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  Of tombs and homages  


By: Shachi Rairikar
April 23, 2006
iews expressed here are author’s own and not of this website. Full disclaimer is at the bottom.


(The author is a Chartered Accountant working in a software company in Indore, M.P., India and manage www.indpride.com)

Amongst contradicting reports and confusion, US President George W. Bush did finally visit Rajghat and pay homage to the Father of the Nation. Bush"s protocol handlers had earlier notified South Block that the American President"s deep belief in his born again faith precludes his visiting Mahatma Gandhi"s Samadhi at Rajghat. Prior to his India visit, when asked by some reporters, if he will be breaking a decades long tradition of foreign dignitaries visiting India paying respect to the Father of India, Bush is believed to have said something about how the Gospel of Jesus Christ viewing cremation as a pagan practice.

In January, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, ruler of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the chief guest at the fifty-seventh Republic Day celebrations and on a state visit to India, broke the hallowed tradition of paying homage at Rajghat observed by every foreign leader and offered an outrageously preposterous reason for doing so. The king is reported to have indicated that a visit to the Mahatma"s memorial would violate the principles of his faith.

While the Indian government meekly accepted these insults, the media did its best to black out the news. The electronic media, which is looking for the slightest sensation to be blown up as breaking news, probably found these issues which concern national pride of no commercial worth.

In sharp contrast to their foreign counterparts who were not ashamed to place their religion above courtesy and diplomatic norms, the Indians dignitaries have been trying to show off their secular credentials by paying tributes to persons who were not only the enemies of their faith but the enemies of their nation too. The year 2005 saw two great enemies of the Indian soil being honoured by Indians holding constitutional positions. One event very understandably created furor that has not settled even now and promises to remain imprinted in the minds of the Indian people for long time to come. This was the visit of the leader of the opposition, L.K. Advani, to mausoleum of Jinnah, the man responsible for vivisection of India and the founder of Pakistan. The other event, however, surprisingly did not attract much attention of the media, intelligentsia or the political fraternity. This was the tribute paid by the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh at the tomb of Babar, the man who brought death and destruction to India.

Babar was a foreign invader who killed thousands of Indians, plundered and looted and desecrated Hindu temples. Descending in the fifth generation from Timur, he was born on 14 February 1483. In June 1494, he succeeded his father, Umar Shaik, as ruler of Farghana, whose revenues supported no more than a few hundred cavalry. With this force Babar began his career of conquest. He lost Farghana itself and was ultimately routed from Central Asia by rival Uzbeg chiefs. In 1504, he made himself master of Kabul and so came in touch with India whose wealth was a standing temptation. In 1517 and again in 1519, he swept down the Afghan plateau into the plains of India. He entered Punjab in 1523 on the invitation of Daulat Khan Lodhi, the governor of the province, and Alam Khan, an uncle of Ibrahim Lodhi, the Delhi Sultan. But, wars in his home country however, compelled Babar to return so that his final invasion was not begun until November 1525.

In his first invasion, Babar came as far as Peshawar. The following year he crossed the Indus and, conquering Sialkot without resistance, marched on Saidpur, now Aminabad in Pakistan. The town was taken by assault, the garrison put to the sword and the inhabitants carried into captivity. During his next invasion in 1524, Babar ransacked Lahore. His final invasion was launched during the winter of 1525-26 and he became master of Delhi after his victory at Panipat on 21 April 1526.

Guru Nanak, the first Sikh Guru, was an eye-witness to the havoc created during these invasions. Thousands of people were massacred and taken prisoners. The barbarity and mass bloodshed deeply pained Guru Nanak. In his famous epic named "Babarvani", Nanak Dev describes the atrocities of Babar and his men in Punjab. Nanak denounced him in no uncertain terms, giving a vivid account of Babar"s vandalism in Aimanabad. Nanak’s agony is evident when he asks God, "When there was such suffering, such killing, such shrieking in pain, did not Thou, O God, feel pity? Creator, Thou art the same for all!"

Babar’s generals forced people to be converted to Islam, his zamindars and other influential people bestowed lands and property on the newly converted Muslims. Babar himself became a Ghazi, which in Islamic terminology is a positive epitaph and it means "a Muslim who has killed a non-Muslim", such a person is guaranteed heaven with "beautiful women, wine and rivers of honey."

According to local tradition and literary sources, Babar descecrated Hindu and Jain temples and replaced them with mosques. Among many such Babri Masjids are the mosques of Palam, Sonipat, Rohtak, Panipat, Sirsa and Sambhal. Materials of Hindu temple can be found in the mosque of Sambhal. The contemporary Tarikh-i-Babari records that Babar"s troops "demolished many Hindu temples at Chanderi".

But the best known of all such mosques is the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya built at the most sacred site of the Hindus, Shree Ram Janmabhoomi. An inscription on the mosque recording his name shows that the mosque was built by Babar. It was commonly believed that the mosque stood on an ancient Hindu temple, but since the early 1990s some leftist historians, in their “secular” zeal to appease the Muslims, have started disputing this, without sufficient historical or archaeological evidence to prove their point. Though the case is now with the court of law, sufficient evidence has been found during the escavaton of the site to support the long standing conviction that the mosque had been built on the ruins of a temple. The Encyclopedia Brittannica of 1989 still reported that the Babri Mosque stood on an earlier temple dedicated to Rama"s birthplace.

Even an order passed on18th March 1886 by Col. F.E.A. Chamier, the Faizabad District Judge read that “the Masjid built by Emperor Babar stands on the border of Ayodhya, that is to say, to the west and south” and that “it is most unfortunate that a Masjid should have been built on land specially held sacred by the Hindus”.

The so-called Indian “secular” elite was shocked when Hindu nationalists demolished the mosque that was a symbol of oppression of the foreign invaders. Nehru and his brand of secularists have always practiced minorityism in the name of secularism, while, in fact, the two concepts are mutually opposed and conflicting. They have always perceived the Indian Muslims as a vote-bank, treating them as Muslims first and then Indians and promoted Muslim fundamentalists for electoral gains. It is their political compulsion to distort history and portray Islamic invaders as great heroes who were broad-minded and secular. Jawaharlal Nehru, himself wrote, "Babar was one of the most cultured and delightful person one could meet. There was no sectarianism in him, no religious bigotry, and he did not destroy as his ancestors used to."

Babar’s own writings however do not reflect the same, as can be seen from an extract taken from the Babarnama:

"For Islam"s sake, I wandered the wilds,
Prepared for war with pagans and Hindus,
Resolved myself to meet the martyr"s death,
Thanks be to God! A ghazi I became."

Following the footsteps of his pseudo-secularist predecessors, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh felt no shame in bowing his head at Babar’s tomb and paying tribute to the man who was an enemy of the Indian soil. For this unfortunate Sikh, political correctness had to prevail over his Guru’s views and nation’s pride. There are definitely costs attached to every coveted job, especially when one is tightly reined by another power centre.

In an interview with Dilip Padgaonkar for the Times of India, when asked how he reacted to the demolition of Babri Masjid, noble laureate V.S. Naipaul answered: "Not as badly, as the others did, I am afraid. The people who say that there was no temple there are missing the point. Babar, you must understand, had contempt for the country (that) he had conquered. And his building of that mosque was an act of contempt for the country."

Be it Jinnah or Babar, independent India does not owe any show of respect to either of these men. Whatever might have been their personal qualities or political achievements, both were definitely not friends of India. Both can by no means be perceived as “secular”, both brought death, destruction and misery to thousands of Indians and there should be no hesitation in branding them as enemies of the Indian soil. At the same time disrespect to the Father of the nation by any guest of the Indian state cannot be accepted. But how do we explain this to a class of people to whom the terms national honour and shame appear meaningless in the light of personal gains and vote-bank politics?

Shachi Rairikar

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