BJP under fire over Bahu Fort ‘renaming’ : The Tribune India

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BJP under fire over Bahu Fort ‘renaming’

JAMMU: The change in the nomenclature of the Mubarak Mandi-Bahu Fort Cable Car project to the Mubarak Mandi-Shahabad project is set to snowball into a major controversy as Jammu-based groups have upped the ante against the “attempt to change the demography” of the winter capital of the state.

BJP under fire over Bahu Fort ‘renaming’


Arteev Sharma

Tribune News Service

Jammu, March 21

The change in the nomenclature of the Mubarak Mandi-Bahu Fort Cable Car project to the Mubarak Mandi-Shahabad project is set to snowball into a major controversy as Jammu-based groups have upped the ante against the “attempt to change the demography” of the winter capital of the state.

In other terms, the name of Bahu Fort no more exists in the official records of the cable car project as it has now been named “Shahabad Station”.

The ruling alliance partner, BJP, has come under fire not only from the Opposition but also from its leaders who have made it clear that “it would not be tolerated at any cost”.

In its notice inviting tender for the construction of a wall, issued by the J&K State Cable Car Corporation Limited on March 17, the corporation has named the Bahu Fort area as “Shahabad Station of Cable Project at Shahabad, Jammu”, triggering a controversy at a time when the BJP is part of the government.

During the previous National Conference-Congress government headed by former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, the BJP had vociferously raised the issue in the Legislative Assembly in 2014, alleging that an attempt was being made to change the name of historical places in Jammu.

Following an uproar, the Tourism Department and the Managing Director, J&K Cable Car Corporation, had clarified, had in March 2014 issued an official statement, saying that the name of the cable car project was “Peer Kho to Bahu Fort”. They had said the takeoff point would be near the Peer Kho shrine and the landing point would near Bahu Fort.

Ravinder Sharma, chief spokesperson for the state Congress, took strong exception of the renaming of Bahu Fort. He said “some elements in the government are trying to create a religious divide”. He expressed surprise over the criminal silence being maintained by the BJP on the “highly sensitive and religious issue”.

The prestigious cable car project aims at tapping the tourism potential of Jammu.

Maintaining a tough position, Zorawar Singh Jamwal, chairman, Team Jammu, said: “Nobody would be allowed to change the identity of Jammu. We held a meeting of our activists. It has been decided that Team Jammu activists will hit the streets if the government does not ch---ange the name from Shahabad Station to Bahu Fort within a week. I will also like to ask the BJP, which claims to be the custodian and champion of the Jammu cause, why has it maintained a criminal silence on the issue. The party should clear its stand.”

Ashok Khajuria, BJP MLC and former state president of the party, also opposed the move. He said: “I had raised the issue in the Assembly when I was an MLA. We will not allow this. It is an attempt to change the demography of Jammu which will not be tolerated at any cost. Any such move will be dealt with sternly. Bahu Fort, which houses the shrine of Bawe Wali Mata, has religious importance and is directly attached to the sentiments of people. Nobody will be allowed to hurt the sentiments of people.”

Meanwhile, activists of the National Panthers Students Union (NPSU) today held a protest against the state government for allegedly hurting the sentiments of Jammu people. They burnt an effigy of the state government.

“This move shows that the government is trying to change the history of the Dogras which is not acceptable to Jammu people. BJP leaders owe an explanation to the people,” said Virender Singh, state president, NPSU.

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