On 23 August, RSS swayamsevak Ratan Sharda highlighted on Twitter the fact that the “Know India” website run by the union government hailed the Mughal period as “the greatest empire ever” in Indian history — even as it has been seven years that the Narendra Modi government, expected to correct the historical wrongs in Indian education, has been in office.
According to OpIndia, in the “Culture and Heritage” section of the Know India website, the medieval history section sings paeans to the Mughal empire, with many distorted details and no mention of the atrocities inflicted on the people by them.
The Know India site claims that during the said period, “India became united under one rule, and had very prosperous cultural and political years during the Mughal rule.”
“In India, there were many Muslim and Hindu kingdoms split all throughout India until the Mughals came,” reads the Know India site believed to be run by the Ministry of Culture.
The page titled “The Mughal Empire” under “Medieval History” talks of different rulers of the central Asian invaders while whitewashing them as “secular”, “tolerant” and “good” rulers. Interestingly, Rajput and Maratha rulers or the Ahoms who fought for centuries with Mughals and limited the spread of their empire find no mention in the said section of the website.
The oversight of the atrocities of Mughal rulers includes no mention of homicides and genocides by them, the destruction of Hindu temples and forced conversions. It claims about Jahangir, “He strived to reform society and was tolerant towards Hindus, Christians and Jews.”
There is only a passing mention of the execution of Sikh Guru Arjan Dev but in a distorted way. The Know India website says that Mughal king Jahangir killed the guru — without prefixing the victim’s name with the “Guru” honorific — as the Sikh preacher had provided aid and support to Jahangir’s stranded son Khusrau.
HistoriansPashaura Singh’s Understanding the Martyrdom of Guru ArjanJS Grewal’s The Sikhs of the Punjab published by Cambridge University Press; page 63 say Mughals executed the fifth Sikh guru because he had refused to pay a fine for preaching Sikhism and refused to remove certain hymns from Guru Nanak Dev’s Vaani, which Jehangir considered defiant.
Guru Arjan Dev suffered five days before succumbing to the torture at the hands of the Mughal ruler.
The Know India site finds no mention of Aurangzeb’s atrocities on Hindus, and the rampant destructions of the holiest of Hindu temples. The paragraph only rues that Aurangzeb could not fulfil his dream of bringing the entire subcontinent under his rule.
There is no mention of Maratha conquests in territories held earlier by Aurangzeb. There is no mention of Ahoms either — who had, under Lachit Borphukan, stopped Mughal advances into Assam.
Interestingly, the Know India site claims that Aurangzeb’s ambition remained unfulfilled only because “he kept his five sons away from the royal court and hence they could not be trained properly”, not because of the Marathas and Ahoms.
Netizens pan government
Netizens expressed displeasure over the distorted history of India. Many expressed displeasure over the lack of will to correct the Mughal version of history that is in nature propaganda.
Know India distorts history wantonly
This is not the first time the union government has been found guilty of callous regard for the dissemination of the right information and Hindu concerns. In January 2021, in reply to an RTI query, the DESS admitted it had no documented evidence of the construction of Qutb Minar as mentioned in the NCERT books.
Prof Saroj Bala Yadav, head, DESS & Public Information Officer, said her office received a copy of RTI on December 11, 2012. To his queries, the department said that there are no records of any references/texts that were used to conclude that those two Sultans built the Minar.
In addition, DESS said they have no proof to support the above-mentioned claim. The book cites the names of those who suggested the material and was accepted by the National Oversight Committee, headed by Prof Mrinal Miri.
Government springs into action
The Ministry of Culture has said that it has been brought to its notice that the website in question “misrepresents India’s history”.
“The Ministry of Culture does not run this website and is working with the concerned entities to accurately portray the events,” it said in a tweet.
According to Culture Ministry officials, the issue was flagged when several tweets were directed at it in the morning. An official said officials of the Ministry of Electronics and Information and Technology (MeitY) were informed.
In the evening, the website no longer had an introduction for the Mughal Empire page, with the space left blank. However, information on the reigns of various Mughal Emperors remained on the site.
A response from the MeitY was awaited at the time of drafting this report.