In Khattar’s Haryana, Roads Being Renamed After Hindutva Symbols

Governance has taken a back seat in Haryana with Khattar government adhering to saffron agenda, writes Vipin Pubby.

Updated
Opinion
4 min read
Under ML Khattar, a not-too-subtle Hindutva agenda has begun to take shape in the state of Haryana. (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>)

When the BJP rode to power in Haryana for the first time ever last year, riding on the crest of a Modi wave and a development agenda, it gave no hints that it would take steps to push Hindutva, soft or otherwise. A year on, Manohar Lal Khattar’s government appears to have made it a top priority.

Khattar, who was barely known in the state as a BJP leader, remained behind the scene as an RSS pracharak for long. A close associate of Narendra Modi, who was in-charge of Haryana affairs before moving to Delhi, Khattar, together with two senior party colleagues, Anil Vij, a five-time MLA, and Ram Bilas Sharma, has now begun a not-too-subtle agenda to promote Hindutva.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar raising a mace at an event to commemorate the first anniversary of the state government in Sirsa on October 25, 2015. (Photo: PTI) &nbsp;
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar raising a mace at an event to commemorate the first anniversary of the state government in Sirsa on October 25, 2015. (Photo: PTI)  

His latest move is to name all major roads and traffic intersections in Panchkula – which was built as an extension of Chandigarh – after Hindutva symbols. Chandigarh’s planner Le Corbusier had mandated that the city’s roads, roundabouts and crossings should not be named after any person or an institution, and be given generic names as Madhya Marg, Jan Marg and Sukhna Path. Taking the cue, no roads in Panchkula too were named after a person or an institution.

Snapshot

Paved With Hindutva Intentions

  • CM Manohar Lal Khattar is spearheading move to rename major roads and roundabouts after Hindutva symbols.
  • Panchkula is the first city where the renaming programme has begun.
  • Kurukshetra University will be renamed as Geeta University.
  • State government has introduced incantation of shlokas in morning prayer meetings.
  • There are plans to make yoga a compulsory subject from the next academic session.
  • Moves afoot to rename Chandigarh International Airport after Mangal Sein who was an RSS pracharak.

Panchkula First Target

Khattar has declared that as a first step, Panchkula’s roads and roundabouts would be named after Hindutva symbols. For instance, Shakti Chowk, near the state electricity board, would be named Geeta Chowk. Another roundabout nearby would be called Sir Chhotu Ram Chowk. Yet another one would be named Maharishi Valmiki Chowk. One major road would be named after Maharaja Agrasen.

Boards like these, announcing the change of names of public places have started appearing in Panchkula. (Photo: Vipin Pubby)
Boards like these, announcing the change of names of public places have started appearing in Panchkula. (Photo: Vipin Pubby)

State government officials have been tasked to suggest names of characters from the Hindu mythology and history for the other roads and institutions across Panchukla and the rest of the state.

Likewise, the decades-old Kurukshetra University is too being named Geeta University. This was announced by Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma last week. He has set up a panel being headed by the well-known RSS ideologue Dina Nath Batra to reframe the syllabi for schools by incorporating chapters and shlokas from Hindu mythology.

Chanting of Shlokas

Sharma, who was a student of Batra, has introduced incantation of shlokas in the morning prayer meetings and plans to make yoga a compulsory subject from the next academic session. There are plans afoot to make Sanskrit a compulsory subject at some levels.

Haryana has made Baba Ramdev the state’s brand ambassador. He frequently appears on stage, practising yoga alongside Khattar. (Photo: Reuters)
Haryana has made Baba Ramdev the state’s brand ambassador. He frequently appears on stage, practising yoga alongside Khattar. (Photo: Reuters)

Besides renaming roads and chowks in Panchkula, there are plans to rename roads, sites and complexes across the state on names associated with Hinduism.

Haryana has made Baba Ramdev the state’s brand ambassador. He frequently appears on stage, practising yoga alongside Khattar. Regular yoga training camps are being organised and plans are afoot to open thousands of yogashalas across the state.

Cow Protection Law

The state government recently brought in a stringent cow protection law. The Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan Act, 2015, prescribes rigorous punishment ranging from three to ten years and a fine up to Rs 1 lakh. It also bans the sale of beef and beef products, except for medical purposes and any contravention of the law provides for a term not less than three years, extending up to five years, with a fine not less than Rs 30,000, extending up to Rs 50,000.

The definition of ‘cow’ in the new law includes bull, bullock, ox, heifer or calf, as well as disabled, diseased or a barren cow in any form – including flesh that is packed in sealed containers and imported into the state.

It further says that “anyone seeking to send cows out of the state must apply for a permit to the government, stating the reasons and numbers of export, and the destination state, as well as a declaration saying that the cows would not be slaughtered.”

It provides that “permits shall not be issued for exports to a state where cow slaughter is not banned.” A number of incidents of assault on trucks carrying bovine creatures have been reported from across the state in the recent past.

Renaming Airport

Left and AAP members shout slogans at a protest, demanding that Chandigarh Airport be named after Shaheed Bhagat Singh, at Parliament House in New Delhi, December 17, 2015. (Photo: PTI)
Left and AAP members shout slogans at a protest, demanding that Chandigarh Airport be named after Shaheed Bhagat Singh, at Parliament House in New Delhi, December 17, 2015. (Photo: PTI)

Adding to its list of promoting Hindutva symbols and eulogising the RSS, the state government recently suggested naming the new International Airport in Chandigarh after late Dr Mangal Sein, a top RSS pracharak and former Haryana deputy chief minister.

(The writer is a Chandigarh-based senior journalist)

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