For many Hindutva supporters, the Mughals who ruled India from 1526 to 1857 were plunderers who eroded the subcontinent’s Hindu identity. In recent years, as Hindutva groups have intensified their attacks on India’s Muslims, the names of several places associated with Islamic rulers have been changed. Under Adityanath’s government in Uttar Pradesh, for instance, Mughal Sarai became Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhayay Nagar, Allahabad became Prayagraj and Faizabad became Ayodhya.
On Tuesday, the Mughals were back in the news with the launch of the trailer of Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior, a film about the Maratha warrior Tanhaji Malusare. Actor Ajay Devgn, who plays the title role, caused some eyebrows to be raised when he described the movie as “a surgical strike that shook the Mughal Empire”, echoing the phrase the Bharatiya Janata Party government has used to describe attacks on “terror launch pads” inside Pakistan.
As historians have pointed out, after having been in India for more than three centuries, the Mughals could scarcely be considered an invading power. As the Indian government’s Know India website notes, “In India, the Mughal Empire was one of the greatest empires ever. The Mughal Empire ruled hundreds of millions of people. India became united under one rule, and had very prosperous cultural and political years during the Mughal rule.”
Irked by this vilification of the dynasty, entrepreneur Irena Akbar on Wednesday morning suggested that Twitter users post messages with photos to identify the cultural impressions the Mughals have left on the subcontinent. The “#ThanksMughals” began to trend shortly after.
While many people talked about the impressive monuments built during the Mughal rule, others highlighted the marvels of Mughlai cuisine.
Some noted that the vast Mughal empire was similar to the boundaries of Akhand Bharat imagined by Hindutva supporters.
But not everyone agreed with the premise of the exercise.