Rajasthan Education Minister wages war against Emperor Akbar

SHABINA AKHTAR; Jaipur – Vasudev Devnani, Rajasthan’s Education Minister, seems to be in a mood to rewrite Rajasthan’s history. The minister’s war with Akbar, took another nasty turn, with him going ahead and renaming Ajmer’s Akbar Fort as Ajmer Fort. The minister had earlier removed a complete chapter on Mughal ruler Akbar and even removed the title The Great from ‘Akbar The Great.”

However, the minister hit a low by terming the Moghul King as “attankari”. During a recent press meet, when the minister was to release the latest edition of Pathay Kan, a fortnightly magazine, which is known to be a publication with a leaning towards Rashtriya Swayam Sevak’s ideology. The cover story of the released magazine, has a narrative on the Battle of Haldighati and its outcome. The story elaborately details how Maharana Pratap defeated Akbar, when their army clashed.

Last month, another BJP member of Legislative Assembly had proposed at the Rajasthan University, to alter, the outcome of the battle of Haldighati i.e to have history rewritten in Maharana Pratap’s favor. Kalicharan Saraf, Rajasthan’s health minister came to his support, stating that the “distorted history needs to be rectified”. The suggestion had stirred up a major controversy.

Devnani, who has then also supported the duo, during the event made his stand clear. He said, “We need to instill nationalism in the students of the present generation. I am a nationalist, and I was very wary of history that was being taught in our schools. Hence on becoming the education minister, I have been taking steps to rectify those errors. I did so, by removing an entire chapter, which spoke of Akbar’s greatness, and included a chapter that glorifies Maharana Pratap.”

The Akbar Fort, which has now been renamed Ajmer Fort

He also said, that the decision to rename the Akbar Fort as Ajmer Fort was the right move. “I did so, as I am a nationalist and I am determined to remove the names of aatankaris from such monuments, by staying within the constitutional framework,” he declared unapologetically.

He added, “We had got it done, about two years back. No one had protested back then. Why now?” Referring to threat that he had received with regards to renaming the fort.

Taking into account the recent state of affairs, in Rajasthan, where Moghul Emperor, Akbar, has been much under attack, Professor Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi, of Aligarh Muslim University said, “This is nothing but politics of hatred. The history, being rewritten are not history but an evidence of extremism which is prevalent in India, now.” He then added, “Akbar, has a strange destiny. He is criticized in both India and Pakistan alike. In our neighboring country, he is panned for having been pro- Hindu, while in India, despite being a just ruler, he is criticized for his religious identity.”

Echoing a similar sentiment, Professor Md Sajjad said, “This is nothing new but a salient feature of The Right wing. They have been doing and they will keep doing it. One can’t help much if these people choose to see things through their myopic vision, where they can’t see beyond Akbar’s religious identity. People with such ideology, perhaps find it difficult to see a ruler hailing from a minority community winning over that of a majority. This feeling comes from the politics of hatred, an ideology on which such leaders thrive.”

Adding to that Prof Rezavi said, “People who practice the politics of hatred, hate Pakistan. But in doing so, they are actually, following the path that our neighboring country had taken. It will only lead to breaking the country into fragments.”

Meanwhile, despite the minister realizing the game that he has been playing, he said, that they intended on including a complete chapter on Emergency to make students aware of how one’s freedom was curtailed during that period.

Well, the nationalist leader, might be doing what they feel needs to be done, but they need to know that playing with history can be futile for the country. “I only hope that this politics of extremism and hate is a passing phase, which we can come over by exhibiting our solidarity. But if we fail to do so, then it will be dangerous for the country’s peace,” warned Prof Sajjad.

–Special Correspondent – Al Bilad

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