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Taj Mahal is safe, claims UP chief minister

Taj Mahal is safe, claims UP chief minister

NEW DELHI: The fabled Taj Mahal got a commitment of protection on Tuesday from the Hindu extremist chief minister of Uttar Pradesh who had led a chorus of hate speech against the Muslim ruler who built it in the 17th century.

Muslim-baiting Yogi Adityanath was handpicked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to head the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Uttar Pradesh where the rightwing group won an absolute majority earlier this year.

The state government’s tourism brochures had removed the Taj Mahal as a popular place to visit after Adityanath said the monument represented a foreign culture.

On Tuesday he rowed back, claiming the Taj Mahal was made by the blood and sweat of “Bharat Mata’s sons” and its protection was the responsibility of the Uttar Pradesh government.

Announcing that he would visit Agra on October 26 to review tourism schemes, the saffron clad chief minister said the Taj Mahal was a historical monument regardless of the emperor who built it. There was a Rs370 crore work plan for the city and it was the government’s duty to provide proper security and facilities to tourists Mr Adityanath’s comments came a day after BJP MLA Sangeet Som questioned the Taj Mahal’s place in India’s heritage and observed that history would be rewritten to erase Mughal emperors from it.

“It is immaterial as to who and how the Taj Mahal was built... It was made by the sweat and blood of Bharat Mata’s sons,” Mr Adityanath said in Gorakhpur.

“It is famous the world over for its architecture... it is a historical monument and its protection and further development for tourism is the responsibility of the government,” Press Trust of India quoted him as saying.

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2017

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