to-day problems and give them an emotional lollipop. Aurangzeb has often been portrayed by a section of historians as an anti-Hindu bigot. Other historians do not agree with this prescription.

Without going deep into theories and methodologies of historiography, suffice it to say that numerous firmans of this Mughal emperor donating huge tracts of land to countless numbers of Hindu temples all over India for their upkeep and meeting their running expenses are still available with temple trusts as well as in National Archives.

In my part of the country there are some big temples with rich endowments. They still preserve firmans of Aurangzeb granting them huge tracts of land in perpetuity. One of these says, “granted by Aurangzeb Alamgir, the King Emperor of India for the upkeep of the temple and the priests so that they are able to pray for the welfare of the empire”. Such firmans as well as other aspects of Aurangzeb’s life and rule have been described in an easy, jargon-free language by scholars like the late Bishambhar Nath Pandey and Maulana Ataur Rahman Qasmi.

Historians who do not believe that Aurangzeb was more bigoted than previous Hindu or Muslim kings and say that even Hindu kings had high officials called moorti bhanjaks (idol breakers). Their duty was to break idols if they suspected that gold, silver and pearls were concealed in hollow idols. All that wealth obtained by breaking such idols was deposited in the Hindu king’s treasury.

They also assert that 60 percent of the army of Emperor Akbar was Hindu and there was a corresponding Hindu representation among Generals, ministers and nobles. However, during Aurangzeb’s rule, the percentage of Hindu generals was higher than Akbar’s.

The most important point for this short article is that Aurangzeb demolished the beautiful mosque of Golconda fort (where he lived for years) as he suspected gold, silver and other riches were buried under it by corrupt officials. This much for Aurangzeb’s “Islamic fanaticism”.

The Sangh feels that by hurting Aurangzeb (ha ha), it will hurt Muslims. A person dead for centuries cannot be hurt. Secondly, most Muslims take Aurangzeb as the ruler he was, not their pir. In fact, ulama like Maulana Azad and all major Muslim historians of today are convinced that Aurangzeb was a normal human being, not a saint.

The fact is that the Sangh wants to destroy everything connected with the Mughals, beginning with Aurangzeb and ending with Akbar. During Vajpayee’s rule Aurangzeb Road was reduced to half its size, the other half was renamed Mustafa Kemal Ataturk Road. Under Modi, the remaining half is gone. To Modi and Kejriwal it is a great achievement, but for men like Kuldip Nayar and Justice Rajinder Sachar it is a disaster.

Vajpayee also tried to rename Red Fort as Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Durg, but somehow backtracked after strong opposition. Will Modi complete that job also?


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