LAHORE: Several colonial-era structures can be found in Punjab’s provincial capital and they still bear names of the former British colonial authorities, said Sahib Singh Thind, president of Canada-based Mohan Singh Yadgar Foundation.
Addressing a news conference at the Nisar Usmani Auditorium of the Lahore Press Club, he said that these colonial-era structures, some of which house government offices and other public facilities, act as historical monuments to a time when the nation’s citizens were oppressed and subjugated.
“As our nations move towards a more promising and inclusive future, it is crucial that we start to let go of the ‘reminders of our colonial history.’ Instead, we must honor our own heroes who battled for our freedom and independence,” said Sahib Singh Thind who is in Pakistan on a short visit.
“Our suggestion to rename colonial structures in honor of our indigenous fighters is therefore not only essential but also important,” he said, and demanded of the Punjab government that heroes of national independence Sardar Bhagat Singh and Sher Ali Khan Afridi be given the status of national martyrs of Pakistan. He also suggested renaming of Lahore’s Mayo Hospital in honor of Sher Ali Afridi Hospital.
He said that the people of Punjab had played an important role in the war of national independence, so a museum should be built in memory of the martyrs of the independence war, in which all the documents related to these fighters should be preserved, including the memorials of the courts and prisons.
‘Renaming colonial era buildings is not just a symbolic gesture but a necessary step towards reclaiming our history and identity’
He demanded that lives, sacrifices, and services of national martyrs be included in the curricula of educational institutions. He said that Sher Ali Khan Afridi, a former Afghan soldier, who was hanged for the murder of a viceroy on March 11, 1873, and Bhagat Singh, who was hanged on March 23, 1931, should be given the status of national martyrs.
For the past 33 years, Sahib Singh Thind said that his foundation has been fighting to bring justice to the excesses of British imperialism. Earlier, the Mohan Singh Foundation apologized to the Canadian government for the Komagata Maru incident, which was sought by Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in the House of Commons.
“By renaming these colonial era buildings, we are not only paying tribute to the sacrifices of those who fought for our rights and dignity but also reclaiming our history and identity,” he said. “It is a powerful statement that we are no longer defined by the legacy of our oppressors but by the strength and resilience of our own people.”
“I will just say that renaming the colonial buildings of Lahore with the names of freedom fighters is not just a symbolic gesture but a necessary step towards reclaiming our history and identity,” he said. He said that it was time to shed the symbols of colonial past and embrace the legacy of indigenous heroes who fought for people’s rights and freedom.