Why Was Delhi's Now Arun Jaitley Stadium Called Feroz Shah Kotla?
To be fair, the DDCA renaming things in the name of Jaitley is not that surprising. He served as the President of the cricketing body for 13 years and his love for cricket was well known and certified.
Illustration by Mir Suhail
The tragic news of the demise of former finance minister and Bharatiya Janata Party veteran Arun Jaitley had just begun to fade to the back annals of newspapers when the Delhi & District Cricket Association "immortalized" him by renaming the gloried Feroze Shah Kotla stadium in New Delhi.
The decision was announced three days after Jaitley's funeral with full state honours in the presence of top leaders of the company. While announcing the decision, DDCA President Rajat Sharma commemorated Jaitley's contributions toward the development of the stadium, formerly named after the Turkic ruler Firoz Shah Tughlaq of Tughlaq dynasty.
"It was Arun Jaitley's support and encouragement that players like Virat Kohli, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Ashish Nehra, Rishabh Pant and many others could make India proud," Sharma proclaimed, claiming that there was no better name better suited for the stadium than Jaitley's.
However, the news seems to have struck some raw nerves in the city and amid cheers, some have come out on social media to voice their concerns over changing historically relevant symbols that make up the heritage and living culture of a city.
Delhi's iconic Feroze Shah Kotla stadium to be renamed as Arun Jaitley stadium.
Not taking anything away from Arun Jaitley, but I hate this practice of renaming places. It's like trying to erase a slice of history from our lives.
— Kartik Dayanand (@KartikDayanand) August 27, 2019
This is not the best move. Feroze Shah Kotla has a ring of history but to name it after Jaitley is to smear it with politics. They could have named a stand or some other institution
— Rajesh Sachdeva (@1710rajesh) August 27, 2019
Yet others wondered why the stadium was still called Feroze Shah Kotla stadium at all. Didn't the Mughals leave a long time ago?
Feroze Shah Kotla was built in the 14th Century. No, not the stadium but the citadel that the stadium built in its proximity was named after.
According to city-based historian Rana Safvi, the citadel was part of Firozabad, the fifth city of Delhi, built by Firoz Shah Tughlaq. The fortress of Feroz Shah Kotla (literally meaning citadel) stood crowning the city, one of seven that have come to comprise Delhi over time.
"Firozabad was the first city of Delhi to be built on the banks of a river," she explained, referring to the Yamuna that flowed bountifully through the city at the time. The citadel was beautifully planned and became a prototype for Mughal forts.
However, not all want to remember the Shah, whose name is often invoked in the popular imagination to evoke a sense of tyranny and injustice, which can arguably be credited more to his brother Mohammad Bin Tughlaq than him. But hordes of Indians today look at the rulers who make up a large chunk of India's history as "invaders". Like this Twitter user's micro-aggression on the micro-blogging site.
Feroze Shah Kotla stadium to be renamed Arun Jaitley stadium. As much as I'm delighted that it'll be named after Arun Jaitley, I'm glad that another place ridiculously named after a Muslim invader has been dusted to the ground.
— Vinayak (@vinayak_jain) August 27, 2019
To be fair, the DDCA renaming things in the name of Jaitley is not that surprising. He did serve as the President of the cricketing body for 13 years and his love for cricket was well known and certified.
However, some such as Safvi felt that a better tribute could have been creating something new instead of renaming something old. "I personally feel that would have been the best homage. But, renaming seems to be an established pattern," the historian lamented.
Meanwhile, remains of the fortress of Firozabad and one of the country's oldest mosques (Jami Masjid) still stand, desecrated and forgotten, right across the stadium — an edifice and emblem of a history that loves the autocratic and the powerful.
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