Experts decry India’s move to ‘rewrite history’ by altering key battle plaque
Historians on Monday were divided over the Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) decision to alter a plaque detailing a key 16th-century battle, with some accusing the government of “vested political interests” and “rewriting history” while others said it was important to “remove incorrect facts.”
It follows the growing controversy over a decades-old plaque, located in the Rakta Talai area of Rajsamand district in northwestern Rajasthan, about the main details of the Haldighati battle between Rajput ruler Maharana Pratap and the great Mughal emperor Akbar who ruled India between 1556 to 1605.
The dispute is over a line that says, “circumstances forced the Rajputs to retreat, and the struggle ended at midday on the 21st June 1576 A.D.”
Last week, Diya Kumari, a local lawmaker for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), told reporters: “I had urged the union art, culture and tourism minister to understand the sentiments, as the information mentioned on the plaque are factually incorrect, including the dates.”
In a Twitter post on July 15, she thanked the official for accepting her request to “remove the incorrect details about Maharana Pratap from the plaque.”
On Monday, officials told Arab News they were going ahead with the move.
“Within a couple of weeks, we will be changing the plaque,” Bipin Chandra Negi, superintendent of the ASI in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur division, said. “We will change the dates, and if there are some irregularities in the plaque, we will check and change.”
Negi refused to elaborate on the reasons for changing the plaque, but added: “When the plaque was installed 40 years ago, the area was not declared a monument of national importance. In 2003, it was declared so, and we want to change the plaque which has also become worn out. There is no issue regarding history.”
However local historian Dr. Chandrasekhar Sharma, who was at the forefront of a campaign to change the writing on the plaque, said: “It is wrong to say that Pratap lost the battle.”
“I have done my Ph.D on Maharana Pratap and studied Persian sources, which also do not make Akbar the victor in the Battle of Haldighati,” Sharma, who teaches history at Government Meera College in Rajsamand’s neighboring town of Udaipur, told Arab News. “I am a historian and not a politician, and my demand is based on the merit of history.”
It’s not only the destruction of history, but the destruction of any scientific, objective method of research.