Renaming of cities is not about rewriting history —it’s about killing memory

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I moved to Delhi from Aligarh in 2015 and found a home in the dense neighbourhoods of Abul Fazal Enclave. Around the same time, the New Delhi Municipal Corporation had renamed Aurangzeb Road to APJ Abdul Kalam Road in Lutyens Delhi. A few days after the renaming, I found a board at the beginning of Abul Fazal enclave road, announcing its renaming to Aurangzeb Road. This unofficial renaming of a road in a Muslim ghetto, unlike the “official” one in the citadel of New Delhi reveals to us the most critical aspect of the politics of toponymy in contemporary India. It tells us that the politics of renaming is not so much about the past but is rooted in the political technology of today, and also in its resistance. It is in this light that we must look at the proposal of the Municipal Corporation of Aligarh to rename the city as “Harigarh”.