Strong resentment in Jammu over renaming of Bagh-i-Bahu, Shankracharya Hills on communal lines

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By Citizen Journalist Sunil Kumar

bahu-fortThe decision of Jammu and Kashmir government to change the name of some historic places in the state which have Hindu, and Dogra antecendents to something which is more closely associated to Kashmir, and its Muslim population is not going down well with people in this region. The people of Jammu are alleging that the National Conference is trying to vitiate the environment by changing historic names such as famous Bagh-i-Bahu to Shahabad, the famous Shankracharya hills to Takht-i-Sulaiman, and the famous town of Anantnag as Islaamabad. In fact the Bar Association of Jammu has decided to strike work today oppose the politically vicious decisions by the government which are meant just to appease a particular section of population in the state while hurting the sentiments of majority community in Jammu.

An online petition has also been launched by a US based Indian resident who has called for ending this insensible practice, and to this extent questioned the decision of the Archaelogical survey of India to change the name of Shankaracharya Hill overlooking the Dal Lake in Srinagar,  to ‘Takht-e-Suleiman’. The petitioner BK Vasan has also alleged that ASI has presented a distorted version of the Shankaracharya Hills on the plaque which has been set up to provide information to the tourists who visit this place. Vasan says that it is an absurd myth that this hill was controlled by Jews so it has been named as ‘Takht e Suleiman’ or ‘Throne of Solomon’.

Vasan alleges that it is a shameful act of appeasement to win over innocent Muslims. Politicians are hoping to ingratiate themselves with the Muslims of India by exploiting their sentiments. Why are we letting some officials of the ASI beholden to political interests, to re-write history in this sad and shameful fashion?

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He also says that decisions like these will cause a deep rift in the country between Hindus and Muslims. This will be seen as yet one more instance of how the minority is usurping the majority. These mindless acts, though it may seem insignificant at the time, will fester into full blown religious riots, and even wars, in the future. We should stop it now, he asserts.

Meanwhile, the people of Jammu are very angry over this issue, and writing comments online as well on social media to vent their feelings. Pardeep Jamwal writes that leaders of Jammu region are puppets in the hands of Kashmiris, while Akshay Kumar says that the decision to rename Bagh-iBahu is a shameful act, and should be opposed tooth and nail. Manish Singh, another Jammuite is exhorting the people to come forward, and show the political class that they are not going to brook any political non-sense from the government. The Bar Association meanwhile says that they will continue to protest till this decision is scrapped.