Allahabad to Faizabad

…name changing spree a historical reversal

Dr. Javid Iqbal
Srinagar, Publish Date: Nov 16 2018 11:31PM | Updated Date: Nov 16 2018 11:31PM
Allahabad to Faizabad

Quite contrary to claims of Hindutva brigade that they are changing names to correct historical distortions, name changing spree is geared to reverse history with vile intentions. From Allahabad to Faizabad, renamed recently, historical reversal continues with no end in sight. Voices are being raised to rename many other places, such as Muzafarnagar to Laxminagar, Lucknow to Lachmannagar, and Agra to Agarwal. There seems to be no end to it, as Allahabad becomes Prayagraj, and Faizabad becomes Ayodhya. Earlier, another historical spot--Mughalsarai Railway station was renamed Deen Dayal Upadhyaya junction. Hindutva brigade has maximum aversion to Mughal dynasty, as there is hardly a place in the subcontinent, across the divide, which does not bear the imprint of Mughals. The dynasty holds the worldwide historical distinction of being builders of magnificent monuments, of soul lifting gardens, and laying down cities like Shahjehanabad. 

The name changing spree is a willful attempt to reverse more or less a millennium of Indian history. At the turn of the millennium, in historical context the Middle Ages, Central Asian sultanates started Indian incursions. The emergence of sultanates had a historical backdrop. One sultanate after another emerged from West Asia to Central Asia, as Abbasid Caliphate was decimated in 1258 A.D. The glory of Baghdad was lost; its seats of learning like Nizamiyya, its libraries with books in millions, its hospices fell to the sword of Halaku-grandson of Genghis Khan. The historical legend has it that River Tigris was blackened with the ink of scholars and later reddened with the blood of Muslims. As fate would have it, the ferocious Mongols, progenies of Genghis Khan sought spiritual solace in Islam within a few centuries. Allama Iqbal spells it poetically:

Pasban Mill Gayay Kabbah-e-Ko Sanam Khanay Sa

Central Asia prospered, as Mongols and Central Asian Turks had a historical jelling. Turko-Mongol became a historical identity, as distinct as Greco-Roman. Babar had mixed ancestry, the blood of Taimur as well as Genghis. Samarkand of Taimur was Uroos-ul-Bilad-the bride among global municipalities, while India was politically and socially fractured. March of sultanates from Mahmood Ghaznavi to Babar continued through middle ages to 16th century, as Aibeks’ Khiljis’ and Lodhis’ one after another settled in South Asian plains. Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi however stayed put in Ghazni, during multiple Indian incursions. Babar took over from Lodhis’ in 1526. In the historical context, it didn’t have the inkling of Islamic conquest; one Muslim sultanate was taking over from another. It is historically fallacious to construct it as Islamic conquest of India. Central Asian Muslim sultanates fought each other as much, as they fought the Indian princes like Rana Sangha and Maharana Pratap. The string of campaigns was for gaining territory and political space, rather than engaging in religious supremacy.   Hindutva forces are bent upon projecting it in false historical construct of religious domination, the name changing spree is meant to reclaim the Hindu past. 

Babar in spite of Indian conquest, as he accounted for Lodhis’ and Rana Sangha, craved for gardens and water-melons of Kabul. However, he was carrying the backlog of Central Asian campaigns; hence he preferred to work for an Indian Empire, rather than the one with Kabul as power base. From Babar’s craving for Kabul to Bhadur Shah Zafar’s craving for Delhi in his Rangoon prison, history turned many a page. In his poetic quest, Zafar calls Delhi, Koyi-e-Yaar (lovers’ lane)

Kitna Hai Budh Naseeb Zafar Dafan-e-Ka Liyaa

Dou Gaz Zameen Bi Na Milee Koyi-e-Yaar Mei’n  

India in the meanwhile changed hue, from being the land of Hindus to a cosmopolitan culture. Overwhelming majority of Hindus incidentally had as much a central Asian background as the later day Muslims. North Indian Aryans a few millennia before Muslims migrated to India from same Central Asian lands as the Muslims. Iqbal captures it in a poignant poetic note:

Aye Abrood-e-Ganga, Woh Din Ha Yaad Tuj Ko

Utra Teray Kinaray Jab Carvan Hamara   

O Ganges, remember ye the day

Our caravan landed on your bay

Hindutva brigade for the convenience of their set agenda skips over yet another historical fact. Later day Central Asian migration that started in middle ages and continued up to 16th century had just one difference, the migrants carried a different religious hue. Otherwise, the context was the same, to seek new pastures for growth. 

Aryans dominated the aborigines, as much as the later day Central Asian migrants dominated the earlier migrants. Aborigines remain the only social group that can claim to be original Indians. Contrary to Hindutva projections, north Indian Aryans cannot claim to be original Indians. Like Aryans, south Indian Dravids are also migrants from other lands. The later day Muslim migrants from central Asia do not form the bulk of Muslims in South Asia. Many Aryan migrants from earlier times adopted Islam, Dravids too. South Asia has deep Muslim imprint, with two predominantly Muslim countries—Pakistan and Bangladesh forming a part of subcontinent. And, as it stands, the population of Muslims in the Indian mainland is next only to Indonesia.      

How much impact the name changing spree could have in the historical context is highly debatable. It is already drawing derisive comments from even the camp followers of Hindutva brigade. Uttar Pradesh Minister--Om Prakash Rajbhar, chief of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), a BJP ally relates, "BJP changed the names of Mughalsarai and Faizabad. They say they were named after the Mughals. They have a national spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Uttar Pradesh Minister Mohsin Raza-three Muslim faces of the BJP. They should change their names first." It is an apt comment on the irony of times. Rajbhar could be rightly in concluding that, "This is all a drama to distract the backward and oppressed people whenever they raise their voices for their rights. No one else has given the things which Muslims have given. Should we throw away the GT Road? Who built the Red Fort? Who built the Taj Mahal," he asked. These are relevant questions that need answers. Given the historical context, Hindutva brigade will fall short in answering, what is being asked in knowledgeable quarters.   

Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]  





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