Jammu and Kashmir: Roads and institutions to be named after poets, academics, slain cops

An award-winning Dogri littérateur, a policeman lynched by a mob, and a former Doordarshan director gunned down by militants will have roads, schools and government-owned institutions named after them in the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, people familiar with the matter said.

A senior government functionary said a long list of names has been drawn up for this, which will be the state’s tribute to academic and literary stalwarts and also to those who laid down their lives in the line of duty.

The proposed list includes poet Padma Sachdev who passed away in August; deputy superintendent of Jammu and Kashmir Police Mohammed Ayub Pandith, who was lynched by a mob outside a mosque in Kashmir in 2017; and Lassa Kaul, who, as Doordarshan director in 1990, was gunned down by militants outside his house.

Also on the list are Makbool Sherwani, a National Conference worker who played a key role in holding off Pakistani intruders in 1947 and bought time for the Indian military to arrive; celebrated poet Dina Nath Nadim, who played a stellar role in Kashmir’s progressive movement; noted poet, broadcaster and freedom fighter Sarwanand Koul Premi, who was gunned down along with his son Virendra in 1990; J&K Police inspector Arshad Ahmed Khan who died in a fidayeen attack in Anantnag in 2019; and Brigadier Rajendra Singh who died fighting Pakistani raiders in Kashmir in 1947.

The list was drawn up after consultation with local people in each district of Jammu and Kashmir; also surveyed were members of the panchayat and district development councils, the police and the paramilitary.

“The renaming drive is being undertaken to acknowledge distinguished citizens. The divisional commissioners of Jammu and Kashmir have been asked to come up with more names and the places that can be named after them. To ensure proper representation from each of the 20 districts, the deputy commissioners have also been asked to send in suggestions,” said the functionary quoted above.

To pick the roads, areas, or institutions that will be renamed, the administration is looking at those whose names have no historical relevance. For instance, it hasn’t found the name Bhatindi (an area in Jammu) in any of the old gazette notifications. “There are many places with names that have no relevance or historical detail. For example, the Zero Bridge in Kashmir. It could be named after any of the eminent people,” the functionary said.

Last week, the Srinagar district administration recommended the renaming of a college in Hyderpora after playwright Padma Shri Moti Lal Keemu, and a street in downtown Kashmir after Kashmiri poet Zinda Koul.

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