VCK had submitted petitions to the Collector and Corporation Commissioner, demanding action to install the signboard on Dr. Ambedkar Road

Names of Madurai city’s prominent roads, streets, lanes, and even by-lanes are glittering on white and blue retro-reflective sticker signboards these days. The new signboards, 3,750 in all, were installed as part of a Rs. 4-crore project, ahead of ‘Maamadurai Potruvom,’ a cultural festival celebrated recently.

However, Dr. Ambedkar Road, named after the architect of the Constitution, does not have the new signboard. “Was it a case of oversight? Or is it a deliberate attempt on the part of the civic body?” wonders Tirumaran of Dr. Ambedkar Advocates’ Association, owing allegiance to the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK),

The advocates’ association, on Monday, staged a protest in front of the District Court Complex, condemning the Madurai Corporation and district administration. Tirumaran, an advocate who led the protest, said that when even by-lanes were sporting new signboards, how could they forget an important road named after a leader who fought for social justice.

Speaking about the importance of street names, S. Deivam of Puthiya Tamilagam said that like memorials, street naming had become one of the most common and visible strategies for the oppressed to promote public recognition of Ambedkar as well as other figures identified with the struggle for equal rights, such as Immanuel Sekaran, Rettamalai Srinivasan and M.C. Rajah.

Writer Stalin Rajangam observes: “Naming of streets cannot be taken lightly. The naming means that it can also be used by historically subordinate or marginalised groups as a form of resistance to challenge prevailing ideas about their identity and importance within the society.”

Dalit scholar A. Jaganathan says, “Commemorating Ambedkar is inseparable from a broader consideration of casteism and caste relations, especially a desire to reverse the control historically exercised by dominant castes over others, and street naming falls in this category.”

VCK had submitted petitions to the Collector and Corporation Commissioner, demanding action to install the signboard. The party got an assurance to that effect but no action had been taken, said Mr.Tirumaran.

Collector Anshul Mishra told The Hindu that he had forwarded the complaint to the Corporation as they were responsible for installation of signboards.

Mayor V.V. Rajan Chellappa said that steps would be taken to install the name board and clarified that it was not deliberate on the part of the civic body “as we have portraits of Dr. Ambedkar on our premises and we celebrate his birthday.”

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