Jalandhar, September 28
“Sannu tan ji andar hi nahi waran ditta, asi hor ki kahiye (we were not allowed inside, what else can we say),” says Satnam Singh, sarpanch of Bhagat Singh’s ancestral Khatkar Kalan village.
While the 3-day Inquilabi Mela at the village on the martyr’s birth anniversary has been lauded as an impressive initiative aimed at reviving his legacy, it has been accompanied by a public outcry, seeking the government’s grassroots connect with the people of the region.
Amid Mann’s visit, heated arguments & anti-govt protest
Shaheed Bhagat Singh Naujawan Sabha members organised a motorcycle march to celebrate the martyr’s birth anniversary. They were, however, stopped by the police from entering the martyr's memorial, leading to heated arguments between both the parties.
Meanwhile, members of 1158 Assistant Professors and Librarians Front, Government Colleges, Punjab, who have been on strike for 29 days, visited Khatkar Kalan and offered flowers at Bhagat Singh’s statue. They also raised slogans against the state government.
Satnam Singh said, “We had to talk to the CM. I and a few others wanted to apprise the CM of our demands. But securitymen said we couldn’t enter without a card. ‘Aa gaye fer gharan nu, hor ki karde?’ (we came back home, what could we do?)”
The sarpanch was not alone, members of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha, SAD MLA Sukhwinder Singh Sukhi, Nawanshahr MLA Nachattar Singh and protesting computer teachers were also among those peeved at being prevented from making way to the site.
Meanwhile, as the CM announced the construction of a memorial and a library among other features at Moranwali, the maternal home of Shaheed Bhagat Singh near Garhshankar, Khatkar Kalan residents were left reminisicing about the unfinished projects promised earlier.
A Shaheed Bhagat Singh Yadgaari Library built (by then DC Krishan Kumar) at Khatkar Kalan in 2005, is yet to see visitors. Other announcements — a promised tourist corridor at Khatkar Kalan, upgrades to the Shaheed Bhagat Singh museum (the original promised deadline for which was December 2022) — all promises made by CM Mann are also far from complete.
Khatkar Kalan villagers themselves have a list of demands which they have aired repeatedly. Satnam Singh said: “The village itself has problems of water drainage, it lacks a stadium or decent playground. A new memorial and a library have been promised at another village today. But we wonder when these will be completed. Our library is yet to see students.” A medical college named after Bhagat Singh and a sports stadium are other demands.
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