Renaming Of Aurangzeb Road Sparks ‘Name’ Politics

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10:43 am 4 Sep, 2015

When they decided to rename one of India’s richest addresses, they took one step at obliterating a prominent name in Indian history and trigger another political controversy.

You know that Aurangzeb Road is now Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Road. The address named after the last powerful Mughal (Bahadur Shah Zafar II was the last Mughal but was powerless) has been changed to that of India’s greatest President.


The New Delhi Municipal Council’s (NDMC) decision was taken following a petition by Delhi BJP MP Maheish Girri which argued that the sixth Mughal emperor was a “cruel” despot and, therefore, did not deserve an honour of this nature.

Some, however, see this as an attempt at marginalizing the minority community.

Muslim groups objected to the renaming calling it as a “deliberate” move that is “likely to set the trend of rechristening other cities/streets distorting history”, reports Hindustan Times.

Dr SQR Ilyas, President of Welfare Party of India and All India Muslim Personal Law Board member, told PTI that such a move will trigger a chain reaction of renaming which is evident from the subsequent decision taken by Shiv Sena to rename Maharashtra’s Aurangabad district where the Mughal Emperor’s graveyard is located.

“They have a long list of cities/roads named after some historical figures or Muslim Emperors, which they want to change.”

A popular belief is that Aurangzeb was anti-Hindu, but Ilyas refers to former Orissa Governor Bishambhar Nath Pande’s collection of Aurangzeb’s farman (orders) which show that he donated land for building temples.

Meanwhile, the political secretary to former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit, Pawan Khera, reminds us that naming of streets in Delhi is governed by home ministry guidelines of September 27, 1975.

According to those guidelines the names of existing streets should not be changed and only new or unnamed roads should be given names after eminent personalities.

Clearly the NDMC has taken a decision that goes against the guidelines.

Now, a former Congress MLA, Asif Mohammed Khan, has himself renamed a 3km stretch, running from Kalindi Kunj to Jamia Nagar, to ‘Aurangzeb Road’. It was locally called ‘Pushta Road’. He told Times of India that he did this in “protest against the renaming of the historic road by the NDMC”.

The name Aurangzeb rings more than just bells in the minds of the common people who are not too familiar with history. In our popular imagination Aurangzeb was a demon who not only put his own father into a dungeon till death but also committed untold atrocities on the Hindu population of the time.



A Mughal-era painting of Aurangzeb.


That he killed Dara Shikoh, who was the rightful successor to the Mughal throne, adds another layer of grey to his “cruel” image.

Historical records show that Aurangzeb continued to confer land grants (jagirs) upon Hindu temples, such as the Someshwar Nath Mahadev temple in Allahabad, Jangum Badi Shiva temple in Banaras, and Umanand temple in Guwahati.

The jiziya was indeed re-imposed but taxation had become a political need of the time because of Aurangzeb’s costly Deccan campaigns.

While this renaming has already been done, all eyes are now on Aurangabad…err…Sambhaji Nagar.


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