If one looks closely at the statements by hard liners belonging to Hindu organisations and some Muslim leaders, one could easily conclude that a war has started within India. Hindu leaders like Sangeet Som a member of U.P Assembly and an accused in Muzaffarnagar riots and leaders like Azam Khan, a senior leader of Samajwadi Party wants India to start demolishing all structures built by Muslim rulers and British who ruled India for several centuries.
According to Mr Som Taj was a blot on Indian history and culture built by one who imprisoned his father and targeted many Hindus in U.P and Hindustan. He went ahead and said the names of Mughal emperors be removed from history. The Muslim leaders in retaliation asked why only Taj Prime Minister should not host national flag from Red Fort which was also built by a Mughal king. Following same logic Rashtrapati Bhawan and Parliament House should be demolished as they were built by Britishers who invaded India.
Mr Som Dut is not a lone voice before him Yogi Adityanath Chief Minister of U.P.was against presenting momentoes of Taj to foreign dignitaries visiting India as they did not represent Indian culture or tradition. During his rule book listing tourist destinations of U.P made no mention of Taj, most visited and known tourist destination of India. Others who backed Som in T.V debates said that they were pained to see how many Hindu temples were demolished to make place for mosques as such there is need to demolish them.
BJP Central leadership has not endorsed the views expressed by Mr Som , but has also not condemned him. In the meantime there are clear indications that issues like Ayodhya or controversies regarding other sites in Mathura will figure prominently in election campaign in 2019. Yogi Adityanath took leave from his official duties to attend to his duties as head of Math in Gorakahpur very recently. At present he is busy arranging celebrations of Diwali in Ayodhya by lighting record number of Diyas, The celebrations are being supported and organised by U.P Government as part of turning Ayodhya as a major tourist destination.
There is nothing wrong in celebrating religious functions. But one should remember that a secular constitution which India has adopted calls for separation of religion and State. Such open patronage of any religion encourages fringe groups in activities like lynching persons suspected of transporting cows for slaughter or for consuming beef. Another fringe group took to another extreme when they indulged in blasting crackers outside Supreme Court of India to protest against a ban on sale of crackers in National capital during Diwali.
In case such thinking is not checked India will have to demolish all structures connected with foreign rulers. Another group wants research by examining the basement of Taj if it has been built over the base of a Hindu temple. It has to be understood if all structures built by Muslim rulers are to be demolished there will be no justification for not taking action against structures built by British. While Muslim rulers did come as invaders, but later became Indians by adoption. They were born here and buried also on Indian soil. The last Mughal King who was supported by Indian Hindu sepoys in 1857 died in Rangoon in present day Mayanar denied his strong desire to be buried in his homeland by British that is India. On the other hand Britishers never made India as their home and continued to go back on home leave or to be educated or buried in Britain after retirement.
How stupid is this debate needs to be understood by political leaders as India’s strength is in unity among diversity. In our long history many have come as invaders and made India their homeland. Many more came to seek refuge after being prosecuted at home. Over the centuries all have lived here and contributed in making India what it is. It should be realised that history can not be rewritten by politicians. Here we need to learn a lesson from Chinese who have owned up all those who came to China as invaders, but lived there and built China.
One can not punish present generations for some real and some imagined wrongs which may have been committed by ancestors centuries ago. Time has come when we should leave history to be explored and explained by historians while rulers concentrate on solving problems of current times like poverty, pollution, better health care and providing useful employment to all. Festivals like Diwali, Eid or Christmas should be celebrated as national festivals.
(Brij Bhardwaj is a veteran journalist and commentator)