The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) which is also controlled by the central government, approved the renaming of Teen Murti Marg as well as Teen Murti Chowk in Delhi as Teen Murti Haifa Marg and Teen Murti Haifa Chowk respectively. This was to happen before the Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel in July this year. NDMC vice chairman Karan Singh Tanwar said “These three statues (the teen murtis) depict the three Indian Regiments, which sacrificed their life and contributed to the liberation of Haifa from Muslim Turks.” However, a statement by NDMC informed that the renaming has been currently deferred “due to shortage of time and protests by street vendors over some other issue outside NDMC office.” Changing names is not new to the BJP government. Gurgaon became Gurugram, Aurangzeb Road became A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Road, Race Course Road became Lok Kalyan Marg.
The battle of Haifa was not “liberation of Haifa from Muslim Turks” as the RSS History Re-writers are claiming. The battle was fought between the British Empire, against the Ottoman Empire, the German Empire and the Austria-Hungary. Since the British were the colonisers, they took regiments from the princely states of Jodhpur, Mysore and Hyderabad. Why should Indian government celebrate the Colonial British Empire’s Imperial war? The Britishers used the Indian soldiers into what was essentially a colonial war. The imperialist empire was using the Princely Indian army. It was not Indian liberation struggle in anyway. If anything, one could lament the imperialist exploitations of Indians.
Several Right wing organisations including the RSS have been demanding the renaming of the two for past some time. Senior RSS functionary Indresh Kumar (who has recently been granted clean chit by the NIA, which is yet to be accepted by the court, for the Malegaon blast case) had demanded in 2015 that the government acknowledge the role played by the three regiments of the British Indian Army in the Battle of Haifa in 1918. It is important to remember that the Teen Murti chowk is in memory of the soldiers who participated in the imperial war of British. It was built in the year 1922. This renaming is nothing but a ploy by RSS to give a communal angle to the issue and to claim that the 1918 war was fought for the cause of Israel state. This name change was proposed at a time when 1,500 Palestinian political prisoners have been on hunger strike against Israel’s illegal system of arbitrary mass arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners for more than 10 days now. Incidentally, Modi is the first Indian Prime minister to officially visit Israel. Confirming their pro- Israeli position, when a PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation) office was set up in Delhi in 1975, (with full diplomatic relations established in March 1980), Atal Bihari Vajpayee had led a protest against its formation.
The sangh’s politics get clearer with the stands they take. Their war has always been against the minorities, mainly the Muslims, even when the main enemy was the British Empire. It is therefore not a surprise that the right wing was not a part of India’s anti-imperialist struggle to attain independence.