NEW DELHI: The renaming of Lahore’s Shadman Fawara Chowk after Shaheed Bhagat Singh received yet another setback Friday when the Lahore High Court ordered the City District Government of Lahore (CDGL) not to issue notification to rename the chowk after the martyr.
Fawara or Shadman Chowk (shown in the above picture) stands at the execution ground of Lahore Central Jail where Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were hanged on March 23, 1931.
The jail was demolished in 1961 to pave the way for Shadman Colony. The Fawara Chowk stands exactly on the spot where the three freedom fighters were executed 82 years ago.
The chowk is currently also called Chaudhry Rehmat Ali Chowk after the man who coined the name of Pakistan.
In a petition in the Lahore High Court, Tehrik-i-Hurmat-i-Rasool member Zahid Butt – who is also president of the Shadman Traders’ Union – argued that the chowk was unanimously named after Chaudhry Rehmat Ali.
Admitting his plea, the court passed the interim order, according to a report in Dawn.
Since civil groups from both India and Pakistan had managed to get the Lahore city government to proclaim the chowk as Bhagat Singh Chowk, the petitioner contended that these groups, including the Bhagat Singh Foundation, have colluded with other ‘so-called’ human rights associations to pressurize the city government to change the name.
The petitioner said the city government ignored the reservations of the locals who formed a committee — “Dilkash Lahore” — to protest the renaming of the chowk.
Advocate Aftab Bajwa, representing the petitioner, alleged that a strong Indian lobby and India-sponsored human rights activists were behind the efforts to force the government to change the name of the chowk, according to the Dawn report.
The court has asked the respondents file their replies by November 29.
Even a majority of the committee set up by the city government had opposed the renaming of the chowk on the grounds that since Pakistan is a Muslim country any roads or chowks should be named after Muslims, not Hindus or Sikhs.
The decision to rename the chowk was announced in September after efforts by many prominent Indians and Pakistanis, including journalist Kuldeep Nayar, Jawaharlal Nehru University professor Chaman Lal, members of the Hind-Pak Dosti Manch and the Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD).