Demanding that its name be changed to that of a “great leader” of India, members of right-wing outfit Hindu Sena allegedly blackened a signboard bearing the name of Babar Road in Central Delhi Saturday morning.
Babar Road is located in Lutyens’ Delhi, which comes under the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC). The blackened board is located in the popular Bengali Market.
Claiming that “Babar was an outsider who attacked native Indians”, members of the outfit blackened the English, Hindi and Punjabi texts of the road’s name on the board. The Urdu text remained untarnished.
Hindu Sena founder Vishnu Gupta said: “Babar was not born here. Instead he came here, attacked the native people and set up a state. There should be no roads or mosques named after him in this country. Let Babar Roads and Babri Masjids be where he was born.”
He added that “India is the country of Shri Ram, Maharishi Valmiki and Sant Ravidas”.
Eish Singhal, DCP (New Delhi), said: “We received a complaint about the defacement of the signboard Saturday. Legal action will be taken against the accused. A case has been registered against unknown persons under section 31 of Delhi Prevention of Defacement Property Act, 2007.” The NDMC, too, filed a complaint at Barakhamba police station, said police.
The roads named after various rulers and dynasties in the Lutyens’ Delhi area — Ashoka Road, Akbar Road, Lodhi Road, Aurangzeb Road, Tughlaq Road — had been laid out and named during the creation of the new British Indian capital of New Delhi in the early 20th Century. This system of naming streets after prominent personalities was a shift from the older systems of naming roads in Delhi.
Earlier, said historian Narayani Gupta, while roads where often named according to their functions or destination points, lanes were named after a haveli owner or the occupation or ethnicity of its inhabitants.
Historian Sohail Hashmi notes that it is a historian, and not someone with political ties, who had chosen who the roads would be named after.
In September 2017, the Hindu Sena had defaced an Akbar Road signboard and demanded that its name be changed to Maharana Pratap Road.
Last May, unidentified persons had pasted a poster with the words ‘Maharana Pratap Road’ on an Akbar Road signboard.