Bhagat Singh Chowk: LHC dashes hope of immediate name change

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Two months after the announcement to rename Shadman Chowk after the revolutionary hero Bhagat Singh came from the City District Government Lahore (CDGL), supporters of this change in name commemorating his role in the struggle for independence against the British colonial rule faced yet another disappointment as the Lahore High Court on Friday stopped CDGL from issuing a notification of renaming Shadman Chowk after Bhagat Singh.
This stay order adds to the disappointing saga of renaming Shadman Chowk because ever since CDGL announced the decision in late September to make the name change, opposition groups have been proactively seeking to block the decision. This opposition bore fruit when a single bench comprising Justice Nasir Saeed Sheikh passed the order on a petition filed by Tehreek-e-Hurmat e Rasool (PBUH) challenging the decision to name Shadman Chowk after Bhagat Singh. The court also sought a reply from CDGL till November 28.
The petitioner’s counsel Aftab Ahmad Bajwa argued before the court that it was previously believed that the chowk would be named after Chaudhry Rehmat Ali, the iconic figure who suggested the name of Pakistan during the independence movement. He accused human rights organisations of pressuring the CDGL into renaming it after Bhagat Singh instead.
He further argued that CDGL had established Dil Kash committee to take suggestions of the citizens for this purpose, but had went on to rename the chowk after Bhagat Singh despite severe opposition to the idea.
He maintained that the renaming of Shadman Chowk is not only illegal but goes against the principles of the Freedom Movement. The court after hearing the arguments barred the CDGL from issuing a notification till November 28 and sought a reply.
The Tehreek e Hurmat e Rasool has been among the biggest voices of opposition to this renaming. Last week, they put up plaques across the chowk, demanding the name change to be stopped immediately.
The announcement in September was welcomed not only by citizens but also by groups who had been demanding this name change for many years. This renaming is important to such groups because it was at this place that the iconic leader, as a young man, was hanged for his role in the resistance against the British rule. When the announcement came from CDGL, opposition groups moved to block the change, because of which CDGL established the Dilkash Lahore Committee to seek the recommendations of citizens.
While initially the Dilkash Lahore Committee received more recommendations against the move than in favor, over the past few weeks, citizens actively wrote to the committee head Salima Hashmi demanding that the name change was justified as Bhagat Singh was an inspirational figure in the independence movement whose sacrifices and struggles should be honored.
Opposition groups, including Tehreek-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool, to the contrary, have argued that this renaming is an attempt to appease the pro-Indian elements of Pakistan and is an insult to the ideology of Pakistan. They further argued 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.
Reacting to the LHC stay order, one citizen told Pakistan Today, “The Lahore administration’s decision to accept this demand of progressive activists to re-name the chowk in the name of a revolutionary hero brought great joy to myself and members of the Bhagat Singh Memorial Committee. It is disappointing that this name change was then considered to be against the ideology of Pakistan when Jinnah, Pakistan’s founding father himself reiterated secularism and wanted to keep state and religion apart. He himself had appreciated the struggles of each and every individual who had sacrificed for freedom.”
Another citizen, Sana, said, “LHC just sounds like a bearer of bad news sometimes. I do not see why this particular chowk should not be renamed after Bhagat Singh. He died here, hung by the colonial powers he was fighting against. How can we not honor that? It is shameful enough that he is not mentioned in our history books. They had to spit on his name like this too?”
Rizwan, another concerned citizen, said that it was appalling how a chowk that had been neglected for decades became suddenly became the object of a struggle between two opposing forces just because Bhagat Singh’s name became involved. “This just goes to show how determined we are to teach our children we want to stay ignorant, and we don’t want to give them inspirational heroes, just more and more bitterness.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. The comment of the writer is Wrong that jinah want to make a pakistan a secular state. wrong and against the struggle of pakistan movement Because India was Already a secular state. If jinnah was interested in Secularism than why he struggled for independent muslim state?

  2. Abdullah Khan is wrong. Quaid-E-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah wanted a secular state with a Muslim-majority but respecting the religious rights of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists etc. Jinnah was interested in secularism but not in an India where the majority of the population were Hindu. He wanted a Muslim secular state. Get that through your head, Abdullah.

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