JAIPUR: Three seemingly ‘Islamic-sounding’ villages will now have ‘Hindu’ names as the Rajasthan government has notified their renaming after the proposal was cleared by the Union Home Ministry a few
Ismailpur village in Jhunjhunu district will now be known as Pichanwa Khurd while Miyon ka Bara in Barmer district has been rechristened as Mahesh Nagar. In Jalore district, a village known as Narpara until now will henceforth be called Narpura.
The move, which comes just a few months before the Assembly elections in Rajasthan, is being seen as part of the Vasundhara Raje government’s bid to woo voters.
The government has offered two reasons to justify the move behind renaming Miyon ka Bara (house of Muslims) — one, it was called so despite having only four Muslim families (in a population of around 2,000); and secondly, the residents had been complaining that the youths were not receiving marriage proposals because of the misleading name, which gave an impression that it was a Muslim-dominated village.
According to officials, locals had pleaded the district administration to change the name of the village. A district official claims that the village was known as ‘Mahesh Ro Baado’ prior to Independence. Hameersingh Bhayal, BJP MLA from Siwana in Barmer, said the demand to rename the village was 10 years old.
“It has been named Mahesh Nagar due to the presence of a Shiva temple in the village,” he said.
Government sources disclosed that a proposal is in the pipeline to rename three more ‘Islamic-sounding’ villages in Chittorgarh district - Mohamadpura is proposed to be renamed as Medi Ka Kheda; Nawabpura as Nayi Sarthal and Rampura Aajampur as Sitaram Ji ka Kheda.
The renaming has received flak from the Opposition Congress that described it as a bid to isolate Muslims and polarise the state for electoral gains.
“They want to divert people from core issues. The Raje government has fallen flat in fulfilling the basic promises it made. Now, they want to divide people in the name of cows or by renaming villages,” said Archana Sharma, Congress spokesperson.
Political commentator Rajiv Gupta alleged the move was yet another example of the BJP’s bias against the Muslims. “The BJP can survive only when they are successful in establishing the fact that they are against the minorities,” he said.
In April, BJP MLA Banwari Lal Singhal had courted controversy when he urged Hindu families not to allow Muslims to enter their houses. The BJP MLA had claimed that he neither allowed Muslims to enter his office nor sought votes from the community.