The Anger over Aurangzeb Road
Some are ecstatic; a few are boiling with anger over the proposed renaming of Aurangzeb Road, APJ Abdul Kalam Azad Road. Those who are livid have brought in the religion factor by accusing a right—wing government. They cannot however say its Hindu-Muslim issue, because both names belong to Muslim faith—yes bigoted and another secular. Even a PIL has been filed. It accuses the NDMC of violation of law and procedures. It also claims that names which are part of history cannot be changed. This is utter nonsense. How were almost all names of roads in New Delhi after Independence were changed?
Historian Jadunath Sircar wrote a letter to Pandit Nehru protesting the name changes; he said by changing names, history cannot be changed. True, but it is the right of a free country to honour a person by naming a road, bridge, building in that person’s name. The British named roads in the names of the Mughals and some Hindu rulers. They were hardly expected to consider Aurangzeb a bigot, which history and actions tell us he was.
Many Muslim groups in our country argue that Aurangzeb, the 6th and the last famous Mughal emperor is praise worthy, but history books do not say so. Aurangzeb was an orthodox Muslim and a tyrant, who imprisoned his father, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, killed his eldest brother Dara Shikoh for the throne and is attributed for the downfall of the Mughal Empire. Many learned historians believe that if Dara Shikoh had become the emperor, India would have been a different country today.
As expected the habitual offenders of our country like MIM president Asaduddin Owaisi have strongly objected the move. Contrary to what Owaisi says, the AAP government of Delhi is fully committed for renaming Aurangzeb Road to Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Road, and rightly so. Owaisi has also argued that as per a 2007 law of NDMC, roads which have historical names cannot be changed. But then, why can’t a law be amended? The famous British archeologist, Stanley Lane-Pool wrote, “For the first time in their history, the Mughals beheld a rigid Muslim in their emperor-a Muslim as sternly repressible of himself as of his people around him, a king who was prepared to stake his throne for sake of his faith. He must have been fully conscious of the dangerous path he was pursuing, and well aware…against every Hindu sentiment. Yet he chose this course, and adhered to this with unbinding resolve through close on fifty years of unchallenged sovereignty.”
Dr. S.R Sharma while writing about Aurangzeb says, “These were not the acts of a righteous statesman, but the outbursts of blind fanaticism, unworthy of the great genius that Aurangzeb undoubtedly possessed in all other aspects.”
The fundamentalists did not object when roads and airports were renamed after people of the Gandhi family. The Palam Airport in Delhi was renamed to Indira Gandhi International Airport, nobody objected. There is no harm in renaming the Aurangzeb Road to Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Road, to honour and pay homage to a great Indian, who was truly an image of secular India, and not a symbol of orthodoxy and fanaticism like Aurangzeb.