History records August 15, 1947, as the day of the birth of a nation widely regarded as the world’s largest democracy. It is fascinating to see that a land consisting of more than nine religions, 22 languages, 720 dialects, and 2000 ethnic groups lives as one democratic state. Indians have always been proud of and celebrated diversity as represented by these facts, but not all groups have always lived in harmony. One of the oldest and most bitter rivalries has been that of the Hindus and the Muslims. Apart from a few black dots on the timeline, both religions have co-existed in peace and with love, and no major incident of a clash has taken place after the 2002 Gujarat riots. Ever since the 2014 general elections, however, the tensions have risen again. The ruling party, Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), which is well known for its Pro-Hindu stance, has somehow created an air of anti-Islam. Not only by words but by actions as well. Despite a secular constitution written by its forefathers and the preservation of the world’s largest multi-religious democracy for over 70 years, India’s diverse history now seems to be in danger with pro-Hindu ruling parties trying to get rid of its Islamic past.
Current Situation Under BJP Led Government
If you think the saffron colour that the BJP uses so abundantly just coincidentally matches with the saffron colour of Hinduism, then you are not only mistaken but probably also ignorant. BJP’s pro-Hindutva agenda has been a long-known reality. The party’s official website’s About The Party page clearly states: ‘It has no doubt about Hindu identity and culture being the mainstay of the Indian nation and of Indian society.’ While there is nothing inherently wrong with supporting your own culture, a ruling party of a secular country must never blatantly support certain cultures or religions over others.
A study conducted by Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS) and Mumbai and the UK section of Minority Rights Groups International (MRG) revealed that under Modi government, hate crimes against Muslims have risen dramatically. In 2016 alone, there have been more than 700 outbreaks of religious violence, killing 86 with thousands injured. This number, however, could be much higher as many incidents go unreported. Many foreign media, such as Al Jazeera and The Guardian have also highlighted the issues on their platforms.
The BJP government is leaving no stone unturned in trying to eradicate Islamic history from India. In October 2018, the city of Allahabad was renamed to Prayagraj. The word Allahabad means a town populated by the grace of Allah. In August 2018, a century-old Mughalsarai station was renamed to Pt Deen Dayal Upadhyay. The name Mughalsarai was clearly inspired by the Mughal rule. Earlier in 2015, the famous Aurangzeb road in the nation’s capital was renamed to APJ Abdul Kalam. Aurangzeb was the sixth emperor of the Mughal dynasty. This particular decision, however, did not come from BJP alone but also received its approval from Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
When Yogi was MP from the district of Gorakhpur, he changed the names of many streets and areas within his jurisdiction. The Urdu bazaar became Hindi Bazaar, Ali Nagar became Arya Nagar, Humayun Nagar became Hanuman Nagar. These are just a few examples of many places given a more Hindu sounding name at that time.
Neglect of Islamic Heritage
In April 2018, on the eve of Shah Jahan’s anniversary, the graves of the Mughal emperor and his wife were open for public view and what the visitors saw was nothing but a mess. The marvellous Mughal architectural intricate work on the white marbles inside had all blackened after years of neglect. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had to appear before the court in May 2018, to explain the neglect in the maintenance of the tomb as algae and discolouration were found in the vertical surfaces and across the tomb. In fact, the issue is so severe that the honourable judges threatened to shut down the Taj Mahal if the government’s neglect continues. On October 3, 2017, The Washington Post published an article stating Indian government might be neglecting Taj Mahal as it was built by Muslims.
To do so quietly is the deed of a thief. The Modi government appointed a committee of scholars in mid-2016. The agenda of the conference: Re-writing Indian history. The details of this committee and subsequent meetings were kept behind the curtains and away from the public eye. The core objective of this set-up is to archaeologically and genetically prove that the modern Hindus are the direct descendants of the first inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent and that the Hindu scriptures are a fact, not a myth.
The propaganda of the Modi government doesn’t end here. It has been recently revealed that, in the BJP run states, kids in school are being taught distorted history falsely glorifying Hindu rulers as victors in major battles. The University of Rajasthan has decided to put forward a new book that declares Maharana Pratap victorious against Akbar, a Mughal ruler in the battle of Haldighati. About 450 years ago, the two Kings fought a battle in Haldighati, where Akbar emerged as a winner, and Maharana Pratap actually fled the scene to fight guerrilla wars later. The history, in this case, is not only being distorted but being reversed completely.
Why and How Islamic History Be Preserved?
In order to protect humanity, harmony and brotherhood in this diverse nation, all anti-Islamic forces need to be countered. India’s Islamic past is a known fact and any attempts made to erase or discredit it is only detrimental for its secular status. India is a country not made on religion, unlike Pakistan. It recognises and celebrates all known religions. Even though the Muslims only make 15% of the total Indian population, India still is home to the second-biggest Muslim population next only to Indonesia. In order to make our minorities feel safe, it is crucial to embrace the Islamic past and not treat it as a foreign invasion.
The above agenda can only be achieved if this issue is taken as a serious concern by the policymakers. Taking advantage of the fair democratic system is essential. The general public needs to be made aware that religion-based politics only pushes India away from development.
Islam has been a part of Indian culture for over a thousand years now and needs to be protected at all costs if we are to progress as a civilization
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