On 15th September 2023, the government of Maharashtra issued a gazette that marked the formal completion of the renaming process for two significant places in the Marathwada region of the state. According to this, the names of the places Aurangabad and Usmanabad have been changed to Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar and Dharashiv respectively. This gazette categorically mentioned that the new names will reflect everywhere including all stages of revenue administration viz. town, city, taluka, district, sub-division, and division.
In the gazette published by the revenue department of the government of Maharashtra, it was mentioned that the revenue department is changing the names of revenue areas. Accordingly, Aurangabad district will be called Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar district. Aurangabad city will be called Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar city. Aurangabad Taluka will be called Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar Taluka.
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Marathwada is an administrative and revenue division where both the cities getting new names are situated. This division and sub-division were earlier identified by the names Aurangabad and Usmanabad. The gazette said that it will now be called by new names. Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar division and Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar sub-division will be the new names. Similarly, the district, taluka, city and sub-division of Usmanabad will now be called Dharashiv district, Dharashiv taluka, Dharashiv city and Dharashiv sub-division.
On 24 February 2023, Maharashtra’s Ministry of Home Affairs approved the decision to rename ‘Aurangabad’ city, named after Mughal tyrant Aurangzeb as Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar. The same decision also renamed Usmanabad as Dharashiv. Usmanabad was named after Hyderabad’s Islamic ruler Nizam Mir Usman Ali Khan. It is notable that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s son Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj was brutally executed by Aurangzeb in 1689. Marathwada region was under Nizam’s rule till 17 September 1948 when the Indian Army defeated the Islamist forces Razakars to merge the state with India. These two towns named after tyrants were seen as a symbol of the oppressive rule of the tyrants on the innocent natives. These names are now changed.
Both cities have a significant percentage of the Muslim population. The renaming decision faced opposition from many Muslims and Muslim leaders like Imtiaz Jaleel of AIMIM. It was being discussed in the public discourse that the renaming is applicable to districts only and cities will bear the old names or vice-versa. But the latest gazette by the government of Maharashtra has made it clear that Aurangabad and Usmanabad will not be in use anymore anywhere.