NYT Slams Yogi Adityanath for Omitting Taj Mahal from UP Tourism Brochure

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In a scathing editorial NY Times takes on Hindu Right Wing Forces of Hate Smearing Taj Mahal The Symbol of Love

Caravan News 

NEW DELHI — What could have been a better time to address the prejudice being meted out to The Taj Mahal in recent times than now? After all the symbol of love, as termed by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore – ‘a tear drop on the cheek of time’, has been declared as being the second best UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Ranked by globetotters, the UNESCO website described the Taj as “the jewel of Muslim art in India, and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage”.

The editorial, which appeared in the New York Times (NYT), postUNESCO declaration, scathingly attacked Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for his bigoted stands, when it came to the conservation of the Taj or giving it the status it deserved.

The editorial states, “But the Hindu extremists who have become a driving force in India are so obsessed with demonizing Muslims that they are smearing it as an abomination.” The editorial went on to sharply criticize CM Adityanath for eliminating the Taj Mahal from UP’s tourism brochure.

“In October, it came to light that the state of Uttar Pradesh — where the Taj Mahal is located, in the city of Agra, and which is headed by the firebrand Hindu cleric Yogi Adityanath — had omitted the monument from its tourism brochure and cut its funding from the state’s tourism budget. Sangeet Som, a member of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, railed that the Taj Mahal was “a blot on Indian culture” built by “traitors.” And Mr. Som’s party colleague Vinay Katiyar blustered, completely unglued from historical fact, that the Taj Mahal was actually “Tejo Mahal, Lord Shiva’s temple,” referring to the Hindu god,” wrote the newspaper.

The 17th century tomb built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal is considered a symbol of love. With a magnificent architecture designed out of white marble, has Quranic verses inscribed on its walls, the tomb is considered as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The editorial precisely points out, “Millions flock to marvel at its shimmering magnificence with intricately inlaid and carved white marble inscribed with verses from the Quran, every year. And that is exactly what the Hindu right finds so galling”.

The editorial also seems to be poking fun at Adityanath, for having to swallow the anti-Taj venom spitted by him. It reads, “Perhaps sensing the damage such attacks could do to his state’s tourism revenue, Mr. Adityanath thought it well to visit the Taj Mahal to quell the fracas, although only grudgingly admitting the tomb was important because it “was built by the blood and sweat of Indian laborers.” The Taj Mahal has since been restored to Uttar Pradesh’s tourism brochure.”

The NYT even took on the anti-Muslim rhetoric and the rise in hate-crimes committed against them. The newspaper observed, “Unprovoked physical attacks on Muslims have risen alarmingly under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party, and Hindu hard-liners speak more and more boldly of an India where Muslim citizens are, if not hated enemies, mere guests who live at the sufferance of Hindus.”

The editorial being published four days after the 25th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition even addressed the issue. It read, “The 16th century Babri Masjid mosque in Ayodhya was demolished by Hindu fanatics who claimed it was built on the site of a Hindu temple. Subsequent rioting between Hindus and Muslims, which killed more than 2,000 people by some estimates, is a reminder of what Hindu zealotry can wreak. Hard-liners vow still to rebuild a Hindu temple on the site of that ruined mosque, and India’s Supreme Court began hearings on the fate of the site last week.”

Citing Babri Masjid demolition as an example of the toll that Right Wing fanatism can take, the editorial summed up, “In this disturbing context, preserving the Taj Mahal is important, not only as a testament to the glories of India’s syncretic past, but also as a pledge to an inclusive future”.

 

 

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