Seeking to limit the damage following BJP MLA Sangeet Singh Som’s controversial remarks on the Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said on Tuesday that the monument was built “by the blood and sweat” of India’s sons and labourers.
Stating that his government would fulfil its duty towards conservation of the “important” monument, Adityanath announced a Rs 370 crore development package for Agra and said he would visit the sites of the proposed works on October 26. Sources said he was likely to visit the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort.
Meanwhile, a member of the Central Waqf Council, Sayed Ejaz Abbas, has written to The International Council on Monuments and Sites, expressing fear about the “likelihood of destruction/ injury to the monument”.
Speaking to reporters at an event in Gorakhpur, Adityanath said: “Humme iski tah mein jaane ke avashyakta nahin ki Taj Mahal kyun bana… kya, kisne banaya… kis uddesya ke bhale banaya ho… Mahatvapurna yeh hai ki Taj Mahal Bharat ki majdooron ke… Bharat Mata ke saputon ki khoon-paseene ki kamai se bana hua hai (It is not necessary to go into why Taj Mahal was built, who built it, and for what purpose… What is important is that Taj Mahal was built by the blood and sweat of India’s labourers and sons).”
Stating that the Taj Mahal is famous the world over for its architecture, he added: “Uska sanrakshan, uska samvardhan paryatan ki drishti se usko badhawa dena, aur wahan par aane wale paryatako ki suvidha aur suraksha ka dayitva Uttar Pardesh sarkar ka hai… hum log uska nirvahan karenge (Its conservation, promotion for development of tourism, and providing protection and facilities for tourists who visit the monument is the Uttar Pradesh government’s responsibility… we will fulfil our duty).”
According to a PTI report, Governor Ram Naik also weighed in with his views on the monument. “The Taj is one of the wonders of the world and the pride of our country. So don’t drag it into controversies and play politics over it,” he was quoted as saying, on the sidelines of the convocation of the Chatrapati Sahuji Maharaj University in Kanpur.
Speaking at an event in Sisauli area of Meerut on Sunday, Som had questioned the Taj Mahal’s place in history and said his party’s governments at the Centre and state were working to erase the “blot” (kalank katha) of Akbar, Aurangzeb and Babur from history books.
His remarks came days after the Uttar Pradesh government omitted Taj Mahal from a tourism department booklet.
“Many people were pained to see that the Taj Mahal had been removed from the list of historical places… what history… which history… the person who made Taj Mahal imprisoned his father… he targeted all the Hindus of Uttar Pradesh and India… if these people still find place in history, then it is very unfortunate… I guarantee that history will be changed,” said Som, distorting historical facts.
“In the past few years, there have been attempts to distort history in India and Uttar Pradesh… Today, the governments of India and UP are working to bring that history on the correct path… from the history of Ram to Krishna, Maharana Pratap to Shivaji Rao, they are trying to incorporate them in the text books… And the blots which are in our books, be it of Akbar, Aurangzeb, Babur… the government is working to remove them from history,” he said.
Meanwhile, in his letter to The International Council on Monuments and Sites, dated October 15, Central Waqf Council member Sayed Ejaz Abbas said the Taj Mahal was a “sacred” and “auspicious” structure, and its management should be transferred to the UP Waqf Board or a special body.
“I am addressing this letter to acknowledge that there is likelihood of destruction/ injury to the monument. I fear that the persons in/ out of the government (may) injure the Taj Mahal structure,” he wrote.
Naming Adityanath, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj and some BJP MLAs, Abbas wrote that “they are unnecessarily abusing the dead… belonging to the Mughal dynasty, who have built the Taj Mahal.”
He claimed that he had received complaints regarding “misuse of Waqf land, administrative fraud, infusion of hatred remarks with communal biased acts against dead Muslims (historical icons) especially Mughals”.
He further alleged that facts were being distorted to portray Mughals as “robbers”, and added that monuments like Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri and Humayun’s tomb had contributed to India’s tourism industry.
“Though about 13 per cent of India’s population follows Islamic religion, there are systematic governmental policies/ decisions… to demean/ degrade and lower the prestige of dead Muslim kings of India,” he wrote.
When contacted, Abbas said: “For some time now, I have been receiving complaints from different parts of the country expressing fear over the security of Taj Mahal, and distortion of facts by ministers of both the central and state governments. I thought it was necessary to take up the issue,” he said.