What is the Politics behind Changing of Muslim Names?


Waquar Hasan | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – Several States in which Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has its government are on a spree to change Muslim sounding names of cities, railway stations, monuments and historical places. The matter was even taken to the Supreme Court by a controversial lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay. In his petition, Upadhyay sought from the apex court to constitute a commission to rename places.

The petition was however dismissed by the two judged bench of Justice KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna. The court questioned the motive behind the PIL, noting that it will bring alive those issues, “which would keep the country on boil”.

This name changing policy of the Bhartiya Janata Party was often criticized by the concern citizen, political leaders and activists.

Noted poet and activist, Gauhar Raza, told Clarion India that the policy of changing Muslim names is part of fascist politics being played by the current regime.

He said, “This is not only a matter of history. This is also a matter related to politics. We call it “fascist politics”. In such politics, advertisement is extremely necessary. They don’t do anything constructive, but they change names and faces”.

He further said, “Whether they do anything or not but they don’t forget to put posters only to exhibit that they are doing something. They don’t do anything but keep saying that they have done these things”.

On 24 February, the Central government approved the decision of the Maharashtra government to rename Aurangabad city as “Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar” and Osmanabad city as “Dharashiv”.

Maha Vikas Agadi (MVA) led by Uddhav Thackery had taken the decision to change the name of these cities after collapsing in June last year. The latter government led by Shinde-Fadnavis took the decision afresh after coming to power.

A petition was also filed in the Bombay High Court to challenge the government’s move calling it “saffronization of the country”.

Aurangabad MP Imtiaz Jaleel said, “Aurangabad is, was and will always be our city. Now wait for our show of strength for Aurangabad. A massive morcha for our beloved city! Get ready Aurangabadis to defeat these forces (BJP) playing politics in the name of our city. We condemn & we will fight”, as he draw criticism.

Nagpur-based lawyer Firdose Mirza told Clarion India that these decisions taken by the government to change the name of cities have no logical basis.

He said, “Changing name of Aurangabad and Osmanabad was taken to hurt the minorities mentally”.

“By changing the names, they are only trying to give a message to the minority community that this will happen when there is a majoritarian government in the state”, he added.

He also said, “If they love Chatrapati Sambhaji so much, they would establish a new city or town in his name.”

Mirza also pointed out that these decisions are also violating the guidelines issued by the home ministry in the past. He said that the home ministry had laid a process to change the names but the current dispensation is not following these guidelines.

On 28 January, the iconic gardens at Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi – which were known as Mughal Gardens were renamed as “Amrit Udyan” by the Narendra Modi government.

 Raza feels that such decisions are made by the government to divert attention from the real issues. “They want to keep people involved in such things. Meanwhile, they increase the price of a LPG cylinder. A group of media also keeps people’s attention in such things,” he said.

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