When Indira Gandhi Bowed Before Babur

Our post-independence history has infinite anecdotes that reveal the nature and secret beliefs of people and organizations. These have been hidden from us, kept under a lid on purpose or simply been brushed away with the assumption that the information isn’t relevant. But, every little piece of history is immensely significant. It depends on how we analyse in retrospect.

This article talks of one such instance from recent history (recent because our land is testament to a civilization 5,000 years old). The incident has been revealed by Natwar Singh in his book. Natwar Singh was a former minister of external affairs in the Congress government, and has been one of the tallest leaders of the Congress who was very close to Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.

In 1968, Indira Gandhi visited Afghanistan on an official visit. Natwar Singh, as an Indian Foreign Service officer on duty, accompanied her. After the day’s meetings and engagements got over, Indira Gandhi went out for a ride along with Natwar. During the drive they happened upon a tomb. Indira Gandhi was told that the tomb belonged to Babur, the first Mughal emperor.

Indira Gandhi and Natwar Singh got down from the car and proceeded to the tomb. There, Indira stood for a few minutes under some trees with her head bent in reverence. After finishing her act of tribute to Babur, she said to Natwar Singh: “Natwar, I have had my brush with history.”

As I wrote at the beginning, there occur instances that may appear totally insignificant but reveal a lot about a person or organization. This is one of those. For Indira to pay obeisance to a man who’s infamous for his ruthlessness and barbarity towards Hindus and then term it as a ‘brush with history’ is shocking to say the least. Wasn’t she aware of what Babur did during his reign? Or did she choose to pay respects despite knowing all the history that needs to be known because her heart wanted her to?

Anjali Sharma writes that Babur’s father descended from the Turkish conqueror ‘Timur the lame’ and his mother descended from the Genghis Khan, the man ‘born with a clot of blood in his fist’. Is it of any surprise that he took the path of bloodshed?

‘Towers of skulls of infidels’ on hillocks were erected during Babur’s time. Baburnama has record of annihilation of Hindu villages and towns by Babur’s army. Babur, in his own words, describes his hatred for Hindus: “For the sake of Islam I became a wanderer, I battled infidels and Hindus, I am determined to become a martyr. Thank God I became a killer of non-muslims!”

Here’s an excerpt from Baburnama: In AH 934 (2538 C.E.) I attacked Chanderi and by the grace of Allah captured it in a few hours. We got the infidels slaughtered and the place which had be Daru’l-Harb (nation of non-Muslim) for years was made into a Daru’l-Islam (Muslim nation).

There can be no two opinions about Babur’s atrocities against Hindus. He was a cold-blooded killer and plunderer. To visit Babur’s tomb is thus a matter of disgust for us. Our ancestors were victims of his cruelty, and so, for a prime minister who’s ruling a Hindu nation to treat Babur like some freedom fighter is infinitely insensitive and shocking.



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