India's ‘Pakistan’ cries for a name change

Last Updated 23 October 2019, 01:56 IST

Believe it or not, but there is a ‘Pakistan’ in Bihar.

There is also a place called Srinagar. Incidentally, both the places, which have no connection with our neighbouring country or Jammu and Kashmir, are in Purnia district, around 375 kilometres from the state capital.

While Pakistan is a small hamlet in Srinagar block of Purnia district, the 150 people residing in this tiny village have no idea why their place is called ‘Pakistan’ when there is not a single Muslim residing in this part of the town.

Of late, there has been growing demand from the local people, mostly tribals, to rename Bihar’s ‘Pakistan’ as Birsa Nagar, as a tribute to the renowned tribal leader Birsa Munda, also revered as Bhagwan (God) Birsa.

A memorandum has been submitted to the Block Development Officer (BDO) of Purnia, with a plea that the nomenclature of the village be changed to Birsa Nagar, as there were no Muslims in the village, dominated by tribals.

The locals have also pleaded that they feel quite embarrassed when their Aadhaar card shows they were residents of ‘Pakistan’, “a name similar to our hostile neighbour.”

What's in a name

The legend has it that during Partition in 1947, most of the Muslims, who stayed here, left for East Pakistan (now called Bangladesh).

These Muslims donated their land once and for all to these local tribals with a request that the hamlet be called Pakistan.

Before the State Reorganisation Act of 1956, Purnia (in Bihar) shared its border with Islampur (in West Bengal). Islampur also shares its border with Bangladesh on its eastern side.

Confirming that he has received a petition for rechristening of the village ‘Pakistan’, the Circle Officer of Srinagar, Nandan Kumar said, “The villagers have submitted a memorandum which says that there is no Muslim in the hamlet called Pakistan. Most of the residents are tribals. So, their demand is that the village be renamed as Birsa Nagar after tribal leader Birsa Munda. The memorandum will be forwarded to the District Magistrate of Purnia for suitable and appropriate action.”

(Published 22 October 2019, 12:47 IST)

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