Nachiket Deuskar has not done his homework on the historical usage of the term “Gurjar” nor about the history of the Pratihar clan as recorded in their inscriptions, medieval texts and historians with respectable command over the history of early medieval India (“Why the caste of an ancient Indian king has sparked a modern political battle”).
1. The term “Gurjara”, now used by the Gujjar community, historically denoted a regional identity. It is not a whimsical claim by the Rajput community.
1.1. The term “Gurjara” was used as a regional identity (demonym) for the people of Southern Rajasthan and northern Gujarat. This was also echoed by Pratipal Bhatia, former head of the history department, Delhi University, in his statement to The Indian Express.
1.2 In 1915, MA Jinnah presided over Gurjar Sabha to receive and welcome Mahatma Gandhi. This Gurjar Sabha was gathering of Gujaratis and not of Gujjar caste. Check this article from your own platform.
1.3. “Garvi Gurjari” is an initiative by the government of Gujarat established in 1973 with the main objective of identification, revival, development of handicrafts and handlooms of Gujarat.
It is for the same reasons that all Rajput/Kshatriya clans of this region were termed as “Gurjara”, by the rulers from other parts of India denoting it as regional identity.
2. The article alleges that Mihirbhoj Pratihara’s ethnic identity is “inconclusive” and that the Rajputs and Gujjars are merely making a competitive claim.
2.1 Please read this academic paper by Historian Shantarani Sharma, that was published in the Indian Historical Review in 2012, titled “Exploding the Myth of the Gūjara Identity of the Imperial Pratihāras”.
2.2 The SagarTal Inscription (Epigraphia Indica 18, page 99) of Mihira Bhoja Pratihara clearly explained that he identified as a Kshatriya.
2.3 The letter by Arunoday Parihar, whose ancestors ruled the Nagod state during the Mughal and the British era. Nagod State covered parts of Satna and Katni districts of Madhya Pradesh.
2.4 Indian Archaelogy Review 2000-’01 published by the Archaeology Survey of India identifying the Nagod dynasty as Pratihāra at page 166.
2.5 Preservation work carried by Pratihara Rajputs of Mandore (Jodhpur).
Thus the Pratihara Rajputs, who often carry the family name Parihar or Padhiyar, are not an extinct community. They are as much a living entity as any other Rajput people – Chauhans, Bhatis, Solankis, Rathores etc.
Hence, it is unfortunate that the Gujjar politicians as well as SK Chahal and Manisha Chaudhary are dragging the identity of a living people into unnecessary controversies, ignoring the ancient Pratihāra inscriptions and pleas by living Pratihara members.
Would the authors also claim that the ethnic identity of Shivaji or Sardar Patel is inconclusive? Would the authors still reject Shivaji’s Maratha identity and Sardar Patel’s Patidar identity as competitive claims?
3 Kshatriya versus BJP-RSS, not Kshatriya versus Gujjar
3.1 Deuskar has dealt with the issue quite superficially and projected this as a Kshatriya versus Gujjar issue. Except a few Rajput politicians of Haryana who are still associated with the BJP and had no role in these protests, those who undertook the protests realise that the real bone of contention is Rajputisation – a politics pursued by the Arya Samaj, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and BJP, wherein they change identities of different Rajput or Kshatriya figures to concoct a martial past for different newly dominant communities.
3.2 On July 20, 2023, the BJP MLA of Kaithal, Leela Ram Gujjar, spearheaded the inauguration of a statue addressing Mihirbhoja Pratihar as Gujjar which was followed by lathicharge on protesting Parihar Rajputs
3.3 On August 13, 2023, the BJP-RSS held a massive bike rally in Madhya Pradesh promoting the medieval Marwar statesman Durgadas Rathore as a “Teli”.
3.4 For years, the BJP-RSS have been projecting a local figure from Southern Rajasthan, Rana Punja Solanki, as a Bhil despite protests from his descendants.
3.5 Over 50 top-office bearers of BJP from the Rajput community had resigned and many Rajput villages across Haryana put up boards banning entry of BJP leaders in their vicinity. Even BJP leader General VK Singh was boycotted by the Rajput youth in his native village, Bapodi.
This story that not just denies the usage of Gurjara as a demonym which officially continues even today, but also denied the very existence of lakhs of Parihar or Pratihara Rajputs, who are found right across from Jalore in Rajasthan to Katni in Eastern Bundelkhand.
This impinges upon the rights of lakhs of people, as they involve stereotyping and gaslighting at the same time. Is this hostile journalism against a specific community ethical? – Aditya Singh Parihar