Changing the name of Aurangzeb Road in Lutyens Delhi and not a street named after Prithiviraj Chauhan, who "did some pretty violent things", reflects the "targeted nature" of the government of the day, says author and Indologist Audrey Truschke.
"I will certainly not lobby to name after Aurangzeb today because there is no particular reason to do that. But the problem with renaming Aurangzeb Road was the targeted nature of it," said the author of "Aurangzeb: The Man and the Myth".
"Why only Aurangzeb Road? Why not Akbar Road or Prithviraj Road, he did some pretty violent things in his days?" she asked.
Her lecture in Hyderabad, titled 'Unpopular Stories: Narrating the Indo-Islamic Past and Navigating Present-day Prejudices', scheduled to be held on August 11, has been cancelled allegedly following threats from Hindu groups.
"I was told the police received letters of protest. I was also told that the police requested that there be protection for the event, and then refused to provide it on only on one week's notice," Truschke told PTI.
Truschke, who recently hit the headlines for her controversial tweet on Valmiki's Ramayana, said stripping Aurangzeb's name from street signs and then replacing it with another Muslim name was good political strategy but also overt judgement of what sort of Indian Muslim is acceptable.
"It is the BJP's way to say these ways of being an Indian Muslim are ok and these ways are not right. To narrow the range of being an Indian Muslim and practice Islam in India, specifically to what is acceptable with the culture of Hinduism... this is a sort of direct assault on the minority," said the historian, who teaches at Rutgers University.
"When I say he protected more temples than he destroyed, I do not mean that through sort of laziness or lack of destruction. I actually mean he protected them. In Aurangzeb's reign, protection and destruction of temples went together," she said.
In 1659, for instance, he ordered that temples in Benares be protected but the order also said you cannot build more, Truschke explained.
"Throughout his reign, he issued a bunch of different orders, some to protect specific temples, some to protect 'maths' and some to protect specific people," she added.
Her revelations about Aurangzeb, the man who many love to hate, has not been taken well by people, especially alleged Hindu extremists.
"Yes, the trolling and hate mails have only gone worse during my visit to India this time. But then I am very thick skinned, I can read most stuff and go to bed and sleep alright," she said.
Truschke is currently in India on a speaking tour.
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