NEW DELHI: In recent months, the Mughals have frequently been resurrected from their graves by right wing hotheads and denounced as “traitors,” “tyrants” and “bigots.” From Akbar to Bahadur Shah Zafar, their greatness has been questioned, their secularism doubted and their legacy denied.
The latest blow came when BJP legislator from Uttar Pradesh, Sangeet Som, called the Taj Mahal a “blot on Indian culture” and party spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao described the Mughal rule as “exploitative, barbaric and a period of incomparable intolerance.”
The hateful comments against the monument that has been the pride of India and is regarded as a symbol of love, has left all right-thinking Indians furious. But for one person, these attacks have touched a personal chord.
Yakub Habeebuddin Tucy, a sixth generation descendant of the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, is deeply hurt and angry at such comments. “How will someone feel if his or her ancestors are abused? My blood boils, but we can’t do anything about it. I am not an emperor like my ancestors,” Tucy told The Sunday Standard over the phone from Hyderabad.
Tucy said the attacks on Mughals rulers and monuments built by them have been made in the past as well. “But this is for the first time that some silly politicians like Sangeet Som are levelling false allegations against our ancestors and this is intolerable,” he said.
There are many claimants of Mughal lineage, but Tucy said he had documents to prove that he is a direct descendant of Bahadur Shah Zafar. He cited DNA test reports and a Hyderabad civil court order of 2002 recognising him as a legal heir of the last Mughal Emperor. The order, he claimed, was never challenged by anyone.
Tucy refused to recognise the claims of other possible Mughal descendants in the country apart from his extended family, which has about 70 members.
“There are many who claim to be Mughal descendants. There is one woman in Kolkata and a few families in Kashmir who have made such claims, but they don’t have any documents to prove their lineage,” he said.
Based in Hyderabad, the 46-year-old who adds the title of ‘Prince’ before his name, called Som’s statements a cheap publicity stunt and an attempt to communalise society and polarise popular discourse. “Such baseless comments can't change history. They are part of a larger plan to incite violence by dividing people on the basis of religion. Taj is not a religious monument. It is a symbol of love and love has no religion. Religion is being dragged into this for evil, ulterior motives,” he said.
Debunking the allegations that the Mughal rulers were bigots who indiscriminately destroyed Hindu temples and “wanted to wipe out the Hindus”, Tucy insisted that the composite culture of the country was a major contri-bution of the Mughal rule.
“Contrary to what is being alleged, the Mughals never imposed Islam on others. They never changed names. The fact that they respected other religions is also evident from the number of temples they built,” he claimed.
“It was the Mughals who brought the Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb to India. They were the most secular rulers of India and I can proudly say that as many as nine Mughal queens were Hindus. They did not loot this country but made it their own by building monuments, which today generate crores of revenue for the government. We are not seeking anything from the government. But the least we expect is some respect for our ancestors,” an aggrieved Tucy said.
He said he had been trying to meet top dignitaries over the divisive comments on the Mughal legacy. “I have sought appointments with the President, the Vice- president and the Prime Minister to take up the issue because the attacks on the Mughals and their monuments are becoming more vicious by the day,” he said.
Citing more examples of the liberal outlook of the Mughal rulers, Tucy claimed: “They were the first ‘gau rakshaks’; cow slaughter was a crime during the Mughal period. People were hanged for killing cows.”
Tucy recalled how he grew up listening to tales of grand festivities being organised by the Mughal emperors on Diwali. “When the Supreme Court recently banned the sale of firecrackers in Delhi this Diwali, some people called it a return of the Mughal era, trying to create an impression that the Mughals didn’t allow Diwali to be celebrated. Several historians have pointed out how Diwali used to be a grand affair during the Mughal rule from the time of Akbar to Bahadur Shah Zafar. The palaces used to be lit with diyas. In fact, it was the Mughals who introduced fire crackers to India,” he claimed.
When asked about the monuments built by his ancestors that he has visited, Tucy said he had visited almost all the Mughal monuments in India, but was yet to see those in Pakistan and Bangladesh. He has been visiting Taj every year since 2002 for Urs celebrations. Tucy has been the president and managing trustee of the Mughal Emperor’s Family Society since 2000.
BJP minister, MP stoke fire
BENGALURU: A fresh round of controversies is brewing over the Tipu Jayanti celebration in Karnataka with two BJP MPs asking the state government to keep them out of the November 10 event. Union Minister of State for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship Ananth Kumar Hegde and MP Shobha Karandlaje have written to the state government asking it not to mention their names in the invites. Hegde represents Uttara Kannada in the Lok Sabha.
Hegde, who is known for his hardline Hindutva views, has called Tipu a brutal killer and termed the celebration shameful. Karandlaje questioned the need to celebrate the event saying that the Muslim ruler was anti-Hindu.
“Conveyed #KarnatakaGovt NOT to invite me to shameful event of glorifying a person known as brutal killer, wretched fanatic and mass rapist,” (sic) Hegde tweeted.
Many BJP leaders, including Dharwad MP Pralhad Joshi and Mysore MP Prathap Simha have backed Hegde and Karandlaje. “This will be the last Tipu Jayanti celebrations as people will bundle out Congress in the state,” Simha stated in Mysuru. He was protesting against the government for giving the programme the status of an official event.
Two years ago, when the event was organised for the first time, BJP-led protests had turned violent and one person was killed in Kodagu. Reacting to Hegde’s request to not invite him for the celebrations, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said it was unbecoming of a Union Minister to act in such a way. “It is not right. He has made it into a political issue. Tipu fought four wars against the British,” he said, and added that as per protocol, invitations will be sent to all Central and state leaders. It was up to Hegde to attend or boycott the event.
KPCC Working President Dinesh Gundu Rao hit back at the BJP leaders. “The BJP always opposed Tipu Jayanti celebrations. Tomorrow, they will ask us to demolish the Taj Mahal or the Red Fort. Can we listen to them?” he asked. “BJP doesn’t have any other agenda, especially after Modi’s development schemes flopped. That is the reason they are politicizing Tipu Jayanti celebrations.”