Pak panel divided on renaming roundabout after Bhagat Singh
Lahore: Differences have cropped up in a Pakistani committee tasked with renaming historic sites here, with some of its members backing a move not to rename a roundabout after legendary freedom fighter Bhagat Singh.
Lahore's Shadman Chowk should be named after poet Habib Jalib, a press release issued in the name of the Dilkash Lahore Committee said.
The committee had earlier endorsed the Lahore City District Government's proposal to name the roundabout after Bhagat Singh as the freedom fighter had been hanged at the spot in 1931.
However, Dilkash Lahore Committee Vice-Chairman Ejaz Anwar today said the press release, issued on Wednesday, could have been released by "some members" of the committee and did not reflect the views of the entire panel.
"Some members of the committee seem to have succumbed to the pressure of the Jamaat-ud-Dawah and are suggesting the withdrawal of the proposal to name Shadman Chowk after Bhagat Singh," Anwar said.
"The committee, in principle, has decided not to (give in to) pressure from any group and we and the government will fight the case in court," he said.
The move to rename the roundabout after Bhagat Singh ran into trouble due to opposition from local traders and the Tehrik-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool, a movement launched by the JuD.
The Tehrik filed a petition in the Lahore High Court, which stayed the move to rename the roundabout till December 19.
The Dilkash Lahore Committee was tasked by the Punjab government to give suggestions for naming roads and roundabouts in Lahore after historic personalities.
Zahid Butt of the Tehrik-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool claimed in his petition filed in the High Court that India's RAW had funded the Bhagat Singh Foundation, a Pakistani organisation, to raise the issue of renaming the roundabout.
He claimed the Foundation had lobbied with the Dilkash Lahore Committee regarding the matter.
Senior JuD leader Maulana Amir Hamza, who is the head of the Tehrik-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool, said his group would not allow the renaming of places after Hindus, Sikhs or Christians.
"Pakistan is a Muslim country and such ideas cannot be appreciated," he said.
The JuD also wrote a strongly-worded letter to district administration chief Noorul Amin Mengal and other government officials, warning them not to rename the roundabout after a 'Hindu' freedom fighter.
Civil society groups have contended that Bhagat Singh was a non-communal freedom fighter who stood for the independence of the subcontinent and all people, including Muslims, from British imperialism.