The Supreme Court on Wednesday told the Centre to demolish the Taj Mahal if it was not interested in protecting of the monument.
The central and state governments which were subject of the court's mockery, might have wished that ridicule to be real. In a cartoon, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh even asks the judge who raised that question if he would lend his gavel. Taj Mahal is surely a symbol of India for the world; it is this spectacular monument, included in the list of UNESCO world heritage sites and also declared as one of the Seven Wonders of the World that brings in most of the foreign revenue among India’s historic monuments. As the Supreme Court pointed out, Taj Mahal is more beautiful than the Eiffel Tower which looks like a TV Tower and has immense tourism potential. While eighty million tourists visit Eiffel Tower every year, we are allowing our most valuable heritage to perish. The court also criticized the UP government for failing to submit until nowa draft of vision document for the protection of Taj Mahal. The court has decided to hear the arguments on a day-to-day basis for compelling the governments in the matter of protection of the mausoleum. The court’s intervention comes on the petitions related to the preservation of Taj. And this is not the first time the top court is intervening in this matter. It has criticized the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) many a time. It was in February that the court sharply critisised the authorities who filed an application seeking the nod to cut down trees near the premises of Taj Mahal for an additional railway track between Mathura and Delhi. The bench had asked the public prosecutor whether the government intended to demolish the world famous Taj Mahal.
At the same time, the central and state governments do not intend to protect the Taj Mahal, like the court stated. The present government displays a stance of aversion towards the Mughal mausoleums including the Taj. They do realize the value of such monuments like Taj and others as a tourist hub and as a source of revenue. However, they have been seeing the monuments as a hindrance when they have to distort history for the sake of their narrow politics. One instance is dropping Taj Mahal from the list of tourist centres in the state in ‘Apaar Sambhavnayen’, a booklet recently published by the UP tourism department. When many pointed out the paradox in dropping the country’s biggest tourist centre, the government changed its tone. The explanation was that the tourist attractions in the booklet were earmarked for new projects. Not including the Taj in the ‘new schemes’ is yet another controversy. During the first budget of Yogi Adityanath, while plush funds were allocated for the development of Ayodhya, Varanasi, Mathura and Chitrakoot, not a single penny was allowed for the Taj. Those who view even the country’s priceless heritages through the communal eyes are ridiculing the nation itself. There are many who see entrusting the Red Fort to Dalmia Group as a move to exploit the prospects of tourism without recognizing the monument’s historic heritage.
The BJP and the Sangh Parivar should imbibe the basic lesson that historic monuments cannot be retained by obliterating history or rewriting it. The centuries branded as ‘Muslim period’ by the British with malafide intent gave India rich cultural legacy and symbols. It should be realized that rejecting them is akin to rejecting the nation itself. The far right hardliners are fretting over the fact that history does not permit them to reject the Mughal heritage such as Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Qutub Minar and Jama Masjid. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi needs the Red Fort to address the nation on Independence Day. P N Oak has established an institute itself for distorting history. Even the historians have refused to believe the claims such as that Qutub Minar was a Vishnu Stambh, that Red Fort was a palace built by a Hindu ruler and that Taj Mahal was earlier Tejo Mahalaya temple. It was the Hindutva-leaning writer Koenras Elst who called it a figment of imagination. And the 'historians' who question the Taj are those like BJP MLA Sangeeth Saum, who cannot even distinguish between Shajahan and Aurangazeeb. In any case, all these people would by now have realized dthat history cannot be changed outright. As Kuldeep Kumar points out, it is when the Sangh parivar recognized that history of heritage cannot be easily changed, that they started deprecating and ignoring them. And the statement of Yogi Adityanath that Taj Mahal is not party of Indian heritage and his prejudice against it, are indicative of this. For protection of Taj, the large expanse of environmentaly crucial land called 'Taj Trapezium Zone' has also to be protected. But the Yogi governmentis unable to maintain clean even the holy river of Yamuna , let alone that zone. If they had done that, Taj would have been saved at least to that extent. Taj will be saved the moment such people realize that the present cannot be fixed by rejecting the past.