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‘Bid to please Yogi?’ Oppn tears into proposal to change ‘Muslim’ names of wards in CM’s Gorakhpur

Around 50 wards, including 10 new ones, are to be named after Hindu gods, freedom fighters & other historic personalities. BJP says names kept 'keeping emotions of public' in mind.

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Lucknow: Miyan Bazaar may be renamed as ‘Maya Bazaar’, Humayunpur as ‘Hanumant Nagar’, Rasoolpur as ‘Maharana Pratap Nagar’ and Jafra Bazaar as ‘Atma Ram Nagar’ under a delimitation exercise of the Gorakhpur Municipal Corporation in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh.

While 10 wards are to be added to the existing 70, the exercise also proposes to regroup around 245 mohallas into wards. But what has raised the hackles of the opposition is the proposal to rename wards that have ‘Muslim’ and ‘Persian’ names.

Around 50 wards, including the 10 new ones, are to be named after Hindu gods, freedom fighters and other historic personalities. This has sparked allegations by the opposition that it is a rerun of previous campaigns by now chief minister Yogi Adityanath from when he first became Lok Sabha MP from Gorakhpur in 1998.

Back then, Yogi had led a campaign demanding that ‘Urdu Bazaar’ be renamed ‘Hindi Bazaar’ and ‘Ali Nagar’ be called ‘Arya Nagar’. In 2018, the Yogi government had approved the renaming of Faizabad and Allahabad as Ayodhya and Prayagraj.

While the Samajwadi Party has alleged that the exercise was done by civic officials to “please” the government, the BJP claims that the opposition was “ill-informed” as it had nothing to do with any caste or religion.

Also Read: Modernisation, or harassment? Why survey on unrecognised madrasas is fuelling row in UP

What is the exercise?

On August 31, the Gorakhpur civic body had issued a notification proposing the delimitation of municipal wards and sought feedback within seven days. However, the notification drew flak after the proposed names went viral.

In the notification, accessed by ThePrint, the names of 49 out of the total 80 wards are new. The names of the 10 new wards include Baba Raghavdas Nagar, Baba Gambhirnath Nagar, Ranidiha, Madan Mohan Malviya Nagar, Bagdo, Sanjhai, Dr Rajendra Prasad Nagar, Matsayendra Nagar and Mohanpur.

If approved by the government, these wards will incorporate several areas with Muslim or Persian names including Salempur, Umarpur, Suba Bazaar and Nuruddinchak.

Similarly, the new names of existing wards include Sardar Bhagat Singh Nagar, Shaheed Shiv Singh Chhetri Nagar, Hanumant Nagar, Ramprasad Bismil Nagar, Shaheed Ashfaqullah Nagar, Maharana Pratap Nagar, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, Bandhu Singh Nagar, Sant Jhulelal Nagar, Raghupati Sahay Firaq Nagar, Geeta Press Nagar, Aatmaram Nagar, Vishwakarmapuram, Maya Bazaar, Arya Nagar, Kanha Upvan Nagar, Ghantaghar, Shivaji Nagar, and Devi Prasad Nagar.

Several areas including Mohaddipur, Turkmanpur, Rasoolpur, Dilejakpur, Niyamatchak, Ilahibagh, Daudchak, Daudpur, Rustampur, Zafra Bazaar, Alinagar, Humayunpur, Abu Bazaar, Islamchak, Miyanbazar, Muftipur, Shahmaroof, Dhammal, Askarganj, Chaksa Hussain, Zahibabad among others will be regrouped and end up getting new names according to the ward they fall under.

A municipal area is divided into wards, which in turn comprise several areas.

Samajwadi Party corporators claim Gorakhpur municipal officials are only trying to “please” Yogi by indulging in “Hindu-Muslim politics”.

On Monday, a delegation of SP corporators protested the move at the office of Gorakhpur Municipal Commissioner Avinash Singh, raising slogans before handing over a memorandum to Singh.

“When Yogi was the MP from here, he would regularly run a campaign and agitate to change the name of Urdu Bazaar to Hindi Bazaar, Ali Nagar to Arya Nagar and Miyan Bazaar to Maya Nagar. The Nagar Nigam officials are set to change the names of the wards in a bid to please him,” SP spokesperson Kirti Nidhi Pandey told mediapersons after the protest.

“If the wards were to be named after freedom fighters, then why was the first freedom fighter Mangal Pandey forgotten? If the names were kept after saints like Digvijay Nath, then why did you forget Roshan Ali, Shaheed Abdullah Ansari, Shaheed Sardar Ali Khan?” he further said, adding: “Why was no ward named after Vindhyavasini Verma? Those personalities with link to Gorakhpur were ignored and the renaming was done only to indulge in Hindu-Muslim politics…”

Ismailpur corporator and SP leader Shahab Ansari said the BJP leaders along with Nagar Nigam officials have “conspired” to rename the wards. He also claimed that corporators were not consulted before coming out with the proposal.

“While we agree to renaming of the wards in the names of freedom fighters, the old wards have been renamed with wrong names. For instance, the historically used name Miyan Bazaar has been changed to Maya Bazar,” Ansari said. “We have spoken to the corporators. All of those who disagree with the names will lodge objections.”

Gorakhpur civic chief Avinash Singh told the media that the corporation tried to send a proposal following everyone’s agreement and consensus. He added that an attempt has been made to ensure partnership with the public because all Nagar Nigam activities are public-oriented.

“But still if anyone has any objection, we will consider them…,” he said.

Claiming that the opposition was ill-informed, the BJP gave the example of Ashfaqullah Khan Nagar to stress that the exercise was focused only on “signs of oppression under the British and Mughal rule”.

Uttar Pradesh BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi told ThePrint that the motive was on the lines of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day pitch to get out of slavery mindset. The name changes aim at doing away with the signs of the oppressive British and Mughal rules, he added.

“The opposition is ill-informed. There is nothing like Hindu-Muslim divide here or anything associated with a particular caste or religion. We have also recognised freedom fighter Ashfaqullah Khan after whom a ward has been named. The names have been kept keeping the emotions of the public in view and there is no need for talking to any political party in connection with the same,” he said.

(Edited by Tony Rai)

Also Read: What to do & what not? Kanpur school facing ‘kalma’ protest will write to Yogi for guidelines


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