'Islamophobia': Indian MP Slams Ukrainian Envoy for Comparing Russian Op to Mughal 'Invasion'
10:58 GMT 02.03.2022 (Updated: 17:14 GMT 12.04.2023)
Kiev and its EU allies have stepped up efforts in India to persuade Delhi to abandon its "neutral" line on the Russian military operation in Ukraine, with the stated aims of the denazification and demilitarisation of the country. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday that the operation would continue until the goals were achieved.
Prominent Indian Muslim parliamentarian Asaduddin Owaisi has criticised Ukraine's Ambassador to Delhi Igor Polikha after the diplomat compared the ongoing Russian "special military operation
" in his country to the "massacre arranged against Rajputs by Mughals".
"We are asking every time all influential world leaders, among them [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi Ji, to use every resource against [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to stop the bombing and shelling", Polikha said during an interview with the news agency ANI on 1 March, after his meeting with Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla.
The appeal for Indian diplomatic support by the Ukrainian envoy has triggered outcry among many people in the South Asian country, with several social media users even accusing Polikha of "demonising Muslims".
Owaisi, a Member of Parliament (MP) from India's Hyderabad and the leader of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), called upon the Ukrainian diplomat to keep his "half-baked" knowledge of Indian history to himself.
Several other prominent social media handles also criticised the Ukrainian diplomat for his "polarising appeal".
The Mughal Legacy in India
The Mughal Empire came into being in the 16th century (1526), after an Islamic-Turkic tribe from Central Asia invaded the Gangetic plains of northern India.
By 1529, Babur, a descendant of Mongol chieftain Genghis Khan, declared himself the undisputed king of the subcontinent. Babur's descendants ruled India for more than 300 years.
Some Indian historians credit the Mughals with bringing India together under a single rule for the first time in centuries as well as building world-renowned monuments such as the Taj Mahal and Red Fort.
The legacy of the Mughal Empire in India has largely been seen as positive for most of the country's post-independence history, reflected in the naming of prominent Indian streets and thoroughfares after the Mughal emperors.
Yet, many Hindu nationalists in India also consider the Mughals as "invaders" and accuse the Mughal kings of subverting Hinduism at the expense of promoting Islam on the subcontinent.
The disputed legacy has been further accentuated since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014, with many prominent backers of the government castigating the Mughal emperors for decimating Hindu kingdoms.
Many Hindu nationalist supporters of the BJP have also called upon the authorities to revise academic texts taught at Indian schools and universities, so as not to glorify the Mughal Empire.
The Rajputs, on the other hand, comprised a series of Hindu warrior kingdoms in the state of Rajasthan. During the Mughal expansion, the Rajput kings are said to have valiantly resisted their expansionary onslaught.
India's Official Position Based on 'Careful Considerations': Foreign Secretary
Meanwhile, Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said at a media briefing on Tuesday evening that New Delhi's official position in the ongoing events in Ukraine was based on "very careful considerations".
The Indian diplomat remarked that India's stance on all the UN-linked resolutions will be taken in New Delhi's "best interests
". The remarks were made in the wake of the killing of a stranded Indian student in shelling in Kharkov on Tuesday, as fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces intensifies.
On Sunday, India abstained from a procedural vote on convening a special emergency session of the UN General Assembly over the security situation in Ukraine.
The vote at the UN Security Council was backed by 11 member states, with the UAE and China also abstaining from casting their ballot. Russia voted against the proposal.
At the time, New Delhi also backed the first round of peace talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations at the Belarus border.
Pursuant to the voting, the UN General Assembly will convene later on Wednesday to vote on a resolution on the Ukraine crisis.
India's Permanent Representative to the UN T.S. Tirumurti called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and return to dialogue to solve the differences between Kiev and Moscow.
India has also called for respecting the "legitimate security concerns
" of all sides in the crisis.
On 25 February, India, China, and the UAE abstained from voting on a US-backed resolution which deplored Russia's "aggression" in Ukraine.
The Russian military operation in Ukraine entered its seventh day on Wednesday, with the Defence Ministry stating at a briefing that the city of Kherson has been taken.
Russian forces have also launched strikes on critical enemy infrastructure in the capital Kiev, with a strike on Tuesday taking out a TV tower, which the Defence Ministry said was being employed by the Ukrainian regime for psychological operations. Moscow has maintained all through its campaign that its aim is to neutralise the military infrastructure of Kiev, without any intention of targeting civilians.
On Wednesday, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace rejected Ukrainian calls to impose a "no-fly zone" over the country in order to check the rapidly advancing Russian forces, warning that any such action could pit the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) directly against Moscow.
"Well, I don't want a war across the whole of Europe. You know, ask your callers, do they want a nuclear armed Russia to be at war with all of us, across Europe and Atlantic?", Wallace asked.