What happened at the Indian History Congress on December 29, 2019 when the left-leaning delegates disrupted the speech of Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan is not new. Some elements have been trying to misuse the prestigious IHC platform for their vested interests since 1989 when the similar scene was witnessed at Gorakhpur session of IHC
Recently, the inaugural session of the 80th Indian History Congress (IHC) was held in Kannur University from December 28 to 30, 2019. It was marred by protests staged by a section of the delegates against Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan over his comments backing the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Unfazed Shri Khan repeatedly said: “You have every right to protest. But you cannot shout me down.” The protesters alleged that Shri Khan had raised the Kashmir issue and CAA that provoked them. In his speech, the Governor defended the Government of India decision on CAA and discredited the protests against CAA and NRC. He said the anti-CAA protesters in the state had failed to respond to his invitation to hold talks on the issue.
Irfan Habeeb (third right) arguing with the Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan at the inauguration of 80th Indian History Congress at Kannur University on December 29, 2019
But it seems that some people are determined to destroy the non-partisan, academic nature of the IHC and to use it for serving their narrow political interests. It is the duty of the Indian intelligentsia that they raise voice against the conspirational designs of the power-seekers and save the academic character of the IHC.
In the 51-year long history of IHC, for the first time political overtones in the Secretary’s annual report led to a great turmoil and division among the delegates attending the Business Meeting held on December 30, 1992 evening in the Salt Lake Stadium Auditorium in Calcutta. The Secretary, Prof V. Ramakrishna of the University of Hyderabad, for the first time in the history of the IHC, deviated from the well-established convention of confining the Secretary’s report to the events and issues directly connected with the Congress and devoted a good portion of the report to the prevailing political situation in the country, taking a partisan stand on the very delicate issue of Mandir-Masjid. He proposed that the disputed monuments be brought under the orbit of the protection of the Ancient Monuments Act.
On January 10, 1991, Vice President of IHC, Prof RS Sharma, gave an interview to ‘The Times of India’ wherein he regretted that the Union Government did not care to consult “the only national body of the historian, the IHC”, regarding the nature of existing evidence relating to Shri Ramnajmabhoomi-Babri Masjid controversy. He referred to mainly three points in that interview. One, “IHC is the only national body of the historians”. Second, “in Calcutta communalist forces from outside the fraternity of the IHC had mobilised themselves in good numbers to capture the Congress”. Third, “for the past two years, some communalist forces have been trying to hijack the IHC to serve their purpose. In December 1989, Mahant Avaidyanath, MP, who is also the president of Shri Ramjanmabhoomi Temple Nirman Samiti, had forcibly entered an academic meeting of the IHC in Gorakhpur with 50 followers and, besides, trying to address it, inflicted physical injuries on some members of the IHC”.
Dr Murli Manohar Joshi
The fact is that the IHC is not the only national body of historians. There are a number of national bodies of archaeologists, pre-historians, historians, epigraphists, numismatists, etc. These bodies are having regularly their yearly conferences and publishing the yearly proceedings. IHC is doing nothing more than this. Moreover, these bodies have kept themselves restricted to the academic field and the works executed by them are much superior. As far as the second allegation is concerned, capturing the IHC is required to be done through elections. The general body is elected in the IHC every year. It consists of 16 members. The coterie which has captured the IHC for years together decides 16 names and circulates the chit containing those names individually. Apart from such 16 names in 1990, there was only one more candidate, totalling the number of the candidates to only 17. How can the one person, if at all elected, capture the Congress? He secured 85 votes and the rest of all secured 280 votes each i.e. the same number of votes by all the 16 candidates. Similar was the experience in Gorakhpur in 1989.
Prof Devendra Swarup
At noon on December 30, 1989, an announcement was made on the mic that those who attend the Business Meeting should bring their delegates identity slip with them. Here again, the fear-psychosis worked in the minds of the coterie. No outsider came to the Business Meeting. It is the over-enthusiasm of the coterie that created the reaction to the Secretary’s speech and to the resolution on Mandir-Masjid issue and to mislead the public, Dr. RS Sharma said that communalist forces from outside the fraternity of the IHC had mobilised themselves to capture the Congress. The words of RS Sharma on his third comment are not only incorrect but also mischievous. A delegate, Yermie Baliram Ramchandra of Aurangabad, Maharashtra, was present in the Gorakhpur conference. His factual reports run as follows: “Mahant Avaidyanath has his own respect in Gorakhpur. He was a member of the reception committee. The local secretary of the IHC, Dr. Pratibha Asthana, the then Vice-Chancellor of the Gorakhpur University wanted to honour him and had invited him, not in any academic meeting but at a time when some light entertainment programme of a film show was going on in the evening. The show was stopped for a few minutes. When the VC with Mahant Avaidyanth entered the hall a handful of delegates started shouting, “We do not want to hear a politician.” The VC told them that if they do not want to hear they can go out of the hall. Those shouting delegates wanted the rest of the delegates to clear the hall. They tried but were disappointed. More than 200 delegates sided with the VC.
Noted archaeologist Dr. Swarajya Prakash Gupt referring to the Marxist historians had referred to some declarations of Marx. He quoted an article written by Marx and published in the ‘New York Tribune’ on August 8, 1853, in this regard. Marx says in the article: “Indian society does not have any history, at least not the known history. Its history is only the history of the infiltrators who entered India one after one and established their emperors without any opposition by the local people.”
The then Union HRD Minister Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi used the word “intellectual terrorism” for a section of the intellectuals who hijack the entire scene at IHC for some time. The same intellectual terrorism was witnessed during the 62nd session of the IHC held in Bhopal. For the IHC participants, who did not agree with the views of the gang of Marxist and secular, professional, historians, it was, in fact, the first-hand experience of undergoing through “Intellectual terrorism”, the trauma of which cannot be expressed in words. These historians by deploying various tactics ensured that the views of the other group of historians and scholars, who have been relentlessly challenging their monopoly for the past few decades, were not even heard. The Marxist historians freely distributed their material to the delegates of the IHC and there was none to stop them. Many of those kinds of literature were anti-national and inflammatory which should not have been distributed there at all.
In an interview to ‘The Indian Express’ on December 28, 2001, the then Union HRD Minister Dr. MM Joshi while referring to the hue and cry made by some so-called historians alleging distortion in history textbooks, said: “My job is to see what should be incorporated in textbooks for children. The impressionable minds should not be taught things which they cannot digest. For higher classes in university, they (historians) can write theses for the students to read and analyze. I am not removing their writings for those students. There has been an unnecessary controversy about it. As Minister, it is my responsibility to see that nothing is taught which creates disharmony in society.”
The left historians also made a lot of hue and cry when some historians joined the ICHR in 1998. The ICHR was founded in 1972 with a declared objective to ‘bring historians together and provide a forum for the exchange of views between them’ and ‘give a national direction to an objective and rational presentation and interpretation of history’. Unfortunately, the ICHR—along with other research and policy institutes like the Indian Council of Social Science Research, the National Council of Educational Research and Training, the Indian Council of Philosophical Research and the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Museum have been dominated by a combination of Marxist and Islamic scholars. Collectively they are called the ‘red-green clubs’.
While referring to the Bhopal session of IHC in December 2001 the then Director of NCERT Dr. Jagmohan Singh Rajput wrote in an article published in ‘Dainik Bhaskar’ on January 1, 2002: “The national-level institution like NCERT cannot do any work which is against the National Education Policy or secularism and is contrary to human aspirations. The critics belonging to some identified ideologies did not even bother to respecting that institutions, which are the collective responsibility of all. One can comment on its work, but any comment against its dignity and baseless criticism is unacceptable. These critics have raised questions over the books which have not yet been written. There cannot be two arguments that history books should be based on facts. But at the same time, it is also true that historical facts are not always 2+2=4. There have been differences among the historians on the analysis of the facts. Hence, the NCERT cannot accept the argument that only the historians who are influenced by a particular ideology are always correct. It is a well-known fact that there are many historians even today who have been inspired by the statement that India does not have its own history.”
Inebriated by their victory, the Left activists who attended the 54th session of the Indian History Congress at Mysore in 1993 unleashed a characteristic disinformation campaign. But confronted with facts and bitter truth they had to beat a hasty retreat. For instance, they ‘informed’ the press through one of their activists disguised as a reporter that the BJP members attending the IHC did not have a single historian of outstanding talent or standing as a historian. It was then promptly pointed out that no BJP member was present at the IHC convention but there were a number of known Marxists, many of them noted Hindu-baiters. Prof. TV Verma from the Department of Archaeology, Benaras Hindu University, had a dig at the Marxists and narrated the vain bid by Leftists to find a ‘suitable’ historian to brief the Babri Masjid Action Committee. During the talks between AIBMAC and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Delhi, the VHP would come up with luminaries in the field like Prof. BP Sinha, Prof Harsh Narian, Dr. Gupta and others. But the other side cut a sorry figure and many a time the desperate Left historians would stumble for words and expose their ignorance about dates and details of historical evidence. Finally, they lost and walked out of the meeting in a huff.
According, Professor Devendra Swarup (in a book titled ‘Ayodhya Ka Sach’), The Leftist gang in India has been following the policy that they should either occupy every platform related to history or if they cannot occupy the platform they should create anarchy and unruly scene there. They did it again during the third world Archaeological Congress concluded on December 11, 1994. “How down can the ‘eminent’ and left historians to go and how cheap methods they can adopt to come in limelight and to defame their opponents. That Congress fully exposed the Left gang and their mentality as well as action plan. Disconnected from their cultural identity this gang in the allurement of power and with the support of Marx emerge as the biggest supporter of Muslim communalism. This gang uses its logical strength to defame their Hindu past and advocate the Muslim intolerance and destruction.”
“The way they have been misusing the IHC for their political interests so far and the way they have been adopting one-sided resolutions from this platform on Ayodhya controversy since 1987, in the same manner, they started pressurising to pass a resolution condemning the demolition of the disputed structure in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992. It means these every ‘eminent ‘intellectual tried to run away from academic discussion but open the door for a political discussion. But they were caught in their own net.
(The writer is Life Member of the Indian History Congress and Member of Board of Management, the Indian Archaeological Society)