Pakistan's decision to rename Lahore’s Shadman Chowk after freedom fighter Bhagat Singh has been put on hold following protests from hardliners like the Jamaat-ud-Dawah and a section of local residents.
The decision to rename Shadman Chowk as Bhagat Singh Chowk, to acknowledge his role in the struggle for Indian independence from the British colonizers before the partition of India to form Pakistan, was announced by the city district government of Lahore Sept. 29.
Civil society activists from both India and Pakistan hold candlelight vigils at this location — the spot where Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were hanged on March 23, 1931 — every year on the anniversary of the execution, often holding signboards proclaiming the place as “Bhagat Singh Chowk.”
However, according to a report in the Express Tribune, 13 people objected to the decision to rename the locality, at a hearing to elicit public opinion, saying Pakistan was a Muslim country and its major roads and squares should be named after the Muslims, not the Hindus or the Sikhs. Only six people supported the move.
The renaming of Shadman Chowk is part of a project to revitalize Lahore that will look into renaming several squares, underpasses, roads and intersections after historically significant figures from the region. The city itself had been recently renamed Dilkash Lahore.
In an editorial titled “Honoring Heroes,” the Tribune observed that the “original decision to rename Shadman Chowk, Lahore, after the Indian independence fighter Bhagat Singh was such a surprising and wise one that there was no way it was going to go through without resistance.”
“The name change has now been put on hold for an indefinite period and, if the timidity shown by city officials is any guide, it will be shelved forever,” it said. “This travesty shows not only our intolerance for religious minorities but also how blinkered and limited our knowledge of our own history is.”