Akbar Allahabadi is now Akbar Prayagraj: Poets Fall Prey to UP Govt’s Renaming Spree

Waquar Hasan 

NEW DELHI – After the cities of Uttar Pradesh, it’s the turn of the poets to fall prey to BJP’s whimsical name-changing spree. The Uttar Pradesh Government seems to have quietly rechristened poets hailing from Allahabad like Akbar Allahabadi, who has been passed off as Akbar Prayagraj.

Uttar Pradesh Higher Education Commission (UPHES), a government body which appoints principals and professors for government-subsidised universities and colleges, on its website names poets who used Allahabadi as their pen name as Prayagrajs. Hence, Akbar Allahabadi, Tegh Allahabadi and Rashid Allahabadi have become Akbar Prayagraj, Tegh Prayagraj and Rashid Prayagraj.

“Besides Hindi literature, Persian and Urdu literatures are also studied in the city. Akbar is a noted modern Urdu poet, and Nooh Narwi, Tegh Prayagraj, Shabnam Naqvi and Rashid Prayagraj have their origin in Prayagraj,” reads the ‘About Us’ section of UPHES’s website.

They even renamed the Allahabad High Court after Prayagraj.

In the website’s About US, there is a section of ‘About Allahabad’. All these changes in the names have been effected while describing Allahabad in that ‘About Allahabad’ section.

Hindi daily, Dainik Bhashkar, quoted UPHES chief Ishwar Sharan Vishwakarma as saying that he was not aware of the development. However, the change of poets’ pen-names has drawn flak from writers and poets.

Fiction writer and Professor Rajendra Kumar called changing of Akbar Allahabadi’s name to Akbar Prayagraj an insult to Akbar Allahabadi, a “violation of privacy”.

“This is not just a matter of changing names. But you are spoiling someone’s reputation and identity. It gave an impression that he had done nothing, hence the name change,” said Kumar.

He said that changing the name of a city is different from changing the name of an individual. A city is a collective property while any person’s name is not. If a poet assumes a particular name for his pen-name, it becomes part of his identity. Changing it is like wiping out history. He demanded that the UPHES should take steps to restore their original name.

Akbar Allahabadi, Teg Allahabadi and Rashid Allahabadi are acclaimed Urdu poets.

Akbar Allahabadi is well known among the people for his satirical poetry in Urdu. His original name is Syed Akbar Hussain but he is known in the world of poetry as Akbar Allahabadi. He was born in Rajasthan’s Bara on 16 November, 1846.


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