Hyderabad Facts: ASI has no record of the city ever being called Bhagyanagar

The response comes after an RTI was filed by social activist Robin Zaccheus to fact check the 'Bhagyanagar' remark of PM Modi and BJP leaders.

ByAjay Tomar

Published Aug 04, 2022 | 6:39 PM Updated Aug 12, 2022 | 4:19 PM

The ASI on Thursday, 4 August, revealed in an RTI response that it has no records of the city historically named 'Bhagyanagar' or 'Bhagnagar' after PM Modi and several BJP leaders remarked it as Hyderabad during their recent visits. In picture is the Hyderabad Deccan railway station, which is popularly known as Nampally railway station. (South First / Deeksha Devadiga)

Contrary to what Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders of the BJP claimed at a recent public meeting in Hyderabad, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Thursday, 4 August, revealed that it has no record of the city being named Bhagyanagar or Bhagnagar, historically.

The ASI also disclosed that the Bhagyalakshmi temple adjacent to Charminar, the shrine that has been at the centre of communal tensions for decades, did not exist where the historical monument stands.

The information came to light on a Right to Information (RTI) query by Robin Zaccheus filed with the ASI in June.

While several BJP leaders, including Modi, referred to Hyderabad as Bhagyanagar during the party’s National Executive Meeting on 2 July, the ASI denied having any records suggesting the city was ever called by that name.

Zaccheus filed seven questions in his RTI application, and to all of them, the ASI gave a common response: “No such details are available with this office.”

BJP's Bhagyanagar demand

The query was submitted after Telangana BJP president Bandi Sanjay Kumar in May exhorted that "mosques should be dug up" across the state amid Varanasi's Gyanvapi mosque controversy.

While addressing a Hindu Ekta Yatra in the Karimnagar district, Bandi Sanjay said, “I am challenging Owaisi (Hyderabad AIMIM MP), and all other secularists. Let’s dig up mosques in Telangana and see. If we dig up and see that there are shava (dead bodies), then you, Muslims and secularists, can take it, but if there is a shiva (shiva linga), then you hand it over to us (Hindus). Will you accept it?”

Sanjay also raked up the issue when he visited the Bhagyalakshmi temple in 2020 after Chief Minister KCR alleged that the saffron party stopped the distribution of allocated flood relief funds.

The BJP has been demanding Hyderabad be renames Bhagyanagar and the issue gathered steam after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, while campaigning for the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections in 2020, urged voters to elect the BJP so that it could change the name once it comes to power.

"Some people were asking me if Hyderabad can be renamed Bhagyanagar. I said why not. I told them we renamed Faizabad Ayodhya and Allahabad Prayagraj after the BJP came into power in UP. Then why can't Hyderabad be renamed Bhagyanagar?" Adityanath asked the reporters during the campaign.

In June this year, Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu referred to Hyderabad as "the iconic city of Bhagyanagar" during his address at the Yoga Day celebrations in Secunderabad.

Even Union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Piyush Goyal reignited the debate over the saffron brigade’s dream of renaming Hyderabad.

“As I am in Bhagyanagar, I will especially mention Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, the first home minister of India, as he coined the term ‘EK Bharat (One India)’. Everyone knows his contribution to the city,” Modi said in his recent public meeting in Hyderabad, adding that it was BJP’s historical obligation to build Shrestha Bharat.

'Critical to debunk fake news'

However, Zaccheus told South First, "I have been debunking controversial comments by the politicians to make people aware of the facts. These topics generally mislead the public, especially when it comes from an elected public representative."

The goddess Lakshmi temple, known as Bhagyalakshmi temple, is a shrine standing adjacent to the Charminar and has been at the center of communal tensions over decades. (Creative Commons)

The goddess Lakshmi temple, known as Bhagyalakshmi temple, is a shrine standing adjacent to the Charminar and has been at the center of communal tensions over decades. (Creative Commons)

He added that fake news spreads quickly in this digital era and might trigger communal tensions.

"Such controversial statements should always be challenged by fact-checks and the truth. People are well aware of the vote-bank politics but have no evidence to counter them. The facts presented through the RTI bring public awareness about misleading controversies," Zaccheus explained.

In response to a June RTI filed by Zaccheus this year, the ASI claimed not to have any proof of ancient mosques built on Hindu religious sites under its jurisdiction.

ASI's Hyderabad circle maintains eight historical monuments, including the Charminar and the Golconda Fort.

TRS retorts

After PM Modi's remark, the Telangana Minister for Industries, Urban Development and IT KT Rama Rao retorted to the demands by asking, "Why don't you change Ahmedabad's name to Adanibad first?"

TRS Rajya Sabha member Damodar Rao Divakonda told South First, “The changing of the name from Hyderabad to Bhagyanagar has a religious angle behind it.”

“The social fabric of Hyderabad is a role model for the entire country. In eight years of Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s rule, there has been no report of communal tension in the state. The BJP is trying to pave its way into the state through polarisation and communal disorder,” TRS national spokesperson Krishank Manne told South First.