• Monday, July 04, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

Southall road honouring general who crushed India’s 1857 uprising set to be renamed after Guru Nanak

The Sri Guru Singh Sabha gurdwara on Havelock Road in Southall (Photo: MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Eastern Eye Staff

THE Ealing Council has said it will launch a statutory consultation over renaming a road in Southall — known as “Little Punjab” — after the founder of Sikh faith, Guru Nanak.

The proposal to rename a section of Havelock Road as “Guru Nanak Road” came to the fore as Sadiq Khan ordered a review of the capital’s public landmarks.

Earlier this week, the London mayor set up the Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm in response to the anti-racism protests that targeted memorials linked to slavery and colonialism.

The commission, Khan said, would help ensure that the London’s landmarks “suitably reflect its achievements and diversity”.

Havelock Road is named after Major General Sir Henry Havelock, the British general behind the quashing the Indian rebellion against the East India Company in 1857, referred to as India’s First War of Independence.

 

Scene from the siege to recapture Cawnpore (now Kanpur, in Uttar Pradesh) from rebels during the India’s First War of Independence in 1857, alongside a portrait of General Henry Havelock. (iStock)

 

Welcoming Khan’s review, Ealing Council leader Julian Bell said he  had initiated parallel action within the borough which covers Southall.

“One suggested proposal is the renaming of Havelock Road in Southall, a section of which could be renamed Guru Nanak Road. There will be full and proper statutory consultation before any changes are made,” said Bell.

“Our diversity is our strength. We need to make sure that our public realm, our statues, road names and buildings reflect our diversity, and not a frozen past where colonialism, racism and the slave trade were present and celebrated.”

Southall MP Virendra Sharma backed the move, calling for a relook at British history.

 

Labour MP Virendra Sharma

 

“I have long campaigned for schools to teach more about our imperial past, not just the great strides made but also the shameful thuggery and violence, names like Havelock belong in books, classrooms and museums, not on the streets to be celebrated,” said the Labour veteran.

“The community should come together to decide how we rename this road, but celebrating Guru Nanak Dev Ji in his 550th anniversary, and erasing a white man who killed Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus, would be a sign of our multiculturalism and our diversity,” he said.

 

“The community should come together to decide how we rename this road, but celebrating Guru Nanak Dev Ji in his 550th anniversary, and erasing a white man who killed Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus, would be a sign of our multiculturalism and our diversity,” said Southall MP Virendra Sharma.

 

The council said it would lay out the full terms of the consultation process in due course as part of its review.

The wave of action against dubious landmark names across the UK was triggered by the dramatic pulling down of the statue of Edward Colston, a 17th century slave trader, during anti-racism protests last weekend in Bristol.

Statue of another slaver, Robert Milligan, was taken down by the Tower Hamlets Council from London’s Docklands. Several campaigns were initiated for the removal of similar monuments, including the statue of Robert Clive in Shropshire over his role in colonising India.

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