Faizabad: The decision to rechristen Faizabad district as Ayodhya has not gone down well with many of its residents, who believe it is an “unnecessary step” taken for “political” reasons and will eventually “erase the identity” of the historical town.
Another section, however, welcomed the Uttar Pradesh government’s move, saying it endorses the legacy of ancient Ayodhya and will enhance its “glory”.
P.K. Maurya, a 74-year-old Ayurvedic doctor, gets visibly upset when asked about the renaming move. “It was unnecessary and done with politics in mind. It is the common man who will suffer due to confusion now,” he said.
Mr. Maurya runs a dispensary in a run-down colonial-era building near the 19th century ‘Ghanta Ghar’ (Clock Tower), with an old board on its facade displaying the address as ‘Chowk-Faizabad’ in Hindi. Many other shops and commercial establishments in the area carry boards with district name labelled as ‘Zilla Faizabad’
“I won’t change the label of Faizabad on the display board, people have known my dispensary location for decades. I don’t want people to get mixed up,” said Mr. Maurya.
Faizabad city is located about 7 km from its twin town Ayodhya and has a major railway junction.
Close on the heels of renaming Allahabad as Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had on November 6 announced that Faizabad district would henceforth be known as Ayodhya district.
Shashi Kant Das, one of the main priests at the centuries-old Hanuman Garhi Temple in the heart of Ayodhya, said it was the “right decision” as Ayodhya is an ancient city and now its “glory will only be enhanced as a district”.
‘Nothing but politics’
Skand Das, an Ayodhya-based journalist of a local daily, which also has an office in Faizabad, however, disagreed with this viewpoint. “People today come to Ayodhya with a lot of reverence, and sometimes take difficult bus or train journeys or even march on foot, to reach the pilgrim town. Now, anyone reaching even in the periphery of this big district will say they have visited Ayodhya. This will dilute the importance of Ayodhya town as we know it,” he said.
Nikhil Goswami, who lives in a nearly 200-year-old house near the disputed Ramjanmabhoomi in Ayodhya, said he reveres Ayodhya as a holy place but the renaming of Faizabad district was “not needed at all”. “It is all politics,” he alleged.
Manzar Mehdi, historian and editor of a Faizabad-based bilingual publication, said, “Faizabad was the first capital of the Nawabs of Awadh and saw a period of glory and has a rich architectural and literary heritage.”
“Whether it is Allahabad or Faizabad, renaming is an attempt to erase history driven by a political agenda, not to mention the cost it will entail at the expense of taxpayers,” he said.
Siva Kumar, who operates an e-rickshaw between Ayodhya and Faizabad towns, wondered if like Mughalsarai, the Faizabad station would also be renamed. “If they do rename it, there will be two Ayodhya stations, it will confuse people.”