A part of the famous Havelock Road in London’s Southall district will be renamed after Guru Nanak, announced the Ealing Council, the local authority for the London Borough of Ealing that includes Southall, last week. The decision was taken by the cabinet on July 14 to celebrate and commemorate Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. According to the Ealing Council, the part of Havelock Road between King Street and Merrick Road will be renamed ‘Guru Nanak Road’.
Southall is home to a large Sikh community and the largest gurdwara outside India, Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, is also located on Havelock Road.
While announcing the decision the cabinet noted: “Following the decision by the cabinet on 14 July to celebrate and commemorate the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, it has been decided to make an order to rename part of Havelock Road,” furthering that such decisions should ‘respect and balance cultural and historical identities, sensitivities and heritage’.
Authorities concerned carried out consultations directly with Southall residents and businesses which will be directly impacted by the move, including the Royal Mail. The decision was taken in accordance with the Street Naming Protocol. The cabinet said that the name change will come into effect early in 2021 and the council will be writing to households, businesses and organisations impacted in advance of the change.
Havelock Road in Southall, London was named after colonial British general Sir Henry Havelock
The Havelock Road is named after the colonial British general Sir Henry Havelock of the East India Company who is known to be responsible for the death of many freedom fighters during the Sepoy Mutiny in Cawnpore (now Kanpur) in 1857.
Before that, he had participated in several wards in British India. Havelock took part in the First Afghan War in 1839, the Gwalior campaign against the Maratha forces in 1943, and after that, he had taken part in the Sikh wars in 1945-46. The First Anglo-Sikh War was fought between the Sikh Empire and the East India Company during that period in and around the Ferozepur district of Punjab. It had resulted in Sikhs losing significant parts of Punjab to the East India Company, apart from being forced to pay an indemnity of 15 million rupees.
1857 Sepoy Mutiny
The revolt of 1857 was the conscious beginning of the Independence struggle against the colonial tyranny of the British. There are various names for the revolt of 1857 – India’s First War of Independence, Sepoy Mutiny, etc. The revolt began on May 10, 1857, at Meerut as a sepoy mutiny. It was initiated by sepoys in the Bengal Presidency against the British officers.
Hundreds of sepoys were bayoneted or fired at in a frenzy of British vengeance. British soldiers, led by Major General Sir Henry Havelock, killed several freedom fighters in Allahabad, Kanpur and Lucknow on November 24, 1857. After crushing India’s first freedom struggle, the Britishers named many islands, towns and cities in the names of British army officers. An island in Andaman was also named after Major General Sir Henry Havelock.
In December 2018, the Havelock Island in Andaman was renamed as Swaraj Deep, under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi, as a tribute to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Bose had hoisted the Indian flag at Port Blair on December 30, 1943, and proclaimed the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as territories liberated from British rule. He had subsequently named Andaman Island as Shaheed and Nicobar Island as Swaraj.