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‘Freedom from Brit slavery’ — Centre seeks proposals to rename Lansdowne hill station

The Uttarakhand hill station and cantonment town was named, 132 years ago, after the then Viceroy of India. CM supports the move but state govt says no official communication yet

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Dehradun: Renowned hill station, international tourist destination and Indian army cantonment town Lansdowne is set to lose its British-era name as the Union Defence Ministry has sought proposals from the cantonment administration to rename it.

It has also asked the Lansdowne cantonment board to provide the details of all the installations carrying British names in the area.

Although the state administration is unaware of the centre’s move, it might be the result of a memorandum submitted by local BJP MLA Dilip Singh Rawat to the Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh three months ago.

CM Pushkar Singh Dhami, while not directly commenting on the matter, has supported the move.

Lansdowne was founded in 1887 when the first battalion of Garhwal Rifles migrated from Almora to the town. It was given its current name in 1890, 132 years ago, after the then Viceroy of India, Lord Lansdowne, who founded the town

Prior to that it was known as Kalu Danda which means Black mountain in Garhwali, the local dialect. A proposal sent following the ministry’s instructions puts forward the old name as the replacement.

State’s reaction

Talking about his memorandum, Rawat told ThePrint that Rajnath Singh had assured him of all necessary steps in this regard. He however added that there has been no communication to him from the centre about it.

“I met the Defence Minister three months ago and submitted a memorandum requesting him to rename Lansdowne as the town is still carrying the tag of British rule in its name. Prior to that a similar demand was raised by me before Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman one and half year ago,” said Rawat.

He said that besides renaming the town, he has urged them to remove the civilian residential area from the jurisdiction of cantonment board.

“It has come to my knowledge that the Defence Ministry has asked the Lansdowne cantonment board and the army’s Dehradun-based sub area command office to send a formal proposal for renaming the renowned international tourist destination but I have no official information regarding this,” added Rawat.

Speaking to ThePrint, officials from the Chief Minister’s office in Dehradun who did not want to be named, said that they too haven’t received any communication regarding the centre’s plan to rename Lansdowne Cantonment.

Union Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt who in a brief media statement said “Locals have been raising demands for changing the name. Such proposals are deliberated seeing at the national needs, time and situations.”

ThePrint reached out to Lansdowne cantonment board CEO Shilpi Goyal but her phone has been switched off. The report will be updated when a response is received.

Sources from the Sub area command office in Dehradun told ThePrint that the proposal includes renaming schools, roads and institutions in Lansdowne with British imprints in their names.

Also Read: Gujarat HC asks civic body to decide on waqf plea against renaming locality after ‘Shivaji’

‘Freedom from slavery’

Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami has endorsed the drive started by the Defence Ministry for renaming of Lansdowne cantonment.

Although he avoided directly commenting on Lansdowne cantonment issue, Dhami, speaking on the sidelines of Surajkund conclave of Home ministers in Haryana said, “Names of the structures and buildings symbolising British rule in India will be changed in Uttarakhand. It was started by UP government with renaming of the structures and places symbolising Mughal and British slavery. It will continue in Uttarakhand as well.”

Dhami added that the action to wipe out imprints of Indian slavery to British imperialism is inspired by PM Narendra Modi, referring to Modi’s Independence day speech during which he talked of five resolutions, one of which was ‘freedom from symbols of slavery’.

According to an official in the Chief Minister’s office, the Dhami government will soon direct all its departments to provide the details of roads, schools and other buildings and institutions lying outside cantonment areas for further action.

Lansdowne SDM Smriti Parmar said, “We haven’t received any communication as to renaming of Lansdowne Cantonment area from the state or central government. It may be due to the Diwali holidays. The State might be informed later if the initiative has been taken by the Defence Ministry.”

ThePrint has contacted multiple members of the Uttarakhand government, this report will be updated when they respond.

(Edited by Theres Sudeep)

Also Read: Kartavya Path’s new name & look inspires feelings of ‘Indianness’, say visitors after inauguration

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