Lahore city officials have finally given in to a long-standing demand of peace activists regarding the renaming of Shadman Chowk after revolutionary freedom fighter Bhagat Singh.
The decision was announced on Saturday, his 105th birth anniversary.
Dawn on Sunday reported from Lahore that District Coordination Officer Noorul Amin Mengal had directed the City District Government to rename Shadman Chowk as Bhagat Singh Chowk. It was here that Bhagat Singh was hanged to death on March 23, 1931, for his role in the Lahore Conspiracy Case.
Renaming the roundabout has been hanging fire since 2001 when civil society activists began demanding that Shadman Chowk’s old name be restored. After Bhagat Singh was hanged there, the place bore his name till 1947 when it was christened Shadman Chowk.
For years now, on Bhagat Singh’s birth and death anniversaries, peace activists have been converging at the roundabout to pay tribute to the revolutionary son of the soil. At the previous such gathering in March, they even threatened to go to court if their demand was not met. These vigils have not always been easy because those participating in them often get billed as traitors for honouring the memory of someone perceived to be an ‘Indian’ hero.
In fact, over the last couple of years, these activists had made it a point to refer to Shadman Chowk as ‘Bhagat Singh Chowk’ to register their determination to challenge the official historical narrative that has sought to project Pakistan’s history through a narrow prism.
According to Madeeha Gohar, whose theatre group Ajoka, has done a play on Bhagat Singh titled Mera Rang De Basanti Chola , Pakistan needs to acknowledge the role of others outside the Muslim League in the fight for independence; irrespective of caste or creed.