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HVK Archives: HRD minister does a Pokhran in ICHR

HRD minister does a Pokhran in ICHR - The Observer

Dina Nath Mishra ()
June 18, 1998

Title: HRD minister does a Pokhran in ICHR
Author: Dina Nath Mishra
Publication: The Observer
Date: June 18, 1998

The octopus-like grip of the card-holding Communists and fellow
travellers over the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR)
for over a quarter century has distorted and gave ideological
colouring to the history of India, More seriously, the Council
has almost dumped historians of eminence like Yadunath Sarkar, R
C Mazoomdar among others. Right from the inception of ICHR in
1972, the comrade historians worked systematically to garner
material and other benefits.

The worst was the misuse of the Council by the Communist parties.
The historians belonging to ICHR turned themselves Into Babri
Masjid historians during mandir-masjid tussle. Sixteen comrade
historians were listed in the mandir-related cases as a witnesses
on behalf of the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC). In fact,
ICHR premises became the camp office of the BMAC with Dr R S
Sharrna, a card-holding Communist, as its coordinator. It may be
recalled that the situation was not so much hardened earlier.
Even an extremist leader like Syed Shahabuddin had publicly
stated that if the existence of a temple at the place of Babri
Masjid was proven, he would himself help in the construction of
the temple. On the other side, BJP leader L K Advani had offered
that if the Muslims conceded to the Hindus he would try to
persuade the VHP to drop Kashi and Mathura from its agenda.

However, the Communist academicians took a negative approach.
Twenty five JNU teachers wrote a joint letter, which was
published in The Times of India on November 6, 1989, denying the
claim of the Hindus on the existence of a temple at the Babri
Masjid site. From then onward, the comrade historians never went
back, Irrespective of the voluminous historical evidences drawn
>from English, Urdu and Persian books of history. When Sheela
Lekh, a 12th century temple, was recovered from the debris of the
Babri structure, they turned their a Nelson's eye towards it.
And, when the site for the Sheshawtar temple was cleared at the
Babri campus in June 1992, 39 archaeological pieces were
recovered, the comrade historians called It a 'kar sevaks'
archaeology'.

During his tenure as the premier, Chandrashekhar made both the
parties sit together to exchange evidences. In the December 25,
1990 meeting of the VHP and BMAC, it was decided that both the
teams would study the documents of each other and would meet
again on January 10, 1991. The VHP side was represented by Prof B
R Grover, Late Dr Harsh Vardhan, Dr Swarajya Prakash Gupta and
Prof Devendra Swaroop, Prof Dr R S Sharma, former ICHR chief,
Prof Suraj Bhan, Prof D N Jha and Prof M Athar Ali pleaded BMAC's
case.

Right from the beginning, these Communist historians were
interested in seeing neither the documentary nor archaeological
evidence. They torpedoed Chandrashekhar's move.

What was going on in the Council can be seen from a news report
by Sakina Yusuf Khan in The Times of India, on July 20, 1997.
Khan wrote: n what is easily the worst academic scandal of
recent times, the Indian Council of Historical Research has
failed to deliver in 25 years a project it was assigned to
complete in five years. That too, after spending a whopping Rs 2
crore. What's shocking is renowned historians have been
associated with it. Worse still, sources in the ICHR allege that
the project was being misused for personal academic
aggrandisement.

Trips to Britain were made by the research staff on the pretext
of material collection when, according to the project guidelines,
only Indian documents were to be included in the compilation. It
is also alleged that much of the documents collected has already
been published by some people under their own names=94.

When Union HRD minister Dr M M Joshi recently appointed 18
members in ICHR the comrade historians made lot of hue and cry,
alleging that Joshi saffronised the Council. The Leftist pen
pushers went the whole hog against Joshi's routine obligations,
for the term of the previous Council had ended in September last.
The cried as if ICHR was dismissed. The nomination was much more
than the Pokhran II in the red fortress as they were denied of
their grazing ground.

Much has been said against the nomination of Prof B B Lal, a
former director general of the ASI. Apart from being the ASI's
director general, he is considered to be one of the ten most
learned archaeologists in the world. It can he recalled that when
Prof Irfan Habib, himself a comrade, was the chairman of ICHR, he
had appointed Prof B B Lal as the ICHR national fellow, with a
remark that by accepting the national fellowship Prof Lal has not
only honoured ICHR but also done a personal favour to him. He was
honoured as a great archaeologist even by Russia, Moreover, he,
appointment as ASI chief by the Congress regime.

It can he noted that when ICHR was constituted In 1972. Prof Lal
was among its members. He had carried out extensive excavations
around the site where the Babri Masjid stood. His initial
conclusion was that there was no evidence to suggest any
'historicity,' Excavations continued further. When Prof Lal found
convincing evidences suggesting that the Babri Masjid stood on
the ruins of a temple, he said so. That is where his outstanding
career became suspicious in the Leftist camp.

Yet another historian dubbed as a Sangh Parivar historian is Prof
B R Grover, for his views on the Ramjanmabhoomi movement was
similar to that of the VHP. He reached his conclusion after years
of research on the Medieval documents. Moreover, he was appointed
as ICHR director by its Council's chairman Dr R S Sharma's, a
card-holder himself.

During the past 25 years the comrade historians never allowed
anyone in the Council who had a differing view. For example, Prof
K S Lal was a teacher in the Allahabad University when Prof Nural
Hassan and Prof Satish Chandra were still students in that
University. He was regarded as the last word on the Sulanates of
Delhi and is the author of a large number of path-breaking books
and articles on the Medieval Indian history. He also has full
mastery over Persian sources of the Indian history. However,
neither Hassan nor Chandra ever cared to nominate their teacher
as a member of the Council.

The list of 18 members nominated to the ICHR is a balanced one
and takes into consideration the various currents in historical
writings and research. Most of them have no group or ideological
affiliations. Women and dalit scholars have found place in these
nominations, including an ex-president of the Indian History
Congress. Incidentally, a well-known Muslim scholar, who did his
PhD research under Prof Hasan has also been nominated. The
Government deserves to be complimented for making these
nominations on the basis of high professional attainments and
contribution to the discipline.


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