The Irony of Irrational Renaming of Roads and Chowks in Kashmir

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Srinagar: Roads not only lead us to our destinations but also form a part of our heritage and identity. Names of roads can tell you a lot about the place but sadly in Kashmir, most of us are hardly aware about the names of our roads or the significance behind these names. 

Most roads in Kashmir have never been officially named and people, just to simplify directions, refer to them by local names that hardly have anything to do with the significance of the place.  

“Names of roads here are distorted and confusing. People give names on their own without involving the authorities. I live in Vicharnag and recently for reasons unknown, the name has been changed to Towheedabad by the local mosque community. People are doing this under the garb of religious, social and economic reasons. The authorities are hardly bothered about this”, says Ishfaq Ahmad, a resident of Vicharnag.

“If people start renaming places for their own petty gains, then our culture and traditions will be lost forever and our future generations will know nothing about our rich history”, Ahmad further added. 

“The local administration is so busy in meaningless tasks that they completely neglect all important work.  Forget proper road names, we don’t even have public toilets, dustbins, water taps etc. We aren’t aware about the significance of names and thus hardly bother to inquire about the history associated with the name of a place”, Aijaz Ahmed, a local resident says.

“Perhaps the reason is the lack of a proper database in Kashmir. There is hardly any record of ancient local history. Whatever knowledge we possess has been passed on by word of mouth. Renaming places and roads on a whim has become a norm in Kashmir.  I live in Alamgiri Bazaar but the same name has been changed to ‘Khomeini Chowk’. This speaks volumes about the lackluster attitude of our authorities,” he rued.

In response to a representation made by the Editor, Kashmir Observer wherein it was pointed out that the road from Ali Masjid towards Hawal has remained unnamed, the name of the road was suggested after the Great Governor of Kashmir Ali Mardan Khan and the same name was put in effect under reference no.164-1186-90 dated 29.08.2012 by Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Dr. Asgar Hassan Samoon. Since then, many new roads have come up and most of them have been named by locals themselves. Also, many previous names have been replaced by new names given by the people themselves. The authorities remain insouciant and unbothered by this. 

District Commissioner Srinagar Farooq Ahmed Lone, when contacted said, “There is a proper procedure that needs to be followed when naming a particular road. Most names are chosen only after taking into account the significance of the place or the local residents. Locals here lack consonance and rename roads and places on their own. But the name of a place or road can only be changed after following a proper procedure and can only be done by the concerned authorities”.  

When asked why Alamgiri Bazaar had been renamed as Khomeini Chowk by the locals, Mr. Farooq assured us that he will look into the matter and the concerned R&B officials will be taken to task.

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