“Why is selling fish being construed as a lowly profession”?

With Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu Hind leader Ather Farouqui accusing the Delhi Government of sullying the martyrdom of freedom fighter Ashfaqullah Khan by naming the wholesale fish market at Ghazipur in East Delhi after him and urging Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to rectify this “horrendous faux pas”, fish sellers at the market have reacted sharply to the demand and termed it an insult to their profession.

In an online petition, Mr. Farouqui had stated that “it is a matter of national shame that the insensitive authorities of the Delhi Government have so recklessly renamed the fish market at Ghazipur as Shaheed Ashfaqullah Khan Fish Market supposedly to honour the memory of this great son of India and famed Urdu poet’’. He had also requested Ms. Dikshit to “rectify this horrendous faux pas as soon as possible’’.

The petition has noted that “this matter not only relates to the Urdu-speaking populace, freedom fighters and concerned citizens, it is a transgression on the sanctity of the Indian nation which was formed from the blood and toil of such freedom fighters and martyrs as Shaheed Ashfaqullah Khan.’’

Dr. Farouqui said “there cannot be a more apt example of myopic policies and bad taste’’. He quoted from a magazine about the condition of the fish market area, which has come up on a sanitary landfill site and is opposite a poultry market, and questioned: “Do we want to pay homage to our national heroes with glowing commemorations or shower them in a deluge of crabs, lobsters, tuna and prawns? Is this the legacy we want to bequeath to our young generation?’’

However, the fish sellers at Ghazipur are aghast at the demand. Mohammad Tanseer, of Md. Tanseer and Company, said the market was made at this site by the Government to relocate the fish sellers of Jama Masjid. “We feel proud that it is named after a freedom fighter. What is the harm in it? Why is selling fish being construed to be a lowly profession? Seventy per cent of earth surface is water and there are communities across the world who catch and sell fish. It is the food of billions.’’

Mr. Tanseer said it was good that a wholesale market has been named after a martyr. “Fish comes here from all over and is then sent to as far as Kashmir. With it goes the name of Ashfaqullah Khan. Otherwise, who is there to take the name of martyrs these days.’’

A third generation fish seller, S. Shahid of Hayatt Fish Trading said: “We feel proud about this place and the business we are in. Why this myopic view about naming a market after a martyr. You can name a road after them and people can then spit or pee on it and it is fine with you. But if a place, which gives jobs to so many and feeds millions of people is named after a martyr, you feel insulted. I think such words are demeaning for our profession.’’

Delhi Minister and Ballimaran MLA Haroon Yusuf said: “Ghazipur is a big transit market from where fish and poultry goes all across North India. It has been named after the martyr to honour him. It means little if it has come up on a landfill site as that site is temporary and the area is being greened. The idea should be to just keep the place as clean as possible. It is in fact an insult to the fish sellers, if such a demand to remove the name of the martyr is being made.’’

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