Tarikh-i-Habibi: The Dénouement of Irfan Habib
Concluding part of the series tracing the career, scholarship and the destructive role played by Irfan Habib in the Indian cultural and historical discourse
With the grace of the Almighty Allah and the boundless compassion of His Most Merciful Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him), the ink of piety continues to flow forth as before, thanks to which we are able to author this concluding part of the partial chronicle of His Excellency, the most exalted Marxist record-keeper and the brilliant whitewasher of all the pious deeds that Islam undertook in this land of infidels, Hindustan: Irfan Habib bin Mohammed Habib.
One of the most powerful techniques of deception that the Marxist eminent distorians used with aplomb was to paint themselves in a self-righteous rainbow and to pretend that there was “another side” to their generation-wrecking and prolonged national pilferage at universities and institutions like the ICHR. This was of course a faithful mimicry of Lenin’s tactic of first “sticking the convict’s badge” on your opponent thereby putting him/her on a permanent defensive. The unsaid converse that enables such a vile psychological tactic is to monopolize goodness, virtue, honesty, and the “truth” of history to yourself. This among others was the origin of the infamous quote, I’m Left and You’re Wrong. A variant of this quote in India for the longest was this: I’m Left and You’re Communal.
More than two decades ago, Arun Shourie wrote and spoke at length about “the great timidity in the Indian intellectual circles.” An honest reading of history shows that this timidity was merely the reflection of an all-encompassing National Timidity, in turn a direct and tragic heritage of nearly a millennium of Islamic imperialism and British intellectual colonialism. Sans this timidity, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi would’ve never gotten away with her notorious Emergency where this cowardice was most markedly reflected by a craven media that tumbled like ninepins at the mere hint of a threat. Even as we speak, I daresay that a good section of Hindus especially, have still not completely shaken off this timidity. Ideally, a good sign of overcoming this timidity would have been this: setting the national and cultural narrative by offering original ideas. Dominance in social media and outshouting the opponent on TV “debates” doesn’t qualify; at best they’re akin to applying bandages to cure the deep-rooted and all-pervasive cancer called Left-liberalism which has festered for more than eighty years. Those Hindus who wish to tread on this path of narrative-setting have the time-tested option: be solidly independent, be an outsider, be deaf, thick-skinned and shameless about personal calumny hurled against you, reduce your material needs, and take the fight to the other camp…it works.
Arguably, Irfan Habib was one of the most accomplished and brazen practitioners of the aforementioned tactic of arrogating self-righteousness to himself in the Clique of Seven eminent distorians. Apart from institutional ruffianism and the calculated loot of taxpayer money at the ICHR, the role Irfan Habib played during the Babri Masjid episode can be cited as a case study of what happens when committed Leftist-Islamist ideologues interfere in setting the national discourse and cultural agenda.
Irfan Habib’s role in this episode can be broadly classified into two parts based on the timeline (i) Pre-demolition (ii) Post-demolition.
But before delving into this in some detail, painting a miniature of the climate of that period will help provide the context. Few people today will remember the name of a bigoted eminence named Syed Shahabuddin. In those days, he had deliberately published colour-coded maps of Indian parliamentary constituencies. Of these, 72 constituencies were given a specific colour with his accompanying statement: in these 72 constituencies, only Muslims will determine the outcome of the elections because they will vote as Muslims and not as Indians. Among those who solidly supported him was the rabid Imam Bukhari of the Delhi Jama Masjid at whose door a vast number of political supplicants regularly did Mujra—Sonia Gandhi, V.P. Singh, and Chandrashekhar among others. It is to such characters that our eminent distorians willingly offered their support both before and after the Babri Masjid was demolished.
When Irfan Habib’s first tenure as the ICHR Chairman ended, it was renewed by a modern version of a Sultanate’s Farman. The issuer of the Farman was none other than Abdullah Bukhari, the Shahi Imam of the selfsame Jama Masjid. The Prime Minister who cravenly executed the Farman: V.P. Singh.
As ICHR Chairman, Irfan Habib singled out academics, researchers, scholars and archeologists who dared to do two things: (i) Tell the truth about the Babri Masjid built on the destroyed debris of Sri Rama Mandir in their professional capacity (ii) Expose the misdeeds of the Stalinist clique wearing the cloak of historians. Irfan Habib launched a series of unrelenting, vicious and personal attacks against them at all levels. The most diabolical and perhaps the most representative of these attacks was directed at the doyen of archeology, Prof B.B. Lal, regarded as one of the greatest archeologists the world has produced.
Date: 12 February 1991
Venue: Aligarh Muslim University
In an address to the Aligarh Historians Group, Irfan Habib poured pure verbal filth against a range of respected historians and scholars including Prof S.P. Gupta, K.S. Lal, and B.R. Grover, reserving his foulest fusillade against Prof. B.B. Lal; it remains a vile specimen of character-assassination. Let’s hear it in the words of Sita Ram Goel:
Prof. B.B. Lal wrote a rebuttal in the Times of India and in his dignified way, showed Irfan Habib his place as a mudslinging hypocrite who had been untruthful to the sacred métier of the pursuit of scholarship.
The other instance we can cite that completely shatters Irfan Habib’s pretensions to historical scholarship is hilarious. Habib’s Stalinist club was caught in an unforeseen bind when the court blindsided it by ordering excavations at Ayodhya. What was (literally) unearthed there only caused paroxysms of panic among this clique. They resorted to the only tricks they knew: discrediting through calumny, launching personal attacks and attributing political (read: Hindutva) motives to the archeologists. However, this time, none of these tricks worked. It was time to “prove” their mettle as scholars of history. The weapon they used was Irfan Habib who committed the greatest blunder in his professional capacity as a great scholar on medieval India. Arun Shourie describes what transpired next.
It is a permanent record of shame that the trucklers of these nation-wreckers, working in the (mostly, English) media, despite mounting evidence to the contrary, continued to parrot their lies. All in the name of secularism.
Perhaps the other major area where Irfan Habib & Co fully bared their bigoted fangs was in the long-drawn-out debates, discussions and presentation of evidence regarding the existence of a Sri Rama Mandir underneath the Babri Masjid.
We can cite only the most illustrative instances here.
By the end of December 1990, the period during which the negotiations between the All India Babri Masjid Action Committee (AIBMAC) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had peaked, it became clear to the eminent distorians that the AIBMAC was being hopelessly cornered on the question of historical evidence, facts, logic, reason and informed debate. As Sita Ram Goel correctly noted on numerous occasions:
And so, on the penultimate day of 1990, the eminent distorians fired their first salvo against the Hindu side at the annual meeting of the Indian History Congress (IHC). They began their presentation with a filthy attack against the VHP along familiar lines. As expected, the meeting ended in chaos. The Stalinists had won the day. Just the day. What happened in the long run is again narrated by Sita Ram Goel.
Whatever one’s belief in the timeless verse, Satyameva Jayate (Truth always Triumphs), it appears that this has rung true in the Ayodhya episode in the wake of the recent Supreme Court judgement: sections of the Muslim community have themselves admitted that the Left historians let them down.
However, I wouldn’t call Irfan Habib a buffoon because he’s anything but.
In hindsight, it is incredibly astonishing when we recall the fact that the AIBMAC had actually authorized these Stalinist historians to represent its case before Government hearings and meetings. Case in point: their behaviour in the proceedings during the tenure of Prime Minister Chandrashekhar. Very quickly, they realized that their mass of newspaper cuttings, articles, columns and propaganda pieces that they themselves had written (for example, in People’s Democracy) were no match for the solid research and meticulous evidence presented by the VHP. So, how did they respond? Answer: they simply refused to show up at the meetings!
In their capacity as the legal representatives of the AIBMAC, they are also cited as witnesses in the pleadings filed by the Sunni Waqf Board in the courts that heard the Ayodhya case. Witness Number 70 is Irfan Habib.
Think about it. At the very least, think about the fact that they’ve not been punished even for contempt of court; for lying, for misleading, for concocting and inventing history, for seeding, fomenting, and heightening the tension between Hindus and Muslims and, finally, for causing the destruction of the Babri Masjid.
On the point about concocting and inventing history, we can turn to Meenakshi Jain, author of perhaps the most definitive work on the subject: the magnificent Rama and Ayodhya. After the fall of the Babri Masjid, an inscription on one of its walls was recovered. Meenakshi Jain recounts what Irfan Habib did next.
We suppose further commentary is both unnecessary and superfluous.
In what can only be characterized as poetic justice, the substantial pile of Irfan Habib’s sins especially during the Ayodhya episode has come to bite him at this late age and diminished strength and blurred faculties. It appears that he can never reconcile himself to the Supreme Court judgement that has paved the way finally, for constructing the grand Sri Rama Mandir at Ayodhya. The eminent distorian has ultimately emerged naked as the intolerant goonda trying to publicly heckle the Governor of Kerala. The proverbial ordinary Indian who attempts such an act would spend at least a night in jail. Irfan Habib was spared even that.
With this, we conclude the full series of the Tarikh-i-Habibi Being the Partial Chronicle of Irfan Habib. We hope that the Almighty Allah and his Only Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) are pleased with our account and bestow upon us their everlasting mercy and compassion.
Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud: Arun Shourie
Hindu Temples: What Happened to Them: Volumes 1 and 2: Sita Ram Goel, et al
The Calling of History: Dipesh Chakrabarty
Decolonising the Hindu Mind: Koenraad Elst
A Comprehensive History of India: Mohammad Habib and K.A. Nizami
The Agrarian System of Mughal India: Irfan Habib
Essays in Indian History – Towards a Marxist Perception: Irfan Habib
Rama and Ayodhya: Meenakshi Jain
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