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New names

November 15, 2012

LAHORE had set out to rediscover Shaheed Bhagat Singh by pressing for a city square to be dedicated to the freedom fighter close to where he was hanged. The process has helped it to find many others whom it should have honoured long ago. A committee established by the government has now given recommendations for honouring others close to the people’s heart. We are in urgent need of our heritage being recognised. It was no small coincidence that on Wednesday as the committee searched for a spot worthy of boasting the great Bulleh Shah’s initials, a group was protesting in Shadman, imposing their own ‘anti-Islam’ and ‘unconstitutional’ identities on the proposed Bhagat Singh memorial. This makes the public honouring all the more desirable.

Of the 26 names endorsed by the Dilkash Lahore Committee, the formality of seeking feedback has been completed for the Bhagat Singh and Chaudhry Rehmat Ali chowks. The remaining will be advertised for comments before being officially notified. From among these, someone like Jalaluddin Akbar would have perhaps liked a memorial closer to his fort instead of the rather distant placement he has been given. Also, the committee could have looked for a few more female names to adorn the city’s expanding landscape in addition to Habba Khatoon’s. Obviously, some political choices have been accommodated and great caution seems to have been exercised in celebrating non-Muslim personalities. Apart from Bhagat Singh, only Justice A.R. Cornelius and Jogindar Nath Mandal, who chaired the first constituent assembly of Pakistan, have made it to the list. The old practice was to choose a spot drawing its name from a British colonial personality and to give it a new name. This has been shunned. The effort to not encroach on the past signifies progress. The addition of new names while the old identities remain undisturbed will make Lahore richer.