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.