On 13 December, PM Narendra Modi visited his parliamentary constituency Varanasi and inaugurated the first phase of the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor. During his visit, he showered flower petals on sanitation workers of Kashi Vishwanath temple to express his gratitude for keeping the temple premises clean. While covering it, a well known urban myth related to Shah Jahan, a Mughal Emperor and Taj Mahal, an ivory-white marble mausoleum constructed by him, revived on social media. According to this myth,. Currently, the same narration is viral on social media to compare Shah Jahan and Narendra Modi.
Amish Devgan, the managing editor of News 18 India, shared a clip from one of his news shows. He captioned it in Hindi, "मुग़ल बादशाह शाहजहाँ ने ताजमहल को बनाने वाले मज़दूरों के हाथ कटवाए थे, और भव्य काशी धाम बनाने वाले मज़दूरों पर PM मोदी ने फूल बरसाए हैं ।"
[English translation; Mughal emperor Shah Jahan had the hands of the workers who built the Taj Mahal cut off, while PM Modi showered flowers on the workers who built the grand Kashi Dham.]
Narendra Singh Tomar, the incumbent Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, reiterated the same claim while addressing a national conclave on natural farming organised at Gujarat's Sardar Patel Auditorium, Amul, Anand. Asian News International (ANI), an Indian news agency, shared a clip from the same event. They captioned it, "On one hand, Taj Mahal workers' hands were chopped off, and then there is PM Modi who showered flowers on the workers behind the development of the Kashi Vishwanath corridor to express his gratitude: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar in Anand, Gujarat".
Shah Jahan chopped off the hands of the workers who built the Taj Mahal.
The Logical Indian fact check team verified the claim and found it false. There are no historical accounts and evidence to support the viral claim.
We conducted a keyword search using relevant keywords, leading us to several articles that mentioned this urban myth.
The Times of India has published an article titled, Busting the Taj fake news' and called it a mere famous tale. An excerpt from the article read, "This story contrasts with available evidence and a vast settlement called Taj Ganj that still exists today. It was set up by Emperor Shah Jahan to house the thousands of masons, artisans and other workers who had assembled from the distant parts of his empire. The descendants of those workers still live there and practise the skills of their forefathers."
Dawn, an English-language newspaper in Pakistan, published an article titled, 'View from abroad: Did Shah Jehan chop off 40,000 hands?'.
It was on a New York-based Rajiv Joseph's play 'Guards At The Taj' based on the same myth. An excerpt from the article read, "The story about Shah Jehan ordering the amputation of 40,000 hands has entered folklore. Even though no contemporary account confirms this incident, the fact that it is still widely believed is proof of the unchecked power wielded by the Mughals, as well as by other monarchs of that period."
Patrika published an article in Hindi, titled, ताजमहल पर बड़ा खुलासा, शाहजहां ने नहीं कटवाए थे मजदूरों के हाथ, हकीकत जानने के लिए पढें पूरी खबर ! [English translation- Big disclosure on the Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan did not get the hands of the labourers cut, read the full news to know the reality!] The article cites Tahiruddin Tahir, chairman of the Khudmay Roza Committee, mentioning that Shah Jahan had an agreement known as the 'Agreement Handcut' with the labourers. An excerpt from the article translated to English read, "Under this agreement, Shah Jahan got the thumbs impressions from the labourers that they would never build the Taj Mahal anywhere else. After this, whenever anyone asked those labourers to build the Taj Mahal, they said their hands had been cut off. That is, now we cannot do anything like this again. Since then, it has become a phrase."
In the past, other media outlets such as Aaj Tak and Dainik Bhaskar published articles claiming that it is just a tale and has emerged out of an agreement between Shah Jahan and workers who built the Taj Mahal.
The Logical Indian also contacted Professor Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi, former chairman of the Department of History, Aligarh Muslim University. He debunked the claim and verified the facts. He said, "All the documents and payment slips attributing to Shah Jahan's reign is available and secured in various National archives, including Bikaner archives. Most of the workers who constructed the Taj Mahal were non-Muslims and had their names engraved on the marbles of the monuments, including the Taj Mahal. They were all given total payments with available records, and none of their hands was chopped."
Evidently, an urban myth that had been existent for many years has been revived to establish a comparison between Shah Jahan and Narendra Modi. However, we could not find any historical account or evidence to support the viral claim that Shah Jahan chopped off the hands of the workers who built the Taj Mahal. Therefore, the viral claim is false and baseless.
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