Pak put off plan to rename chowk after Bhagat Singh
Giving in to the pressure from hardline groups such as the Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) and a section of local residents, the Pakistani authorities have put on hold a move to rename a roundabout in Lahore after Shaheed Bhagat Singh.chandigarh Updated: Oct 31, 2012 19:06 IST
Giving in to the pressure from hardline groups such as the Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) and a section of local residents, the Pakistani authorities have put on hold a move to rename a roundabout in Lahore after Shaheed Bhagat Singh.
The city district government of Lahore had announced last month that Shadman Chowk would be renamed Bhagat Singh Chowk to acknowledge the martyr's revolutionary spirit and his role in the movement against the British rulers of the subcontinent.
District administration chief Noorul Amin Mengal, who made the decision to rename the roundabout, came down hard on officials of his department for not placing a board inscribed with 'Bhagat Singh Chowk' at the spot.
However, the authorities have still not placed the board at the roundabout. Officials said on Wednesday that the move to rename the chowk had been put on hold.
"We received a strongly-worded letter from the JuD that warned us not to rename Shadman Chowk after a Hindu (sic) freedom fighter. Besides, we also got a negative response from some individuals,' an official of the city district government told PTI.
During a public hearing on the issue, several persons rejected the idea of renaming the chowk after Bhagat Singh, said the official, who did not want to be named.
The official, who is close to the district administration chief, said Mengal was criticised by various sections of society and groups such as the JuD and Jamaat-e-Islami for "paying tribute to Bhagat Singh" and his plan to rename the roundabout.
The officials said opponents of the move were of the view that Pakistan was a Muslim country and its roads and squares should be named after Muslims, not Hindus or Sikhs.
In a recent statement, senior JuD leader Amir Hamza said: "We will not allow the renaming of places after Hindus, Sikhs or Christians."
He said Pakistan was a Muslim country and such ideas could not be appreciated.
Hamza added that if the government dared to rename Shadman Chowk after Bhagat Singh, the JuD would launch a protest drive.
Ejaz Anwar of the National College of Arts who heads Dilkash Lahore, a committee set up to revitalise and beautify the capital of the Punjab province told PTI that the renaming of the chowk had been "delayed temporarily" as the government had put the ball in the committee's court.
"We want to rename several squares, roads and intersections after assessing their historical significance in the pre-Pakistan era," he said.
Anwar said the JuD had not only written strongly-worded letters to Mengal and other government officials but also threatened to gherao their offices.
"The JuD and others want the chowk to be renamed Hurmat-e-Rasool. They even put up banners renaming Shadman Chowk on their own. Under such circumstances, how can the government go ahead with its proposed plan?" Anwar said.
Bhagat Singh was hanged in March 1931 in the erstwhile Lahore Jail, which stood at the spot where the roundabout was built later.
The Dilkash Lahore committee has been tasked with renaming historic locations, restoring historical buildings and designating historic spots of Lahore.
The panel is also expected to discuss the future of Basant, the spring festival that has lost much of its colour since kite-flying was banned by the Punjab government headed by chief minister Shahbaz Sharif.