Renaming of chowk after Bhagat Singh put on hold

Published: October 30, 2012

Dilkash Lahore committee to discuss future of Basant. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: 

The city government’s plan to rename Fawara Chowk in Shadman after Bhagat Singh, the pre-Independence Indian freedom fighter, has been put on hold after it drew objections from “certain sections of society”, The Express Tribune has learnt.

Officials in the city government said that at a hearing to elicit public opinion on the subject, 13 people had voiced disapproval of the name change while only six had supported it. They said that the arguments against renaming were that Pakistan was a Muslim country hence its major roads and squares should be named after Muslims, not Hindus or Sikhs. They had also threatened to protest against the decision.

The officials said that the district coordination officer (DCO) had decided to put a hold on the plan to rename the chowk and forwarded the matter to a committee set up as part of a project to revitalise Lahore that will look into renaming several squares, underpasses, roads and intersections after historically significant figures from this region.

The project for the revitalisation of the city  recently renamed Dilkash Lahore – is being steered by a committee of 21 members chaired by Prof Ijaz Anwar of the National College of Arts. The committee members also form three subcommittees, tasked with renaming places, restoring the facades of historical buildings, and designating historic parts of the city as “special premises”. Officials said that the committee would also discuss the future of Basant, the spring festival which has lost much of its colour since kite-flying was banned.

Zahid Hussain, the architect for the project to restore the facades of historical buildings, said that the revitalisation of the Dinga Singh building was underway, while plans for Laxmi Mansions and the Shah Din building were being finalised. He said that these buildings would be restored within four months.

He said the restoration of the Ferozsons building had been put on hold because the trust that manages the building was sceptical about the project and had refused to sign a no-objection certificate. He said he had told them to look at the Dinga Singh building once it is finished so they could be reassured of the worthiness of the project.

Hussain said that other buildings would be restored too. “Given the new developments like the Muslim Town flyover, Kalma Chowk flyover and the BRTS [Bus Rapid Transit System] project, much of the city’s look has changed. We will seek to bring new colour and harmony to the building around squares which have been changed due to the BRTS project,” he said.

The committee formed for Dilkash Lahore includes Planning and Development Chairman Javed Aslam, Parks and Horticulture Authority Director General Muhammad Mehmood Ahmad, civil society representatives Yousaf Salahuddin, Salima Hashmi, Rafay Alam, Nayyar Ali Dada, Maulana Raghib Naeemi, and thirteen others. The next committee meeting is to be held on November 14.

The committee made for renaming parts of Lahore includes Hassan Mehmood Zaidi, the honorary consulate of Malta; Salima Hashmi, the dean of the Beaconhouse National University’s School of Visual Design; Shereen Masoud, president of the Asia Study Group; and Iftikhar Ahmad, an anchor on Geo TV.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st, 2012.

Reader Comments (44)

  • Naseem Ch
    Oct 31, 2012 - 4:20AM

    What a shame. A genuine son-of-the-soil denied recognition by the city he was born in and died in. So, go ahead and change the name of Anne-Marie Schimmel road (Canal bank) and other “non-Muslim” roads.

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  • Maria
    Oct 31, 2012 - 5:27AM

    Bhagat Singh worked against colonial rule and was a son of the soil. He deserves recognition even if some ignorant people cannot tolerate honoring minorities. The silent majority of Pakistanis should stand up and give this issue their attention. Not only is Bhagat Singh respected in Pakistan and India for his stance against the British, making a memorial would work well for tourism to the city.

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  • Akhtar Ali Khan
    Oct 31, 2012 - 6:14AM

    A hero is a hero without any religion except for the love of his land and people. Shaheed Bhagat Singh fulfills that criterion. As such, people objecting are bigots, and should be completely ignored.

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  • Schabboo Khan
    Oct 31, 2012 - 6:15AM

    What a shame! When will these people understand that we have to give credit where credit is due. Bhagat Singh was a part of Lahore’s history who did not have any religous biases He wanted his compatriots to be free whether they were Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians or Parsis. Let him be honored!

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  • Rahim
    Oct 31, 2012 - 7:02AM

    I am original Punjabi of lyalpur and original Punjabi know his history very well. We were Hindus and Buddhists and then Sufism prevailed in Punjab and then some people adopted Sikhism and Christianity afterwards. Bhagat Singh is a pride of Punjab and it is a shame that now extremism is prevailing in this region that prides itself in the diversity in tge past and now we are trying to lie to our young generation of our true history.

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  • Pir Bulleh Shah
    Oct 31, 2012 - 7:16AM

    Those who are asking for such changes ought to hang their heads in shame. Are all the heroes of Islam who brought the world so much goodness no more of any relevance to Pakistan? Have we become so narrow minded, such shameless zameen-parast that we have become idolators? Is lifeless land going to limit the soaring spirit of Islam – a universal religion? May I remind Punjabis that Allama Iqbal did not sing songs of Punjab, but of the light of this world and the next – Islam.Recommend

  • Pir Bulleh Shah
    Oct 31, 2012 - 7:18AM

    Those who are asking for such changes ought to hang their heads in shame. Are all the heroes of Islam who brought the world so much goodness no more of any relevance to Pakistan? Have we become so narrow minded, such shameless zameen-parast that we have become idolators? Is lifeless land going to limit the soaring spirit of Islam – a universal religion? May I remind Punjabis that Allama Iqbal did not sing songs of Punjab, but of the light of this world and the next – Islam.

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  • DarKnight
    Oct 31, 2012 - 8:04AM

    Strange enough that the fundamentalist elements did not ask for change in name of the Ganga Ram Hospital…!!

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  • Usman
    Oct 31, 2012 - 8:53AM

    Don’t they anything better to do? like improve the standard of living of the inhabitants instead of wasting time on useless practices.

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  • jagjit sidhoo.
    Oct 31, 2012 - 9:41AM

    @Pir Bulleh Shah: Name the chowk after Ahemd Shah Abdali.

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  • rajput
    Oct 31, 2012 - 9:43AM

    I was waiting to hear somethin like this. Knew this would happen. I used to think partition was a mistake but now feel its good. Rab da shukar aae ppl who objected against naming the Chowk after Bhagat Singh r not Indians

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  • Jpy
    Oct 31, 2012 - 10:04AM

    Whether you name the birth place of shaheed Bhagat Singh in his name or not, Comrade Bhagat Singh is a great son of India and lives in the heart of 1.2 billion Indians. Pakistan has yet to mature beyond religion and absurdity

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  • Raza Khan
    Oct 31, 2012 - 12:30PM

    Sad that shows how petty minded we are!

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  • Muhammad Hasnain Gilani
    Oct 31, 2012 - 12:39PM

    What sort of world we live in? The Dilkash Committed appears to be stuck in narrow mind set. Is it a committee of human beings or other species having no respect for humanity? They represent the class which is shame for the nation. It is beyond imagination that a committee could reject such a nice and kind gesture to recognize one of the Heroes of independence.

    The concerned authorities should have discussed and evaluated the issue before putting it to the committee. They should not have put Baghat Sing name in dispute.

    The PML (N) leaderships must intervene to go ahead with the idea of naming the Chowk after an Independence Hero irrespective of his religion.

    A Peshawary.

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  • Enlightened
    Oct 31, 2012 - 12:42PM

    I am sure the religious parties and anti-India parliamentarians must have opposed this move and which should now be considered as permanently shelved. However, I would now suggest that this chowk be renamed as ‘MALALA CHOWK’ who is the latest, youngest and a symbol of bravery against injustices not only in Pakistan but the world over.

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  • Hashmi
    Oct 31, 2012 - 12:47PM

    This is a non-issue, if there are objections they must be listened to and decision given. This is not a secular non-secular war. If the masses of Pakistan are against it, there is no point in doing this. A very easy decision the local govt has to make…

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  • Faryal G
    Oct 31, 2012 - 1:16PM

    Pathetic. I would love to know the names of those 13 who voted against it on the grounds that he was a non-Muslim. Those dirty dozen plus one don’t even qualify to be on the dilkash Lahore committee. Shameful.

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  • Indar Kumar
    Oct 31, 2012 - 4:39PM

    and by the way, we will never tolerate to name anything here in India after any of stinking muslim, because you stink and the only best option for muslims is that they all should be thrown in Indian Ocean. THANKS TO OUR UNPAID SERVANTS IN PAKI SOCIETY. KEEP IT UP

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  • G. Din
    Oct 31, 2012 - 4:43PM

    @Enlightened:
    “However, I would now suggest that this chowk be renamed as ‘MALALA CHOWK’…”
    Although we know your suggestion is well-intentioned, please consider how much of a heavy burden you are placing on those young shoulders of hers. Would that be fair to her? Let her grow up without such burden of expectations.
    If you let her do that, you will be thankful later that you did, I assure you!
    Celebrate her bravery and wisdom by lifting the burdens you are placing on all Muslim women in your lives. Let them breathe free! Help them reach their God-given potential. You will prosper and grow, if you do!

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  • Oct 31, 2012 - 5:28PM

    @Jagjit Sidhoo,

    Agreed. Either that or the other great ghazi Mohammad bin Qasim. I am sure Pakistan can easily find other islamic heroes as well.

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  • Rahim
    Oct 31, 2012 - 5:33PM

    @jagjit sidhoo.: I will rather go to LHC if any chowk will be named on behalf of Abdali in Punjab. Abdali attacked Mughals who were Muslims and then he make a fool out of Punjabis And Sindhis by making use of Islam and he killed thousands of fellow Muslims especially Gujjar And Rajputs. Also Ahmed Shah Abdali wrote racist odes where he made fun of Indians,Punjabis and Sindhis. Just study history why Khyber and Peshawar was attacked and later captured by Punjabis and everything will be clearer. I am a Punjabi and my hero is Bhagat Singh And Ranjit Singh who were our blood and who fought for our rights until death. Abdali was a racist superamist and his forces were shown the door by brave Ranjit Singh warriors which included Sikhs, Punjabi Muslims and Italian soldiers who joined forces of Punjab like Paolo Avitable and Jean Baptise Ventura from Italy.

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  • imran khan
    Oct 31, 2012 - 5:37PM

    A big slap to any Muslim fundamentalist that is against naming of shaheeds of any religion to liberate land from British colonial rule. These mullah types are ruining everything in Pakistan. Pakistan was created as a secular Islamic state jinnah quite clearly stated it in his independence address in 1947.

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  • besieged by mediocrity
    Oct 31, 2012 - 5:50PM

    @ Jagjit Sidhoo and Ajay. While we fight our own battles against the darkness of parochialism and intolerance your feeble attempts at mockery are counter-productive at best and equally parochial at worst. Your views are also welcome on our pages provided they are balanced by an open acknowledgment of the myriad instances of narrow-mindedness in your own context as well as documented instances of exploitation of minorities. Does the Sachar Commission Report ring any bells? Please keep your thinly veiled false notion of superiority and repeat to yourself every day before you turn in – Gujrat, Moodi, RSSS, Thackray, Operation Blue Star, caste taboos and caste violence, burning Christians, the Kashmir genocide, the Naxalite movement .. I could go on ad nauseam. But that is not the idea. We all live in glass houses and there are myriad common issues and shames. So get a perspective and join a collective against intolerance across the borders rather than taking cheap pot shots

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  • Jat
    Oct 31, 2012 - 6:44PM

    @Faryal G: Well 13 out of 19 is 68%. That would anyway be the minimum percentage of indoctrinated Pakistanis. You Deep Sate has done a better job than Goebbels and his team.

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  • Shaami
    Oct 31, 2012 - 6:48PM

    @Rahim: It is pretty nice that you remember Paolo Avitabile. He was from Italy but he became the Governer of Wazirabad Punjab and has great affinity for that region and he fought for Ranjit Singh My family is from Wazirabad Punjab and according to my grandfather Our Ancestors came with Paolo Avitabile from Italy to fight under Ranjit’s Singhs rule and they were known as Fauje Khas in Punjab but basically they were mercenaries. Although many of the Italian Soldiers who came with Paolo and with 4 other generals to fight for Punjab decided to go back but some stayed back and now we are simply Punjabis. My family look pretty different than Locals of Wazirabad but we are happy to be Punjabis and now i live in Europe but it is pretty nice that someone do remember that history. Why not name Some Road in Wazirabad on the name of Paolo Avitabile who was the Governor of Wazirabad and Gujrat and fought for local people and people like him should be remembered as well.Recommend

  • Oct 31, 2012 - 6:52PM

    Name it ‘Malala Yousufzai Chowk”. We have eouhj heroes to give their names, why a disputed name?

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  • amanat
    Oct 31, 2012 - 7:05PM

    I had already opposed strongly to name the chowk after the name of a sikh as sikhs had killed innumerous muslims both men. women and children at the time of partition. This is a good decision not to name the chowk after the name of a sikh.

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  • Khurram
    Oct 31, 2012 - 8:04PM

    @Irfan Afridi: Malala is our hero and there is no doubt about it but Bhagat Singh is on another level and you cannot compare the two and Bhagat Singh laid his life for the cause of Independence and he is not a disputed name at all except in the eyes of some Religious Fundamentalists because of the Atheism faith of Bhagat Singh .
    Did you saw the ” Rang Dai Basanati “ movie and the song “Sarfaroshi ki Tamanna” a song associated with Singh and that movie is a hit in India and that movie was made with the History of Bhagat Singh and if Indians can honor him then why not those people who are his blood and the place where he was born and bred and where his life was ended and that was Lahore and Faisalabad? Do you know Bhagat Singh left Sikhism later in his life and stated that he is an Atheist after he saw Hindu-Muslim riots and such was the love of land that he stated that He dont need religion to unite the people as religion creates war and nothing else in his view.

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  • pamirfalcon
    Oct 31, 2012 - 8:15PM

    shameful thinking of the so-called Muslims, who idiolize invadors, plunderers and looters like Ghaznavi, Taimor, Muhammad bin Qasim and hate all genuine sons-of-the soil, revolutionaries who laid down their lives for the independence of the subcontinent and for the humanity.

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  • Rahim
    Oct 31, 2012 - 8:24PM

    @amanat: Amanat Sahib i am a Muslim and i must tell you that you are lying and you dont know any history of Punjab. Sikh religion is less than 300 years old And Sikhs are like us and never in the history of Punjab there have been any riots or any murder within Sikhs and Muslims except during stupid partition. Rather as Muslims we should say sorry to Sikhs as Afghans attacked Golden temple for gold and looted and killed more than 10,000 Sikhs and we never helped them to save them besides Sikhs were our blood and religion made us blind in the past.
    Kindly educate yourself before making such statements. Guru Nanak had so much love for Muslims that he did Hajj 300 years ago when it was not so easy to travel between two cities.

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  • jagjit sidhoo.
    Oct 31, 2012 - 8:24PM

    @Rahim:I was just being sarcastic as a Punjabi -yours is what ever u eat and drink, rest is Ahmed Shah’s .His victims were all Punjabis Hindu,Muslim & Sikh.Recommend

  • 1984
    Oct 31, 2012 - 9:10PM

    Below is the excerpt from the wiki page of Bhagat Singh

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhagat_Singh

    National Martyrs Memorial

    The National Martyrs Memorial, built at Hussainiwala in memory of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru

    Singh was cremated at Hussainiwala on the banks of the Sutlej river. During the partition following independence, the cremation spot went to Pakistan. However, on 17 January 1961 it was transferred to India in exchange for 12 villages near the Sulemanki Headworks (Fazilka) to Pakistan.[100] B.K. Dutt was also cremated there on 19 July 1965 in accordance with his last wishes, as was Singh’s mother, Vidyawati.[93] The National Martyrs Memorial was built on the cremation spot in 1968.[145] The memorial is located just one km from the India–Pakistan border on the Indian side and has memorials of Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. During the 1971 India–Pakistan war, the memorial was damaged by the withdrawing Pakistani troops in 1972,[93] and the statues of the martyrs were removed and taken away by the Pakistani army, which have not been returned since.[100][146] The memorial was rebuilt in 1973 due to the efforts of the then Punjab Chief Minister, Giani Zail Singh.[93]

    BTW,is Ashfaqullah Khan mentioned in your history books or is he ignored as he fought for a free India not a for separate muslim country????

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  • Asok
    Oct 31, 2012 - 9:37PM

    As an Indian, I applaud this decision. Bhagat Singh is ours. You can’t have him.

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  • ali
    Oct 31, 2012 - 9:44PM

    Jacobabad is named after a christian prophet, Abbottabad ,another christian abbot. and north west frontier named by christians…………..

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  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd)
    Oct 31, 2012 - 10:20PM

    We have a Heritage of our own. Muslim Freedom Fighters Galore. Who was the one who came up with this bright idea. Any relation to Bhagat Singh.Recommend

  • Riaz Khan
    Oct 31, 2012 - 10:38PM

    We need to learn since many of Bhagat Singh compatriots were Muslims fighting for independence. High time that we should recognize & appreciate the efforts of Shaheed Bhagat Singh

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  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd)
    Oct 31, 2012 - 11:05PM

    @Riaz Khan: You goof on Hoof since when has Bhagat Singh become a :”Shaheed”

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  • Jat
    Oct 31, 2012 - 11:19PM

    @Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd): How did an illiterate like you get to become a Lt Col. ? Oh wait, it is the Pakistan Army !

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  • jagjit sidhoo.
    Oct 31, 2012 - 11:36PM

    @Rahim: My quote got corrupted the great Punjabi poet Baba Waris Shah said of the situation, “khada peeta wahy da, baqi Ahmad Shahy da” — “we have nothing with us except what we eat and wear, all other things are for Ahmad Shah”.

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  • Atif
    Nov 1, 2012 - 5:21AM

    People must think of what Bhagat Singh has contributed to the ‘nation of Pakistan’, before launching an emotionally charged tirade. He hasn’t contributed any. That is the fact.

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  • jagjit sidhoo.
    Nov 1, 2012 - 7:34AM

    @DarKnight: Or even Lahore & Kasur to quote from Wikipedia” A legend based on oral traditions holds that Lahore, known in ancient times as Lavapuri (“City of Lava” in Sanskrit),[12] was founded by Prince Lava or Loh,[13][14] the son of Rama, the Hindu deity, while Kasur was founded by his twin brother Prince Kusha.[15] To this day, Lahore Fort has a vacant temple dedicated to Lava (also pronounced Loh, hence Loh-awar or “The Fort of Loh”).[16]” .

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  • Ahmadi Muslim
    Nov 1, 2012 - 3:15PM

    “liberate land from British colonial rule.”

    We must protest such characterization of the British.

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  • amanat
    Nov 1, 2012 - 6:25PM

    @Rahim. You have called the partition as a stupid partiition which means you are denying the existence of Pakistan where you are living . I do’nt find any difference between your view and the view of Indians. It appears you have not studied even ABC of history of Indo-Pakistan and have closed your eyes from the reality. It also appears that you are totally ignorant about the facts at the time of partition as to how the muslim men, women and children were brutally attacked and killed by the hindus and sikhs and you have not seen those tragic scenes. Go and ask living legend Mr.Majid Nizami. He will tell you about the atrocities of sikhs and hindus. If you are unsatisfied it is better for you to leave Pakistan and shift to India but before doing this ask from the muslims living in India about their plight. and their living conditions.in India.

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  • Enlightened
    Nov 1, 2012 - 7:15PM

    @amanat:
    You are going by the distorted version of partition written in your history text books. Since you have access to internet, please read the unbiased version from various writers as to what actually happened during partition and who started it and all events pertaining to the partition riots in the chronological order.

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