In June, Jammu Municipal Corporation passed a resolution to rename Sheikh Nagar in Jammu to be called Shiv Nagar, and Amphalla Chowk could be renamed Hanuman Chowk. The move has been criticized by many people including Opposition leaders.
The resolution was moved by Sharda Kumari, a Bharatiya Janata Party councillor from ward 47 where Sheikh Nagar is located, moved a resolution seeking the change in names at the 16th general house meeting of the JMC held in Town Hall Jammu on 11th June 2022. The meeting was presided by JMC Mayor Chander Mohan Gupta.
The two city squares were renamed following separate resolutions passed by the general house of the BJP-led JMC.
While moving the resolution the local councillor claimed that it was a long pending demand of residents because of the confusion as the area was also known by different names like New Bahu Fort and G D Colony besides Sheikh Nagar.
Renaming these places will end the confusion, she observed.
After passing the resolution unanimously, Sharda informed the media, “There is Shiv Mandir in the area and the people also want the place to be renamed. Therefore, we have decided to rename Sheikh Nagar to Shiv Nagar. Our resolution has been passed in the house”,
“The resolution will now be sent to the civil secretariat of Jammu and Kashmir for approval,” she added
The infamous renaming politics, popular in Uttar Pradesh, got introduced in Jammu after BJP swept the JMC polls, winning 43 of the 75 wards in urban local body elections which were held in the erstwhile state in four phases from October 8 to 16 in 2018 after a gap of 13 years.
In the year 2020, the civic body renamed the historic City Square Bharat Mata Chowk, Panjthirthi as Atal Ji Chowk, and Narwal Square as Raja Mandlik Chowk.
The names changing politics started on J&K after the Abrogation of 370 when the government changed PHE, a water supply department to Jal Shakti department. The Chenani-Nashri tunnel was named after Hindutva ideologue Syama Prasad Mookerjee.
The tunnel was renamed on October 24 – almost two months after J&K was stripped of its special status.
Many people have criticized this move of the Mayor, saying that instead of focusing on development Jammu Municipal Corporation seems more interested in hate politics.
Uday Chand, a resident of Janipur, Jammu wrote on his Facebook timeline: “How many Shiv Nagar? This is all part of mission 2024, the election campaign. Dr Farooq Abdullah, and Sh Omar Abdullah both were Union Ministers in BJP government, the same BJP showing them a shoot.”
Another youth of Jammu, Sardeep Singh wrote on his Facebook, “We don’t see any name changes in Kashmir. We have Ram Bagh, Raj Bagh, Jawahar Nagar, Karan Nagar, Hari Singh High Street, Nehru Park, and many more in Srinagar city itself. No one ever demanded to change these names”.
Jammu Municipal Corporation has claimed that they are changing these names for public demands but the maximum number of business holders in these areas express unawareness about these developments. These businessmen say that none have approached us or sought our consent, we came to know about these developments through media reports. While maximum shopkeepers whom The Maktoob talk shows resentment to give a quote.
One of the businessmen in Bharat Mata Chowk, on condition of anonymity, told Maktoob that “I only came to know about the changing name of this historic chowk only after a signboard was installed naming (Bharat Mata chowk). Till that nobody approached us or take our suggestion regarding this”.
“Although, I don’t have any objections to these things. I have been running my business for the last so many years here and I don’t think anything will change by changing the names of these places. We want to see development, the rush of tourists, and Flourishment of our business which has suffered massively for the last few years due to Covid lockdown,” he added.
Firdous Ahmad Tak, former legislator and spokesperson of the People’s Democratic Party told Maktoob that the BJP-run states are engaged in a race to show which one is more communal than the other.
“The BJP leadership is using these communal tactics to win over their voters because the economy and prosperity are at their lowest points ever. They are humiliating themselves by doing this. They have become so pitiful as to be laughed at,” he added.
“BJP has nothing to show to their people, so they are trying to divert people’s attention towards communal issues. BJP’s motto is clear. They want to erase the chapters of history,” National Conference leader Bashir Ahmed told Maktoob.
“Instead of focussing on development, they divert the attention of people from the basic issues.”
“Such tactics won’t help the BJP in coming elections, as people are fully aware of ill designs. It has indulged such wrong activities, ” he added.