On the Assault on Muslim Names

On the Assault on Muslim Names
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SYED KALEEM GEELANI

Against the backdrop of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in India, the BJP is doing all it can to turn the tables. Recently, the spokesperson of the BJP tweeted a video of a Congress party meet with people in which they are seen dictating the people to make them win upcoming elections promising them. While on the other hand, the spokesperson of the Congress denied the video by saying that it was “doctored and fabricated”. One political party blames other and so on. This is how politics plays around us all.
In India, politics is taking to a whole new level of changing historical names. It is the nature of a human being that he or she does what is beneficial for him or her. Same is the case with political parties; they do what benefits their political parties and their voter base. They can do unexpected things just before the time plan of elections to pull and change the minds of people towards themselves.
The Yogi Adityanath led BJP government in UP has evolved a new spree of Muslim name changes of places to appease the majority. The government announced that the ancient city of Allahabad would now be called by a Hindu name, Prayagraj. (The BJP leaders were annoyed by the fact that 435 year old name Allahabad was given by a Muslim)
Allahabad was named by the Mughal emperor Akbar. It was an administrative, military and cultural centre for the Mughal Empire, which ruled most of historical India for many centuries.
After Allahabad, the local government, led by a controversial Hindu religious leader has changed the name of Faizabad district to Ayodhya. It was in Ayodhya that hard-line Hindu mobs demolished an ancient mosque in 1992, leading to one of the worst episodes of religious violence in which more than 2,000 people were killed. As if that was not enough, the BJP government in Gujarat said that it wanted to change largest city of state from Ahmedabad to Karnavati. In July this year, BJP ruled state of Uttar Pradesh changed the name of Mughal Sarai.
At present, Muslims are suffering by different ways in India and now this name changing spree has left them aghast. By changing Islamic names, Muslims are gradually being turned into outsiders in their own places. This is a ploy against Muslim community to quell and subdue them. Changing Islamic names is like emasculating Muslims and denying them their stake in India’s history.
If this name changing spree goes on, then the day is no far from us when Muslims will stop visiting Hindu dominated cities and vice versa. It needs to be understood the history of hundreds of years cannot be erased by changing names. A city is a feeling that every person who grew up there carries with him; it is a sentiment that many others share. Mughals have influenced the history of India to a large extent. The culture, language, architecture, music, jewelry, cuisines, all came from them. You may succeed in changing names but you won’t succeed in changing the vast Muslim history in the subcontinent. People don’t erase history; history erases people.

The author writes on various issues. He can be reached at: Kaleemgeelani11@gmail.com