Tribune News Service
Amritsar, September 14
Various political, farm and social organisations and kin of martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh on Tuesday conducted a protest march against the renovation and beautification of Jallianwala Bagh alleging it to be tinkering with the historic site.
They were denied entry to the Bagh as a preventive measure, since the Amritsar police have imposed Section 144 banning the assembly of five or more persons at a spot, and holding of a protest in the vicinity of the memorial till November 6.
Amid heavy police barricading, the protesters, including representatives of Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Society, Kisan Sanjha Morcha and martyrs’ families, had no option but to stage a sit-in on the Heritage Street metres ahead of the Bagh for a few hours.
CPI district secretary Amarjit Singh Asal said the heavy police arrangement showed that the anti-democratic vision of Gen Reginald Dyer and Gen O’ Dwyer still prevailed in our system. “A century ago, at the same place the British regime had imposed a ban on public assembly. Now, the present dispensation has been replicating the same. We just wanted to convey to the authorities that till the historic heritage is restored at the Bagh, we would continue to raise our voice,” he said.
Jallianwala Bagh Freedom Fighters Foundation president Sunil Kapoor, who lost his great grandfather Lala Wasu Mal in the 1919 massacre, said the Bagh appeared to be more of a “picnic” and “selfie” spot than a memorial.
“What is wrong when we demand that the memorabilia and pictures of martyrs be re-installed? We have been raising the issue of granting a freedom fighter status to the martyrs from the Centre and the state governments for long but in vain,” he said.
They demanded that the murals mounted on the walls of the original narrow street, from where Gen Dyer passed through with his troops and opened fire on a gathering of unarmed men, women and children assembled in the Bagh, be removed. They also wanted the separate exit point to be closed as it defied history which speaks only about one entry-exit point.
The pedestal on which Dyer stood and ordered firing has also been erased; it should be rebuilt at the same place, they demanded.
They objected to shifting of the Amar Jyoti flame, which was earlier at the entrance of the memorial, to the back. They demanded that it be restored at its original spot to evoke a patriotic feel.
Another objection raised by them was about the new structure built on the martyrs’ well.
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