The famous Aurangzeb road in Delhi will now be called A P J Abdul Kalam road. From the social media conversation around the issue it was soon clear that the issue was not about Kalam, it was all about Aurangzeb and the desire to erase Muslim history from India. In a sting operation, convicted terrorist Babu Bajrangi was caught on tape explaining how he felt after killing helpless women and children. “I felt like Maharana Pratap” he said. In his mind he was not killing innocent Indians. He was convinced that he was protecting helpless Hindus from invading Mughals. Unfortunately this sentiment is widely shared in the Indian society. Babu Bajrangi is the Jihadi John of India and he gets free time from jail so he can attend weddings. This is possible because many people empathize with Babu Bajrangi.
The underlying ideological position of renaming road is exactly the same as the underlying ideological position of demolishing Babri Masjid. A large section of Indians have been brainwashed into believing that Taj Mahal, one of the most iconic building of India should be converted into a Shiva Temple. Such bizarre ideas stem from the ideological position that anything that reminds of the Mughal rule also brings back the humiliation of the great Hindu civilization succumbing to the barbaric Muslim invaders. These memories have to be erased and Hindu hegemony has to be re-established. Only then India and the Hindu civilisation can be reinstated to its former glory.
The Aam Admi Party has weeded out all the prominent left leaning leaders and is now positioning itself as a long term alternative to the BJP. By renaming Aurangzeb road they have sent out a signal to the Hindutva brigade that they empathise with the larger cause of Hindutva. The move to rename Aurangzeb road is disappointing for Muslims who believed that Aam Admi Party will never indulge in communal symbolism. Parties like MIM will go to Muslims and reiterate the fact that they can never trust so called secular parties because all of them use secularism to hide their alignment to the larger cause of Hindutva.
Muslims don’t see Aurangzeb as their hero. This is evident from the fact that a sufi saint Shah Muntajab whose tomb is barely a kilometre away from Aurangzeb’s tomb attracts millions of more devotees than Aurangzeb’s tomb does. Renaming Aurangzeb road sends a message to Muslims that the politics of Babri Masjid is still alive. In the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition thousands of Indians have lost their lives in riots and terrorist attacks. Any communal politics which is similar in nature to the anti Babri Masjid movement is bound to make the minorities nervous.
Historians have presented varying views of Aurangzeb’s legacy. Some depict him as a tyrant and some depict him as simple man who rejected the philandering ways of his predecessors. If someone says that Aurangzeb should be erased from History “because he tormented Hindus” then why not erase Guru Golwarkar from the public memory for his passionate defence of the holocaust? The Jaipur High Court has a towering statue of Maharishi Manu in its premises. Only recently a UP khap panchayat ordered that two Dalit girls be raped and paraded naked because their brother dared to fall in love with an upper caste woman. And this is surely not an exceptional case of injustice against Dalits. There are justifications of such acts in the Manusmriti. Anything that may be offensive to women,Dalits or minorities can be acknowledged and even celebrated as a part of “Hindutva” history but anything remotely offending to the upper castes should be erased?
I find it amusing when some Pakistanis deny their pre Islamic ancestry. Pakistan has a full scale project of rewriting history where they focus only on the real or perceived acts of goodness done by the “Muslim” Kings who came to invade the Indus valley from central Asia and Afghanistan. But rewriting history is not so easy. You may feed your population a bunch of lies but it is harder to convince the wider world about your version of history. Same is the case with India and its Hindutva project. The more India tries to distort history the more it aligns with the nationalist ideology of Pakistan.
Around the world when people think about India they think about population, call centers, poverty, democracy and yes the Taj Mahal. Petty acts like renaming of the roads won’t erase India’s Mughal legacy. It will only expose the Hindutva brigade as bunch of insecure people who have absolutely no confidence in their own ideology, who are embarrassed of their past and uncertain of their future.