“It’s A Crying Shame That ‘The Butcher Of Bengal’ Has A Road Named After Him In Kolkata” is the title of a story on the most prominent right-wing portal Swarajya. The Snapshot section of the story states, “Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy engineered the killings, maiming, rape and molestation of tens of thousands of Hindus in Calcutta back in 1946. It is a shame, therefore, that a major thoroughfare in Kolkata is named after a criminal who was involved in such heinous crimes against humanity.“. The concluding paragraph of the story goes onto demand that Suhrawardy Avenue in Kolkata be renamed while stating, “It is high time the name of the road is changed. Bengal does not lack heroes, and it is high time one of them is honoured instead of a criminal who caused so many deaths and such destruction in the city.”
The author of this article, Jaideep Mazumdar, is also the Associate Editor of Swarajya Magazine. His biography on the Swarajya website states that he’s journalist with many years of experience in The Times Of India, Open Magazine, The Outlook, The Hindustan Times, The Pioneer and some other news organizations.
Despite having as much journalistic experience as the author claims, this article doesn’t provide an iota of evidence regarding the central claim of the article that the Suhrawardy Avenue in Kolkata is indeed named after Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy. The author rants on for over 3000 words talking about Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and his alleged brutality and crimes. Since the time this article was published on Swarajya website on Aug 16, 2017, many on social media have contested the central claim of this article – Is Suhrawardy Avenue named after Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy?
We looked up some old maps of Calcutta. The oldest map that we found that had mentioned Suhrawardy Avenue is a 1940 map (high resolution).
If one zooms into the map, on the bottom right of the map, bordering Park Circus, Suhrawardy Avenue can be seen.
That means that Suhrawardy Avenue was named sometime prior to 1940. To find information about a subject that old, Google Books and Google Newspaper Archive are good resources. Google Newspaper Archive wasn’t helpful so we turned to Google Books. We searched for every reference of “Surhawardy Avenue” prior to 31st, December 1940.
The 17th Volume of Calcutta Municipal Gazette tells us that the road was named Suhrawardy Avenue in 1932-33, “Calcutta Improvement Trust Road from Park Circus to its junotion with Kasaipara Lane and lying, to the north of the Park, to be called Suhrawardy Avenue. P. TRIVED, Assessor to the Corporation. Central Municipal Office, The 20th April,…”
Google Books also allows a user to search within a specific book. We searched for all references of Suhrawardy within the book and this is what we found.
“The new road constructed by the Calcutta Improvement Trust from Park Circus to the junction of Kasaipara Lane-on which stands the house of Sir Hassan Suhrawardy, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calcutta-was named Suhra-“.
Unfortunately, Google Books for copyrighted books only shows snippets and not the entire book. In this snippet, the name of the lane can be seen only partially as “Suhra-“. However, the description of the road matches the previous screenshot from the same book. Hence it would be safe to assume that the incomplete word “Suhra-” means “Suhrawardy Avenue”.
The aforementioned snippet from the 17th volume of Calcutta Municipal Gazette proves that Suhrawardy Avenue was not named after Huseyn Suhrawardy but after Sir Hassan Suhrawardy. Sir Hassan Suhrawardy was the Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University from 1930-1934. He was conferred knighthood in February, 1932.
A book called “A history of Calcutta’s streets” and authored by P. Thankappan Nair also reconfirms that Suhrawardy Avenue was named after Sir Hassan Suhrawardy. These images were posted by Deepanjan Ghosh on his Twitter account.
This is the second time Alt News has caught Swarajya spreading falsehood. Last time around, Swarajya falsely claimed that GST was applicable for only Hindu religious institutions and that Churches and Mosques were exempt from GST. Considering that R. Jagannathan, the Editorial Director of Swarajya, was recently on a panel discussing fake news in Newslaundry’s mediarumble event, it must be embarrassing for him that Swarajya is publishing such ridiculously fake pieces under his watch.
Independent journalism that speaks truth to power and is free of corporate and political control is possible only when people start contributing towards the same. Please consider donating towards this endeavour to fight fake news and misinformation.