Mumbai: The issue of the famed ‘wagh-nakh’ (tiger-claws) — said to be used by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj to kill the treacherous General Afzal Khan of the Bijapur Sultanate in November 1659 – displayed at the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&AM) in London, suddenly came alive on Saturday.
Congress’ Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Assembly, Vijay Wadettiwar, took a potshot at BJP’s Cultural Affairs Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar on his promise of bringing back the ‘wagh-nakh’ for the people of India to view and marvel.
Mungantiwar, along with other officials, had made a high-profile trip to London in the first week of October 2023 to sign an agreement with the V&AM to loan the ‘wagh-nakh’ made of dark steel to India for three years from November 2023.
Taking to social media, Wadettiwar said November has gone and even January is almost ending, “where has the ‘wagh-nakh’ reached so far?”
“You used government funds for publicity and went to London on tourism in the name of the ‘wagh-nakh’, but returned empty-handed. You have assured us that the ‘wagh-nakh’ will be received in November… that is gone, 2024 has dawned, and now even January is ending,” Wadettiwar said.
He sarcastically added that since the ‘wagh-nakh’ has not come to India so far, “will you go on another London trip to fetch it or give us a fresh date”.
Mungantiwar has not responded to Wadettiwar’s comments so far.
The ruling MahaYuti government of Shiv Sena-BJP had first announced in December 2022 that it was engaged in discussions with the British government and the V&AM for the return of the ‘wagh-nakh’, which is part of Maharashtra’s folklore.
The army chief of Bijapur’s Adil Shahi dynasty, Afzal Khan – who had invited Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj to his camp for a peace meeting in his deluxe camp at the foothills of Pratapgad Fort – was vanquished in the historic Battle of Pratapgad in Satara (November 1659).
After the meeting failed, Afzal Khan attempted to embrace Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in a killer hug, but the latter used his concealed killer set of ‘wagh-nakh’ to seriously wound and disembowel him. Ultimately the enemy armyman succumbed to his injuries.
That ‘wagh-nakh’ episode dating back 364 years ago is now part of legends and heroic stories, songs, ballads and texts on the Chhatrapati’s bravery, quick thinking and strategising to checkmate the enemy’s ill intentions to save his kingdom.