Former Maharashtra Minister and senior Shiv Sena leader, Arjun Khotkar, has demanded that the subsequent episodes of the Marathi TV series- “Swarajya Rakshak Sambhaji” should be stopped from being aired on television. Khotkar has asserted that the ensuing episodes in the series have the potential of inciting discord in the society and therefore should not be transmitted on television. The TV series has recently shown Mughal soldiers capturing Sambhaji alive.
“Swarajya Rakshak Sambhaji”, a popular Marathi series chronicles the life of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s son Sambhaji Maharaj. The eldest son of Shivaji Maharaj, Sambhaji reined over the Maratha Kingdom for 9 years until 1689 when he was captured, tortured and executed by the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb.
While there are multiple accounts of Sambhaji’s skirmishes with the Mughal ruler, his torture, execution and disposal of his body, however, by and large, all agree that he was tortured and executed on the Aurangzeb’s orders.
According to Dennis Kincaid’s account in his book- Shivaji: The Grand Rebel, Sambhaji was ordered by Aurangzeb to embrace Islam but he summarily refused, after which he was made to run the gauntlet of the entire Imperial army. Battered and bleeding, he was brought before the Emperor and repeated his refusal. His tongue was torn and was asked the same question. But he reiterated his refusal, claiming he would not budge from his position even if the Emperor bribed him with his daughter. Following this, he was tortured and executed on the orders of Aurangzeb.
Maratha accounts claim that after his arrest, he was asked to bow before Aurangzeb and convert to Islam. Sambhaji rejected the offer of life with all the vehemence he could gather, abused Aurangzeb and his Prophet and asked for one of his daughters as his price in the transaction. This led to Aurangzeb ordering him to death. The torture of Sambhaji and Kavi Kalash continued for over a fortnight and unspeakable atrocities were meted out on them. Their eyes and tongue were plucked out, and their nails were pulled out. Sambhaji was murdered on 11 March 1689, reportedly by tearing him apart from the front and back with tiger claws and beheading with an axe at Tulapur on the banks of the Bhima river near Pune.
In what appears to be climactic part of the series, Sambhaji is shown to have been taken captive by the Mughal soldiers. Khotkar has reportedly made an appeal to Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray and Zee Marathi to desist from broadcasting the subsequent episodes of the serial claiming that the portrayal of an uncomfortable part of history (horrendous torture of Sambhaji by the Mughal soldiers and Emperor Aurangzeb) could imperil the social harmony of the state.