Around the early days of the 3rd century BC, when the Mauryan Empire was flourishing in North India, a road was built in its main centre of learning ‘Taxila’. Later, it was further extended up to Balkh in Khurasan (now in Afghanistan) from Patiliputra (now Patna), the capital of the Maurya dynasty. Besides the travelers, the road was also used by the invaders like Ghori and Taimur. Gradually, the road reached to Decca (Dhaka) the eastern end of the empire, which is now in Bangladesh. During the days of the Maurya dynasty, this is mentioned in several ancient texts as ‘Uttarpath’ (Northern-Road).
During the medieval period, Sher Shah Suri decided to restore this ancient road and make it more useful. In those days it ran from Decca (Dhaka) to Peshwar, connecting Calcutta-Mirzapur- Cawnpore-Delhi-Ambala-Amritsar- Lahore. Today, this road, known as the Grand Trunk Road, connects the capitals of 4 countries and covers a total distance of 2500 km (1600 miles). During those days, this road was known by many names, like, Shah Rah-e-Azam (Great Road) or Sadak-e-Azam or Badshahi Sadak.
The road was a main course of transportation for long distance trade transactions, and on the way most of the caravans used to stop at a particular place between Chanduali Majwer and Jeonathpur. The place had the extra facility of quick entrance to Varanasi through Vyasnagar Path. As a result, this particular place was used by the travelers as a ‘halt’ or a stop and many ‘Sarais’ or inns were established in the area for their overnight stay. Thus, gradually it came to be known as Mughalsarai, as it was a busy night halt for the travelers in Mughal India, equipped with several inns or sarais.
In fact, Sher Shah Suri renewed the road and also built such a ‘Sarai’ for the fatigued travelers, which is now situated on Sher Shah Suri Marg, about 11 km from Rajpura, near Shambhu barrier. Known as the ‘Mughalsarai’, the structure has two majestic gates with a mosque in the center, small rooms on all sides, a paved well (bowli) and a 'baradwari’, a building having twelve gates. Today, it is a protected monument.
Indian railways established a junction in Mughalsarai in 1883, which is the fourth-busiest railway junction station in India and a crucial link between Delhi and Calcutta. However, the age old, iconic and historic Mughalsarai Junction railway station was formally renamed by the ruling Bhatiya Janata Party as Deen Dayal Upadhyay Junction on 5 August 2018, only because Deen Dayal was found dead in the Mughalsarai Railway Yard on February 11.
Deen Dayal Upadhyay was a preacher of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS and co-founder of the political party Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the forerunner of Bhatiya Janata Party. Though the Sangh insisted that it was a politically motivated murder, a CBI investigation called it an accident. It was also alleged that Upadhyay was pushed out of the train in a robbery attempt, but there was no sign of struggle or injury in Upadhyay’s body and nothing could be proved due to lack of evidence. The life and philosophy of Deen Dayal Upadhyay have been celebrated since the party came to power at the Centre in 2014, and gained momentum after the party’s triumph in the UP Assembly elections.
Deendayal Upadhyay was a scholar, but the million dollar question is, what his contribution to the country and the nation is. Historian Rana Safvi has rightly pointed out that, Lal Bahadur Shastri, the second Prime Minister of India, was born in the locality and if they have to rename it at all, his name should be considered first. After all, simply by changing the name, one cannot change the history of a place and the new name will never succeed to whitewash India’s Mughal history. Apart from Mughalsarai, India has Mughal Gardens, Mughal-E-Azam, Mughal miniatures, Mughlai Paratha and lots more, which have become part of our heritage. After all, the new name of Mughalsarai will not lead to any development or help the trains to come on time.
This type of unproductive and worthless action involves a huge waste of public money. Changing the name of a railway station leads to many complimentary and contributory expenses, like printing of the new timetable and tickets, painting of new signboards and the relative railway coaches. Besides the railway, it also has adverse effects on other governmental departments, like the postal services as well. Ultimately, this undue burden falls on the shoulders of the common people.