Bhagat Singh’s Lahore: Struggle for a memorial continues


LAHORE: Raising the voice that fades away on every March 23 under the echoes of patriotism, the Bhagat Singh Memorial Foundation on Friday held a protest demonstration at Shadman roundabout in a bid to remember whom they termed as the “most patriotic sons of the soil”.

Marking the 87th death anniversary of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev at the roundabout adjacent to the boundary wall of Lahore Central Jail – where Bhagat Singh and his comrades were imprisoned and eventually hanged – the protesters demanded from the authorities to name the “symbolic” roundabout after Bhagat.

It is pertinent to mention here that the roundabout back in the 1900s was where the gallows were located. For years, members of leftist organisations in the city gathered to demand the official renaming of the roundabout as Bhagat Singh Chowk.  The movement gained a lot of momentum in a short time. Every year, activists gather at the crossroad on Bhagat Singh’s death anniversary and press their demands in favour of renaming the roundabout.

Speaking to Pakistan Today, Institute for Peace and Secular Studies Executive Director Diep Saeeda, who has been a part of the campaign for more than fifteen years, said that the roundabout, being the place of Bhagat Singh’s execution, was identified more than a decade ago during the visit of the latter’s nephew to Pakistan.

“We have been struggling to name the place after the brave son of the soil, who fought against the British imperialists for more than fifteen years. I myself have submitted a petition to the Punjab government demanding that we must honour those who laid their lives for the cause of freedom,” she said and added that nothing had been done so far.

Saeeda further said, “A couple of years ago we were confronted by right-wing extremists during our annual peaceful demonstration but we along with a few members of the country’s progressive organisations, have managed to raise our voice for what we believe we owe to Bhagat Singh and his companions.”

Expressing her views, she said that Pakistan had honoured several international dignitaries by naming places after them, and asked that why it had not honoured the one who was born here, who lived here and sacrificed his life for his motherland.

“Faisalabad was named after King Faisal of Saudi Arabia while on the other hand, the authorities seem reluctant to name this roundabout after a son of the soil,” she concluded.

Earlier this year in February, the Lahore High Court (LHC) had also been asked to order the provincial and local governments to name the Shadman Chowk after freedom fighter Bhagat Singh. Bhagat Singh Memorial Foundation Chairman Imtiaz Rashid Qureshi had made this request in a petition before the court stating that Bhagat Singh was a freedom fighter of the subcontinent and gave his life along with his companions for the cause of freedom.

The petitioner had pointed out that Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had also paid tribute to Singh saying that there had never been any brave person in the subcontinent like Bhagat Singh.

He pleaded that it would be in the interest of justice to name Shadman Chowk after Bhagat Singh and to also install his statue at the square so as to inspire the people of Pakistan and the world.