Amid raging controversy over renaming of Aurangzeb Road in Lutyens’ Zone after A P J Abdul Kalam, a street in south Delhi has been ‘named’ after the Mughal emperor, triggering a fresh row, even as SDMC termed it as “illegal” and said action will be taken accordingly.
The stretch of nearly 3-km from Kalindi Kunj to Jamia Nagar, locally called as ‘Pushta Road’, has been “named” as ‘Aurangzeb Road’ by former Congress Okhla MLA Asif Mohammed Khan, who says he did this in “protest against the renaming of the historic road by the NDMC.”
“Home Minister Rajnath Singh had recently said in Parliament that names of historical places and buildings cannot be changed. Then, how come it was allowed to change the name of ‘Aurangzeb Road’? And, therefore as a token protest, we chose to call this as ‘Aurangzeb Road’,” 49-year-old Khan said.
The former MLA, who has also served as a councillor from the area in the 90s, claimed, “Local residents of Okhla are with me, and we will approach the authorities concerned for its official naming.”
The area falls under the Central Zone of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC).
The former MLA, who has put up “10 vinyl boards” at regular distance, said “permanent metallic board would be installed tomorrow”.
“This ‘naming’ of a street is illegal and politically motivated. Any naming or renaming of roads in municipal areas has to be approved by its Naming Committee and the Standing Committee. Though the area falls under us, we are also hearing that the road probably falls under the Uttar Pradesh Flood and Irrigation Department.
“We are trying to find out, and if it turns out that the road belongs to us (SDMC), then we will take strict action and remove all boards and encroachments. We are anyway against keeping or naming a road after any brutal ruler, so we are against this move,” South Delhi Mayor Subhash Arya said.
Khan, when asked, if action is initiated against him, said, “In the new boards, we have written the street name in three languages — Hindi, Urdu and English — and I have also put my name at the bottom. I take full responsibility. But, this is not about Aurangzeb’s validity.”
“It is about attempts to change history, and about Hindutava policy that we are opposing. And, if they deny us naming this road after Aurangzeb, we will not only take to streets, but also start a movement to name two streets after the Mughal ruler in other cities also,” he told PTI.
“We respect Kalam sahab and real tribute could have been a new university named after him. Why was name of a man like him dragged into controversy after his death? It is all politics, so we named in protest against this,” he said.