New Delhi | BJP wants 40 ‘Mughal’ villages renamed. But some of them are not Mughal at all

These places pre-date the arrival of the Mughals in 1526 with many established during the 13th and 14th centuries

Updated - May 28, 2022 01:06 pm IST

Published - May 27, 2022 02:41 pm IST

Hauz Khas Village in New Delhi is among the places the BJP wants renamed.

Hauz Khas Village in New Delhi is among the places the BJP wants renamed. | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Watch | Some “Mughal” villages around New Delhi are not Mughal at all

The last few weeks have been all about dressing the past anew. The Bharatiya Janata Party, out of office in the capital since December 1998, has taken to time-tested ways of catching the public eye.

Taking a cue from the Uttar Pradesh government’s penchant to rename townships after Hindutva mascots, the party wants 40 villages of ‘Mughal’ Delhi to be renamed. There is a catch: some of the ‘Mughal’ villages are not Mughal at all! They pre-date the arrival of the Mughals in 1526 with many villages’ origin going back to the 13th and 14th centuries.

As for Delhi, all cities except Shahjahanabad, founded by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century, were established by non-Mughals. Siri, Tughlaqabad, Jahanpanah, Firozabad and Dinpanah were all founded before Shahjahanabad, and indeed, Lutyens’ Delhi. Sultans like Alauddin Khilji, Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq and Feroz Shah Tughlaq were responsible for building these cities virtually from scratch. And most of the 40 villages shortlisted for rechristening fall in these erstwhile cities of Delhi.

Asking Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to issue orders for renaming the villages, Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta said, “Delhi is no longer Mughalon ki sarai (resting place) but the capital of the country. The youth of these villages no longer want to carry on with symbols of slavery. They want their villages to be known after the great sons of the country and eminent personalities...”

ALSO READ Rename Lutyens’ Delhi roads after brave sons of country: BJP

ALSO READ BJP-ruled South body renames Delhi village

Among the “symbols of slavery” Gupta wants renamed are such upmarket places as Saidul Ajaib, Yusuf Sarai, Hauz Khas, Sheikh Sarai, Mohammadpur and Masjid Moth, besides Hasanpur, Nangloi, Neb Sarai, Rasulpur, Nasirpur and so on. Gupta also proposed the names of 27 police officers besides eminent singers, sportspersons, defence personnel and freedom fighters for these urban villages, giving the names of constable Ratan Lal, IB officer Ankit Sharma, inspector Mohan Chand Sharma besides former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Captain Vikram Batra, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Lata Mangeshkar and Milkha Singh, etc.

Adilabad Fort built by Mohammad Bin Tughlaq on the outskirts of Delhi.

Adilabad Fort built by Mohammad Bin Tughlaq on the outskirts of Delhi. | Photo Credit: V.V. Krishnan

The list might seem researched and reasonable, but a little peek at the history around the naming of these villages would be useful. For instance, Zamrudpur in South Delhi is named after Zamrud Khan, an Afghan noble at the court of Sikander Lodi, father of Ibrahim Lodi, who fought Babur in the Battle of Panipat in 1526.

Khan was given this little fief or jagir by Sikander in recognition of his loyalty. Zamrudpur today has five mausoleums where Khan’s family and kin rest in peace. The demand for renaming Zamrudpur has a ring of irony to it. On the one hand, we have had persistent references to contemporary Muslims being called ‘Babur ki aulad’ (progeny of Babur), and on the other, the last vestiges of the predecessors of Babur’s opponents are sought to be obliterated.

The 14th century Begumpur Masjid, built by Khan-i-Jahan Junan Shah, Prime Minister during the reign of Feroz Shah Tughlaq.

The 14th century Begumpur Masjid, built by Khan-i-Jahan Junan Shah, Prime Minister during the reign of Feroz Shah Tughlaq. | Photo Credit: Richard Kujur

Similarly, take the Begumpur Masjid in the village named after it. The mosque was built by Khan-i-Jahan Junan Shah, Prime Minister during the reign of Feroz Shah Tughlaq, who was known to favour mosques, madrasas and sarais for the wayfarer. The masjid has been in a state of disrepair for years, but rather than address the neglect of the heritage monument, the cry is to rename the village itself.

ALSO READ Call of the mosque by Rana Safvi

As for Delhi being a “Mughalon ki sarai”, nothing could be further from the truth. Delhi indeed had scores of sarais, but they were built not by the Mughals (1526-1857) but by Feroz Shah Tughlaq in the 14th century. Not everything Muslim in India is Mughal! Noted historian K.A. Nizami writing in Delhi: In Historical Perspectives (translated by Ather Farouqui), expressed, “In Delhi and Ferozabad, 120 khaneqahs built by Feroz Shah were in fact serais. In the words of Afif, the serais were built to accommodate travellers. They provided all amenities but were affordable for people with low income as well.”

Likewise, Saidul Ajaib is named after Sayyid-ul Hujjab Maruf, a Sufi noble from Feroz Shah Tughlaq’s reign. Maruf and his father, Khwaja Wahid Qureshi, were disciples of Nizamuddin Auliya, the famous Sufi saint revered to this day. The fiefdom of Maruf, Saidul Ajaib, is home to the Garden of Five Senses and often hosts cultural evenings. It is this little slice of rich history that the BJP wants erased from the socio-cultural map of the city.

Saidul Ajaib village is home to the Garden of Five Senses and often hosts cultural evenings.

Saidul Ajaib village is home to the Garden of Five Senses and often hosts cultural evenings. | Photo Credit: V.V. Krishnan

Both Yusuf Sarai and Hauz Khas hail from early medieval India, a time when the Mongol raids were being foiled by Alauddin Khilji, the ablest Khilji ruler who introduced some of the earliest administrative and economic reforms. The survival of Yusuf Sarai and Hauz Khas, as also that of Siri (the capital founded by Khilji), is a symbol not of “slavery”, but pride in the nation for successfully resisting the Mongol onslaught.

The demand to rename these villages stems not from any perceived sense of hurt but a relentless bid to sow fresh seeds of social division by disowning India’s centuries-old medieval past. What bulldozers were to Jahangirpuri (New Delhi) and Khargone (Madhya Pradesh), this demand is to the history of Delhi. It seeks to equate everything Muslim with the Mughals, and in turn tries to portray Mughals as barbaric marauders, the aim being to hold Muslims responsible for any trespasses of history. Incidentally, the Mughals, from Humayun onwards, were all born in what the RSS calls Akhand Bharat.

Hindutva dream

The latest demand is nothing but an attempt to fulfil the dream of Hindutva ideologues V.D. Savarkar and M.S. Golwalkar; the former having coined the terms pitrabhu and punyabhu. In other words, India belongs to those whose fatherland and sacred land fall within its geographical confines. Others may live here on the sweet will of the majority community with no rights or privileges.

Golwalkar stood for the exclusion of non-Hindus from all walks of public life. As recalled by author Jyotirmaya Sharma in M.S. Golwalkar, the RSS and India, “At the Sindi Chintan Baithak of 1954, Golwalkar refers to an incident in Nagpur, where he went to attend a meeting called to discuss the question of relations between Brahmins and non-Brahmins. He was surprised to see a Muslim addressing the meeting. The organisers told him… that the Muslims too were non-Brahmins. Golwalkar reacted by saying that if there were differences between Brahmins and non-Brahmins, it was still a question that concerned Hindu society… Do what you must, but keep the Muslims out, was his message.”

Gupta’s attempt to rewrite history at the grassroots level is much more sinister than the action of merely renaming a railway station (Mughalsarai Junction/ Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Junction) or a sacred confluence of rivers (Allahabad/ Prayagraj).

ALSO READ Mixed reactions from historians, locals on station renaming

ALSO READ How about a separate Ministry for Renaming?

The demand to rename the 40 villages is part of an emerging Hindu Rashtra as envisioned by the RSS where everything non-Hindu is foreign, and thus to be forever stamped out of existence.

ziya.salam@thehindu.co.in

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.