New Delhi: Jallianwala Bagh holds a tremendous significance in the history of India’s fight for independence from the British rule. On April 13, 1919, colonial troops under the command of General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer opened fire on thousands of men and women holding a peaceful protest, killing more than 500 unarmed civilians, and wounding three times as many.
One of the oldest memorial to the Indian struggle for independence, in the later years it became a tourist attraction. And now the government has revamped it. However while many praised it, several historians, opposition leaders and members of the public have called out the government for turning the place into a flashy site with gaudy lights, which doesn’t take history seriously and fails to pay tribute to the sombre memorial that is a reminder of the grusome killings of many.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday (August 31) termed the government’s revamp of the Jallianwala Bagh memorial an “insult to martyrs”, saying only a person who does not know the meaning of martyrdom can inflict such an insult. Taking to Twitter, the former Congress chief tagged a media report on the outrage on social media over the alleged changes at the Jallianwala Bagh memorial complex with many claiming that it was “destroying history” in the name of makeover.
Gandhi’s attack came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday (August 28) dedicated to the nation the renovated complex of Jallianwala Bagh memorial. During the event, Modi also digitally inaugurated the museum galleries at the memorial. The event also showcased the multiple development initiatives undertaken by the government to upgrade the complex.
Tagging the report on the social media outrage over the revamp, Gandhi tweeted, “Only a person who does not know the meaning of martyrdom can inflict such an insult on the martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh”. “I am the son of a martyr – I will not tolerate the insult of martyrs at any cost,” he said in a tweet in Hindi. “We are against this indecent cruelty.” In another tweet, Gandhi said those who didn’t struggle for freedom can’t understand those who did.
Those who didn’t struggle for freedom can’t understand those who did.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 31, 2021
Congress leader Jaiveer Shergill alleged the BJP-led central government project giving a makeover to the “Jallianwala passage is not to preserve but erase the marks of atrocities committed by General Dyer during British rule”. “Central vistafication of Jallianwala Bagh passage is ultimate insult to those killed on that fatal day! Shame,” he said.
Congress’ deputy leader in Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi, in a tweet on Monday, said, “Call me a traditional Indian but I am not a fan of installing disco lights on institutions of importance and dignity.” Such pomp reduces the gravity and horror of the Jallianwala Bagh Smarak to base entertainment, he alleged. “Similarly the strobe lights on Parliament are also appalling,” Gogoi added.
Meanwhile, Punjab Congress CM Amarinder Singh had a different take on the revamped site and said, to him it looks beautiful.
“I don’t know what has been removed. To me it looks very nice,” says Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh over the renovation of the Jallianwala Bagh pic.twitter.com/uM3aut0Opo
— ANI (@ANI) August 31, 2021
Stressing that it is a country’s duty to protect its history, Prime Minister Modi had said that events of the past “teach us and give us direction to move forward”. As part of the inaugural event, a wreath-laying ceremony was also held and two-minute silence was observed in the memory of those killed in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. A sound and light show was held to depict the events of the day of the massacre.
(With Agency inputs)