Jalandhar, January 18
Bhagat Singh scholar and historian Dr Chaman Lal today questioned Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra by pointing out the skipping of martyrs’ memorials or places associated with freedom fighters or peasants’ struggle during its Punjab leg. Since the Bharat Jodo Yatra of the Congress is supposedly a symbol of breaking away from the narrative of communalism, places which stood for this ideology in Punjab should have been visited, he said.
However, Bhagat Singh’s nephew Maj Gen Sheonan Singh, who joined the yatra at Jalandhar and walked with Rahul Gandhi, said the yatra is against communalism and does not necessarily need to make a stopover at all martyrs’ memorials.
Dr Chaman Lal shared his objections to the yatra on various social media platforms. In his posts, he asked, “What kind of Bharat Jodo Yatra (sic) is it in Punjab? No visit to Jallianwala Bagh, which showed the unity of all communities led by Saifuddin Kitchlew and Satya Pal against British oppression, no visit to Udham Singh and Madan Lal Dhingra’s places, all within two miles of Golden Temple! No Khatkar Kalan and Hussainiwala for Bhagat Singh, no Ludhiana visit to Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha and Shaheed Sukhdev’s places, no Patiala or Thikriwala for visiting anti-feudal martyr Sewa Singh Thikriwala. No Sunam! No visit to Jagraon or Dhudike to Lala Lajpat Rai’s place! No visit to even Jaitu and Nabha, for visiting his great-grandfather Nehru’s jail for opposing British oppression of peaceful Gurdwara movements! No time for Ghadar Party martyrs memorial If just religious places are to be visited for Bharat Jodo, illusions created, but no unity!”
“No visit to any of the 700+ farmer martyrs’ place in the greatest anti-fascist peasant struggle after 1947! Visiting religious places may bring some votes but not unity of India and its people,” Dr Chaman Lal shared.
Speaking to The Tribune, Dr Chaman Lal said, “If Rahul Gandhi claims to break away from the reigning narrative of communalism, he should have done so by laying thrust on places which symbolise unity and freedom. By visiting religious places and playing up religion, one just reinforces the same ideology, rather than breaking away from it.”
Maj Gen Sheonan Singh, however, had a different view. “I want to ask how many martyrs’ memorials did Rahul Gandhi visit in other states? My being Bhagat Singh’s nephew is incidental. I’m supporting Rahul Gandhi for the yatra which has become a symbol against communalism. I chose it as a platform to mark my presence against the same menace. Other parties might publicly endorse Bhagat Singh but no one understands him. Bhagat Singh constantly spoke out against communal and fundamentalist forces. If he were alive, he too would have registered his voice against such powers. The Bharat Jodo Yatra is an earnest effort at bringing people together.”
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