Days after a group of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) members allegedly created ruckus near the western gate of Taj Mahal in Agra when tried to vandalise it, controversial BJP MLA Surendra Singh from Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday reiterated his demand to rename the white mausoleum to give it an Indian identity and said he will write a letter to CM Yogi Adityanath to ensure his demand is fulfilled. Singh, an MLA from Bairia assembly seat, which falls in Ballia district, suggested the monument should be renamed as “Ram Mahal” or “Krishna Mahal.”
Singh said he will write a letter to CM Yogi Adityanath ensuring all the monuments including Taj Mahal and Akbari gate in Lucknow are renamed and given Indian identity. Thanking the government for taking an initiative to rename the Mughalsarai Sarai railway station after Deen Dayal Upadhyay, he said, “I would write to (chief minister) Yogi Adityanath to take up the issue.”
“He (Yogi Adityanath) should change the name of Mughalsarai tehsil as well. Names like Taj Mahal may also be replaced with Ram Mahal or Krishna Mahal… they should get Indian identities,” he said.
Taj Mahal has been mired into controversy ever since the formation of a new BJP government in the state in 2017. Last year, a small group of men belonging to a right-wing outfit had entered the Taj Mahal to chant the Shiv Chalisa and claimed that the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a Shiv temple.
According to a report in The Indian Express, VHP members had on Sunday arrived with hammers and iron roads to vandalise the western gate. They said the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) was blocking the way to a 400-year-old Shiva temple while constructing a closed area for the white mausoleum. Referring to a video footage, the IE report said VHP activists tried to vandalise the western entrance on Basai Ghat even as they removed the turnstile gate installed by the ASI. They also raised slogans against the ASI, which is responsible for conservation and preservation of cultural monuments in the country.
Taj Safety circle officer (CO) Prabhat Kumar confirmed the incident. He said VHP members numbering 25-30 came near the western gate and started vandalising the installed turnstile gate for tickets on Sunday. “The protesters had hammers and iron rods with them. They removed the gate and threw it some around 50m from there. Soon the Taj safety police team reached there and stopped them from vandalising more property,” the IE report quoted him as saying.
Taking a serious note of the incident, ASI on the same day filed a police complaint and an FIR was lodged against five activists of VHP and 20-25 of their unidentified supporters. The five persons against whom FIR was registered are Ravi Dubey, Madan Verma, Mohit Sharma, Niranjan Singh Rathore and Gulla and 20-25 other unidentified VHP members. No arrests have been made so far.
According to police, there is an optional path to reach the Siddheshwar Mahadev Temple on the Basai Ghat, but the protesting members of the VHP weren’t satisfied with the explanation.
Speaking to the daily, a VHP leader accused the ASI of removing ‘all items that represent the Hindu culture near the Taj Mahal’. VHP Brij Prant Vishesh Sampark Pramukh Ravi Dubey said the administration has stopped the 15 years old practice of holding “satsang” at the Saheli ka Burj on western gate of Taj Mahal. He added the Amla tree inside the Taj Mahal where people used to celebrate the Amla Nawami was also brought down by the ASI. “There were so many other things people used to do here, but it all ended around 14-15 years ago during the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party rule. We cannot let this happen,” he told IE.