Written byAnjana Raghav ·
The rechristening of Uttar Pradesh's over 150-year-old Mughalsarai station has been red-flagged by historians, some of whom feel "erasing a landmark chapter" in the evolution of railways in India will lead to "terrible confusion" among travelers.
UP Government in June 2017 decided to rename Mughalsarai Junction after RSS ideologue, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, who was found dead near the station in mysterious circumstances in 1968.
"History should be respected as it is. Mughalsarai was a historic railway station and part of childhood memories of millions of people," lamented noted historian Irfan Habib.
Habib, who has fond memories of traveling in trains, said, "For politicians, first the British names were a problem, and now anything that has a 'Mughal or Islamic identity attached to it', from roads to parks."
Kolkata-based photographer and railway enthusiast Rajiv Soni, 65, said, "All major trains go via Mughalsarai. The trains were timed so precisely that one would reach for breakfast in Patna, lunch in Mughalsarai, and tea in Kanpur."
"The renaming will now kill all those romantic memories and nostalgia. It was totally unwarranted as Mughalsarai was a very innocuous name with no religious identity," he rued.
Architect and industrial heritage expert, Moulshri Joshi, slammed the renaming, adding the station represented the "technological achievement" in the transport sector.
"The station has beautiful long platform vault and one side has an ornate wrought-iron work, too, on the iron pillars. This rechristening has nothing but a political agenda," said Joshi, asking whether "deliberations and consultations" were done before taking such a "sweeping decision".
Vikas Dilawari, a Mumbai-based conservation architect, said Mughalsarai's name may have been changed but its legacy will endure like the famous "VT station of Bombay".
"Even though VT's name changed twice, first to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and then, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, locals still call it VT," he said.
Dilawari said Mughalsarai's name too will linger on in public consciousness if not on paper.
Mughalsarai station was created as part of Delhi-Howrah line in the 1860s and is one of India's busiest railway stations with a large number of passenger and freight trains passing daily through it both ways.
Its marshaling yard is also the longest in Asia. Initially part of East Indian Railway (EIR) company, it is now part of the East Central Zone (ECR) zone.
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