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Habibganj to Rani Kamlapati: How railway stations are named or renamed in India

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After coming to power in several states, the BJP has taken to changing Urdu, Arabic and Islamic names of stations and cities. There have been demands to change Delhi, Lucknow, Agra and others to more ‘Hindu’ names as well. 

Habibganj to Rani Kamlapati: How railway stations are named or renamed in India
The Habibganj railway station, Bhopal's second-busiest railway interchange, will now be called the Rani Kamlapati railway station. The BJP-ruled state said the station's name has been changed as part of its renovation drive, that cost the exchequer Rs 100 crore. The station was inaugurated on November 15 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the same day as the birth anniversary of the iconic tribal freedom fighter Birsa Munda.
Who was Rani Kamlapati?
Rani Kamlapati, also known as Rani Kamlavati, was the widow of Nizam Shah, the strongest of the Gond chieftains who resided in the area around the upper lake of Bhopal. Shah ruled the area from Ginnor Fort, modern-day Ginnorgarh. After the death of Shah, Kamlavati was stated to have tied a ‘rakhi’ to Dost Mohammad Khan, the first Nawab of Bhopal and the founder of the modern city, and gave him Rs 1 lakh to avenge her husband’s death.
The queen belonged to the hugely influential Gond tribal community, which is one of the largest in the country. The Gonds can be found in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar and Odisha.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan claimed that she was the “last Hindu queen of Bhopal.”
How to change the name of a station?
Naming or renaming a railway station comes under the purview of the state government. While the Indian Railways has the duty and responsibility of administering the station itself, it has no role to play in the naming of the stations. This is despite the fact that the jurisdiction of railways is purely in the hands of the Centre in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.
Once the state government decides on a name change, it submits the proposed change to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), as well as the Ministry of Railways (MoR). As a rule, the MHA and the MoR give their approval after ensuring that there are no similarly named railway stations in the country.
Administrative process 
Once the name change proposal is submitted and accepted, the same is notified by the state government. At that point, the Indian Railways begins the administrative process of formalising the name change. The station code of the newly-named station is changed and uploaded into the various ticketing and tracking systems for the railways.
Workers ensure that the name at the physical location of the station is changed to correctly depict the new name, according to the guidelines set in the Indian Railway Works Manual.
The Indian Railway Works Manual is an over 260-page document that codifies all civil engineering matters of the Indian Railways. Within the manual, the station name must be displayed in Hindi, English and the dominant regional language, with certain exceptions. Before the Indian Railways puts the name on the station, it must however get the approval of the associated state government for the spelling of the station in all the displayed languages.
Why are station names changed?
Station names are changed for a variety of reasons. Names are usually changed to reflect popular usage, historical significance or political grandstanding. After the BJP came to power in several states, the party has undertaken a campaign of changing Urdu, Arabic and Islamic names.
Renaming stations like Faizabad, Mughalsarai to Ayodhya Cantonment and Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Junction, respectively and the changing the name of the city of Allahabad to Prayagraj are some of the examples. There have been demands to change Delhi, Lucknow, Agra and others to more ‘Hindu’ names.
The BJP has also been accused of trying to co-opt tribal icons for political purposes. Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh asked, “If they have so much respect for Rani Kamalapati why are they not getting her palace in ruins restored?”
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