When Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath unveiled a statue of 9th Century ruler Mihir Bhoj, at Mihir Bhoj Inter College on Wednesday, he allegedly did so after the word ‘Gurjar’ was omitted from the plaque, reported Indian Express. Intercaste tension had been brewing in the area, days before the official unveiling when some members of the Karni Sena had claimed that Mihir Bhoj was a Rajput and was being misrepresented as a Gurjar leader. A few sporadic protests had ensued over this between the two communities claiming this had put their “honour” at stake.
Mihir Bhoj has been revered as a warrior king, and even has had a section of the national highway that connects Ghazipur to Delhi, named after him, apart from some roads elsewhere. He is credited with leading battles “against Arab invaders and rulers from Rajasthan” as well as many other campaigns in various parts of the country. The recent controversy had threatened to blow up over the last week, but had reportedly been diffused just before the statue unveiling on Wednesday’s event, as some groups representing the Gurjar and Rajput communities reportedly called a “truce”. The event went off under heavy security arrangements and without any untoward incident being reported, but the buzz that the word ‘Gurjar’ on plaque had been removed continued to brew.
On Sunday, according to the IE report, the UP government came under the scanner at a Gurjar community Mahapanchayat in Dadri. It had been reportedly called to voice the community’s protest at the alleged removal of the word ‘Gurjar’. According to the news report, the locals have claimed that the word ‘Gurjar’ was “deliberately omitted” from the plaque. The community clearly felt belittled as Gurjar leaders from various villages and organisations addressed the 2,000-strong Mahapanchayat. It has been reported that the community leaders “wanted to send a message to the government” that they had been ‘insult’. The Mahapanchayat said that the government “has 10 days to restore the title”, reported IE adding that Avtar Singh Bhadana, a Gurjar leader and former Bharatiya Janata Party MP said, “This has now become a matter of honour for the Gurjar community. We cannot be insulted anymore. We have to send a message to the ruling government in a dignified fashion. We are not dependent on any party or organisation for our self-respect…”
The UP CM was careful and did not add a caste name while paying his tributes, hailing Mihir Bhoj as an “emperor” and protector of “religion” who defeated foreign invaders.
विदेशी आक्रांताओं के छक्के छुड़ाने वाले महान धर्म रक्षक सम्राट मिहिर भोज जी को कोटि-कोटि नमन।
— Yogi Adityanath (@myogiadityanath) September 22, 2021
According to the news report, while some “miscreants” blacked out the word ‘Gurjar’ before the name ‘Mihir Bhoj’ on the plaque, “on another portion the statue, a list of donors has been engraved and the title above reads ‘Gurjar Samrat Mihir Bhoj’.” The report also quotes Sonu Gurjar, convenor, Rashtriya Gurjar Veer Sena who alleged that “the Chief Minister did not come as Yogi Adityanath but as Ajay Bisht.” He further said, “If you are a Yogi, you will not go into the religion or caste of someone, and rather give due recognition. With this act, the community has been given a wrong signal. All of us have gathered to plan more protests and make them realise the unity of the Gurjar community.”
Now the controversy has tipped into politics and two former Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh have also made strong comments against the BJP. Samajwadi Party leader, Akhilesh Yadav, has accused BJP of “changing the caste” of Mihir Bhoj who Yadav said has been “noted in history as a Gujar”. He accused the BJP of “deceitfully tampering with historical facts.”
ये इतिहास में पढ़ाया जाता रहा है कि सम्राट मिहिर भोज गुर्जर-प्रतिहार थे पर भाजपाइयों ने उनकी जाति ही बदल दी है। निंदनीय!
छलवश भाजपा स्थापित ऐतिहासिक तथ्यों से जान-बूझकर छेड़छाड़ व सामाजिक विघटन करके किसी एक पक्ष को अपनी तरफ़ करती रही है।
हम हर समाज के मान-सम्मान के साथ हैं! pic.twitter.com/Zw9ifKpDg5
— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) September 26, 2021
Mayawati, National President, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), said the Gujjar society’s sentiments of thave been hurt by the Chief Minister who unveiled the statue, which was missing the word “Gurjar”:
1. अभी हाल ही में दिनांक 22 सितम्बर 2021 को गुर्जर सम्राट मिहिर भोज की दादरी में यू.पी. सरकार द्वारा लगाई गई प्रतिमा का मा. मुख्यमंत्री ने गुर्जर शब्द के हटी हुई स्थिति में जो उसका अनावरण किया है उससे गुर्जर समाज की भावनाओं को जबरदस्त ठेस पहुँची है तथा वे काफी दुःखी व आहत हैं।
— Mayawati (@Mayawati) September 26, 2021
The controversy over Mihir Bhoj’s lineage has even reached Madhya Pradesh. There was unrest reported last week from Gwalior and Morena over the “caste of Emperor Mihir Bhoj” state news report. Protesters had reportedly jammed a main road jam in Morena, and allegedly vandalised buses plying between Morena and Gwalior on Thursday night. According to local news reports, the district administration issued orders to keep schools and coaching institutes closed in Morena for the next three days, to prevent any untoward incidents. This unrest had followed after a statue of Mihir Bhoj was installed in Gwalior, and another in Morena. The inscription below the statues had reportedly described him as a Gurjar, which the Rajputs had objected to, stated news reports.