Jallianwala Bagh: Kin of 1919 martyrs hold candle march, want original character restored

GS Paul

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 6

The renovation of Jallianwala Bagh has not gone down well with the kin of 1919 martyrs.

Terming it an attempt to wipe out their ancestors’ history and tarnish the ambience of the Bagh where the freedom struggle was scripted, they took out a candle march from Heritage Street to the Jallianwala Bagh to pay tribute to the martyrs and sensitise the authorities and demand rectification.

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Demanding the restoration of original landscape and architecture of the site, they had approached the Union Ministry of Culture too.

They demanded removal of the murals on the walls of the original narrow street from where General Reginald Dyer passed through with his troops ending up opening fire at a gathering of unarmed men, women and children.

Set up temple on Jallianwala Bagh premises

We have written to the Union Ministry of Culture and raised objections against the flaws. Besides, we have asked the authorities to set up a temple inside the Bagh where holy scriptures of all faiths be placed and prayers be performed for the departed. —Sunil Kapoor, President, Jallianwala bagh freedom fighters foundation

The pedestal on which Dyer stood and ordered firing has also been erased. It should be rebuilt at the same place, they demanded.

They also pointed out that the (Amar Jyoti) flame, which was earlier at the entrance of the memorial, has also been shifted at the back. They demanded it to be restored at its original spot to evoke patriotic feeling.

Another objection raised was on the new structure built on the martyrs’ well (Shaheedi Khu) from where 120 bodies were later recovered. They wanted its design to be on the basis of original pattern, as was being described in history books.

Both walls of the narrow street, which act as an entrance, have been embossed with murals that depict people from all walks of life who came to the Jallianwala Bagh to participate in the protest. The narrow lane was never altered earlier. Brigadier General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer and his troops had blocked this very entry and exit point. This made it impossible for thousands of people to escape from bullets being showered by troops. The entrance now has a new flooring.

Talking to The Tribune, Sunil Kapoor, president, Jallianwala Bagh Freedom Fighters Foundation, who lost his great-grandfather Lala Wasu Mal in the bloodbath, said: “We have written to the Union Ministry of Culture and raised objections against the flaws. Besides, we have asked the authorities to set up a temple inside the Bagh where holy scriptures of all faiths — Guru Granth Sahib, Geeta, Quran Sharif and Bible — be placed and prayers be performed for the departed. A ‘wall of martyrs’ should be erected inside the Bagh with their credentials so that visitors know about them.”

He said that the family members should be given “tamar patras” to recognise their ancestors’ sacrifices and be included in the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust.

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