M A I N   N E W S

Parliament gives Martyrs’ Day a miss
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 23
Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s towering 18-feet bronze statue in the Parliament looked lonely today, with just one MP turning up to pay floral tributes at it on the occasion of Martyrs’ Day.

Seventy-nine years ago on March 23, 1931, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev went down in history as heroes, kissing the gallows with ease. But the Parliament gave them a miss. No official commemoration of the same was held and no intimation published in the bulletin for parliamentarians.

And this happened on a day when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and several leaders including BJP’s L.K. Advani and Sushma Swaraj visited the Parliament House to pay homage to Rammanohar Lohia on his birth anniversary.

On Lohia’s portrait, which hangs inside the magnificent Central Hall, the visiting dignitaries offered flowers. Yards away, Bhagat Singh’s bronze statute (created two years ago by sculptor Ram Sutar) stood alone, awaiting visitors; only one came - Sports Minister MS Gill.

He brought flowers for the martyr. When asked about his visit, he said: “I worked hard to get the statute of Bhagat Singh installed in Parliament. It was a befitting tribute to the martyr’s sacrifice when after 61 years of freedom we saw his statue on the House premises. On this day, I will come every year to pay tributes at Bhagat Singh’s statue. I wish the Lok Sabha Secretariat had observed this historic day. It’s a grave omission on their part.”

Secretariat officials cited conventions to defend the lapse: “The convention is to hold commemoration ceremonies for leaders whose portraits hang inside the Central Hall. No functions are held for those whose statutes are installed. There are about 40 statues. If we hold functions for each, there will be too many functions.”

Enquiries by The Tribune, however, reveal that Dr BR Ambedkar is a clear exception to the norm of “no commemoration events in front of statutes.” On the Dalit icon’s birth anniversary every year, leaders pay floral tributes at his statue, installed close to the bronze statue of Bhagat Singh.



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