New Delhi: Rajput organisations and historians have written to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, asking him to remove a plaque at Rakta Talai, which states that Rajput ruler Maharana Pratap “retreated” from the Battle of Haldighati.
This comes just days before the anniversary of the battle, which was fought between Maharana Pratap and Mughal Emperor Akbar as part of the latter’s plan to expand control.
The plaque, placed on the site by the Archaeological Survey of India, the country’s apex authority on archaeological survey and conservation, reads: “Pratap’s Forces retreated” from the battle. Rakta Talai is 4 km away from Haldighati, where the battle was fought, and was the last spot of the battle, according to ASI.
However, over the years, there have been several questions raised about who actually won the battle.
ThePrint looks back at the battle and the controversy surrounding its victor.
About the battle
The Battle of Haldighati was fought on 18 June 1576 between the armies of Maharana Pratap, the Rana of Mewar, and the Mughal emperor Akbar’s forces, led by Man Singh I of Amber.
Haldighati is a region in the Aravalli mountain range, which links Rajsamand and Pali districts in Rajasthan, the name for which is inspired by its yellow-turmeric coloured soil.
Akbar was planning to stabilise his kingdom by gaining control over Rajput regions, which would have also secured lines of communication with Gujarat. In Rajasthan, almost all major kings had accepted the Mughal dynasty except Udai Singh, the father of Maharana Pratap.
To demonstrate his authority, Akbar laid siege to Chittorgarh in October 1567. The Rajputs were surrounded and besieged by the Mughals.
Udai Singh was forced to quit and the responsibility of defence was given to King Jaimal of Merta, who was killed during the battle. Udai Singh continued to stay in the forests of Aravalli till his death four years later.
After Udai Singh’s death, his son Maharana Pratap took charge of Mewar. No negotiations worked and Akbar finally decided to begin the war.
According to historian Rima Hooja, author of the book ‘Maharana Pratap: The Invincible Warrior’, the estimates of the size of each army differed widely but what is certain is that the Mughals far outnumbered the Mewar forces.
The two armies fought a four-hour-long war in which the Mughals suffered heavy casualties and Maharana escaped unhurt.
Today, 445 years after the battle, there is an enduring debate about who actually won the battle.
According to Hooja, both sides claimed victory at the end of the battle. “Mewar claimed they had won because there had been no surrender. The Mughals claimed victory because they still held the field,” she said.
However, Chandra Shekhar Sharma, an associate professor at Meera Girls College in Udaipur noted, “In the light of recent research and evidence, historians have come to the conclusion that Pratap’s army never retreated from the Battle of Haldighati. The war was won by Pratap.”
Sharma based his findings on land records from the 16th century and said that for a year after the 18 June battle in 1576, Maharana Pratap distributed land in villages near Haldighati by handing out land rights inscribed on copper plates that has the signature of the Diwan of Eklingnath.
Back then, he claimed, only the king of a province was allowed to distribute tracts of land, which proves that Maharana Pratap was the winner of the Battle of Haldighati.
However, an ASI official from Delhi, who wished to remain unnamed, said that the any material written on any historical monument is researched and reviewed by eminent historians and authorities before being used.
He further added that that the organisation has not received any official communication from the Rajasthan government yet, and it is difficult to comment on the matter.
ThePrint also reached Bipin Chandra, Superintending Archaeologist of Jodhpur circle of ASI, for a comment via calls but did not receive a response till the time of publishing of this report.
This issue was raked up earlier as well, when the Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education approved a change in the history section of the Class 10 social science books, declaring that Maharana Pratap defeated Mughal emperor Akbar in the Battle of Haldighati in 2017.
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